Debut YA author Sara Grant's novel looks at an isolated dystopian world running on secrecy and lies.
Hundreds of years ago, an unnamed country decided to protect itself from the outside world with a transparent, electrified dome. But what might originally have been protection is now seen by 16-year-old Neva and her friends as a prison; resources are running low and the population is falling. The xenophobia engendered by the fear of the outside world has led to uniformity; any attempts to modify appearance is frowned on, and there is no diversity of the people.
Her beloved grandmother went missing when Neva was a little girl. She keeps a list of the people that she has noticed have disappeared in the notebook that her grandmother gave her (along with the commodities that are no longer in the shops: chocolate, balloons, fizzy drinks, electronic gadgets, contraception...) Neva and her friends hold a forbidden party, at which Neva realises that she is attracted to her best friend’s boyfriend, and events at the party lead her to uncover the terrible truth about the missing.
This is a wonderfully well-written novel. The imagery of the snowflake attached to Neva (whose name suggests Nieves, a Spanish name attached to Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Snows) suggests both her delicacy and uniqueness. The other main characters are well realised, as is Sara Grant’s trust in her readers, allowing us to discover facts about characters and her world along with Neva. Highly recommended for older teenagers.