Now Nina goes to meet Wei’s parents. Soon they’ll be getting married, aww.
And it would have been both of their first times, since it turns out Wei is also going to remain pure until she finds the right guy. Nina meets Wei’s dad, who after some boring exposition we’ve already heard, tells Nina her dad, who seems to have practically been a saint, won the debating championship of 2132.
Now, Sal had earlier said that the overlords had been in power for over 200 years, and if it’s about 2150 in canon then the overlords must have taken over in about 1950.
Which is something I must have missed.
The rest of the chapter is boring.
Ah, what am I talking about—they’re all boring! But we’re halfway through now, so I need to write shorter summaries.
Luckily, since this book decided to take the big plunge and actually have something of a plot, I’ve decided I can focus on the things which actually affect it. Oh, and I guess I can mention that Nina sees Sal with some new ho (oh noes!) and proceeds to whine about how he’s obviously dropped her because she’s poor, and not because she told him to get da fuk out last time they spoke.
Nina and Wei tell Dee to stay away from her Abusive!Dad, without giving her a reason because they want to ‘protect’ her from the knowledge that he’s abusive. That’s way more important than protecting her from actual abuse!
Then Wei’s martial arts instructor comes by to let the girls know that martial arts exists.
While out with Dee, Nina sees Abusive!Dad, who shouts that he wants to see Dee, and then Sal comes by and speeds them away. So, Abusive!Dad—or Ed, as his name actually is—seems to be the antagonist of the book.
… he’s not a very good antagonist. Sure, we’re told he’s abusive and all, but the actions of the villain are kind of one of those ‘show don’t tell’ things, and Ed just doesn’t seem all that threatening.
Plus, his name’s Ed. Seriously.
Upon returning home, Nina finds that someone’s broken in and stolen the Big Book o’ Plot Device, and she thinks Ed did it because he’s the bad guy.
But then Dee reveals that she was keeping the Plot Device, so it’s all good. Nina decides to go out so she can think about Sal and how boring he is, when she runs into a homeless woman who she recognises as Joan—Mike’s sister who got accepted into FeLS. Dun dun dun!
So FeLS is a government conspiracy thing, huh? Wow. Didn’t see that coming.
Except for how all the adults were going on about it.
But excitement happens, as Nina randomly gets a job offer from an art museum. Yay.
Then, after some boring reminiscing from Grandma, a wild Ed appears!
Ed asks Nina if her mum left anything for him, so Nina gives him the old Mer-from-the-Selection treatment and RUNS AWAY. She and Wei laugh about it together. Good times.
They go to Derek’s concert—he’s in a boring band I couldn’t be bothered to mention until now—and Sandy shows up so Nina can think about how slutty she looks. Then she goes outside so Derek can get all ‘stop putting yourself in danger’ because of how she…
Because of how Sal is turning into Edward Cullen. Kissing ensues.
Then Nina mentions how the overlords adopted the same policy towards music as the twits from Delirium. Maybe they’ll merge together and XVI-Land can get cured of love, that’ll solve all their problems.
Like the fact that New Orleans was destroyed by another hurricane in 2025, which lead to a new impetus in the search for fossil fuel alternatives (for some reason), randomly exposited into the text.
The dream team is stopped by the cops for a round of pointlessness, and then leave for—
Damn, that was a short chapter!
In this chapter Sal randomly blurts out that he and his entire family are NonCons. Sandy is distraught, but then Sal tells her that the evil government lied about her dad’s death and she immediately believes him.
They discuss things they’ve discussed a million times before. Again.
The dream team goes over the Plot Device while Ed the Terrible waits outside.
This chapter is devoted to Sandy going on and on about what a great thing the FeLS is and Nina doesn’t tell her about Joan because she’s just that great of a friend. Then again if I had to put up with Sandy, I might take any opportunity to see her abducted by the overlords.
Then it’s time for Grandma to exposit some more backstory that Nina should have already known about her mum and Ed. Nina has important things to tell her, but not as important as spending time with Sal, so she leaves.
Sal decides to take her to a La Resistance hideout. For a while they feel like they’re being followed by Ed, but at this point I assume they’re always being followed by Ed and don’t really care about it because he never DOES ANYTHING!
Nina meets Sal’s Aunt Rita (remember that name being mentioned? I didn’t) after hearing him talk about how things used to be great when there was free speech and shit.
Then kissing ensues.
Rita explains that Nina’s mum decided to become Ed’s girlfriend because he was the agent assigned to investigate Missing!Dad’s disappearance and was too stupid to realise that she was only with him for the info. Also he overheard mum telling Nina about the Plot Device, but was too stupid to tell anyone else about it. What a threatening villain.
Then Nina takes Sal home so she can be embarrassed over her grandpa’s missing leg. How dare he have a missing leg!
Ah, three quarters done. Hang in there, imaginary friends!
Things get serious as Ed kidnaps Nina and punches her so hard she “…actually felt my brain rattle in my head” which I guess is what happens when you have a brain as small as Nina’s. She escapes thanks to soft drinks, (Ed really is an incompetent moron) and runs to her beloved friends.
Sal helps by going on and on about how he’s going to kill Ed. Wei takes Nina to the bathroom to clean her up, where her face has immediately swollen up so badly that I can’t help but wonder if Ed was Edward Malus, who punched women while wearing a bear-suit in the Wickerman remake.
Maybe the bees will get him in the end…
Sal and Wei decide to use Wei’s dad’s influence to take care of Ed, after lots of boring conversations, of course.
So it turns out that Nina’s application to FeLS that her mother bought back from the overlords has gone missing, stolen by Ed the Terrible so he can get her into the FeLS program which Wei reveals is secretly not there to train girls to be diplomats IN SPACE, but to sell them into sexual slavery. What a twist. A really stupid twist.
Yeah, I saw this one coming a mile off, and I’m surprised no one in the book did even though as Nina points out, it makes no sense when girls are supposed to put out for everyone anyway. Apparently the difference is that the FeLS are virgins, which I’m sorry to point out can only happen once.
So why not just go ‘hey girls, want to lose your virginity to an overlord for an extra bonus!?’ and forget about the whole FeLS charade, which no doubt wastes a lot of time and resources?
Like sending the girls to Mars, which apparently no one notices, even though fifty of them went to FeLS in the past few years from Nina’s school alone. Nina protests that it sounds like fiction, and Wei tells her that ‘1984 was fiction, but it came true decades ago’.
Uh, no. Sorry to break it to you, guys—you may have one up over the morons from The Selection, but Big Brother is watching you and laughing his head off.
Well, they hit upon the idea that the only way out of this is to not be a virgin, but rather than considering that option for herself, Nina is thinking about Sandy. They don’t seem to think about actually telling Sandy about the whole sex slavery thing, but instead tricking her into losing her v-card for her own safety.
But not with Sal, of course! Nina’s twu wuv with Sal is much more important than seeing that Sandy doesn’t become a sex slave!
And then they forget about the whole thing and start talking about Derek’s band. Priorities!
Later on after the wonders of holistic medicine are applied to her face (the overlords have outlawed this too, what a tragedy) Wei’s dad tells Nina he’ll take care of everything.
So the day of Nina’s tattooing approaches, prompting Nina to give Dee a lecture about how girls have no reproductive rights in this world, la la la, poorly disguised exposition dumps—probably shouldn’t have one of those so late in the book.
Well, that was a really necessary chapter. This chapter has some more bitching about the overlords and the GPS trackers that they put in children—not to keep them safe, but to scrutinize their every move, of course—that’s why you get the option of having it removed when you’re an adult, because children are the most dangerous members of society.
Wei tells Nina about her thistle tattoo being meant to represent the Order of the Thistle, an ancient secret order that protected the true king of Scotland… which sounds like a bunch of made up bullshit to me. Turns out they’re not made up, but they’re not a secret and they never ‘protected the true king of Scotland’ either.
But never mind that, it’s time for bullshit romance. Nina tells Sal that even when she’s sixteen she doesn’t want to have sex with him, and Sal says he doesn’t want to have sex with her either, so they’re the perfect sexless people for each other, I guess.
And then Dee disappears.
Nina blames her sister’s disappearance on her attraction to Sal. That’s what happens when you get a boyfriend, girls!
… and then Dee randomly shows up again. Wow, that suspense really had me going… for about a minute.
And Sandy’s got her XVI tattoo, which gives Nina the opportunity to tell the reader how much she loves Sandy, even though she’s a total ho—but not enough to warn her about not signing up for the sexual slavery program!
Nina goes to show the Plot Device to Wei’s mum and is followed by some guy on the way—suspense! Or not, as it turns out he works for Wei’s parents. Also, she runs into Joan, in case we forgot she existed.
Turns out the books was written in invisible ink! Which has to be somewhere in the top twenty most contrived plot devices of all time… But it turns out they were better off not knowing what was in the book, as it proves to be a disgustingly sappy love letter from Nina’s mum to her dad.
Oh, and it turns out Dee isn’t Ed’s daughter after all, she’s La Resistance!Dad’s. What a twist.
Nina goes home and still doesn’t tell Dee any of this. What a great sister!
Then Sandy phones up to say she’s been chosen for the sex-slavery program and she’s super-excited, and Nina still refuses to offer Sal up as a prospective virginity-taker, because that’s her boyfriend!
Well, shit, Nina—I’m sure you could find some guy willing to do it, and Sandy would perhaps be willing too if you TOLD HER SHE WAS IN DANGER OF BEING A SEX SLAVE! She believed you about the NonCons and her father’s death! Why wouldn’t she believe you about this!
Nina and Wei go to the Secret Hideout to find the evidence of sex trafficking, but Wei slips and knocks herself unconscious like a spaz, and Ed shows up to threaten to rape her and tell her that he already raped Sandy to get information on her location.
Then he gives a good old fashioned villain monologue, about how he was the one who killed her mother! And I’d be totally surprised if it hadn’t said that Nina needed to evade her mother’s killer on the blurb of this book, and the only person she ended up evading in the book was Ed.
This causes Nina to accuse him of being a pervert. Seriously. The guy just admitted to murdering your mother and raping your supposed best friend, and all you can say is ‘pervert’? Seriously?!
And then she hits him over the head with a pipe.
Well the dream team shows up to help, but Ed the Terrible is already dead, an anti-climactic end to an anti-climactic villain.
Also, Ed knew that Nina’s mum knew where her husband was, but didn’t get the overlords to extract the information because… they just wouldn’t do it? Was that too smart for them? I hearken back to Delirium when I say HOW DID THESE PEOPLE GET IN POWER!?
Turns out Ed murdered Sandy too, so sad. If only she could have somehow known about the danger she was in… but I guess that was just impossible, oh well.
After Sandy’s sappy funeral the police come by to ask about Ed’s disappearance, but the grandparents don’t know anything. They especially don’t know that Dee is really Resistance!Dad’s daughter, because Nina didn’t tell them… because they were ‘safer’ that way.
Oh, Nina. There’s your anterograde amnesia acting up again.
So, Nina gets her XVI tattoo and it’s given all the significance of anything else in the book besides her and Sal’s relationship, i.e. not much. Which is great, considering it’s the TITLE OF THE BOOK!
And we end with a surprise party!
Also Nina gets a call from her real dad, and she recognises his voice immediately, even though they’ve never met. And Nina gets one of those tacky half-heart necklaces from Sal. Bleeeuuugh.
Some really insightful stuff here. Possibly not in the way it was intended though. It speaks of a person who had some good ideas but didn’t really think them through. And then there are what appear to be study questions…
Study questions! Oh dear, oh dear—I didn’t realise there was going to be a test! Must be my damned anterograde amnesia, always getting in the way! Dawn—what do I do!
Dawn: Shut up, freak—I’ve got to get this XVI tattoo. Otherwise I won’t be able to have sex! Then I’m going to sign up for this whole female diplomats IN SPACE program, that’ll get Nathan to go out with me!
Female diplomats IN SPACE? Wasn’t there something kind of freaky about that… something about sex slavery or… oh well, I’m sure it’s nothing! You want to step in Aphrodite? This book didn’t have a Dawn character so I could use your input.
Aphrodite: Like, no. That Sandy character was an embarrassment to great ho characters like me everywhere! And that Ed character was an embarrassment to great rapists like me!
Uh, it’s interesting how you say that so proudly… though I must say, you the teenage heroine’s slutty rival character did make a more convincing villain than Ed the Terrible.
Aphrodite: Interesting, nothing. Come here, Dawn, get the Sailor Moon tattoo instead, that’s much cooler. Though this book could hardly be cool without me in it.