My son has had this book for awhile and has told me to read it several times. I never bothered because I'm through my fantasy fiction stage and have heard Tamora Pierce described a feminist author. I've found that "feminist author" seems to translate to pointless sex scenes. However, Joe doesn't like that kind of thing and liked this one. Also, I was stuck at home due to an injury, my TV crapped out so I couldn't watch movies, and once the drugs kept me from any heavy reading so I decided to give it a try.
I liked it a lot. The world that it's set in is cool. It's also set in a time of great upheaval where people aren't sure what to do. The main character has an interesting ability, but is otherwise believable as a normal kid who's been thrust into extraordinary circumstances. I'd recommend this book to middle-school kids, boys and girls. I think it's mostly the way the growth and maturation of the main character feels organic that sets this book apart from others.