JONSBERG, Barry Pandora Jones: Admission Allen & Unwin, 2014 303pp $17.99 pbk ISBN 9781743318119 SCIS 1657128
Pandora Jones is one of a few survivors after the world is hit by a fast-acting, deadly virus. She finds herself transferred to The School, a walled environment full of young people who are trained in survival arts by adult teachers. The conditions are harsh. Food is scarce and there is limited electricity. Each student is encouraged to specialise in a skill. Pan’s is almost immediately self-evident – she has telepathic power that enables her to find things, and possibly to see into the future. Her strange dreams and terrible nightmares begin to fit together and, with the team’s final exhibition, she suddenly realises what is really going on.
Admission is the first of a series – and it shows. The book has an exciting premise which slows considerably until the very last pages where Pandora makes her discovery. The build-up doesn’t quite hold, with characters that seem inconsistent in dialogue and action, and scenes that are at times heavy with moral messages. Pandora’s revelation occurs too late and is suddenly over without reflection. There is a sense that the second book will support the first and supply some answers to the many questions readers have, but unfortunately this makes book one a bit too much of a teaser.
reviewed by Pam Harvey