I got this ARC in June. It comes out in stores in 3 days (the 29th). I read it in less than one day. Imagine Matched mixed with Divergent, mixed with The Death Cure, and you can get an idea for awesome this new dystopia is. For some reason, I kept thinking of my favorite Disney movie, while reading it too: Aladdin. There’s definitely an Aladdin/Jasmine type love story (that takes the back seat to the crazy plot).
The book, like many other dystopias, takes place in a not so decent future. The U.S. is divided between the Republic and the Colonies, two warring groups. Amongst the constant war, devastating poverty, and frequent weather disasters, is the plague: a disease that keeps coming back and killing off tons of people (or at least the people who can’t afford vaccinations). So much of the book deals with a class system where the majority of the Republic’s people are poor, score badly on a crucial test, die of the Plague, and work in low-paying jobs or labor camps, begging for money, and a small portion of the population is wealthy, healthy, and intelligent.
The book follows two teens from the Republic. June (girl) is from the wealthy section. She is famous for scoring a perfect score on the ultimate placement test and is training as the youngest soldier for the Republic. Day (boy) grew up with the majority, in the poorer sections of the Republic. He scored poorly on his test, is a wanted criminal for standing against the government, and is trying to save his family, whose door has just been marked with the symbol for the plague.
June and Day live in a strict, class-run society, where the general rule of the government seems to be: shoot first, ask questions later. The story really takes off when June’s brother is killed by Day. He throws a knife at him in his escape from the military after robbing a hospital of expensive medicine to give to his family who cannot afford it. Day is sort of like a dystopian Robin Hood, known for rebellious acts against the government and for helping the poor.
June finishes her schooling early and is immediately placed on the job of tracking down Day and avenging her brother’s death. June is the character who learns just how messed up her world really is. She has lived a rather sheltered, safe life, and on her journey to find Day, becomes more and more aware of how the world actually works. Before realizing Day is who he really is, June falls for him. He saves her from a sticky situation and continues to help her survive in the poorer districts she does not know at all. But, she turns him in any way.
The story gets so good when June learns about Day’s true involvement in the death of her brother. There’s execution days, crazy breaking out plots, family rescue missions, speaking with the enemy (the Colonies), disarming weapons, lots of guns, crazy chase scenes, amazing fights, and secret government truths that will even make avid dystopia readers’ blood boil.
I love how relatable this book is to current politics. So much of the class system in this book can be seen with the current state of the U.S. economy. I love learning about June’s brother and what he knew before he died. I loved the nonstop action. I loved how intelligent the two characters were. And I really love that they each noticed the other’s intelligence right away and that was a major attracting feature. I loved that for once in one of these stories, women did not sink backwards in civil rights. June was proof that a woman could be top in rank with men. Though, the leader who’s really in charge, is male. All of the female characters here were survivors, fighters, and just plain interesting to read about.
I really loved Day. I loved him before I learned his real story and could truly become sympathetic toward him. He is just so caring, so brave, and truly heroic. June is brave too. She always does what she thinks is the right thing to do, even when it’s not necessarily what she’s been taught to do. And from the beginning, she’s also known for being a little rebellious or at least curious in situations where soldiers are meant to just be obedient.
I don’t know if the final copy of the book will do this but June’s chapters are written in black ink, and Day’s chapters are written in gold in the ARC. At first this was annoying because gold is not as easy to read as black…and I wonder how this transmits to ebook format…and then I figured that there has to be some metaphor, some purpose, some point as to why Day, the poor, rebellious, less fortunate character is entitled to the gold ink. Is it irony? Is the ink saying early on how intelligent everyone should know he is? I wish this was made more clear. It must cost some serious money to print in gold ink, and it’s not a good sign that readers cannot figure out the importance of it –why spend all that money and time on something that doesn’t make sense?
All in all, I loved this book. I can’t wait for a sequel (that is hopefully in the works). It’s on my list for favorite dystopias. It’s also on my list for favorite YA of 2011. Look out for these lists soon. I give it a 10/10!