Welcome to another Thoughts On book review. You’ll see these pop up on my blog whenever I’ve found a book I just can’t put down.
You could say June Iparis is laconic.
She’s not your typical fifteen-year-old girl who gushes over gossip or melts over cute animals. She’s not one to dwell on the sadness of being an orphan. She doesn’t stamp her foot out of frustration or complain miserably that things in her life are unfair.
And I don’t ever think I’ve heard her giggle.
Even in matters of the heart (or, rather, the hormones) June appears completely level headed. For instance, when they arrive at the Patriot’s camp, June and Day quickly find themselves wrapped up in the middle of a steamy make out session. In a heated moment, Day pulls back and tells June that he loves her for the first time. And what is the first thought that goes through June’s mind?
Instead of smiling or blushing or getting all twisted up with anxious delight like any normal fifteen-year-old would upon hearing such a confession, June calculates the odds of attraction and rejects the idea based on statistical improbability.
So why in the world would anyone pick her to lead a nation?
June’s not personable. And while she may have the skills of a intellectual and militaristic prodigy, she sure has no business making decisions for such a large group of people when she can’t even decide if she loves her boyfriend or not. But when Anden practically offers June the opportunity to become his Princeps and run the nation by his side at the end of the book, we bite our nails as June decides what to do.
As Princeps, June could return home to her Republic, getting a second chance at the life she left behind. She would have financial security. She would have a shot with Anden. Everything that changed as a result of her involvement with Day and the Patriots would suddenly be forgotten.
But how can June return to the Republic, vowing to fix it from the inside, when that means putting her trust in the very system that killed her family? Is she ready to say goodbye to Day forever? Returning would resign June to one, defined fate. Now that she’s had a taste of pure, unrefined freedom, is June willing to give it all away?
Beneath all these concerns, one deeper issue lies. Is June even cut out to be a leader? As readers, we’re never one hundred percent sure, and neither is June for that matter.
Until one defining moment.
At the end of the book, June can barely walk. As Day pulls her limp body to the Capitol Tower, she realizes that he won’t make it in time to lead the protesters if he has to drag her along with him. And so, although Day is the only thing keeping June on her feet, she tells him to leave her behind and go on ahead. She is willing to sacrifice her chances of survival for the survival of her people.
Prodigy takes the concept of leadership and shines a spotlight on it, getting to the core of what it really means to be a role model in society. We realize that it is not a lack of emotion June represents, but instead an abundance of emotion expressed through unconventional methods. June may not have the political background of her fellow officials, but the love she has for her people and her ability to think critically with their interests in mind speak volumes. In the end, it is no longer a question of whether or not she is cut out to be the next Princeps.
Because she’s already acting like a true leader.