Reading level: Young AdultSo, these are the tough reviews for me. When I love a book, I can't help but go on and on about it. When I hate a book....well, pretty much the same. But when a book is just ok, that's where I have trouble. I really liked the idea of this book. I've actually been waiting for it to come out for a long time. I bought it pretty quickly after it came out, read about 1/3 of it, then got side-tracked by other books, and never felt too compelled to go back. However, we were requested to read it by a parent, so I decided to pick it back up and finish it.
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Speak; Original edition (January 6, 2011)
Author's Website: http://juliakarr.com/
Buy the Book: Amazon
Interview with Julia
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.
Things I liked about XVI:
- The cover. I just love it! It looks really tragic, almost, and I think it fits the book SO well, with the tattoo and the desperation that Nina feels. Kudos, cover people!
- The concept. First of all, I love a good dystopian. I love thinking about how the world will be, or what our actions today may lead to tomorrow. With all the sexualization of teens today, and just women in general, I was anxious to see what Julia's world would look like in the future. The idea that girls would actually be branded was really fascinating.
- The mystery. I didn't know going into this that there would be a mystery. I love a good mystery, so I was happy to see that included.
- The family relationships. I loved that Nina's grandparents were so fleshed out. They were awesome grandparents. I also liked how much Nina cared for her sister. It was obvious that she would do anything for her. And it wasn't just Nina's family that was explored. We also got glimpses into Wei's family and Sal's family.
- Speaking of Wei. She had to be my favorite character. I loved her strength and confidence, her love and concern for her friends, her willingness to put her life on the line for those she cared about. She was a fantastic character.
- Nina's friends. It was really great to see a group of friends that loved and looked out for each other as much as these friends did. All of them seemed genuinely concerned for each other, going out of their way to keep each other safe, or showing an interest in their passions.
- The writing. It's not that the writing was bad, it just wasn't my style. I felt like the slang was a little corny, and the sentences were a little choppy. I tend to like books (and I'm just finding this out about myself) where the writing is a little more poetic and beautiful.
- Nina. I just couldn't connect with her.
- There are two very tragic incidents in Nina's life during the story, and I just didn't really feel bad for either of them. And I didn't feel like Nina really felt all that bad either.
- I felt like Nina was whiny and wishy-washy. Her thoughts and feelings were just all over the place.
- We were "told" that she was strong, but I didn't really see strength. And she kind-of came off a little slow. I mean how many times can you say to yourself, "I know there's a madman out there ready to snatch me or my sister away, but I'm going to go hang out outside.....by myself......at night....again......I'm sure it will be fine." It just drove me a little nuts.
- The Background. Why? Because there was none. Why did this society get to this point? Why would they push girls into having sex? What was the point? Why sixteen? Maybe the answers were in there and I just didn't see them, but to me, the society didn't make sense. In two books I've recently read, BUMPED and WITHER, there were similar dystopian societies that focused on the sexualization of young girls. But, in both of those worlds, there was a reason things had advance to that point. In BUMPED, there was a virus that caused all women over a certain age to be sterile. In WITHER, because of gene-manipulation, girls died at age 20. But, in XVI, there didn't seem to be a cause for this ridiculous society. And that just made it seem unbelievable.
It's your move!
- Sexual Dialog: Heavy
- Sexual Content: Moderate (with mentions of rape)
- Profanity: Heavy
- Violence: Moderate/Heavy
- Other Notables: Mention that guys have a say in girls' pregnancies, whether or not they can have an abortion etc.