Admission by Barry Jonsberg
Pandora Jones, Bk 1. Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Thriller. Dystopian fiction. Pandemic. Survival. Pandora Jones wakes up in The School, weak and disorientated. She remembers horrifying scenes of death, people bleeding to death and Melbourne dying from a pandemic. The School is a heavily guarded place where talented survivors have been placed and where they are expected to hone their skills, both mental and physical, and prepare for what will come next. Pan's special skill is intuition, but her intuition begins to lead her to questioning what is happening around her.
Working with a talented group of eight young people, including Nathan a talented runner and leader, Wei-Lin, who uses her archery skills and Cara, an introspective young woman, Pan begins to adjust to life in The School. Haunted by terrifying nightmares of a policeman putting a gun in his mouth, her mother and brother coughing up blood and dying, and a chase through the streets, she is hard pressed to work out what is a memory and what is a nightmare.
Jonsberg brings his great writing talent to good use with his vivid descriptions of The School and the way it operates and the people who live there. Survival is the key and the group have to work very hard to learn how to fight and to become very fit under the direction of seemingly uncaring instructors. After the death of one of their team in mysterious circumstances, the group is taken to an island where they face men with guns and have to struggle to stay alive.
The story is action packed and very easy to visualise as a movie or TV series. With its engaging characters, involving plot and a cliff hanger of an ending, it is sure to appeal to its teen readers who will be gasping for the next instalment in the trilogy. Definitely a book for those who enjoyed The hunger games series by Suzanne Collins or The maze runner series by James Dashner.