City of the Sun by Sarah Bryant
Ravaged by nuclear war and the most terrifying dictator since Stalin, Russia's future lies in the hands of one gifted child.
In the aftermath of nuclear war, Russia cowers in the shadow of Solntse, a dictator with a chilling idea of utopia and a plan to bring it to life. The lynchpin of his plan is Sifte Pierson, a child so gifted that he has gambled his entire future on her obedience. Confined at Institute 1, an isolated school which produces the most powerful minds and bodies to serve Solntse, Sifte has grown up without knowledge of her parents or the life she was stolen from. When a new teacher arrives with a dangerous agenda and clues to her past, Sifte and her closest friends uncover a secret history with the power to destroy Solntse's empire. When the secrets leak to the Socialist rebels in the slums of St. Petersburg, their dreams of revolution begin to take solid form. And as Sifte and her friends work to uncover Solntse's plans for Utopia, she comes to realize that her identity and future are vital not only to Russia's freedom, but to all humankind.
I had to include the publisher's synopsis in this post because when I tried to explain City of the Sun's premise to Russell (I think he'd like the book) it took me ten minutes and the result wasn't particularly coherent.
City of the Sun is one of those novels that defies categorization. It's a political thriller, it's science fiction, but it's so much more. In a way City of the Sun is like a grown up version of Harry Potter with Sifte as Harry, her friends are Institute 1, Dumbledore's Army, and the Soviets, the Order of the Phoenix (at least that's a thought that occurred to me while I was reading it).
I really enjoyed City of the Sun. Of course, I also liked 1984 and it's definitely in the same vein. For me City of the Sun was a page-turner, but a thought-provoking one.