WARNING: This review is considered spoilery for the first book in the series.
Truth by Julia Karr is the sequel to XVI, a fast paced dystopian novel about a world where media rules all and women have no power. Men definitely hold the power, as girls are raised to look forward to the day they turn 16 and are given a tattoo of the Roman numerals XVI to symbolize to them, and the public, that they are legally of the age of sexual consent. Media plays up the clothing industry, and girls are dressed provocatively, and given incentives to be as “hot” as possible. What most girls don’t understand, though, is that when they receive that tattoo at 16, they are basically labeled as free game to the men of society. It is way too common for a freshly turned 16 year old to be cornered and raped, often by multiple men, and then killed, simply because she was labeled as a “sex-teen” by the tattoo on her wrist. The media, and most of society would brush these occurrences off as “well, she was asking for it by the way she dressed.”
As a result of the media control and the current state of the government, an underground movement had risen and Nina Oberon, the daughter of one of the resistance’s leaders, has found herself in the middle of it. The first book was centered around the death of Nina’s mother, a suspected resistance member, and Nina’s life prior to her 16th birthday. In Truth, Nina is 16, orphaned with her little sister, Dee, and living with their grandparents, and essentially, as a result of the insanity that happens in the first book, all hell breaks lose. The government and head media moguls are watching Nina very closely, watching and waiting to see if she’s a part of the resistance. Her step father, who she killed in the first book after he brutally rapes and kills her friend Sandy, is considered missing by the government and her deceased mother is the prime suspect. Nina’s been given her tattoo, and though she has a steady boyfriend (Sal, gag me. Not a fan of him) she clearly doesn’t want to be sexually intimate with him. As things go downhill, the plot gets a little more confusing, and more characters are introduced and a lot of the dystopian feel that I liked in the first book is dissolved into love triangle drama and questions that are never answered.
This plot has some pretty big holes in it that became more apparent to me in this book than they were in the first book. I don’t understand why, in a technology driven world, these girls don’t attempt to call the police for some type of help when attacked. Why, in a world where rape is so prevalent, aren’t the citizens given a panic button on their PAV’s? I just don’t get it. There’s many other plot holes, but that’s the one that really stuck with me.
Also, characters? Nina was a pretty strong character in the first book, but this one? She had a billion questions that she never actively sought to answer, she just let Sal dictate every turn of their relationship, “Oh, I’m sorry Nina. You’re awesome, and I love you, but I’m gonna go run off with this hot girl who’s on the resistance with me for a few weeks on a top secret mission that I can’t tell you about. By the way, don’t call me, I’ll call you.” Um, no. Just because you’re a member of the resistance and you’re intent on saving the world doesn’t mean you can be a dick to your girlfriend. All the time. And love triangles? WHY DOES EVERYONE HAVE TO BE IN LOVE TRIANGLE NOW? It’s a trend in books that I’m okay with not having. Anyway, back on the topic of characters, lets discuss the ones I can appreciate. Dee, Nina’s little sister, has come a pretty long way since the first book. She’s stronger, she’s a lot more prepared to face the challenges of their world, but no one will let her! I’m sorry, I know you want to protect your little sister, but there’s no way to really protect her if you leave her blind to the way the world works. And then there’s Wei, I like her. She’s pretty ballsy and very much a powerful force to be reckoned with. I’d love to see Nina try to emulate Wei more.
As far as writing goes, I think Karr is a superb writer. You can see the world clearly, picture the characters and their actions easily through her words, it’s just that unfortunately, despite how lovely the words are, the plot and characters fell short for me in comparison to where they were in the last book.