Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Genre: Dytopian Science Fiction
Themes: Oppression, Social Justice
Age Range: 8th Grade and Up
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've read a lot of young adult dystopian fiction in the last couple of years, and like most genre literature it gets to be repetitive in nature. Repetitive in theme, elements, character archetype. But what I've come to realize over the years is that good fantasy and science fiction writers are like great chefs. Two chefs can take the same basic ingredients and make equally satisfying variations on a similar theme.
I would call Lu an adequate chef. I think that she does a decent job with the basic elements of dystopian fiction-government control of the population through lies and manipulation, characters who fight against that control, manufactured wars, etc...Having June and Day come from such different worlds allowed Lu to invite the reader into the worlds of both the powerful and powerless in the Republic, and proved important to the plot later on when June was able to use her access to help them escape from danger. It is not a cookie cutter novel, much like the Twilight clones that came out during its heyday. There are some decent discussion topics that could be developed from the plot, and the book definitely has some merit in comparing and contrasting it to other titles in this genre. It is the start of a series, so if you are looking to hook a reluctant reader this book provides opportunities for further reading (Prodigy and Champion are the next two in the series). Definitely a good choice for a classroom library.