An imaginative, convincing dystopian world dominates this intriguing debut, in which the population lives in domed cities after most of the oxygen has escaped the atmosphere.
Further difficulties continue in the totalitarian city under the dome, where the Premium class gets most of the money and oxygen to spare, while the working-class Auxiliaries must conserve their oxygen or pay a fine. Brilliant Bea, an Auxiliary, hopes to win a spot in an advanced school, but she learns that the authorities have rigged the game. Her Premium boyfriend, Quinn, wins a spot despite an obviously inferior performance. Nevertheless, Quinn arranges for them to take a trip outside the city, wearing oxygen tanks, where they meet and befriend Alina, an escaping rebel. Not only the oxygen-depleted world, but also the power-hungry authorities threaten Alina, Quinn and Bea at every turn. Crossen keeps the pace at a steady clip as she builds her desperate world. She tells the story through chapters alternating among the three protagonists, each written in the now-standard first-person present. Although the villains remain stereotypical, the sympathetic characters stand out well, especially the crazy drifter, old Maude Blue, who knows a thing or two about surviving outside the dome. The well-realized, ruined world takes center stage throughout, however, as the author leaves room for just a bit of hope and a possible sequel.
A solid post-apocalyptic tale. (Dystopian romance. 12 & up)