Peace. Love. Order. Dome.
Those are the rules Natalia must live by under the protective dome. Radiation and violent infected will kill anyone who ventures outside. Then Nat spots the impossible through the curved surface of the dome: survivors on the outside. When soldiers seize one of the men, Nat wrestles with conflicting desires. Should she find him and learn more about the world outside or keep her head down as her grandmother always admonishes her? When the outsider shares an impossible gift with Nat—a picture of her that her parents carried on their last mission outside the dome—she begins to fear that her leaders keep dark secrets.
As soon as I saw the premise of this book, I knew I had to read it. A close friend in junior high school and I used to talk about writing a story about a girl who lived in a bio dome and a boy from the outside. I love that Melanie McFarlane has done it!
The story moves very quickly. Sometimes I liked this, because it felt like things were always happening. Other times it felt rushed, and I wished for more pauses to stop and examine the story world or to better transition from one scene to the next. Sometimes I lost track of the setting because things happened so quickly. I’d think Nat was in the hall, but then suddenly she’d flop onto her bed, and I’d be like, wait, what?
I liked the development of the romance. I liked that Nat finds herself caught between two boys who passionately believe in their politics, and that her own political beliefs emerge independently. I kind of kept rooting for Jak (What is it about the perfect best friend that always makes me want him to emerge as the hero?) even though I liked Evan. There were definitely some twists that kept me turning pages where it came to the romantic elements.
Over all, I thought this book was okay. It didn’t blow me away, but I wasn’t sorry I read it. I think fans of Matched by Allie Condie might really enjoy There Once Were Stars. For more information about the story, check out my interview with author Melanie McFarlane.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently.
Boy/girl kissing. A few times Nat stretches out on a bed with a boy.
Nat’s parents died on an expedition outside the dome. Their bodies had been mutilated. Few details given about the incident. A disease turns people violent and causes their bodies to decompose while they’re still alive. (Sounds like some kind of zombie virus type deal.) Nat witnesses a few people infected with the disease. A man purposely infects himself as part of a murder/suicide plan.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.