In the near future, a virus will drive humankind to the brink of extinction. With the illness spreading faster than attempts to control it and society collapsing, the last surviving city will become a beacon of hope for survivors.
Walled off from the outside world, this city is christened Oasis. Every aspect of life is controlled and the city begins to take on a new, sinister shape.
Born into this world is Quincy Emerson, a resident of the Outer Sector Dorms, brutal housing institutions reserved for those at risk of infection. Beyond the walls of Oasis, however, something is stirring, and events are about to overtake Quincy.
Eilís Barrett was 16 years old when Oasis was published earlier this year. This is remarkable and a story in itself, and I was particularly struck by how Eilís held her own on a panel at Eason’s inaugural YA convention last year. Her debut novel here with an Irish publisher, Gill, is confident beyond belief.
Quincy is established as a cold presence early on. She is cold out of necessity, born of her surroundings and a need to look after yourself in the cruel Outer Sector, where working to supply the inner senctions is her only function. She is a driven by human instinct, that will to survive, and some graphic scenes early on show how ruthless and cold-blooded you have to be to survive in this world.
There are inevitable comparisons to be made with The Maze Runner and Divergent series, but Eilís forges a path of her own making here. The pace is relentless, with the action following Quincy on her own personal quest inside the walls and elsewhere. Her steely determination marks her out as a natural leader, and her no-nonsense attitude is to be lauded in a main character. She has little time for empathy and patience in a world where a supposed virus outbreak is a constant threat.
It’s heading into spoiler territory to discuss any other characters or to go any further into plot. Suffice it to say, Eilís Barrett doesn’t show much mercy in her debut; no character is safe from a maiming or two, or worse. It’s a bright future for Irish fiction when we’re already eagerly anticipating the second book from this exciting new talent.
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