Through the Balustrade pulled me in from the first page. Roxan is seventeen and has her own shanty. And she’s thrilled about it.
Immediately, I want to know why she’s on her own at seventeen. Why does she think a dirt-floor shanty is a little slice of heaven? What kind of horror was her life before this point? Why does she believe she’s free now?
And is she? Really?
Seriously. I got all that from the first few paragraphs.
If you’re a fan of books like The Hunger Games or Divergent, Through the Balustrade is going to be right up your alley.
If you’ve ever felt different, unwanted, or weird—if you’ve ever believed (or maybe you still do) that you are nothing special, then Through the Balustrade is going to grab your heart strings and refuse to let go.
There are so many things I love about Through the Balustrade.
I love the characters—not a predictable one in the bunch. You’ll love some of them, you’ll despise others. And then there are the guys you just aren’t sure about. I spent half the book trying to figure out if this one guy wanted to help Roxan or if he was just trying to get close enough so he could kill her. (No. I’m not going to tell you. This is a spoiler free review!)
I love the language. They speak English in the Oblate, but they have their own expressions. Turns, rolls, flashes, matchments, Vitawater, merits…the words are dropped in so skillfully that even though you’ve never used them this way before, you’ll know exactly what they mean. It serves to highlight that this world is different—so very different—from our own.
Or, is it?
Speaking of the world…I love the world. Hmm…Well, not really. I love M.B. Dahl’s masterful world building, but it’s not a place I would want to live. Life inside the Protectorate is a closely monitored place where the adults do their jobs and don’t ask questions. Children are raised underground and any child who demonstrates certain gifts gets “modifed”—and yeah, it’s as bad as it sounds. And the thing about modification…it doesn’t always take.
Which brings us back to Roxan. She doesn’t know what’s “wrong” with her, but she’s smart enough to know she needs to keep it to herself.
Bless her heart, she does try, but there are evil forces at work in the Oblate and she’s the key to unlocking the door that will truly set the people free. It’s going to take every ounce of strength and bravery she’s never thought she had to do what must be done.
Because she’s the only one who can get them Through the Balustrade.
The weird one. The one who’s nothing special. She’s the key to everything.
You won’t be able to read Through the Balustrade without wondering if the very thing you dislike about yourself—that thing you so desperately wish you could change—if that’s not the thing that God wants to use to set you, and others, free.