I was lucky enough to pick up a printed and bound ARC of this from the publishers at YALC which is very exciting. As the publication date is the 27th of August I just knew I had to try and get this read and reviewed as quickly as possible!
You can purchase a copy of the book here.
Life outside the domes is not possible. At least that’s what Insiders are told. Twins Eli and Talia shouldn’t exist. They’re Outsiders.
Their home is a secret. Their lives are a secret. Arafel is a secret.
An unexpected forest raid forces Talia into a desperate mission to rescue her family while protecting the sacred book of Arafel from those who would use it as a weapon. As Talia and her life long friend Max enter the dome, she makes some unexpected discoveries, and allies, in the form of rugged Insider August, that will change the course of her life forever.
She’ll stop at nothing to save her family but will she sacrifice her heart in the process?
The Fire Sermon meets Gladiator in this brilliant YA debut.
3 / 5 stars
This book was a bit of a slow starter for me. We gathered the basic idea that this is set in a dystopian future in England where some radiation disaster has destroyed life as we know it.
We follow Talia who lives outside the dome in the natural environment, her village trying to hide their existence from ‘the dome’. We find out that there has been some radiation disaster that destroyed cities, destroyed most water borne and air borne diseases and caused catastrophic climate change that made it possible for ex – zoo animals to become wild in England and live in the forest. People inside the dome apparently believe that outside the dome is contaminated and unsafe. This is all we really get of the backstory to how the world came to be how it is in this story, and I personally would like to know more. I’m sure more will be revealed later on in the series but I found myself getting a little bored as I really didn’t have much of an idea what was going on at first as nothing was really explained.
I wanted to know how the radiation was caused, how did all these humans and animals survive the huge climate change etc etc. Now, these answers may fully appear in later books as there were hints and nuggets of information about the past later on in the book, but the major focus of the plot actually took place inside the dome, so we got a huge amount of information about life inside the dome.
Talia ends up inside the dome with her friend Max, her brother and her grandfather. Her brother and grandfather are captured by ‘sweepers’, machines from the dome designed to collect samples from Outside. Max and Talia sneak into the dome to try and save Eli and Talia’s grandfather. Now, I really liked Eli as a character, he was good with animals and I presume he was deaf (the author described him as living in a world of silence and he signed with other characters..) however, he was barely in this book which was a shame!
I can’t go into too much detail about the dome without turning this review into spoiler central but basically it is based upon the Roman Empire. The leader inside the dome clearly has an obsession with the Roman Empire, believing it to be the best civilisation in history. This results in a huge amount of information being given about the names of different classes plus mythological creatures have been created (giving hints at a debate on the ethics of genetically modifying animals which was interesting). I found there was TOO MUCH information given here, there were so many Roman or Roman inspired names being used for this that I had to keep referring to the glossary, especially as there was a lot of futuristic technology discussed, I became so lost and a bit bored to be honest.
I found the plot to be a little lacking as this basically seemed to be the build up for the rest of the series. There was some information given about a bookthat will clearly become very important, but I can’t really recall many of the reasons why, which isn’t a good sign.
I also found there to be a lot of coincidences and lucky breaks for the characters. Some of it just felt a bit too coincidental and lucky and there is also the start of a love triangle that I am just not on board with, however, I know some people do love a love triangle!
Despite this, I can’t deny that the author has clearly thought their world building through and I did find the idea of basing a future civilisation on the Roman Empire, including the bringing back of mythological creatures. This is perfect for fans of Mythology or those interested in the Roman Empire. It’s also good if you are looking for a new dystopian series to get stuck in to.
Feel free to ask anything else about the book or my review and if you’ve read this one, what do you think?