- Page Count: 336
- Release Date: June 13, 2017
- My Rating: 4 stars
From critically acclaimed author Cindy Pon comes an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi thriller, set in a near-future Taipei plagued by pollution, about a group of teens who risk everything to save their city.
Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.
With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.
Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?
You know how some books just read like a movie that you can see so clearly in your head? This NEEDS to be made into a movie. (And that doesn’t mean this book isn’t complete on its own in any way – just that it was that intense). It kind of felt like a futuristic dystopian heist story, yet was technically none of those things at the same time.
“I knew that the Taiwanese people’s will was strong – that we endured. But we needed at least a fighting chance.”
The story’s set in an alternate near-future Taipei where the world is horribly polluted.
Society is split into two sides: the impoverished mei who have short life expectancies and die easily preventable deaths because they can’t afford access to good healthcare or clean food & water, and then the small percentage of super wealthy you who wear suits with clean oxygen. The sky used to be blue…
“back when some thought we could still salvage our planet by ‘going green.’ We might have, if enough people had cared. But they hadn’t. The rich were too rich, the poor were too poor… now that the majority of us didn’t live past our forties, we cared even less.”
Jason is a mei who kidnaps a you girl for some money and later finds out she’s the daughter of the man who runs Jin Corp, the company who makes the suits that the wealthy wear. There’s evidence that same company is also making people sick, blocking environmental legislation, bribing politicians, and involved in some murders. Jason and his group of badass friends (who are ALL so wonderful) form a plan to take down Jin Corp, which involves him posing as a you boy and getting close to Daiyu… the girl he kidnapped.
I really loved Daiyu’s character and was surprised by the role she ended up taking. She was definitely not any sort of helpless love interest. Every character was pretty complex, actually. I really connected with them and could totally feel the hopelessness and injustice in the struggles they faced to just live. It was honestly kind of scary how possible this whole story seemed!
The worldbuilding was really strong and so well done because it included a ton of relevant issues without ever trivializing or simplifying them. The writing was great, too… the story was fast-paced and kept my attention the whole way through. I’m normally not that into futuristic or dystopian stories (so the 4 stars is purely a reflection of my own personal taste and absolutely not a sign of anything lacking in this story). And even though this isn’t my normal high fantasy/princess/sparkly magic genre, I totally couldn’t put this down!
Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC. The quote above was taken from an ARC and is subject to change upon publication.