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I’m Back From Suffragette City

Forever Young Adult presents a book review of Truth by Julia Karr

I’m Back From Suffragette City

BOOK REPORT for Truth by Julia Karr

Cover Story: Passing
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: Easy, Breezy, Thrillerful
Bonus Factors: Feminism, The Future
Relationship Status: Sister Suffragette

Cover Story: Passing

This book, much like the first in the series, could totally pass for a grownup book. It's edgy and modern and I felt cool as a cucumber reading it in public.

The Deal:

Spoiler Warning: This is the second book in a series. My review of the first book, along with casting choice, is available here. Spoilers for the first book follow.

Now that Nina is sixteen, and marked with the Governing Council's XVI tattoo, she knows she's a target for any man who wants to take her. Because in this futuristic world, 16-year olds are not only legal for sex, but they're supposed to like it. With whomever chooses to drag them into an alley.

Determined not to become an ignored statistic, Nina joins a small group of girls all working to subvert the government and prove that they are just as capable of fighting the system as anyone else. And what's more, she's determined to expose the truth about what's really going on in the government's secret programs. Because, as her grandfather always told her: the truth never remains hidden.

BFF Charm: Yay

I give this charm because there are so many things about Nina that I truly love. She feels realistic to me, because half the time she's just reacting to situations and doesn't know why she's doing what she's doing. I also get annoyed with her. Her obsession with the tiers (class structure) makes me want to sit her down for a chat or shake some sense into her, and there are many times that I just feel like I can't get super close to her because she hasn't really found herself yet. But when she does, I'll be glad I nabbed her early, because I think Nina would be an amazing adult. And her group of friends is just as awesome as they were in the first book.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

I typically hate the YA trope of the love triangle with a fiery passion. The minute the girl gets boy A and then boy B comes along and she's all, "Oh, our eyes met, and I felt butterflies in my stomach, but I love boy A... right?" I want to put the book down. I'll pick my favorite person and stay loyal to them. But I'm an adult. And adults should be mature enough to avoid love triangles, but only because we LEARNED when we were younger that while being the center of more than one person's attention can be thrilling for a minute, it pretty much always ends in disaster.

But that's the crux of reading YA romance as an adult. Because on the one hand, I want the girl to make the choices I would make, because I'm invested in the story; on the other hand, if I had a teenaged daughter, I would encourage her to date all of the boys and just have fun. I would not want her to get weighed down by being in a serious relationship when she's so young. I would not want her to fall in love at 16 and marry that boy without getting the chance to date other people.

If I'm not mistaken, Karr might feel the same way. Throughout this book, Nina proves that she is, indeed a young woman who is still developing. Sometimes she thinks she knows what she wants, but other times she realizes she has no idea.

Talky Talk: Easy, Breezy, Thrillerful

Karr writes as if this is just a fun little thriller: it's a quick read with lots of action and mystery. But then she throws in some really heavy shit about society and media and the trash culture that's in our faces every day, and as an adult reader, it sometimes feels mismatched -- other times I think she's a genius. However, when I think about young persons reading it, I think her tone is just right.

Bonus Factor: Feminism

If I had my way, every teenaged girl would read this book. Not for its prose or thrilling content, but for one reason and one reason alone: because it might make them ask questions -- about themselves, their motives, society, and the influence of media on our culture. And any book that gets people to ask questions is a book that could help prevent us from the future this book indicates.

Bonus Factor: The Future

Karr's world is set at some point way in the future, when everyone is driving around in transports, there are miners on Mars, people go the moon like it's no big, and their language includes words like 'ultra'. It's a cross between Blade Runner and Back To The Future, Part 2.

Relationship Status: Sister Suffragette

I kept worrying that this was an anti-sex series. That it was going to somehow turn out to be laden with warnings and cautionary tales. But now, having read the second book, I can say with confidence that I think this book and I actually share many of the same views: that it's never okay for a man or a woman to use sex as power, and that true equality -- among genders, races and sexual orientation -- is something we must fight for. That we shouldn't become complacent. And that we should never stop asking questions.

FTC FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my review copy from Penguin. I received neither money nor cocktails for this review (damnit!). Truth is available now.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.
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