Author: Marie Lu
Genre: YA Dystopian
Release Date: November 2011
Goodreads Summary: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.
So I'm really late to the Lu Game but I LOVED this novel! June and Day come from two sides of the Republic (basically modern day Republican and Democrat) and are shoved against each other. June thinks he's a murderer, and Day assumes she's a stuck-up princess. However, while performing undercover work, June discovers the secrets hidden by the Republic and realizes that if she wants to learn the truth, she has to go back on everything she's learned and believed.
The dynamic between June and Day can only be described (by me) as a Leonard and Sheldon relationship from The Big Bang Theory but with a twist of Penny. June is calculating and logical while Day is more whimsical and emotional. They complement each other so well, I almost thought Lu had given us a perfect match early on but of course she's not that sweet (at least her writing, I can't say anything about her personality although I'm sure she's great. That was a lot of rambling.) Digressing, June and Day are amazing dual-storytellers and Lu handles the POVs flawlessly.
The politics were spot on. I read dystopian literature because of the politics, and most YA novels, especially trilogies like this series, don't get into the heavy stuff until the end of the second book. I'm so grateful the story plunges into the political strife and disagreeing governments because the more readers are exposed to stories like this the more likely they'll realize how closely they resemble our modern government. Sure, we may think politicians are stuffy or boring, but when it gets down to the nitty-gritty, those guys are powerful and often wrong in their conjectures.
Dystopian lore aside, the characters were well-developed, the story was fast-paced, and even the idea of sectors for the city were believable. We already have sectors in our society; we just refer to them as "the other side of the tracks" and stay within our perceived side of the world. The writing style and voice highlighted the personalities of June and Day while also showing glimpses of how the Republic can shape its society. Basically, the writing is has breathtaking as the reading.
Overall, I would recommend this novel for anyone who is a fan of dystopian no matter what age. Yes, the romance is played much more heavily than typical YA dystopian novels early on, but it was needed to progress parts of the plot. I don't like romance, but these kids don't even know what it is which makes it much more sweet. The politics are never downplayed, and that's why I would give this novel to someone who loves Orwell but didn't like Hunger Games. It's pretty awesome.
Rating: 4 / 5 Wonders