Political and romantic intrigues ignite when three young people’s lives intersect in the slums of Laterre, one of the 12 planets humans settled after the First World ended.
This first installment in an ambitious epic modeled after Les Misérables depicts a futuristic society with a class system loosely modeled on the estates of pre-Revolutionary France and a thriving criminal underbelly policed by a fearsome cyborg inspecteur. Brown-haired, gray-eyed thief Chatine, the daughter of a dangerous gang leader, is known in public as a boy called Théo, but her real identity is not her only secret. A chance encounter with the handsome, dark-haired grandson of a high-ranking Second Estate general leads to her being hired to spy on Marcellus, whose father was in the Vangarde, a resistance group. The use of an old written language for secret communications by the resistance is a compelling element. Meanwhile, dark-haired Alouette, who never knew her mother, is tech-savvy and kind. Raised by a mysterious order that protects the books and histories of the First World, she is curious about the world outside the Refuge but finds herself in over her head when she sneaks out and meets Marcellus. The authors play with formulaic elements to freshen the story. Skin color is rarely mentioned, and the book seemingly defaults to white despite the presence of black people in early modern France.
A fast-paced, immersive, and imaginative romp. (maps) (Science fiction. 12-18)