Oh my Dot! I’m stealing Wren’s words here because it’s the perfect exclamation in response to State of Grace.
I’m going to get personal here. I loved this book and one of the reasons why is because it misled me so deliciously. And while it’s not a spoiler to say why, it will mean another reader won’t experience the surprise I did. So, if you’re the reader who doesn’t want to know, you can stop reading this review. All you need to know is this is a book you should go and obtain right now.
But for those who are still here, I thought I was reading a fantasy story. I was a number of chapters in before the first clue it wasn’t fantasy, but I dismissed that as part of the story’s difference to anything else I'd read. Even when an obviously human character was introduced, I still wasn’t convinced the others were human.
I was so deliciously wrong and it’s a credit to the descriptions of time, people and place that I thought I was looking through non-human eyes. As a reader, I like being caught totally by surprise.
The eyes I was looking through were human, but the minds behind them were in an altered state.
Wren lives with her friends in the beautiful world Dot created. There is nowhere else except this perfect utopia. Wren is deliriously happy and her speech is rich with superlatives, but strange visions lead her to question her existence and Dot’s decisions. Questioning is not allowed. All the answers needed are in the Books of Dot.
When Gil suggests that just because Dot creates them all good, doesn’t mean they stay good, Wren struggles to determine what is good and what is bad. Her friend, Blaze seems to know what she is thinking but her friend, Fern can’t see past the wonderousness of Dot. When a boy arrives from outside it becomes obvious all that is not ‘dotly’ in Wren’s world. Sheer happiness has given way to doubt. She must decide who and what she believes.
There were many things I enjoyed about State of Grace – the exploration of blind faith, the glorious physical descriptions of the world Dot created, the shift in atmosphere from euphoric to threatening and the growth of Wren’s character.
This is not a book for lovers of action and fast-paced fiction but will appeal to those who like to be entertained and challenge.
Reviewed by Sandy Fussell
Title: State of Grace
Author: Hilary Badger
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Publication Date: October 2014 $19.95 RRP
Type: YA Fiction