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Sev has been branded as a traitor since she was eight. That’s the penalty for being the daughter of the woman who betrayed her entire nation.


Now her mother’s body is displayed above Traitor’s Arch, kept in a paralyzed half-sleep by the same plague that destroyed the rest of the world. And as further punishment, Sev must do hard labor to prove that she’s more valuable alive than dead.

When the government blames Sev for a horrific bombing, she must escape the city or face the chopping block. Unimaginable dangers lurk outside the city walls, and Sev’s only hope of survival lies with the most unlikely person—Howl, the chairman’s son.  Yet Howl has secrets, and though he promises to lead her to safety, Sev can’t help but wonder if he knows more about her past—and her mother’s crimes—than he lets on.


But in a hostile world, trust is a luxury. Even when Sev’s life and the lives of everyone she loves may hang in the balance.

"Fast paced and fun. I couldn't stop turning the pages."


--Dan Wells NYT Bestselling Author



A rich and timely tale that twists and turns so quickly, you might get whiplash.”


  - Aprilynne Pike, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author


Kirkus Reviews

Brimming with rich detail in an Asian-inflected alternative world that's lightly touched with Maoist terminology and concepts and helmed by achingly real characters, Sevvy's story is thrilling to get lost in. By the end, readers will be clamoring for more. Incredibly immersive and tightly plotted.

 Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Starred Review

Sev maintains an appealing resilience and humor despite her difficult life: she chooses to trust others despite having suffered betrayal, cracks jokes in the direst of circumstances and acts altruistically despite being treated like garbage for much of her life. Sangster draws on her knowledge of Chinese history and culture to build a richly imagined dystopia that brings new life to familiar tropes. An unexpected swerve in the final act will leave readers breathlessly waiting for the next volume.



Sangster’s vivid dystopia draws heavily from Chinese history, making for a refreshing change from the usual teen dystopia. . . Although the author retains elements familiar to the genre they come together differently and sometimes unexpectedly here, giving the story a fresh twist. . . Deep worldbuilding continues throughout the entire story, rewarding attention and unspooling new information right up to the breathless ending. Young adult lovers of dystopian dramas will enjoy this new twist on the “old” standards.


School Library Journal

Sangster does a masterful job of world-building, and takes the time to develop characters and a plot that twists in on itself multiple times. As with Sev, readers are dribbled clues that clearly point to more diabolical machinations on both sides. The backdrop of vicious creatures coupled with adventures in which survival is not always assured will keep patient readers engaged. . . ­VERDICT Give to fans of Leigh Bardugo’s “Six of Crows” series and Sabaa Tahir’s “Ember in the Ashes” trilogy.


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