Author: Julia Karr
Genre: YA, dystopian, scifi
Publication Date: January 2011
Synopsis: Nina Oberon’s life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she’ll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex.
Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a “sex-teen” is Nina’s worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina’s mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother’s killer.
☆: 5/5 – an important book all teens (hell, everyone of any age) should be reading!
Review: I was born in the 80s, I grew up in the 90s, when the media market image of girls became the most sexualized it’s ever been. Flashbacks of CNN debates about the oversexing of the “desired” female image in the west came to mind when I started reading this book – not that that’s a a bad thing. This book paints a picture of what our future may be if we keep going the way we’re going.
I have to say – for a debut, I was floored by the sheer balls that Karr has for even bringing up this issue, much less couching it in a future that seems all too plausible as clothing sizes get smaller, more and more skin is bared on primetime television, and kids start having sex at younger and younger ages (not to mention starting puberty at record early ages as well).
I like to think of myself as a sex-positive girl. I believe that as long as everyone has informed consent with their sex, I have no right to intervene or complain. The keywords here are “informed consent” – not just consent, which can be taken advantage of by sex predators in terms of ignorance on the part of the victim, but informed consent – knowing your risks, knowing where you’re safe and where you’re not. This book really hit home with me as I’ve never really felt comfortable about expressing my sexuality (well, that and I have severe intimacy issues, but we won’t get into that now) and the idea of being fair game as soon as you turn sixteen, whether you like it or not, scared the hell out of me.
Which, I think, was one of the points of the book – rethink the current policies and images as projected to us by modern culture in order to keep ourselves safe.
I believe that this book should probably be made mandatory reading by parents to their daughters before they get taken advantage of. Knowledge is power, and we as girls need all the power we can get in order to protect ourselves.
Thank you, Ms. Karr, for writing this book, for urging us not to be complacent and to remind us of the dangers out there that if we leave unchecked, could very well be our future.