This is going to be a minor spoiler: This is a book that switches characters every time a new chapter comes up. It also changes font to be a little more clear. The characters it switches between is it's two main characters. The last book I read that did this was Jodi Picoult's House Rules, and that transitioned between five different main characters. In literature, I think what Marie did was hard, transitioning between two characters every eight or so pages. Quite balanced.
Anyway, this book is a future dystopian society book, but I'd be surprised if you didn't guess that already from the cover. And this time, it's apparently in the future so much that a): Americans have been divided into The Republic and The Colonies and they have been at war for who-knows-how-long and b): A family finds a quarter in the ground and sees it as proof that the United States, as a whole, once existed. In this future society, everyone starting at the age of 10 has to take a Trial, and these are marked out of 1500. It's a test for just about everything, sort of like being tested in Divergent, except you don't pick a side and the tests are all in one shot. You'd have to be absolutely horrid to get around 1000, however. People who pass the tests are welcomed into the Republic society. The ones who fail are sent to labor camps. And not everyone who passes the test ends up living the best life. Those who live in poverty, fugitive Day tries to help out; a boy who has been on a secret mission for the last few years to find medicine from the Republic, for the plague that his nine year old son Eden has and is getting worse. One day, during an escape, Day is forced to stab an officer to avoid capture, and one who dies a little while later. This attracts even more attention to the one person in Republican society, June Iparis, who got a perfect score on her test and is the only fifteen-year old at one of the top universities in the divided country.
That's all I'm revealing. You'll have to read the book to find out what happens afterward, but I'm not torturing you. This book had a path that it seemed to be taking, and in a way, it follows the predicted path, but in more ways, it surprises. A lot of the descriptions in the book are about the theories behind people's movements, of what they're thinking and how bent cops cheat and lie. I was thinking about giving the book a perfect score during the first half. The second half went down a notch but not that tragically. There are character deaths that I didn't see coming, and I wasn't this shocked about a death since the Escape from Furnace series. And you know? I've stopped writing that books are written well, because pretty much every book these days is written well, but here I've got to give Marie Lu credit: There is a difference between sounding beautifully and sounding like Shakespeare. This type of writing has no weird phrases, is punchy, well put to use because of its two different narrators of different religion, and doesn't feel like Marie expects us to be patient.
When I put the book down, I was gripped immediately to read the sequels, Prodigy and Champion. The goal of the next two books was loud and clear in my head, and though the ride can get a bit bumpy because of overdoing arguments and thoughts rather than action, it promises more to come without feeling like a prelude. If you want a brief synopsis, though, let me say that this book has a hint of Romeo & Juliet, metaphorically saying what would happen if three things happened in the play. 1) Juliet woke up in time. 2) Someone evil saw them leave the crypt together. 3) The Nurse or Benvolio or someone was in trouble and still within Verona. When it comes to a story like that, the thoughts of the sequel possibilities are irresistible.