August 11, 2021 7:36 AM EDT

Fifteen-year-old June has trained her entire life to succeed in the highest ranks of the Republic, a military dictatorship ruling what once was the western United States. She even entered college early after earning a perfect score on her trials, and her powerful family has high hopes for her future. Day, who is also 15, is the Republic’s most wanted criminal, born into one of the country’s poorest neighborhoods. The two teenagers should have nothing in common. But in Marie Lu’s 2011 page-turner, when June’s brother is killed and Day becomes the prime suspect, the pair’s lives crash together in a fast-paced adventure that unfolds in a terrifying, totalitarian world ripe with betrayal, mystery and danger. Lu’s dystopian novel, which launched three sequels, three graphic novels and adaptation buzz, offers a chilling coming-of-age story that warns of the dangers of authoritarianism. —Madeleine Carlisle

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