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.
It took me well over a year to start and finish this book because I kept having to put it down. Though the synopsis paints it as some kind of political romance/thriller, I couldn't help but notice how incredibly slow the plot actually is. For most of the story there is no real villain and the reader is left to wonder what the point of the whole thing is. If it was to be some kind of show down between two teenage prodigys than it failed miserably. A lot of reviewers have said before and I wholeheartedly agree, if you take away the chapter headings and made the fonts the same, it would be almost impossible to distinguish between Day and June's voices. The world building could have been elaborated on a lot more as many of the aspects of the world were unexplained. On the writing front, Lu is a talented writer and I liked that she used a mix of long and short sentences to break up the flow of the story telling. It made the writing more interesting. Had it not been for the writing and the lack of love triangle, I don't think I would have been able to finish this one.
One of the main reasons I bought this book was because it was written by an Asian author and claimed to have Asian inspired characters. This aspect of the book is by far the most disappointing for me. If I sound annoyed it's because I am. I can forgive outrageous hair and other characteristics in fantasy/paranormal novels but not in dystopia. Not when you're trying to make me believe your world could really happen. For a while now I've been wondering whether some writers or their editors EVER do any genetic research before they give their characters certain physical attributes. Let me give you a quick lesson now. You CANNOT classify a person as having dominant Mongolian attributes (I'm looking at you Day) and then describe them as being blond with blue eyes. In my books dominant means more than 50%. If you're 50% Asian, you will have dark hair and dark eyes. End of story. This is basic biology. If one of your parents is full Asian and the other is blond Caucasian, you will have dark hair and dark eyes. By the time you get to a point where two dark haired people produce a child with white blond hair and bright blue eyes they are no longer dominant anything. Above all else, and I don't think Lu would have meant it to come across this way, I am insulted by the way Day looks. It makes me feel like an effort was made to write an Asian character but somewhere along the publishing line a decision was made to "whitewash" the character to make them more palatable.
June - Present me with a rich, spoiled, seemingly perfect child prodigy and I will immediately get my hackles up. Make her stupid on top of that and I'm checking out. In my opinion June was very difficult to warm to. Besides being utterly clueless for someone who is meant to be so smart, she has a self entitled air of importance simply because she scored well on a test. She experiences loss which is sad, but the way she handles it doesn't inspire any empathy. I was hoping for a strong female lead and though June is very handy in a fight, I think her attitude leaves a lot to be desired.
Day - I have a hard time believing in Day's characterisation. No one survives living on the streets in a Dystopian novel without getting their hands dirty. And if they do, they're not a well rounded character. I expected Day to be edgy. To be rough and snarky. He was none of those things. We get told very often that Day has done some incredible things such as breaking into a bank in 10 seconds but we never see any of this in action. Despite being the Republics most wanted criminal, he sure starts trusting people very quickly.
It was there. I did not like it. This novel really just wasn't for me.