Author: Julia Karr
Publication date: 1-6-11
Genre: Young Adult
Format/pages: Paperback 272 pages
Format/Source: Bought Kindle Edition
Date read: January 13 2011
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
Dystopian books are all the rage right now, and there are a crop of them popping up this year. Some of them are better than others. Overall, I really enjoy this genre and ever since The Hunger Games I have been devouring these books. XVI is an exciting new dystopian novel by debut author Julia Karr. XVI paints a dark picture of the future, and makes you wonder if this is where we’re headed.
The year is 2150 and the world is a dangerous place, especially for young girls. At the age of sixteen, girls are tattooed with an XVI on their wrist to show that they are legal and ready to have sex. They are called sex-teens. These girls have been taught by the media to look, dress and behave a certain way to attract the opposite sex. Men basically feel like they have the right to have sex with any girl with the XVI marking.
The protagonist is Nina Oberon, and it is her worst nightmare to become a sex-teen. Nina is a smart, thoughtful, responsible girl. Nina’s mother Ginny has encouraged her to think for herself and not trust the government. Ginny has encouraged Nina to be an artist to carve a different path for her. Tragedy strikes when Ginny is murdered, and with her dying words sends Nina off to discover the clues of her mother’s secret life. Nina also must protect her little sister Dee from being abducted by Ginny’s evil ex-boyfriend.
Nina and Dee go to live with their grandparents, and attend a new school. Nina is separated from her best friend Sandy after she moves away. Sandy has bought into the whole sex-teen thing and can’t wait to turn sixteen and live the glamorous life portrayed in the media. They have two friends, Mike and Derek, who are sweet and supportive and have known the girls since grade school. Nina runs into a new boy, Sal, who questions the government’s motives and practices, much like Nina’s parents did. Ginny’s boyfriend Ed is one of the villains of the book, and he is very creepy with his taste for young girls and violence towards women in general.
Nina finds herself infatuated with Sal, and is conflicted about starting a romance with him. Her life is complicated, and she is worried about being a sex-teen. Their relationship was a strong point for me, and I just wish it were developed a little more. Nina also becomes friendly with a cool, confident, girl named Wei, who studies Cliste Galad martial arts. I hope to find out more about her and the martial arts in the next book in the series.
I was fascinated and horrified with XVI’s dystopian world, where there is no free speech, and girls are objectified and monitored with implanted gps devices. Verts/Advertisements are everywhere and the government is always listening and monitoring your every move.
XVI has a great story and characters, has a feminist theme, and makes you think about the future. As a bonus, I also loved that the society is vegetarian, and eating meat is outlawed due to the fact that there are so few animals left in the world. The story is fast-paced and kept me turning the pages (or clicking next on my kindle.) The ending was satisfying on it’s own, but I’ll definitely be ready to pick up the next book in the series.
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