Wren MacAvoy works as a coal miner for a domed city that was constructed in the mid-nineteenth century to protect the royal blood line of England when astronomers spotted a comet on a collision course with Earth. Humanity would be saved by the most groundbreaking technology of the time. But after nearly 200 years of life beneath the dome, society has become complacent and the coal is running out. Plus there are those who wonder, is there life outside the dome or is the world still consumed by fire? When one of Wren’s friends escapes the confines of the dome, he is burned alive and put on display as a warning to those seeking to disrupt the dome’s way of life. But Alex’s final words are haunting. “The sky is blue.” What happens next is a whirlwind of adventure, romance, conspiracy and the struggle to stay alive in a world where nothing is as it seems. Wren unwittingly becomes a catalyst for a revolution that destroys the dome and the only way to survive might be to embrace what the entire society has feared their entire existence.
This book had a ton of potential but was pulled down by some things that annoyed the heck out of me. Even now as I write this review I’m still not sure how I feel about it, though it left me with a good impression.
The world building is pretty good, though I’d have loved to hear more about the other professions besides just the shiners. It is a world that hasn’t progressed beyond the 1800s, but it didn’t feel set in the past. Don’t be fooled by the word steampunk; I wouldn’t classify it as that. It had some minor elements like googles and steam powered machines, but I don’t see how that would make it steampunk.
Then there’s Wren. I’ve never had such mixed feelings about a character before. For someone so smart (and not in a sarcastic way) she sure asks a ton of dumb questions. The book is basically about Wren questioning the world around her. Maybe if she’d spend some more time thinking rather that questioning, she’d figure out the answers? She also keeps having these grand revelations like ‘oh, people actually like me’ and ‘there’s got to be more to life then serving the Royals’. Anyone with half a brain could have figured that out but to her its this huge deal. I just wanted to slap her. Relating to her relationship, she keeps going on about how she’s not ready yet and it’s too big of a step, every time they kiss. Can you get ahold of yourself girl?
On the other hand, she’s caring and an animal lover and I immediately connected with her. She is also brave and tough, which redeemed her. She wants to escape and does something about it. She wants to go above, she does it. She isn’t controlled by any one else and does her own thing. I loved her relationship and thought the romantic scenes were really cute and well done.
The other characters were really good and well developed. Some of them are asses and some of them make bad decisions but at the end of the day they were believable characters. Though now paging back thorough it, there’s a character that’s mentioned at the beginning and never again which i find strange. Anyway, I LOVED Pace. He’s awesome. Funny and kind and just altogether a great guy. Plus he has dark hair and blue eyes which is always a bonus.
The writing really annoyed me. Every time something is mentioned it gets re-explained or re-described, even if its just a few pages apart. It slowed down the pace of the story and was super repetitive. Other times things were explained slightly differently each time with a new piece of information tacked like adding to a list. It also tried to be overly philosophical, with everything being turned into some kind of soul searching question. ‘What is life’ and ‘Who am I meant to be’. Just no.
On top of that, the pacing is SO slow. When you’re reading you don’t feel held back but when you look up at the clock its an hour later and you’ve made zero progress. Which is frustrating because you just want to find out what happens and it takes forever. Three quarters of the book focuses on Wren’s life in the dome while the last quarter is about the rebellion, the part you want to hear about.
The plot was smart, thankfully. There is not a lot of action, and most of it is towards the end, though there is enough to keep you interested. It has many layers to it which are not obvious at first glance like the comments on society and power. At the end there is a twist that I maybe should have got, but didn’t and I was pretty surprised.
The ending was awesome and was definitely the best part of the book. It is action packed and moves quickly, resolving just enough of the plot to be satisfying but leaving a ton open. The next book can easily be amazing it isn’t annoying, but am I doubtful that it will be.