Truth is the second book in the XVI series about a dystopia set in 2150. In XVI, we learned that when a girl turns sixteen (or “sex-teen” as it is known), she gets “XVI” tattooed on her wrist. This means she is now legal sex bait for anyone who can get to her. Unfortunately, the result of having the tattoo often translates into a legal license to rape girls, and/or impress them into service as prostitutes.
Nina Oberon has just turned sixteen, and now has her tattoo. She comes from a family of “nonconformists” however: those who are opposed to governmental tyranny and especially the abuse of women. As the story begins, Nina and her younger sister Dee have just been evicted after Nina’s grandpa was arrested for subversive activities and her grandmother is hospitalized for a heart attack. The two girls move in with Nina’s good friend Wei, whose family is also part of the underground movement.
While at Wei’s, Nina grows closer to Wei’s older brother Chris, especially because her boyfriend Sal is always off doing “noncon” work. But this is not a book that focuses on the triangle. Rather, it seems to be included more to elucidate different aspects of gender relationships. And indeed, Nina is increasingly conflicted over her growing feminism and her feelings about boys. Is it loving and nurturing if they want to protect her, or is it an insult to the capabilities of females? Can a need for love go with a desire for independence?
Nina manages to get herself and her adoptive family into serious danger when she refuses the advances of an older and very powerful man. None of them are safe anymore, so they are forced to take drastic action that changes the lives of all of them.
Evaluation: Yay, a second book in a trilogy that is actually better than the first book! Love when that happens! For those of you who like something more from your dystopia trilogies than just love and violence, this one definitely fits the bill. It offers plenty to think about in terms of relationships between males and females, bringing up issues that sadly are not just relevant to fictional dystopias. I do think, however, that this is not easily a standalone book; you probably have to start with XVI (see my review, here). I like XVI, but it is not as sophisticated as Truth.
Published by Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), Inc., 2012
Note: As an extra bonus, the author has a blog for Nina, in which she writes (as Nina) about her life after the end of this book. Fun or what? You can see it here (but only after you have read the book as it is quite spoilery).