Review: State of Grace by Hilary Badger

“…everywhere around us there’s this haze that makes all creation shimmer… the gazebo, the fountains, the lawn, every single flower, tree and animal – all of them are rippling and wobbling and floating.”

                                                            –  Hilary Badger, State of Grace

 Whoever said ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ was dreaming. We all do it and it was the reason I picked up this stunning book. I didn’t read the blurb – I just wanted to own it! Thankfully I was rewarded with a book that was equally as good on the inside!

With the plethora of dystopian novels in the market, it was interesting to discover this book was the antithesis – a utopian setting. The story begins in a place called Dot, which heavily resembles the Garden of Eden. The setting is idyllic, the perfect place. It is calm and tranquil and everyone is ‘dotly’ – calm, happy and loving to all beings and things. The protagonist Wren narrates ‘Dot created Fern short with big deer eyes and a face all round and sweet, exactly like a flower… a wanderer and a daisy-chain maker, the type of girl who’s always humming…and smiling. Fern’s always smiling.

It sounds like the perfect place. The author is clever in the way she uses language. It is flowery and fun and it depicts the perfect life however there are sinister undertones. I understood that not everything was how it appeared however it took a while for it to manifest in the story… I don’t want to give any more away!

For a young adult novel it certainly deals with some very interesting themes. There is a strong emphasis on emotions, feelings and physical appearances and loving every individual thing about each person. More importantly, it deals with the notion of happiness and it questions what happiness truly is. If you had the chance to erase all unpleasantness from your life, would you? Is ignorance truly bliss? Or do we gain more from life when we face our issues and live with and accept them?

State of Grace is a fantastic young adult novel, one of which I am very happy to have on my bookshelf!


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