By Marie Lu
My Rating: 4 / 5
I’ve been hearing about this book for so long, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to read it. I think I was finally hitting the wall with dystopian/sci-fi/post-apocalyptic YA stories (gasp!). But I kept hearing how good this one was…so I took a copy out from the library.
Well, let me tell you, for me, this book was much better than I thought it would be, and I’ve already put a hold on the sequel at the library!
Here is summary from Goodreads:
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.
I loved the world-building in this story because there was no huge text-dump setting out the entire history of Day and June’s world in a page or two. I learned things about their world as I read on, and that was a nice change from some other dystopian books I’ve read. All you really know at the start is that June and Day live in the Republic, which is at war with the Colonies in what seems to be a divided former USA. Other details about the world, like the plague that infects Day’s family, are revealed as the story progresses.
There was a major disparity between the rich and the poor in the Republic, all connected to the Trial that one takes when young, the score of which determines the trajectory of one’s life. I liked that a lot of this was shown, rather than told, through the chapters that are alternately narrated by Day and June. They each have a very different life, and those differences told me a lot about their world.
When June’s brother Metias is murdered, Day is the number one suspect, and it becomes her mission to track him down. I loved the way the truth behind Metias’s death unfolded. You might see it coming (okay, you will definitely see it coming), but the motives behind his murder and what it means for June and Day’s world really hooked me. It made me want to read more about their world.
Another thing I liked about this book was that the characters were intelligent. June and Day are both very calculating and cunning, but even the other characters, like Tess, the orphan on the streets with Day, were smart. Stupid characters making stupid decisions is a pet peeve of mine, but I didn’t think anyone in this book was stupid. Sure, some characters were cold and unlikable and seemed to have zero empathy, but they weren’t dumb. There was a big emphasis on logic and reason, and I think that can be both a good thing and a bad thing. What happens when you value logic above all else?
There were some good action scenes, too. I loved reading the different fight scenes, since June and Day were both very skilled, which made their abilities believable to me as a reader, and also exciting.
Much of what I loved about this book is due to the writing. It flowed very well, and the book was just the right length. I felt attached to both Day and June quickly, and I even cared about some secondary characters who weren’t given much to do, like Metias, Tess, and Day’s mother and brothers. Oh, and did I mention, no love triangle?? Bonus points!
I’m so happy I finally read this book, and I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on the sequel, Prodigy.