XVI by Julia Karr

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

The year is 2150 and in a futuristic America, the governing council now instill the laws and all citizens are expected to abide by. Other planets have been colonized, and advertisements are catered to your every whim. Teens are reliant on technology and as soon as you turn sixteen, you're expected to become sexually active, a branding tattoo allows others to see that your of age. It's not a question of being a willing participant in the barbaric and promiscuous environment, you're simply not expected to say no. It's legal rape.

Nina lives in the suburbs, her family considered lower class within the tiered socioeconomic society. She has five months before she's to receive her brand, but unlike most teens, her best friend Sandy included, she doesn't want to have sex. Sandy is everything that Nina never wants to become, flaunting her body, batting eyelashes and willing to do almost anything for male attention.

Nina luckily has the influence of her surly grandfather and battered mother to see how the system is failing it's citizens, with the revolution wanting to silence the nation and allow communities to think for themselves. Nina doesn't want a boyfriend, but when Nina stumbles across Sal, being beaten and abused, she comes to his aid believing he's no more than an unfortunate homeless boy. Her feelings of never wanting a boyfriend suddenly seem hazy, Sal isn't interested in sex, he's smart, an intelligent free thinker, and he knows exactly who Nina is.

But when tragedy strikes Nina and sister Dee, Nina discovers there is more to her mother than a quiet and abused woman. Left a memory book that doubles as a series of cryptic names and locations, and with her mother's revelation, Nina begins revolting against the only life she's ever known. Turning 'sex teen', the GPS implants teens have imbedded, the government controlled media, that then controls the citizens and impressionable teens, and the FELS program for sixteen year old females. Believing the program is an education for celebrant virgins, the sinister council feeding the population lies.

The NonComs may be rallying again, avoiding step father Ed who is threatening that she will be chosen for the FELS program, Nina may just be the link to free all girls from the deviate laws of the new Americas.

XVI was slow to begin. Really, really slow, and there weren't many explanations for the futuristic era in which it was set, until around half way through. The advanced technology wasn't explained at all, and you can only gauge what some items were by the usage throughout the book. 

The premise was interesting, but I felt a little lost with the 'sex teen' concept. At sixteen, girls receive a forced XVI tattoo in their wrist to show men that they can be used sexually, the government and media portraying promiscuous girls as popular, wealthy and beautiful. Nina is adamant that she won't have sex, she doesn't want a boyfriend either... Until she meets Sal. 

Women in general are portrayed as merely objects, but the so called Resistance only makes a brief appearance to protest the media advertisements bombarding citizens, not the equality of women. They weren't prominent at all throughout the storyline, and didn't seem to have much of a role apart from random broadcasts.

It was well written, but the characters aren't memorable, apart from Sandy. It seems she was created to be Nina's opposite, no respect for her body, loves male attention and seemingly wants to latch onto anything with a penis and a heartbeat, but she's irritating beyond belief. It was not bad, but left me feeling bored and flat, if not a little peeved that the storyline died before it was given a chance to take flight.

(XVI: Book One)
Written By Julia Karr
Published 06 / 01 / 2011
339 Pages

Post a Comment

© Diva Booknerd. Design by Fearne.