Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.
Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.
When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.
I kinda knew what this book was about when I started it (futuristic dystopia). However that didn’t really prepare me for what this book actually was. What no one (summary, blogger or otherwise) really warned me was that this book has a mastery of writing at a level that I haven’t seen since my literature classes and that completely blew me away.
This is a beautiful book. It is beautifully written in a beautifully decaying world with fantastically beautiful and truly (mostly physically) disturbing characters. It is also a tome that took me several times longer than it normally takes me to read a book, but I don’t at all regret the time it took me to read because it was just so fascinating.
Some might be turned off at the idea of people literally fused to objects, other people and even frighteningly, to the earth itself, but something in my Tim Burton-infused mind, I loved it. I was so so excited when the characters would meet other wretches (as they are called) because I loved reading about some new, slightly physically sickening character. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some descriptions that unsettled me, but I was always more morbidly intrigued than turned off. I mostly pictured Davy Jones crew from Pirates of the Caribbean, but with everything and not just fish.
As far as characters went, I started off liking only two of them and ended up loving all of them. Which, I have to say, is rare. Rarely does one character turn my favor around, let alone three characters. I loved Pressia and Partridge right from the start. They have completely different pasts and end up on similar paths, both innocent and yet wise in their respective knowledges.
Then there’s Bradwell, who I thought was this completely pretentious ass; one of these ego-filled revolutionaries that talks more than he does. But dang it. Bradwell turned out really understandable and awesome. Similar to El Capitan who started out as a bit of a tool, but again, got ridiculously awesome. And there’s Lyda who to me was the weak, passive female character from the Domes. By the end, she just turned freaking amazing, finding that inner strength of hers. I can’t think of another book where 3 characters went from meh to awesome in a single book. Holy character arcs!
I cannot wait to start the sequel and see where they and this terrifying world go from here.
I also recommend Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.
-Reviewed by Jennifer