This is one of the most haunting books I have ever read. There are pieces of it which are stunningly beautiful in the author's capture of humanity's fight against dreadful odds and her description of the post-apocalyptic landscape. There are also pieces which are terribly depressing. There are scenes towards the end which made me want to cry, I felt so deeply for the characters involved.
The story essential covers the post-apocalyptic aftermath of a series of Detonations which reduce the world to nothing but glass, ash and dust. These Detonations appear to be a kind of awful culmination of atomic and nano technology causing the survivors to fuse to things within their immediate vicinity at the times of the blasts. I found the scenes with the mothers perhaps the most touching of all. There are some who have survived in a radiation-proof dome, the leaders of which are attempting to create a "new eden" for these few to emerge back into. The rest who were left behind have been left to fend for themselves by this awful distopian society. We meet Pressia, Blackwell, Partridge, Lyda and El Capitan/Helmud. The characters are wonderfully evolved, I genuinely cared for every one of them.
I found it difficult to believe this novel is rated as a YF novel as there are some really serious adult themes covered in it. Although I believe it to be incredibly important that children understand and respect the events of our history, this is perhaps a little too harsh for younger readers.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is haunting, gripping, beautiful, timeless, disconcerting and so much more it defies classification. I can only stress again and again that this book is unlike anything else out there. To truly understand the breadth of this novel, it will require many re-reads. Highly, highly recommended!