A rebellious street urchin is coerced into driving a race car for an oppressive corporation that rules her planet.
Racing’s in Phee’s blood—she’s the daughter of a legendary driver who mysteriously vanished. Her races are different from her father’s, though. He raced legitimately on the corporation circuit; she races illegally underground. When a race turns out to be a trap, she’s arrested and sentenced to life at a penal colony—unless she agrees to race for Benroyal, the most powerful of the oppressive corporations that maintain their rigid class system. As her best friend, foster brother, and—most importantly—race navigator (pacer), Bear, was also caught, Phee bargains for his sentence to be commuted by joining the team as well. Phee hates being a PR tool and distraction for the evil corporation—and she loathes the pretty dresses and press requirements—but must protect her foster family, especially as she discovers secrets about Benroyal that could get them all killed. The races make for some of the strongest, most compelling writing in the book, so it’s too bad that there are so few of them. They’re much more entertaining than the love triangle among Phee, Bear, and Phee’s new pacer: a handsome, bad-boy prince with secrets. The society and protagonist are standard-issue dystopian, but the intrigue builds into political conspiracies and action—debut author Martin’s strength—and a wild climax that begs for a sequel.
Genre fans will find that the strong action helps to compensate for flaws. (Dystopian romance. 12 & up)