There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)on April 26th 2015
Peace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of the dome. Now Nat wants answers. Is there life outside the dome and if so, what has the Order been hiding from everyone?
After reading this book, I love the title even more. Natalia Greyes lost her parents nine years ago, and the title ties her to her mother in a wonderful way. Going into the book, I didn’t know what it was about. I haven’t read a dystopian in a while (that’s not Siobhan Davis – what can I say? I’m a fan), so I was excited to start it. And after that ending I want to know if there are going to be more books!
Natalia, or more commonly called Nat, had an interesting personality. The book began with her eighteenth birthday, which signified that she had to start trying to find her way in the world—or more accurately, the dome. But Nat had no idea what she wanted to do. There were moments when I thought she acted younger than eighteen; at the same time, she played the part of confused new adult quite well. She barely had control of her emotions, even less so over her place in the dome. She wasn’t my favorite MC, and some of her reactions to situations seemed a bit off, but I would read another book told in her perspective.
I’m a huge fan of love triangle, but this one was a tad different. One of her best friends, Jak, admitted that he had feelings for her, but she made it clear on multiple occasions that she didn’t feel the same way about him. Then, there was Evan. I really liked Evan. When I first met him, I only knew him as the Outsider, but his first encounter with Nat brought me over to his side. I wanted their relationship to turn into something more and enjoyed the dynamic between them. Nat got on my nerves some when she was around Evan, as she didn’t know what to think of him and constantly questioned his motives. Other than that, their relationship was sweet and appropriate for a younger audience.
The world that Nat lived in, Dome 1618, had strict rules and little technology, though it did have some. I liked how the technology was centralized in the Axis, drawing a clear divide between those that didn’t belong on one of the 100 floors. Overall, it reminded me of City of Ember in its feel of how everything worked. Everyone had a job, a purpose, a placement, and a need to make the dome a better place. Also, there was some ambiguity on the outside world. My favorite scenes in the book were when Nat was outside the dome. I loved how she experienced the world beyond with such child-like enjoyment. In my head, the world was beautiful and simple, and it made for wonderful imagery, especially the meadow.
If you’re looking for a quick, dystopian read, I recommend this one. McFarland’s style of writing is light and quick, and the book is definitely fast paced. I have to mention again, are there going to be more books? I still have some questions about what happens next and the domes beyond!