First impressions: Is it enough to say that I knew I'd like this just because it's a dystopian? From the first few sentences that set up a militaristic, controlling, dystopic future, I was on board with this one.
Lasting impressions: Very few books bring on a full cry from me, but this was one of them. The ending was so full of tension and sacrifice that I couldn't help but sob, right there at work during my lunch break.
Conflicting impressions: I intended to give this 5 stars after finishing it, but when I sat down to try and write a review, I couldn't remember what happened or why it made me cry without a bit of a refresher. Considering it's not as unforgettable a tale as some of my other die-hard 5 star favorites, I knocked it down a peg.
Overall impressions: This is a story about starcrossed lovers. June and Day are two 15 year olds who come from very different backgrounds, but are thrown together by circumstance, only to find themselves falling in love instead of destroying each other. Um, yes please!
June is the smartest kid, with the brightest future, in all of the Republic. She scored a perfect score - twice, since they didn't believe it the first time around - on her required exams. This landed her on the fast track to a promising military career, following in the footsteps of her older brother, Metias.
Day, on the other hand, failed out of his exams and was sent to the labor camps - or so the Republic would have the people believe. He escaped his terrible fate, and now acts as a Robin Hood of the poor districts where he was raised. He cheats and steals his way into money, giving some back to his destitute family when he can, though all except one of his brothers believes him to be dead. Day is known to wreak havoc on the Republic, making him the most wanted criminal in the country.
When a plague (one of many constantly striking the poor districts) rolls through his family's neighborhood, Day sets out to find a cure to save his youngest brother, who has been infected. After a dangerous break-in and an incident that leaves Metias dead, June is set on the trail of Day to find and kill him in revenge for the loss of her brother.
If only things were that easy.
Day is a charmer - bold, flirtatious, charismatic - and even June cannot resist being drawn to him. He challenges every preconceived notion the Republic would have her believe about him, and she struggles with how to keep hating him, even as the doubts set in about Metias's murder. June is likewise intriguing to Day. She is strong, smart, and ruthless, though also gentle of heart. She is quiet, thoughtful, and listens to Day, just when he thought no one was left to care about what he had to say. I loved these two together, and the tension that came from them not truly trusting each other.
The story moves quickly, and it's very hard to put this one down. None of the mysteries unraveling throughout are big surprises, and I wish the book was a bit longer, if only to get some more background. The Republic (Los Angeles) is at war with the rest of the continent, but I found it unclear why or how it started. I wasn't sure the exact history of this world or who the real villains were, so it was difficult to get invested in the political allegiances. For this book, June and Day were enough, but in the future I hope we get more information on the conflict that's brewing around them.
This is a must-read for all dystopian fans, and I think it's a good jumping in point for anyone looking to try out the genre for the first time. It has an intriguing setting, enjoyable characters, and a lot of heart. I very highly recommend it!
Rating: 4/5 stars
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