Written by Barry Jonsberg
Dystopian, Science Fiction
Published in Australia May 2014
Thank you to Allen and Unwin
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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.
Pandora can't remember much from before arriving at The School, rescued from the streets of Melbourne where the bodies of the dead lie haphazardly in the destitute streets. Glimpses of a life she miraculously survived show the virus that had spread at an alarming rate. Starting with a cough, the flu like symptoms seemingly killing those infected within hours. But now Pandora Jones finds herself brought to the safety of the walled community known as The School, where teens of all ages are housed in simple down conditions, with meager meals and army fatigues. They are taught to survive the new world, where each night over four hundred students are plagued by nightmares, their soul wrenching cries only further proof what the world has lost.
The former military barracks is walled in, the location chosen to keep the students and instructors healthy and uninfected. Beyond the fence lies a village, where civilians bring supplies to and from The School. The message is clear, students are not to cross the wall. Placed within an orientation group of fellow new students, the group are expected to learn, to train, to eat and work alongside one another, including the charismatic Nate. Nate is the picture of physical perfection, strong and intelligent who loves to run. Other team members all seem to have unique and differing traits, with Pandora's verging on the supernatural. Pandora has the gift of intuition, able to sense someone watching her, a lost item or even person. Fellow team members are skeptical, and none more so than Jen. But to survive The School, the group of teens need to band together.
As an easy friendship blooms between Pandora and Nate, the two teens are both curious to why lies beyond their surroundings. Finding a route of escape is easy, making it out undetected? Not so much. But when the group are tested on their new survival skills, it soon becomes clear that The School isn't the safe haven they believe it is.
I really enjoyed Admission, it blended an apocalyptic storyline, with survival, romance and a psychological teen thriller that is a brilliant start to what is set to be an incredible series. Imagine everyone around you, from teachers, parents, siblings, neighbours and friends that are lying dead in the streets. A virus sweeping the globe and wiping everyone out but a few questionable strangers and yourself. With no one to turn to, and that's where your memories seem to fade. But luckily you were rescued by a small walled community known as The School, which seems more like being imprisoned than taught to survive.
Barry Jonsberg created a world in which the reader won't know whether to flee from or escape to, and nothing is what it seems. I liked Pandora, she's a modest protagonist that wants nothing more than to blend into the background and not draw attention to her gift of insight. Nate soon becomes her partner in crime, both teens sharing a curiosity of what lies beyond the wall. Admission simply has one of the best Prologues I've ever read, 'It took slightly under eight hours for Melbourne to die.' I was completely hooked from page one, and it didn't disappoint. The storyline flows beautifully and to put it bluntly, screwed with my head. You know something is coming, you prepare for it, and then Barry Jonsberg completely surprises you and leaves you wanting more. The cliffhanger is simply evil. Kudos mister Jonsberg. This is one series that I can't wait to continue.