Monday, July 11, 2011

XVI by Julia Karr

Grade: A


Every girl gets one. An XVI tattoo on the wrist--sixteen. They say they're there for protection.

Some girls can't wait to be sixteen, to be legal. Nina is not one of them. Even though she has no choice in the matter, she knows that so long as her life continues as normal, everything will be okay.

Then, with one brutal strike, Nina's normal life is shattered; and she discovers hat nothing that she believed about her life is true. But there's one boy who can help--and he just may hold the key to her past.

But with the line between attraction and danger as thin as a whisper, one thing is for sure...for Nina, turning sixteen promises to be anything but sweet.


Character Development: 6/10
Originality: 9/10
Overall Enjoyment: 7/10
Ending: 8/10
Voice: 7/10
Plot: 9/10
Setting: 10/10
Total Score: 56/70

Age Appropriate? PG-13

Cursing: Some.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Some references to drug use, I believe, especially drugging by the government.
Sexual Content: Sex plays a very big role in this book, especially where teens are concerned. Also, rape and references to porn and sex slavery.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Domestic abuse, murder.


While I very much loved the author's dystopian perspective on our future--a future filled with advertising manipulation, a "tier" class system, and a corrupt government hiding behind a facade of protection--I simply could not connect with the main character, Nina. Her emotions were wild and unformed, and I did not believe her motivations. On the one hand, she would rant to herself about how obviously spoiled the government was and how she knew that free speech was being tamped down, but then she would passionately defend it in a conversation with another character. Also, the way she handled sex was whiny. Sex, particularly the teen variety, played a big role in this book, and while, yeah, the government of the future stamping girls with tattoos that  make them free game for guys is totally conceivable, but the way Nina dealt with it was totally beyond me. All in all, she didn't really come across so much a strong heroine as an angsty, feeble-minded child. But that's just me.

That aside, I thought the author's concept and execution of the future was great and totally unique--definitely something I was interested in reading about. She wove enormous amounts of mystery and intrigue into the exposition of the story that is gradually revealed as the story progresses--marvelous! Because of this, I will most certainly be returning for the sequel.


Julia Karr (read the first chapter here!)
Truth, the sequel, available 1/19/2012:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Grade: A+


Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the spaceship Godspeed. She has left her boyfriend, friends--and planet--behind to join her parents as a member of Project Ark Ship.

Amy and her parents believe they will wake on a new planet, Centauri-Earth, three hundred years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed's scheduled landing, cryo chamber 42 is mysteriously unplugged, and Amy is violently woken from her frozen slumber.

Someone tried to murder her.

Now, Amy is caught inside a tiny world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed's 2,312 passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader. And Elder, Eldests' rebellious teenage heir, is both fascinated with Amy and eager to discover whether he has what it takes to lead.

Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she put her faith in a boy who has never seen life outside the ship's cold metal walls? All Amy knows is that she and Elder must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.


Character Development: 9/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 9/10
Ending: 9/10
Voice: 8/10
Plot: 10/10
Setting: 10/10
Total Score: 65/70

Obtained: Library.

Age Appropriate? PG-13

Cursing: Very limited.
Drugs, Alcohol, etc: Some drugging, some drunkenness, but nothing too bad.
Sexual Content: Lots, but it's all very animal and portrayed with a certain distaste. Also, near-rape.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Suicide, murder.


Incredibly action-packed and fast-paced, Across the Universe had me hooked from the start. Beth Revis manages to capture the immense and conflicting emotions surrounding the choice to leave Earth behind and life on a spaceship of limited size. The book is filled with tension, hopelessness, and loneliness, but is also a testament to the importance of the human spirit. I think Revis, best of any sci-fi YA author, has imagined the problems, internal and external struggles, and development of a society trapped in space extremely realistically, and her creativity is evident throughout. And through all of it, as is the nature of the genre, she speaks not only of the people of Godspeed, but of what it means to be human, to lead, to be alone in ways that are totally applicable to life on Earth--Sol-Earth, that is.

This, combined with the interesting cast of characters and the alternating perspective of Elder and Amy (two individuals with strikingly different worldviews but who are nonetheless full of the same vivacious humanity), creates a mysterious and fascinating story. I am so glad there are two more to come.


Beth Revis
The Interrobangs talks about the controversy surrounding the cover