The surface of the earth became uninhabitable and humankind had to move underground. In a society divided into 3 classes, Tristan is not only a sun dweller, a first class citizen living in a world of plenty, but also the president's son. In her own class, the moon dwellers, 17-year-old Adele is at the bottom of the scale, waiting in a juvenile prison to turn 18 to be transferred into an adult prison for the rest of her life. Unlikely to ever meet, their eyes lock during a parade while the president's son drives by, waving at the crowds. They both feel a pull towards each other they can't understand. Tristan needs to find out who this girl in prison was and sets out to find her with his best friend. At the same time Adele plans her escape with two friends.
Their story lines intertwine and part again and again and it takes a while until they finally have a chance to start finding out why they are strangely drawn to one another but yet feel physical pain the moment they touch. The love story of them has some really sweet moments in store.
The main characters are not only lovable, but also very interesting, both with tragedies in their past. Adele is quite unlike your usual heroine in a young adult book. She can kick ass! In the beginning she is socially quite uncomfortable after having shut herself off from other people in prison, only when she makes two new friends, her shell pops and she allows herself to be the warm character she really is, which is obvious in particular when she interacts with her little sister.
The story is told alternating from Tristan's and Adele's point of view which was keeping me hooked as their stories connect or move towards a connection a lot.
The adventurous underground journey reminded me to Jules Verne's “Journey to the center of the earth” sometimes. There is definitely more fighting and action in this story than in the average teenage dystopian novels.
In the beginning I had my problems with the weird instant attraction of the 2 protagonists and readiness to take big risks, but there is more behind their connection than the all too common „insta-love-story“, unfortunately by the end of book 1 the reader is still guessing and waiting for answers as to what exactly is connecting them.
So consider yourselves warned, in the end there remain so many questions unanswered that you won't have a chance but to read the next installment in this 4-books-series.
Personally when reading a dystopian story I like to know very soon how society as we know it turned into the world presented in the book. For my taste the explanations come a bit too late. I hope to learn much more about how the society works and what life is like for the average citizen in the next installments.