Age Group: Young Adult
Challenges: Debut Author Challenge
Release Date: January 7, 2011
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.
XVI was not what I expected, but I mean that in the best way possible. I was expecting just a dystopian novel, but Julia Karr incorporated suspense and romance into her book, too. I liked that, because she didn't focus on the dystopian aspect of it; it felt like I was reading a mystery/suspense novel set in a dystopian society (if that makes sense).
The beginning of the book started off strong, and ended strong, but I feel like the middle of the book fell a little flat. By the last 100 pages though, it really started to pick up, and I read the last part of the book in just one sitting.
Nina was a great MC. She was reasonable, realistic, and likable. I loved how strong she was, because I don't think I could have done or gone through a lot of what she did, and still be okay afterwards.
Nina's little sister, Dee, was adorable in a naive way. Their grandparents were cute, too. They were loving, supportive, and protective. I loved the connection they all had with each other.
Ed was a fantastic villain. He was big, powerful, and super-scary. His character sent chills down my spine.
The way Julia Karr writes is perfectly for the dystopian genre. She pays a lot of attention to detail, and puts a lot of it in the story (without it being too overwhelming) so the futuristic society she created became extremely realistic.
She's also really talented at building suspense and mystery, and weaving those themes into the book. For a lot of scenes in the book (especially towards the end) I was practically holding my breath in suspense.
I think the book ended in the right spot in the storyline. XVI was exciting right up until the very end, and the wrap-up in the last few pages didn't feel too rushed.
I love the cover to XVI. It's so eye-catching, and pretty in a dramatic way.
I heard him scuffling through the pile of debris I'd thrown in front of the door. Every inch of me wanted to scream, to run, to do something . . . but I waited, clenching the pipe tighter and tighter until my hands hurt.
The Final Verdict:
XVI is a wonderful dystopian/suspense novel that will keep you thoroughly entertained. Definitely read this book, and keep your eyes peeled for any other books that Karr writes!