Publication Date: January 6, 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. (from Goodreads)
I thought XVI was a dystopian novel and while I know some have described it as such, I an rather inclined to call it science fiction. Nina's world isn't anything like I could imagine our future becoming. Underage woman are treated as second class citizens, the government has complete control over everything and society is ruled by a strict class system. Perfect elements for a dystopian tale you might say but what was missing, for me at least, was the catalyst. There was some talk about the troubles of the past but it was hard for me to imagine people really changing so drastically from today.
As for characters. I can't say I really felt a strong connection to anyone in particular. I liked them all but sometimes they felt a little shallow. I understood why they did what they did but sometimes I was frustrated by their actions. Nina's sister in particular was a bit annoying. She's almost 12 and in a society where 16 year olds are labeled "sex-teens" she seemed very immature and naive about life. In fact, before her age was stated, I pegged her at around 6 or 7.
Even with all that said, I did very much enjoy XVI. The story is very original and I'm hoping Julie will continue to write because, as a debut, XVI has left me wondering what else is lurking around her imagination :)
A young adult book like none I've ever read before. If you're looking for something new with a dystopian (or in my opinion, science fiction) feel to it, I think you will really like XVI.
Nina's world is a place of extremes where the government has an outrageous amount of control over it's citizens. In contrast to this is the overwhelming sense of love and devotion that not only Nina's family showed her but also her friends. I really liked that and I really enjoyed Nina's story. Not sure if XVI is part of a series but if it is, I'll be sure to pick up the next installment.
3.5 / 5 Stars
Puffin / Speak