I very much enjoyed Rutkoski’s Cabinet of Wonders, which is why I checked this out for teen Cybils reading, though it took me a bit to get to it.
The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2012.
Darcy’s memories of her life before she was five are very hazy. Five is when she was found abandoned outside the Firehouse in Chicago. Now in high school, she’s been kicked out of one foster family after another, despite her best efforts to fit in. The arrival of Conn, a Mysterious and Compellingly Handsome, yet Irritating new boy at her high school leads to new discoveries about herself and her past. Darcy and Conn travel to an alternate dimension, a Chicago where the Great Fire never happened, and where Darcy is liable to be killed on sight.
I’m being deliberately vague about the plot here, because you can read about that elsewhere or in the book as you choose. This has a lot of features of your standard-issue teen dystopia, including the misunderstood teen heroine, a love triangle, forbidden romance, and of course, a messed-up system. There are enough original elements mixed in to keep it fresh and interesting, including the alternate history and Rutkoski’s refusal to completely demonize either of the two opposing sides in the alternate dimension. Darcy has to do a fair bit of thinking to figure out a world that people are telling her is more clear-cut than it is, and she also has a strong circle of friends at high school in our Chicago, so she’s not forced to be either completely self-reliant or dependent on one of her swains. Her journey from believing herself to be completely on her own and self-reliant to recognizing that she had people to count on made for a pleasant character arc. This was very happy distraction reading while waiting for a car repair to be finished.