Author: Jenny Moyer
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
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//I received this book at ALA in exchange for an honest review//
Orion is a Subpar, expected to mine the tunnels of Outpost Five, near the deadly flash curtain. For generations, her people have chased cirium—the only element that can shield humanity from the curtain’s radioactive particles. She and her caving partner, Dram work the most treacherous tunnel, fighting past flash bats and tunnel gulls, in hopes of mining enough cirium to earn their way into the protected city.
But when newcomers arrive at Outpost Five, Orion uncovers disturbing revelations that make her question everything she thought she knew about life on both sides of the cirium shield. As conditions at the outpost grow increasingly dangerous, it’s up to Orion to forge a way past the flashfall, beyond all boundaries, beyond the world as she knows it.
I went into Flashfall knowing next to nothing about it. I hadn't seen any reviews and only really knew what I had read in the blurb. Then I saw the trailer and I was sold!
Here's what I thought I was going to get from Flashfall based on these two pieces of information: a story about a guy and a girl who learn that their oppressive society is based on lies, they escape, and survive on the run in the outside world. What I got: not that, but still something really cool.
Orion is the main character of this story and she is a total badass. Orion, the lead ore scout in her community of miners, is incredibly resourceful and strong, but not unrealistically so. She has had a rough life and has lost several people who she loved, but is determined to mine enough cirium to buy passage for her and her father into the protected city. And she's very close to her goal. Dram is her caving partner and long-time friend. Together they begin to uncover truths about their home and the world outside that they had never dreamed of and work together toward escape.
I loved the relationship between these two! The fact that they had known each other for years made their quick romance totally believable and not at all insta-love-y. They were totally dependent on each other, but not in a vomit-inducing romance kind of way - in a life-or-death kind of way. I loved the way they constantly risked themselves for each other because that's just what their dangerous world called for. Oh, and there's no love triangle! Hurray!
There are several other characters who are also important to this story, but the most interesting are the Conjurors. They have mysterious magical abilities which they use to make natural things... grow? get bigger? change shape? I dunno, they do stuff with rocks and trees and water and stuff. Honestly, this is one part of the book I could've used a lot more information on. They are kind of randomly introduced and don't seem to have a real purpose other than to help move the main characters along, helping them in difficult situations. I'm really hoping they're expanded upon in the next book.
The world, while fascinating, also had some issues for me. There is a somewhat helpful map in the front of the book, but I was still very confused about the area inside the flashfall. I wasn't really sure what cordons were as opposed to compounds. I wasn't sure how big each cordon was. The characters moved across them fairly quickly (I think?), so they couldn't have been all that big, but they couldn't see from one to the other. It was definitely unsettling though, so I thought that the world building was still okay.
I'm still not sure quite how to classify this book - strict sci-fi or dystopia. There seemed to be some elements of earth as we know it, but there wasn't enough backstory to really be sure. I did get kind of a Maze Runner feel from this one. Still, the story was amazing! Orion and Dram start moving on page one and don't stop until the last chapter. The plot moves at a breakneck speed and there are always new pieces of information being revealed. I loved the twists and finding out just a little more at each reveal.
Flashfall is a great, fast paced (possibly dystopian) science fiction story that did not disappoint, despite having some downfalls. I would definitely like to hear more about the Conjurers in the next book and hopefully get some more backstory. But the characters and romance was really well done and realistic and the twists are totally worth picking this up!