Thursday, November 3, 2011

Review: XVI by Julia Karr

XVI by Julia Karr 
Published: January 6th, 2011
Publisher: Puffin
Pages: 325
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge 2011, 100+ Reading challenge
Other: First book in the XVI series. The second book, Truth, will be published on January 19th, 2012.
Buy the book: Bookdepository

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.

This is a hard review for me to write. I'm going to be bluntly honest with you and say that most of the time I couldn't care less about what happened to the characters. Let me explain.

XVI is a story based in a world where girls are 'legal' when they turn sixteen. They get a wrist tattoo, to show everyone around them that they can have sex. They say it's for safety, but broadcasting sixteen year-olds like they are walking adverts is of course not a way to keep those girls safe. Speaking of adverts - that's what society lives with. Constantly loud and blinking images of commercials that are broadcasted in the streets. There's no room for quiet and people seem to go insane with the noise.

Here's why I couldn't relate to the characters. There was a lot of time spent describing the world Nina lives in and how people live in that world. There was a lot of describing the environment in it, but for me, it didn't bring anything extra. In the beginning of the book something happens that's illegal, and it's told with all sorts of slang and words and abbrevations of which I had no clue what they meant. It turned out to be quite important in the story, but I didn't know what the characters were talking about until I was a long way into the story. At that point I was mostly confused and focusing on understanding what happens, which resulted in me not caring about the characters.

I guess Nina is quite a nice character - it seems she has a backbone and personality. But I only came to care for her as a character when I was well over two-thirds into the story. She was a believable character, feisty, smart, but not too out there. She didn't immediately throw her beliefs overboard when she heard stuff that didn't work with how the world worked. I liked that.

The story picked up and worked towards a plot near the ending and I quite enjoyed reading that ending. It was exciting and the climax was good. Karr made up for my lack of connection with the characters in the last part of the book and I have to say that I'm actually quite excited for Truth to come out in January (I have already preordered it!) to see where the story goes.

My overall rating:

Three stars for Nina's world - but I promise to be back for the sequel!


  1. I've been quite curious about this one for some time now, but I'm a bit scared to pic it up. Mostly because I'm starting to hear these things about it, and I'm not sure if it's actually something for me. ;o I hate when you don't understand something, especially when it proves to be important later and connecting with the characters is one of the more important parts!

    Well, since I own a copy, I'll probably still pick it up sometime, but I think I'll wait just a little while longer. Great review! :)

  2. I was wondering about this one. I probably wouldn't have a clue about the slang either :S Good to know though. Wonderful review.

    Xpresso Reads


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