22 January 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.


  • This book was a mixed bag for me.  I liked some aspects, really disliked others.  But regardless, there was something elusive about this book that pushed me to continue—something that drew me in and held me to the very end.  Thing is, can’t say exactly what.
  • First – The background, and the lack thereof, really annoyed me.  I can appreciate having a book centered on a teenager’s sexuality and the struggle that ensues, but having a whole world where it’s acceptable—even expected—for a sixteen year old to have sex?  I didn’t understand that at all.  How had it evolved in the first place?  How did we go from the society we know today to the sex-crazed world in the future?  The lack of history frustrated me.
  • The writing was average.  There were a few good lines that I really liked, but otherwise, I wasn’t really impressed.
  • I couldn’t really appreciate the world.  The new terms weren’t explained well enough.  She’d say “faster than a _____” and I’d go… “Um, okay…no idea what that is”.  And it would make me feel ignorant and so it really turned me off.  Some of the inventions were awesome and I liked.  I think that if there was a backdrop of a “21st Century History” class, then you could compare the worlds better judging by Nina’s reaction.
  • I didn’t like Nina’s character.  She was way too wimpy for me.  She fell apart too easily and was a total spaz—and a moron!  My God!  So she wanted to protect her sister, then left her alone in the apartment.  Stupid much?  Half the stuff she did just didn’t make any sense.  Sal’s character wasn’t much better.  His lines were too generic and his personality wasn’t unique enough for me.  His overprotective reactions just made me roll my eyes.  Gran and Pops were too cliché—it was far too much like what you’d expect.  The eccentric grandfather, the loving grandmother.  My favorite character was Wei.  I mean, thank god!  The chick can fight and she’s not a pushover!
  • It had a certain charm.  There was something about it that made me want to continue.  I did want to see what happened to the scumbag and personally, he deserved what he got.  Though I wish Nina could have gotten a little more satisfaction out of it.  I mean, considering her own injuries at the time.
  • Even though I wanted something different, it was a relatively good story and I could really appreciate the imagination, even if it was suppressed by lack of explanation.  It’s a debut so there’s plenty of time to work out the kinks.  The ending was set up perfectly for a sequel and according to Julia Karr’s website, she does have two more books planned that are set in this world.  A sequel and a spin-off.
  • I love the cover.  If you want to get interpretive about it, I’d say that the XVI is all that the character sees and it’s hovering over her—like how obsessed Nina was over her XVI.
Book Info:
  • pages – paperback, 325
  • published – January 6th, 2011
  • publisher – Puffin/Speak
  • genre – sci-fi
  • received via – Borders :)