For those of you that have been living under a rock for the last 2 or so years, let me explain to you what Dytopian literature actually is.
“Dystopia” is (often not always) a futuristic society that has degraded into a repressive and controlled state, usually under the guise of being utopian.
Got that? Great… we shall now continue.
Over the last 2 years there have been a rash of Dystopian novels, (The Uglies, Matched & in a weird way The Hunger Games) so stumbling into another was not all that far fetched. Segregation of cultures, extreme governments and oppression are hot topics, and (as an added bonus) fascinating to read, but what really makes these novels the “icing” on the metaphorical cake is the interruption of free will.
Free will is the one thing that makes people who they are; it defines us. We choose our own paths, and ultimately control our own futures, in Dystopian writing…all of that is threatened. You do what you are told, when you are told, and if you disagree you are reprimanded, jailed, and in some extreme cases “extinguished”
Nina is a product of a Dystopian society. She lives in her assigned community. She buys the clothes only her “tier” would buy, and on really good days she DOESN’T have to watch her mother get the snot beat out of her. But none of these things keep her up at night… the thing Nina fears most is turning 16. At 16 she will be branded; a big fat XVI, in jet black ink, on the inside of her wrist announcing that she is ready. Ready for what exactly? Ready for sex. “XVI” in Nina’s world means she is now fair game to every creep, cretan, and (for a lack of a better term) pervert that crosses her path. And, as if the pressure of being a “sex-teen” wasn’t bad enough, her mother was just murder. Is Nina really as alone as she thinks she is? Who is the “Resistance,” and why after everything that has happened, would her mother be so hell bent on her hiding her little sister’s baby book?
I will admit that the first 2 chapters of this book made me cringe. In author-created societies “establishment” is crucial. We (as readers) want to know what TIME we are in, and WHERE exactly we are. Without these critical details, it is hard to form the STORY in our heads. The problem comes, however, when the author (in either desperation or excitement) tries to shove a “new” and complicated society (complete with their own slang) into 8 or 9 very long, and very run together paragraphs. This was the case is Julia Karr’s XVI. Luckily… after Karr’s “flash fiction” the novel leveled off and developed into a well rounded read. Nina was just 1 personality in a whole cast of very interesting characters and while, yes, this book is slated as YA, I found the “parental” story line outshining the… always predictable, never absent, teen angst.
Is this the BEST Dystopian I have ever read? No, of course not, but an enjoyable read? Yes… absolutely.
My advice? Get it, Live it, Love it… pass it on.
Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: having a GPS implanted in your arm is NOT normal. Question everything!
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