Published: May 2014 by Allen & Unwin
Format: Paperback, 312 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Post Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
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Pandora Jones wakes in an infirmary - her body weak, her memory providing only flashes of horrific scenes of death. She soon discovers that her family has succumbed to a plague pandemic which almost wiped out humanity. Pan is one of the survivors who have been admitted to The School - a quarantined, heavily guarded survival-skills facility - to recover their strength, hone their skills and prepare for whatever comes next. Pandora's skill is intuition, but how useful will it be outside the secure walls of The School? And what if it leads her to question where the truth lies...
Plague. Pandemic. Intuition. Secrets. Truth. Courage. Action. Survival.
Admission will have you on the edge of your seat. An interesting blend of post-apocalyptic and fantasy elements, this book kicks off what is undoubtedly going to be an exciting series about a young girl who wakes up after the end of the world puts in her in a coma.
The book begins with Pandora’s disjointed and confusing memories of the last day of her life, when a worldwide tragedy struck unexpectedly, and is thus confusing and disjointed to the reader. I didn’t like this writing style very much and was afraid that the whole book would be written like that – with short sentences and with nothing really making sense – but once Pandora wakes up from her coma the writing style changes.
Pandora is in many ways an average girl. She’s not exceptionally smart or athletic or even very brave, which should have made her easy to like. But I found myself struggling to like her in most cases. It’s small things – Pandora is introduced to six other kids who survived the disaster, and of the three boys, she describes one as acne ridden, another as quiet and the third as good-looking. Guess who her love interest was? Similarly, she dismisses all the girls she meets in her group, and doesn’t make overture of friendship towards any of them until quite late in the book, and her only friend is soon taken from the story. So we’ve got this girl, one of only ten thousand survivors of humanity’s worst disaster, and she’s too busy being judgmental about everyone else who has survived to actually make friends.
There is one thing about Pandora that sets her apart: she describes herself as very intuitive. It turns out she’s a little psychic, which is the paranormal fantasy aspect of the novel. This talent helps Pandora nut out the mysteries surrounding the end of the world and her survival.
Because this are quite a few mysteries here. Why would the children who survived be cut off from the adults, put through military exercises all day long, and forced to be physically fit? Why they be expected to leave the sanctuary of their walled compound – called the School – to engage with hostiles as a training exercises? Then there are details about the day the world ended itself, including the ridiculous (highly unrealistic) speed with which the pandemic spread. But there is an explanation for all of this, and it’s one I absolutely did not anticipate (always exciting when that happens.) The problem is that the big reveal happens on the very last page of the book, which means that for literally 99% of the book I was scoffing at how implausible everything it contains is.
The big reveal means that I, along with ever reader who picks up this book, am desperate to read the next instalment!
Pandora is put with a group with seven other teen survivors when she wakes up at the School, and although I can tell they are all fully developed characters in their own rights, seeing everything from Pandora’s point of view limits what we know about them. Pandora’s prone to judging people without any information about them and is constantly trying to pigeon-hole people into nice little categories, and it annoyed me because it them coloured my views of them. I think the problem was that all the kids that I didn’t trust were the ones Pandora gravitated towards, while the ones that I thought were interesting were the ones she shunned because they made her uncomfortable.
I really like Jen. Oh yes she’s a bitch to Pandora, but I understood Jen and her actions more than I ever did Pandora’s.
I think Pandora Jones: Admission will be liked by a varied audience, and is a great first novel that sets up an exciting series. Some readers, like me, might struggle to like the protagonist, but overall, I liked the book and can’t wait to read the next one!