Friday, January 7, 2011

XVI, by Julia Karr


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.

Sounds pretty awesome, right?  

Well, it seems like Nina is pretty much alone when it comes to her sex-teens (cute little nickname society has given to the momentous occasion).  She doesn't want them to happen.  She doesn't want sex and she certainly  doesn't want to get a tattoo telling everyone she's open for business.  Her friend, Sandy, on the other hand is bordering on obsession over it.  Wait.  Who am I kidding?  She's not bordering anything.  Sandy's walking around in the skimpiest clothes she can find and tossing her hair at any guy who passes by.

It's a very disturbing story, when you get down to it, but for a dystopian, it actually reads light-hearted.  Though the topic itself is disturbing (and even a few things that happen are quite chilling), the tone of the writing doesn't match the darkness I've read in most dystopian novels.  Maybe this is a good thing.  It's actually quite nice to not be depressed throughout an entire novel.  And the ending?  Despite being the first book in a series, XVI actually stands alone!  All the little details wrap themselves up quite nicely.  And let me tell you, dear readers, I appreciated that little courtesy from Julia Karr.  

While most of the story and characters gripped me in their authenticity and scope (all the extra details she put into how society worked and the technology was astounding), there were some parts that bordered dangerously close to cheesy romance.  I may have yelled once or twice, "No! No teenage boy would EVER say that!"  But you know what?  I'm a 27 year old woman.  The target audience of teenage girls will eat that stuff up.  So good job, Ms. Karr!  

Out of a rating system that goes like this:

1 star: Don't even bother
2 stars: It may be your cup of tea, but it ain't mine
3 stars: Pick it up at the library some time
4 stars: Go ahead and buy it!  You might like it!
5 stars: What are you doing still looking at this post?  Go out and buy it NOW!

I'm going to give this book...

4 stars!

Go ahead and stop by Amazon today. :)


  1. Nice review! I've been looking forward to this one. I haven't read too many dystopians, but I'm going to check out XVI.

  2. Thanks for the review! I've seen this one around, and it sounded intriguing. Er, I wouldn't be into cheesy romance lines either, but the premise is unique. Clever and cool cover, too.

  3. Interesting...I might have to look into this one!

  4. It does sound like an interesting book! Thanks for the review.

  5. I'm looking forward to this one. Thanks for the review!

  6. I must admit, and I said this many times before, I'm totally opposed to the unethical and inappropriate aspect of most today's YA books in which teens are put in violent or, as you said, totally disturbing positions. I'm extremely afraid with the world changing its moral values in this way and doing irresponsible things which might have a bad effect on young people.
    Off course, this was an off topic. I won't judge this book itself since I haven't read it, but I didn't like what I read in the blurb :(

  7. i've never heard of this one... the blurb makes me wonder why in the world would they tattoo people who didn't want it?!?


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