Monday, July 25, 2011
Summary from Booklist:
In 2150 Chicago, girls are walking billboards. Upon turning 16, they receive government-issued tattoos on their wrists that read “XVI.” They’re supposed to keep the girls safe, but in reality, the tattoos broadcast their brand-new sexual availability.
As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Nina is increasingly disturbed by her best friend’s obsession with becoming the ideal “sex-teen” and entering the Female Liaison Specialist (FeLs) service, the only option for women from the lower tiers to move up the social ladder.
Meanwhile, Nina works hard to uncover the mystery her dead mother left behind, a secret that could end the entire FeLs program.
I was so, so looking forward to this book. The whole premise is fascinating--when girls turn 16, they basically lose any right to refuse a guy. People assume that they're obsessed with sex, appearances, clothes, boys, and sex. And for many of them, that's true. But not Nina Oberon.
For those of you who don't know, I am 16. And, to be honest, it doesn't feel like a big deal. The guys in my life are still who they were. It's not like you go to sleep one night and wake up the next morning a completely different person. Not even on your sixteenth birthday. That being said, I couldn't imagine being branded with an XVI tattoo, having everyone know that I was suddenly "available". Earlier today, at the bookstore I work at, a creepy guy called me "cutie", and I wanted to punch him in the face whilst yelling something totally feminist. So having that be the way people were expected to treat me? No way.
But there were some parts of the book that... to be frank, I didn't like. All of the slang definitely confused me. It's a dystopian novel that takes place in the future, and things like "trannies" (like cars, only more hover-y) just weren't explained enough for me to properly understand. I suppose it's just a choice: Do you back away from the story a bit to provide more info on where you are and what's happening? Or do you totally immerse yourself in the character's POV, and lose some of your audience?
Another thing that got to me were all the nicknames. This coming from the girl who grew up with very few nicknames, bear in mind. But I feel like you have to put so much thought into giving your main character the best name possible--so why cover that up with at least half a dozen nicknames? One, sure. Two, tops. I know it's a personal choice, but it's always one where I choose no.
The story follows Nina Oberon as her life changes dramatically--she meets a boy who makes her feel like love and sex might not just be government-sexteen-propaganda, finds out that her mom's abusive boyfriend Ed is much worse than she ever could've imagined, and has some serious doubts in the society that she grew up in. To me, this book was... okay.
Pro: fantastic cover, brilliant and frightening concept, likeable characters from all different class levels (which is a big deal in the XVI-universe)
Con: hard to get in to, some strange pacing (in my opinion), I felt disconnected from what was going on.
Buy/Borrow/Bust: I'd say borrow it from your local library to see if it's your taste. On the plus side, it's already out in paperback!