It took slightly under eight hours for Melbourne to die.
When Pandora Jones thought back to that day – something she did often – there were large holes in her memory. She definitely remembered sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast and listening to the news on the radio, her mother bustling about and packing lunch for her brother Danny.
On what begins as a fairly normal day, Pandora Jones witnesses horrific scenes of death as first a relief teacher, then everyone around her starts to cough, collapse and die. As if in a terrible nightmare, Pandora heads for home, only to witness the death of her family to the inexplicable pandemic that is wiping out much out of humanity. When she wakes up in hospital, her recollection of what has happened is vague, but finds herself one of a small group of survivors, relocated to a facility called The School. There she is trained for survival in the world as it now is. But there are secrets and contradictions, and Pan doesn’t know who to trust or what to believe.
Pandora Jones: Admission is the first instalment in a new post-apocalyptic series for teen readers, offering an absorbing blend of action, mystery and character development. While lots of questions arise, not all of them are answered, leaving lots of room for the rest of the series to do so.
Pan is an interesting viewpoint character, with a mix of strengths and failings which make her believable. Her supporting cast is also diverse, and relationships change over the course of events allowing characters to develop and readers to connect.
With two more titles to come, teen readers will be keen to follow the series.
Pandora Jones: Admission, by Barry Jonsberg
Allen & Unwin, 2014
Available from good bookstores and online.