Tally tries to compromise with Shay, stating that if Zane is granted a spot in The Cutters, she will stop making trouble. Shay agrees, devising a plan that requires Zane to find The New Smoke and betray it by using a tracking device (pretty much what Tally was tasked with in the first novel). The twist, though, is that instead of giving Zane a working tracker, Shay and Tally are going to track Zane and the other Crims "Rusty Style," following at close range until he unknowingly brings them to The New Smoke. Of course, the plan doesn't work out as well as either anticipates - arguments between friends occur, old friends return, and death-defying stunts almost end the mission early. After everything, though, Tally reaches The New Smoke, and it turns out to be something she never imagined.
But, when Dr. Cable starts a war with The New Smoke, Tally has to decide which side she's on once again. Does she stay aligned with her home city and assist in the elimination of the runaway's safe haven? Does she protect The New Smoke and betray everything she's been programmed to fight for? Does she admit her part in starting this war? The choices Tally makes- for freedom or prison, for ignorance or choice - could decide the future of her world.
What I liked about this book is that it showed a great internal struggle throughout. In the previous books, Tally easily went against the government, making decisions and acting on them in a relatively short amount of time. In this novel, however, she struggled to the end to go against what was programmed. I also liked how Shay and Tally's friendship was shown. I felt like this is the first time where the "leadership" role of the friendship was reversed. In the previous books, Tally and Shay were friends, but it seemed like Tally was the leader of the pair - always making decisions and Shay reacting to those decisions. In this instance, although Shay thought she was being friendly, Tally calling Shay "Boss" and Shay always directing Tally's every move proves that this was more about control than friendship. It was just interesting to see this different friendship dynamic.
There was a (dis)abled character in this book, though, so I appreciated his presence. They even talked about the reasoning behind his different ability (neurotransmitters damaged his cognitive and motor skills causing him to shake and lose focus). But even though he was not as sharp as he once was, the fact that he was still able to piece certain facts together when others didn't as well as his ability to make it a far distance on a hoverboard when his motor skills were not working at full capacity showed a different strength. I appreciated that even though I wish I could have seen a little more from him. Additionally, it would have been nice to have a character whose ability differences weren't the cause of an accident, but I guess that's partially understandable in a society hell-bent on changing people to meet specific standards.