Monday, February 28, 2011

XVI by Julia Karr

XVI by Julia Karr
Release Date: January 6, 2011
Publisher:  Puffin/Speak

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. -

I was surprised by how much I liked this book, even though there were a couple things I couldn't explain well enough to myself and I wasn't sure they were really believable.  I did, however, love the characters.  Nina is a smart girl who is dedicated to protecting her sister after hearing the truths that her dying mother revealed to her.  These truths are the driving force behind all her actions throughout the rest of the book.

Although I loved Sal, I would have liked to have seen inside his head a little more instead of just seeing him reacting to Nina's issues.  I did love how protective he was of her though.  These two characters interacted well together.

I absolutely adored Pops!  He was one of my favorite characters in the story, despite the fact that his role is very minimal.  He was just so cute! I could so picture him as a cantankerous but funny old man.  He was great.

The only person I never really warmed up to was Sandy.  I just had a really hard time liking her because she was so superficial.  Even though I understand that their society had sort of influenced teens to think like Sandy does, I felt it was taken to such an extreme with her that her behavior just looked stupid to me.  But perhaps that's because I had a hard time with the premise of 16 year olds being branded and announced to the world as being ready for sex.  Although the whole sex angle did play into the major issue in the story, it was never really explained why their society had instituted this rule. What would cause a society to say, "hey, I know... let's start branding our 16 year olds as being 16 so that any guy on the street who sees their mark can take them out back and force sex on them?" 

This part wasn't really the major issue in the plot though... although the major issue did involve sex...but in another way.  So that was really the only issue I had with the story. I actually really enjoyed it.  It was a fast read with excellent pacing and great characters.  It ended in such a way that I'm wondering if there's going to be a sequel.  If so, I would definitely want to read it.

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