Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book Review: "XVI" by Julie Karr

The Scoop: (Goodreads)

Every girl gets one.
An XVI tattoo on the wrist--sixteen.

Some girls can't wait to be sixteen, to be legal. Nina is not one of them. Even though she has no choice in the matter, she knows that so long as her life continues as normal, everything will be okay.

Then, with one brutal strike, Nina's normal is shattered; and she discovers that nothing that she believed about her life is true. But there's one boy who can help--and he just may hold the key to her past.

But with the line between attraction and danger as thin as a whisper, one thing is for sure...

For Nina, turning sixteen promises to be anything but sweet.

My Take:

I was so excited to find XVI at my local library because I had been hearing so many great things about it.

The Setup:

So, Nina and her friends are living in a world where women are pretty much whores the minute they turn sixteen (either willingly or not) and the masses are living in an 15th century caste system.

"Help! Help! I'm being oppressed!"

Given the instant sexual availability that comes with turning sixteen (or "sex-teen" as it's called in the novel), it's no wonder that Nina is dreading her birthday and the "XVI" wrist tattoo that comes with it. Karr attributes the over-sexed behaviour to "verts" (in your face advertising campaigns) and "Media" (the government run media) and I can go there with her, given that we have sex slammed at us every day in every way now. I'm not a prude, but strippers have become the new style-makers in terms of dancing, bedroom decorations, workout routines, clothing and footwear. Come on!

Don't even get me started...

The Peeps:

Of course for the boys the legal age is eighteen (not sure why, we do mature faster than them, maybe that's  it) and we are given several examples from the gate of horny dudes looking to hookup or rape and girl with an XVI tattoo. I'd really like more backstory about how this society went from women in power (a Fems ruling period was briefly mentioned) to this open-legged situation.

Oprah would've never let this stuff go down,,,

Nina's love interest, Sal, starts out as a (LBD) Lightening Bolt of Destiny situation, but he eventually grew on me and I hope we learn more about him and his family in the sequel. Nina has two BFF's: one who is annoying from the first page (Sandy) and a super-cool one that I wish had more page-time (Wei).

This is how I picture Sandy and she annoys me.

I also liked that Nina had two male friends and neither of them was relegated to the role as third point of a love triangle. Although it did surprise me that she had male friends at all with guys running around raping people everywhere willy-nilly. Her cast of friends are interesting supporting characters and not just props for exposition.

Parental figures play a huge role throughout (which I always appreciate). Unfortunately, I wish the villain had been a little more three-dimensional and not so obviously insidious. Ultimately, XVI goes where any good dystopian tale should: with the little people trying to figure out how to bring down The Man.

So you better behave!

Lingering Thoughts:

I do question some of Karr's choices, like I couldn't get past the fact the cars are now called "trannies" and some of the technology was not fully explained. However, overall, I really liked XVI and I am so happy that I read it just in time for the release of its sequel Truth on January 19th. I found it to be a quick and interesting read.

Final Verdict:


  1. I really enjoyed this one. I bought Truth yesterday, and can't wait to dive in. I agree with the technology terminology.

  2. I can't wait to dig into Truth! Maybe we'll get some more answers there :) Thanks for stopping by!



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