Although this book is classified as dystopian, do not be fooled. This is a mafia crime mystery that is simply set in the future. The title, rather than the cover, is what should be the clue. And a predictable one at that.
While this is relatively well-paced, it is less than believable. The romance, while not what I would classify as "insta-love," is still predictable. And some of it comes out of nowhere. One moment our heroine is trying to get away from the romantic interest, and the next thing she's grabbing his hand and kissing him. The inner conflict completely contradicts the outward action, which makes it unbelievable.
Annie, the main character, has a lot on her shoulders. But we never see the effects of this; she is stoic and apparently perfectly capable of handling anything the world throws at her. This includes some rather horrific situations with prison, the loss of several family members, dealing with her extended mafia family, and the court system. She never breaks down, she never caves, she never even lets on that she's stressed out. This, again, is completely unbelievable.
I did like the way she titled the chapters and wrote this like a diary. And the action started and kept going, so I wasn't bored in that respect. Granted, this isn't my genre per se, but the story itself could have been much better written. If you're going to get into all this mafia/politics/court system stuff, then at least approach it from a reasonably believable standpoint. Trying to combine a bad juvenile detention experience with a medieval dungeon was just ridiculous. Add to this the incongruous exchanges between the headmistress of the detention facility and Annie, and you get a whole mess that simply doesn't make sense.
And then Annie wants to be a criminologist? Seriously?
To its credit, this story does deal with the idea that outlawed things simply go underground. The comparison to prohibition in the 1930's was insightful. But overall, I didn't care for the story or the characters. This may be entertaining for a younger audience, but even that age group deserves better writing.