Tuesday, April 26, 2011

XVI - Julia Karr




A couple of months ago, I read and reviewed Lauren Oliver's Delirium, a story that takes place in a dystopian world where love is considered humanity's undoing, and is surgically sucked out of your soul at a specified age.  It started out feeling silly, but eventually the whole scene (and the boy/girl chemistry) grew on me, and I was nearly giddy at the thought of two more books in the series.

Several weeks ago, my literary twin Jill said she had found an edgier version of Delirium in this book XVI, and that I must read it.  And we must review it in tandem.  And Jill is like Darth Vader, using the force to convince me to read stuff, so off I go.  And you might want to mark this date down, because it is probably one of the few times I didn't share her enthusiasm for a book.

Synopsis:  It is Chicago, in the year 2150.  Big Brother is alive and well, with microchips implanted in humanity for tracking purposes, manipulative advertisements that are blaring 24/7 into the streets, bugged apartments, and mining communities have been formed on Mars.  Prior to any girl's 16th birthday, they are officially off-base for sexual activity.  But once they turn into "sex-teens", they are tattooed and open for business, whether there is consent or not.

Nina and her younger half-sister have been raised solely by their mother.  Nina's father died when she was a baby, and her mother's current ill-tempered boyfriend has little to do with his love child.  When Nina's mother is killed, secrets are revealed on her deathbed that defy everything Nina has even known to be true, and thus begins her quest for answers.  When she meets a handsome young man and his group of friends, she is introduced to a sub-culture of radicals that are at work to overthrow the government. 

My thoughts:  The premise of the story sounds pretty compelling, doesn't it?  I also give extra credit points for creating a world that is only a slight exaggeration from the one we live in now...predatory marketing, glorification of sex, corruption in government, and infringement of rights.  Hey, the idea was there.

Despite this however, the story felt flat for me.  I was instantly annoyed with the slang used.  Sex-teen?  Verts (for advertisements)?  'Letes (for athletes)?  Instead of adding a feeling of immersion or authenticity, it just came across as sophomoric nonsense.  Coincidences (or dare I even call it deus ex machina?) ran rampant. 

Characters felt underdeveloped as well.  We had a deathbed scene, and we had first love, so shouldn't my heart have skipped a beat?  The author failed to inspire passion or investment, and honestly I give these things out pretty freely with the books I read.  Perhaps one of the reasons why I felt left out in the cold was that the dialogue felt circular and basic.  I know these are teenagers we are talking about here, so maybe I should have been a little more patient with them repeating themselves and lacking witty conversation. 

Apparently Ms. Karr is working on a sequel to this novel, as well as a spin-off.  I can honestly say that I have no intention of reading them. 

Want a different opinion?  Go check out Jill's review, which she is publishing today as well!

2.5 out of 5 stars         
   






16 comments:

caite said...

I agree it sounds good, and I like me a little dystopian fiction now and then, so it is a shame it did not pan out.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

No one ever called me Darth Vader before! On the other hand, it is better than what Fizzy Jill calls me ("series whore").

I know what you mean about the slang, but it was so much better in that regard than The Maze Runner or the Uglies series that it didn't bother me at all.

Overall, being the pessimistic type, I think the darker and edgier the dystopia, the more I'm apt to believe it.

Anita said...

It's not my type of book, but I'll give it to you for hanging with it.
On to better books I say!!

farmlanebooks said...

I tend to have problems with slang like that too. The second book in the Uglies series was over my limit and it sounds as though this one would annoy me too. I will try Oliver's books one day though.

Zibilee said...

I know we talked a little about your disappointment for this book at book club, but I enjoyed reading your review and seeing exactly what didn't work for you. First of all, I think all the slang would definitely annoy me as well, and the fact that the dialogue was circular would also really annoy. I am pretty sure that I will not be reading this book anytime soon, and it's not one that I am going to be pushing into my kid's hands either. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts on it with us.

Martha@Hey, I want to read that said...

Well, I'll be giving this one a pass. I'm not a big dystopian fan so this wouldn't be one I picked up anyway.

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I'm gonna give this one a try...but give myself permission to stop reading if I find myself rolling my eyes too much ;)

Melissa said...

I don't read many dystopian books. I might give the Oliver book a chance, but will be skipping this one.

Alyce said...

I want to read this one just because the premise does sound promising. Then I guess if I hate it I can't say I wasn't warned! :)

bermudaonion said...

I find slang like that very irritating too. Not sure this is for me.

Julie P. said...

Interesting to see how your reviews differ!!! Not sure this one is for me though.

Anna said...

Sounds like it had a lot of potential. The slang would drive me crazy after awhile, I'm sure.

Melody said...

The premise does sounds interesting, but I'm not sure if I'd want to read this though. Thanks for your honest thoughts!

Iliana said...

Oh darn and it sounds so good. I do like dystopian fiction so I may have to give this one a go but I'll keep my expectations on the low end of the scale!

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

Oy vey. So I can surmise that this comes nowhere near The Handmaid's Tale, lol? I'm weird about dystopia....it's very hit or miss for me. And I couldn't even pinpoint what makes it a hit versus a miss, so you can tell what a newbie I am to that particular genre.

Jenners said...

I think the premise just sounds super icky!!!! And just the slang you shared is off-putting. Don't tell Jill but I might be with you on this one...if I read it, which I probably won't.