Day and June live in a future version of Los Angeles, where flooding has killed millions and destroyed huge chunks or our coastline. California is now part of “The Republic” — a militaristic society on the west coast of the former United States — and constantly at battle with “The Colonies” on the east coast. Day is a 15 year old fugitive, one of the most wanted criminals in the entire Republic, and June is a prodigy, the youngest member of the military group ruling LA.
When Day is suspected of murdering June’s older brother, she is assigned the task of catching him and bringing him to justice. June goes undercover to befriend Day and his ward, Tess, and as she spends time with him, realizes that her brother’s murder may not be completely black and white — maybe Day is innocent and maybe the Republic isn’t as great a place to live and work as June has always been led to believe.
The story is told from alternating points of view, and kudos to Marie Lu for keeping that aspect of the storytelling fresh. Switching from one narrator to another can often lead to the feeling that the story’s details are repetitive and never ending (I’m looking at you, Ally Condie), but in this case, the details were fresh and the new perspective for each chapter kept the story moving briskly. However, I felt that the story fell short of its goals. There was a lot to like — the sparse details of what life was like in the Colonies, why Day’s necklace was so important to him, differences between the rich and the poor, etc. But mostly I saw missed opportunities, and I have to wonder how much is due to the writing, and how much of that is due to the editing…Do publishers push YA authors to put out trilogies these days? This book is supposed to be the first in a series, and maybe it would have been better as one longer book that gave more answers to the many questions raised and then simply dropped and forgotten.