by Julia Karr
"For Nina, turning sixteen promises to be anything but sweet."
And this could be the most horrifying book I've ever read.Here's the basic gist: when you turn 16, you're branded with a tattoo on the inside of your wrist. And that means you're free for the taking. Sexually, that is. It's called turning "sex-teen." Clever, huh? Not that rape is legalized, but girls are completely sexualized, any and all traces of feminism removed. Men can do whatever and women should enjoy it, seeing as that's all their good for in this world.
Kind of perverse, right? And it is published through SPEAK, which is famous for "pushing the envelope" with "serious" (read: graphic) topics. And, actually, I rarely like their stuff.
My mom is probably doing her tongue-clicking-gasp thing right about now wondering where I find these things and why on earth I'm reading it. It's a good question, too. In part, I was just drawn inexplicably to the cover. I mean, do I like dramatic covers that hide girls' faces behind the title? Maybe. But the thing is, no matter the subject matter, I really doubt this will get explicit. I don't think this will be some contemporary teen's sexual awakening. It may be the opposite, actually (whatever that means). And the important thing to remember is that this is just another dystopian novel. So there are mainly two things we can be sure of (both of which tend to undercut any serious discussion of the actual world/society):
One, the girl will be indifferent if just a little frightened of her inevitable fate. She'll have to have a best friend who is much more excited--the polar opposite thing again. But this girl, Nina, will have something happen that shocks her into action. Probably at the 50 pages mark (allowing enough angst to build between friends versus the society).
Two, there will be a boy. And he will be pretty and mysterious and the answer to all the questions she didn't know she was asking. While she's been oblivious her whole life, he'll probably be part of the resistance--of which there has to be a sort. He will make her face the truth with his pretty eyes and soft kisses. He will probably get in the way of her settled friendships, including a probable love triangle a la Every Other Book Ever Written. Only, in such a sex-fret world, it will be much harder for her to feel safe with a guy. But he'll succeed. Because love always wins.
The one thing I'm really worried about is it reading like a PSA. Or trying to be all preachy and cutting edge. Like a Glee episode. Who knows--maybe it won't be risque enough to satisfy my curiosity.
Just kidding, mom, no worries.