Reed Paine and Riley Paca end up at a re-education camp for children of enemies of the State. Fate or fortune places them with a group of misfits, including Sam, Oliver, Adam, Paisley/Marie, and one other girl. Although the relationships do a fair amount of shifting, they become good friends willing to risk a lot for each other.
- Characters 4/5 – There are quite a few characters and a lot of setup. They’re fairly well-developed on the protagonist side with thorough backstories, but the villains are a tad lacking. The two teen brutes are forgettable. I do like Wanda. Totally blanking on her last name, but she’s an odd mix of mildly sadistic and control freakish.
- Narration 4/5 – You can definitely tell male from female narrative sections, but it’s sometimes harder to tell which teenager is which based on voice alone. The voice for Wanda was amazing though (controlled, measured, chilling). To be fair, there are like 7 MCs with distinct first person sections written about them.
- Plot 3.5/5 – The plan to steal the liberty bell is okay, but I’m with one of the characters who basically says “what’s the point”? The other half of their plan makes a lot of sense. Aside from billing this as a “stealing liberty” book, which is quite obviously going to have sequels, it’s a really big stretch that these kids would feel the need to steal the liberty bell.
- Pacing 2/5 – There’s a LOT of setup. That slows the work down significantly, to the point of a snail’s crawl.
- World-building 3.5/5 – Much like any dystopian future where liberty is severely restricted in the name of order and peace, the protagonists must figure out what’s right on their own. It’s a tad like any school-based drama. You can see this school being in the world of the Hunger Games.
- Ending/sense of closure 5/5 – There’s actually a lot of room to continue the story, but it reaches a good stopping point where one could have a semi-happily ever after stamped on it and feel fulfilled. The lead up to the end where they’re blundering about a bit is less impressive, but still, at least you reach some closure.
Fits comfortably in the dystopian teen drama genre. If that’s you’re thing, you’ll probably be satisfied.
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