review: truth by julia karr

Author: Julia Karr
Publication Date: 01/19/2012
Publisher: Speak
Pages: 299
Source: ARC

Nina Oberon’s life has changed enormously in the last few months. When her mother was killed, Nina discovered the truth about her father, the leader of the Resistance. And now she sports the same Governing Council–ordered tattoo of XVI on her wrist that all sixteen-year-old girls have. The one that announces to the world that she is easy prey to predators. But Nina won’t be anyone’s stereotype. And when she joins an organization of girls working within the Resistance, she knows that they can put an end to one of the most terrifying secret programs the GC has ever conceived. Because the truth always comes out...and the consequences can be deadly.
While sixteen is usually a big age for girls, in Nina's society it holds an even larger connotation: she now sports an XVI tattoo that announces her age to the world. This tattoo leaves her vulnerable to sexual attacks with little legal recourse as girls in her world are raised by society to dress and act provocatively which creates a chicken and the egg scenario - are girls raised this way to act as an excuse for these deviant attacks or do they happen because of it? At sixteen girls are also eligible to be contracted for FeLs (Female Liasion Specialists), something Nina's mother told her is nothing but a glamorous cover up for institutionalised prostitution. The daughter of the infamous leader of the Resistance, Nina chooses herself to join and finds that participating is far different than the mere idea of it.

I was hesitant coming into this one as I wasn't completely sold by XVI, however it wasn't until Truth that the idea of it hit me, and it's a nasty one. The entire society can be seen as a hyper-sexed area where girls are encouraged to dress and act to encourage male attention. Everything about it from the beginnings of the tattoo to the creation of FeLs is an excuse for the prostitution ring the government runs. These girls are raised wanting to participate in FeLs, not knowing that it's definitely not for off-world diplomatic training. The government itself creates these embedded gender stereotypes perhaps as an excuse to wave away any inevitable blame. This, of course, is theoretical but the groundwork is there in the books and it's scary. So, if you weren't quite convinced by XVI, give Truth a try because the ideas definitely mesh together in a much more coherent manner - not to mention it's very hard to put down!

Nina grew on me - and into herself - in this one. As someone who's lived so long without: without status, without money, and especially without a stable familial structure, she's become sensitive to the stark differences between what someone can do when you have these things and what those who don't have it are seen as. Because of this she's a stronger person who is less afraid to stand up for herself in fear of whatever the consequences may be. She protects herself and those closest to her, but not in a brash manner that is off-putting. I should mention that there is something of a love triangle in the story, but in my opinion it's almost a welcome one. Nina brings up some issues on the basis of gender equality and what women are and are not capable of which is somewhat of an issue with one of guys involved, who may or may not believe that women are not as capable as men in some regards. This could just be slanted from her POV, but it's something that I'm interested in seeing how it plays out.

Truth is a thrilling hook to a fascinating series. It's addicting and full of small mysteries here and here that add up as pieces to the larger puzzle. Before it even ended I was left wanting to know what might happen with the characters in book three. Aside from being a fast read, Truth is a book that deals with important themes in a manner that's easy to digest. I'm glad I continued after XVI and will definitely be waiting for the third installment!

5 comments on "review: truth by julia karr"

Stephsco wrote: Tue Jan 17, 12:05:00 PM

Thanks for the review; I still have XVI on my shelf to read. I kind of burned out on dystopian society books but I really liked what the author had to say about why she wrote the book and how she explored the themes you indicated. I think it (hopefully) gives younger readers a lot to think about regarding our current age and the expecations of teenagers, especially girls.

Also, this reminds me of how there are sects of our society who mimick behaviors of this sort of sex selection and grooming to be subservient to men. Some are more obvious (Warren Jeff's polygamist compound) and others more subtle.

Anonymous wrote: Tue Jan 17, 04:20:00 PM

Thanks for the review! XVI is on my shelf and Truth is coming in the mail but I haven't gotten around to reading them yet. I'm glad you liked the books and I'm definitely looking forward to reading them now. ;)

Jenny wrote: Tue Jan 17, 06:00:00 PM

Alright, alright maybe I'll try this series.

We Heart YA wrote: Wed Jan 18, 01:52:00 PM

Oh, there were a lot of things we liked about XVI, so we're glad to hear that Truth is better! Also sounds like it doesn't suffer from Second Book Slowdown Syndrome. :P

Tristan wrote: Mon Mar 19, 04:37:00 PM

Just finished reading your review for XVI and was dissapointed that it seemed to lack a few key aspects, but hearing that Truth clears a lot of that unknown stuff up completely restores my want for reading this series! Glad to hear that it was enjoyed by you and I will definitely have to pick up XVI soon and give it a shot!

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