XVI, by Julia Karr

Summary: Preparing to receive a government-mandated tattoo declaring her sexual readiness to the public at sixteen, Nina is shattered by a brutal attack on her mother, who before dying reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past.

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3 Comments

  1. I’m always a huge nerd for a good dystopian world, and while XVI’s might not be the most “original” of them, it certainly feels well-thought out and convincing.
    The part I liked best was how it treated the relationships between the teens and their parents/grandparents/other relatives. Most YA books ignore the parents, portray them as controlling obstacles, feature orphans or runaways, etc. However, I loved XVI’s adults. Sure, they were concerned for the safety of their young people and took it seriously, but they also trusted and respected them. They treated them like “you are a young and less-experienced human being” rather than “you are a child.”

    While I believe it had a complete story arc on its own, I can’t wait for the sequel.

  2. Way too typical – this book was a completely generic and bland combination of the “dystopian” and “coming of age” themes. Nina’s father is missing (and clearly working against the rigid government, though Nina struggles to believe this) and her mother dies before she can reveal to Nina a vital secret, but she does have time to reveal an enigmatic and intriguing clue. Soon after, Nina meets a guy that I immediately zeroed in on as the “romantic interest”. She is attracted to him, but too young and naïve to recognize it. I stopped reading after the “first kiss” scene, where the handsome stranger (“love interest”) randomly strikes up a deeply emotional conversation with Nina that leads to a fireworks-inducing kiss. It was one too many cliché of those crammed into 114 pages.

    I believe that the most important characteristic of a book is, naturally, the characters. The narrator’s voice, personality, and depth largely determine my impression after reading. A completely stereotypical plot can be made glorious through clever, complex characters. However, Julia Karr did not manage this. Nina Ginny was the affectionate, secretly rebellious mom (see: Delirium by Lauren Oliver). Her boyfriend was the abusive partner that the caring mom puts up with to protect her child (see: The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan). Sal was the enigmatic and hopelessly attractive stranger (see: take your pick). Nina was the uncertain and naïve girl maturing through hardship (see: every single coming of age book). XVI did not live up to my (limited) expectations.

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