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This is the sequel to XVI, the infamous Sexteen. I tried to keep an open mind about the sequel. Honest. However, two pages in, I realized that liveblogging it would do a better job of capturing the reading experience than a normal review.

Page 1: Hey! This one actually begins with a concise and clear explanation of the XVI tattoo: Given to girls only at the age of 16, wears off in about sex six years, means that they’re legally available for sex. Does not legally mean that they can be raped with impunity, but in practice it works out for that. Good job. Seriously. Book one never explained it clearly.

Page 5: B.O.S.S. as the acronym for the evil government agency will never not sound like something out of Get Smart.

Page 8: “John’s got an appointment with the big trannie dealership in Evanston, so I have the afternoon free.”

The plot so far: Nina has quit school to work for the Art Institute. She’s dating Sal, who spends most of his time disguised as a homeless person to cover his NonCon (revolutionary) activities. (I can never not read NonCon as “nonconsensual.”) Sal is showing signs of being a creepy, stalkery control freak. Nina and her little sister Dee are living with Pops (her disabled and mentally fading grandfather) and Gran. Her revolutionary father, Alan Oberon, is out there somewhere. B.O.S.S. doesn’t know that Nina killed Ed, the evil B.O.S.S agent who murdered her mother.

The Resistance is sexist and doesn’t let girls do anything dangerous, but there are still girl Resistance members. Wei, Nina’s high-tier friend, will induct Nina into the Sisterhood.

Page 30. Slang of the future: “Skivs! Dee’s been waiting!”

Page 31. Slang of the future, Part II: “Zats! Nina, you look awful!”

Page 42: Slang of the future, Part III: “Welfs” for “welfare recipients” joins “verts” for advertisements and “digi” for digitize in a further demonstration that good invented slang needs to consist of more than just abbreviating words.

Pops has been taken away by evil government ops, and Gran has a heart attack, then is confiscated for an experimental procedure done by the creepy Dr. Silverman. Dee and Nina are evicted, and go to live in Wei’s ultra (cool) home.

94. Wow! A teenage interracial lesbian couple pops up! Good for Karr, seriously. Even if this brief mention is the last we see of them, they are the first lesbians I have spotted in any teen dystopia. More props if they both survive till the end of the book. (If the brown-skinned one dies, a prop will be withdrawn.) They are part of the Sisterhood.

117. Nina gets carried away and almost has sex with Sal. He takes her no for an answer, protesting, “I’m not a sexer.” Despite the idiotic slang, this is the best part of the book so far, as Nina struggles with real and complicated questions about love, sex, and how to tell the difference between her impulse to rebel against society by refusing to have sex, and genuinely not wanting to or not being ready.

149. “Here’s a free hire trannie ticket.”

168. Classic moment of unintentional comedy: Nina’s Dad makes a daring illegal interruption of the constant stream of verts to broadcast subversive propaganda! The content of the subversive propaganda? “Once upon a time, Holiday meant more than a buying frenzy. It was a time for family and friends and compassion for the less fortunate.”

168. A trannie spun out of an alley, nearly knocking me over.

171. There should be a ban on the scene, which I swear I have read about a billion times, in which, hundreds of years in the future, the classic baby boomer musicians are enthusiastically praised by hip future teens as world-changing and superior to modern pap. I love Bob Dylan and Joan Baez too, but come on!

188. The inevitable appearance of the love triangle. Chris, Wei’s brother, treats Nina as an equal, unlike the possessive, over-protective Sal. Nina points out to him that she can take risks just like a boy, and that murder is not gender-specific. I wonder if Karr got criticized for all the victim-blaming in book one? This one has way less of that, and some actual discussion about victim-blaming. Again, seriously, good for her.

This was a big improvement on the first book in the sense of being less politically objectionable, and less hilariously bad. The points Karr seems to be trying to make are more supported by the actual text, so it doesn’t constantly switch back and forth from lectures about the evils of sexism to in-text virgin-whore dichotomies. I was also surprised and pleased that the lesbians survived – even the brown-skinned one!

That being said, The Truth is mediocre. The plot is aimless, many of the supporting characters are blank slates, and I didn’t care what happened to anyone. Sal randomly vanishes about two-thirds of the way through the book, apparently just so that Nina can get some quality time with his rival, and it’s explained in an epilogue that he’d been off on a mission. There are a lot of loose threads, which may be tied up in the presumably forthcoming sequel. I don’t feel moved to seek it out.

The Truth
wordweaverlynn: (Default)

From: [personal profile] wordweaverlynn

I was hoping trannie would refer to automobile transmissions. But I guess it doesn't, in which case: trannie shop? WTF?

ETA: Just read the previous review. OK, so trannies *are* vehicles -- but it's still an insanely stupid bit of fake slang.
Edited Date: 2012-01-13 11:29 pm (UTC)

From: [identity profile] mme-hardy.livejournal.com

I am disappointed -- although of course relieved for you -- that this was mediocre rather than RIPPING MY EYEBALLS OUT WITH A SPORK!

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

Honestly, Sexteen was more entertaining. This one was just blah.

From: [identity profile] tool-of-satan.livejournal.com

Yeah. I feel as if I should be glad that Karr is improving as a writer and all that, but... No doubt this means I am a bad person.

From: [identity profile] mme-hardy.livejournal.com

::joins you in the spiteful and unevolved corner ::

:: pulls out a blender and starts making daiquiris::

From: [identity profile] tool-of-satan.livejournal.com

That's true! *cheers up* Once you recover from the read-a-thon I will expect an amazing review of that book.

From: [identity profile] lady-ganesh.livejournal.com

The 'trannies' thing still baffles me. Yay for living lesbians at least, though.

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