From Goodreads: "Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer."
Over the last little but I had read a number of dystopians and as such I have found myself becoming somewhat burnt out with them- It seems like they essentially all follow the same storyline: a young girl is on the brink of adulthood, a time in which the society that she lives in initiates her in some way by imposing something upon her (whether it be a tattoo, a medical procedure, etc.), when she begins to notice that her seemingly perfect life and government aren't all they're cracked up to be, that they are hiding something about the initiation process and what occurs afterwards from its people. Her suspicions are confirmed when she meets the male lead of the story who is extremely knowledgeable about their corrupt government and society (as he is a member of the opposition) and who soon becomes her love interest. As her and her love interest delve deeper into exposing the corruption that runs deep in their government they find themselves in more and more danger. And though I did feel that this story did follow this storyline almost to a tee, I didn't find myself thinking to myself, "Oh gosh- another one!", mainly because, unlike in many of the other books of this nature, Julia actually provides with the reader with answers about what is occurring in the plot (as opposed to just talking around answers or giving the reader even more questions- which is just so gosh darn frustrating) and she writes extremely likeable characters- especially the secondary characters (which in many cases I find to be completely unnecessary as they rarely fuel the plot line).
Sandy, Nina's best friend, wasn't my most favourite secondary character in the book because I found her to be quite mindless and annoying, but I understand that her role was quite essential as she was the epitome of how her society wanted young females to act like. I really loved Wei, Derek and Mike as secondary characters, they all really had good heads on their shoulders and they truly cared about making a difference in their society. Also Ed, Nina and Sandy's tormentor was a great character, despite being a true villain. And the adults/parents (who really seem not to play all that much of a role in YA books) were truly noteworthy characters (Rita, Wei's parents, Gran and Pops, etc.).
It always seems like the boy in dystopians gets the shoddy end of the deal (ie. Alex in Lauren Oliver's "Delirium" and Ky from Ally Condie's "Matched") therefore I was beyond ecstatic to see that in this book Sal was not a male victim of the Revolution. Sal was such a sweet and caring character (not to mention totally swoon-worthy) and him and Nina are, in my opinion, perfect for one another as they really balance one another out.
All in all, while upon initial glance at this book it may seem that it is a typical (or almost overused) YA dystopian storyline, it is anything but that!