In this world, after the Detonations (atomic bombs), people either live in The Dome, a protected environment, or on the earth. Those not in the dome are all damaged in some way -- most fused to whatever they were standing next to or holding at the time of the explosions-- eking out an existence in the ruins of civilization, among dust and decay and dangerous mutated life forms. Once children reach the age of 16 they must surrender themselves to the OSR, a militia group that will take them as soldiers or use them as live bait. Here, Pressia, almost 16, lives with her grandfather in the back of an old barbershop. When she turns 16 she hides in a cupboard so she can care for her grandfather. In the Dome, Partridge, son of one of the leaders, lives an unhappy life. When he discovers his mother is not dead as he was always told he escapes to the earth to find her. Pressia flees the OSR and on the run hooks up with Partridge and from there the plot unfolds with one spectacular scene after another.
The various mutated life forms are among the most imaginative I have ever encountered. Baggott writes in a breathtakingly visual way that allowed me to see them standing in front of me. I liked this book as much as The Hunger Games, maybe more so.
The incredible setting, the likable characters, a plot that holds up and keeps you reading as fast as you can, all make for a highly enjoyable read. Excellent!