Friday, March 11, 2011

Review: XVI by Julia Karr

XVI by Julia Karr
Speak (Penguin) 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Speculative Fiction, Dystopian

Official Description:
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.

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed the premise of XVI a lot. I love the Dystopian exaggeration of modern trends that occurs in the novel- the sexualization at young age, the strictly tiered social classes and the hyper-present advertising. While the threads of the dystopian themes were presented in an interesting fashion, I would have liked to see more tension between the goals of Nina and the structure of her society especially with regards to the class tensions.

I really enjoyed the developing relationship between Nina and Sal (the romantic interest) and the entire group dynamic between Nina's group of friends. It would have been nice to see some more meaningful interactions between Nina and her sister, Dee. I felt that there could have been more focus on the relationship between Nina and her mother and more depth to Nina's grief and anger.

Overall, I really did enjoy XVI. The action-driven plot carried me through the story effortlessly and quickly. The lack of development and depth in some of the relationships and concepts didn't detract from the story that was being told but it could have added so much more. My verdict: XVI was an enjoyable, though ultimately forgettable book. I will be looking forward to the sequel but it probably won't be at the top of my to-buy list when it comes out.

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