In a world where global warming is here and territory wars have run rampant, the UN turns to an artificial intelligence named Talis to create solution for peace. Going rouge, Talis starts incinerating cities of warring countries via satellite and makes new rules for humanity; each country's leader must give one of their children to him and if that country wants to go war that child will be killed as a sacrifice.
400 years later, 17-year-old Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy (so, like Canada) is one of those children. She has spent a majority of her life in the isolated school with the rest of the hostages. Greta and her cohorts accept their fate as hostages with dignity and spend their days in intense study hoping they won’t be called on to die. That is until Elián Palnik, a hostage from the newly formed country shows up. He doesn’t play by the rules and makes Greta question everything she’d ever accepted.
So, it’s basically Dead Poets Society with a cyberpunk twist.
The A.I , Talis shows up as a character which I didn't expect. He's called the most strategic mind of an epoch but instead of being like a dark serious overlord--he’s a snarky, irreverent Bunny Ears Lawyer who makes obscure movie references. It is all pretty bizarre, but in a fun way I have never seen in YA.
I did this on audio and the narrator is Madeline Maby, who I liked as the voice of Kat in the Burn For Burn books. She has a little bit of bass in her voice so she does well with voicing all genders. I think the biggest stumbling block for her in this book is the accents of Greta’s classmates. Elián has a southern accent that just doesn't work. Her Tallis voice on the other hand works really, really well for this story.
My only criticism of the writing is sometimes is sometimes it felt little long in the tooth and like there were scenes that were stretching on too long. Also some of her metaphors don't land.
This high concept novel took me by surprise and I can't wait to see what happens to Greta in the next book.