Thank you to the author, Jason Price, for sending me a copy of his book, Pleasant Grove, in exchange for my honest review. Pleasant Grove was a very interesting, fast and pleasurable read.
Welcome to Pleasant Grove, a quiet small town where neighbor helps neighbor and doors are left unlocked at night-an unspoiled paradise with one peculiar feature: It’s enclosed by a glass dome.
No one can leave and no one can enter.
No one can survive beyond the dome.
But then, a visitor arrives from the outside.
When 12-year-old Agnes Goodwin discovers a strange boy with no memory, she teams up with her best friends to unravel the mystery. Their extraordinary adventure will threaten everything they know…and everyone they love.
From the moment I read the synopsis, Pleasant Grove reminded me of the Simpsons movie, when they have a dome put in Springfield. No one can come in. No one can come out.
And honestly, with a synopsis like that, curiosity got the better of me, and I wanted to know everything! Why is the dome there? Why are the parents not saying anything? Who is this boy and how did he come in? And most importantly, what is outside the dome?
Pleasant Grove is aimed for middle-grade, YA audience, and it won’t disappoint. The writing is very vivid, and every chapter leaves you wanting to know more. From the very first moments, I was hooked with the description of the town. The people leave idyllic lives, everyone is minding their own business, and all seems to be perfect. During lockdown, I could actually understand being in this dome in a while new level. The whole reading experience felt a bit surreal as well, and I enjoyed it! But 12-year-old Agnes can feel something is wrong, despite her family denying it. When one day she sees a boy that she knows does not belong to this town, she knows something’s up. And if no one can give her the answers, she’ll have no choice but to find the answers for herself.
Agnes perfectly portrays the curiosity I feel in the book.
She is looking for answers, and she is determined and not afraid to look for more clues and ask questions. I also loved her determination to help this boy that she doesn’t know.
“Agnes liked asking questions, and had always assumed answers would lead to understanding. But sometimes, she now realised, answers only led to more questions.”
Alongside her, there are her friends and her brother, that are helping her on this adventure and the chemistry of this group is amazing! I loved their chats and when they were making plans, I loved their bickering, but most of all, their ability to keep encouraging each other and stay together. It was also interesting to see how each of the friends had a small story, or a small challenge they were dealing with at the moment – it added a bit of refreshing diversity from the actual plot and its intensity.
I even enjoyed the scenes when the bully Ruth was involved with her friends. It was interesting to see the fear she awoke in many people, and their personal growth when they would slowly start overcoming this fear. There were a few things left unsaid I felt like, especially in the end and regarding Ruth, that I wish were explained more. I have my theories for now though.
The reveal in the end was very pleasurable to read about.
For me, the ending was somewhat predictable because of books I have read before and movies I’ve seen, but there were still a lot of unexpected elements in it that I really enjoyed. I feel like we got all the answers that we were looking for. The last part felt a bit slow, but it left some space for another book I think, which may have been the reason why it was slower. If you are a fan of YA fantasy, with sci-fi elements, this is definitely the perfect book for you!