Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on November 15th 2016
Source: Author Review Copy
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Science Fiction, Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic, Action & Adventure
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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.
Flashfall is the epitome of what I adore about science fiction and dystopian books. We have a social hierarchy, a world that’s causing the death of humans, and a main character who’s willing to carry out revolution to save the people who are treated unjustly. I haven’t read as many science fiction books as I would have liked this past year, but I’ve read enough to become enthralled by the new ideas Flashfall brings to YA literature. In Orion’s world, a flash curtain has appeared that creates immense radiation levels that cause people to die, or slowly become immune to some of it – a Subpar. It also divides the mining outposts and the protected city of Alara. Already this schism creates a gap between the different people of the world.
My father would call it something different – bioadaptability. That’s really what we Subpars are, adapted to the curtain’s fallout and resistant to its elements in ways that Naturals aren’t.
Orion is the lead ore scout of Outpost Five, and her and her mining partner Dram’s goals are to mine 400 grams of cirrium, the element that negates the effects of radiation. Once they complete that, they get to enter the protected city of Alara, never having to mine again. But… things aren’t all that simple. The Congress, who dictates their livelihood, are not that nice and don’t take well with misconduct. Orion’s stubborn and willful nature clashes with their representatives throughout the book as she searches for a better lifestyle for her and her people. This behavior leads to consequences where survival, sacrifice, and fear becomes a dominant part of the people’s lives.
The director is sending us down nine to teach us a lesson. He expects cavers to die completing a nearly impossible task. If we pull this off, it will say more than breaking the sign ever could.
It would show that we are more than what the Congress tells us we are.
Moyer brings readers to one startling and gripping event to the other, leaving us on the edges of our seats. The pace is continuous and quick, allowing for a quick read where you can’t help but devour the words the find out what happens next. In the tunnels, Orion and Dram have to deal with deadly predators like mutant, venomous bats and violent gulls that easily become the death of them. Eventually they get sent past Outpost Five and travel even farther from there to discover the secrets that Congress hides from them to continue to control and manipulate them. There’s also an emphasis on family that corresponds to their survival, as Orion and Dram follow their dead parents’ footsteps and finds out that their parents knew more than they were saying before their death. (Except Orion’s dad, who’s still alive and important to the plot.)
Maybe I am the hunter my mother named me for. Perhaps I’ll find the flash dust we need to survive the night.
The word whirls through me, elusive, burning, and powerful.
There are numerous characters who come and go throughout the story as well, tugging at our heartstrings when they fight and resist for freedom and for some, breaking our hearts as they sacrifice their life for the continuation of the resistance. I was a little disappointed that after the initial introduction to the world, Orion and Dram get transported to places where they have to fight for their lives in a reminiscent way to the other dystopians out there. The call for rebellion was already something I expected (being a science fiction story featuring an unfair social hierarchy), but survival against other humans brought it too close to the numerous others out there. As the characters delved farther from the mines and more revelations came, I felt like the story started becoming more predictable in terms of its twists.
There are also people called Conjurers that can manipulate the natural elements in the story, and I feel like they’ll become more important in the sequel. Either way, I’m hoping that the next discoveries we take stray from the usual things we see in dystopian novels. I have high hopes, considering the way the author set up the resolution of this story. And I will be highly anticipating the release of the sequel as well! Orion and Dram have definitely become characters close to my heart.
Maybe I’m not like the glass, after all. Maybe I’m the point of an axe, strong enough to shatter cirrium.
The romance was slow to develop yet so important and never precedes the battle of survival that the characters have to endure. It’s drama-free and builds up gradually as the characters realize how significant they’ve become to the other throughout all their years of mining and trusting each other with their lives. Rather than causing strife and separation, the romance allows the characters to become stronger with the other by their side. Dram and Orion are both tough on their own, but draw up strength from the other to carry out their goals. (And yes, their relationship is goals).
It’s been so long since I’ve read a science-fiction/dystopian that calls for the uprising of the minorities, and Flashfall is perfect to fill up what I’ve been missing. Fans of action, revolution, and characters who are ready and willing to take up a stand for justice need to check this one out. There’s also a superb romance in the backdrop that never hinders the plot, just enhances it, and exhilarating scenes that keep you on your toes and ready to flip to the next page. Orion was a great character that fell in the labels of “special snowflake” at rare times but for the most part had a resilient and sometimes impetuous character that’s daring enough to break the boundaries of oppression. I adored every minute of this book, and dystopian fans will, too.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Thank you Macmillan for the review copy!