By Julia Karr
Synopsis: (From Powells)
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.
Why I Picked this Book: I first saw it posted on my cousin (in-law)'s blog and it caught my attention. After reading its blurb, I just had to get it.
XVI is set in the future, where girls are literally stamped with the announcement that they are now 16 and legal to have sex. Sex is almost rampant, taking over all the ads and commercials (called "verts" in the book) and is even taught in school.
Say what? Yes, they teach it in school. Positions, how-to, the whole she-bang. (she-bang, get it?) Talk about an awkward class...
I was intrigued by this premise. We know the way this world is going... I wouldn't be surprised if a future similar to the one in XVI comes true. Everything is about sex. Admit it. Have you seen the controversial Vogue spread, with young girls posing as adult models? What happened to innocence? That is what XVI was questioning.
The ability to make choices for yourself. To decide when you are truly ready for that "next step." In XVI's society, the tattoo makes that choice for you. Intriguing. And scary.
Nina, the main character, bugged me. There, I said it. It was nice seeing how adament she was about not wanting to have sex yet and standing up for those beliefs. But man, I just couldn't fully sympathize with her. I don't want to nit-pick too much on this. Let's just say she seemed too wishy-washy to me.
My biggest issue though was the world building. I couldn't fathom exactly how this society would let this happen. Girls stamped like cattle. The rapes brushed off, just because they are "sex-teens." The mysteries of the girls who are shipped of for their internship training and rarely ever return... no one questions so many things. It was just... strange. There was so much I was dying to know more about, that barely even got touched on, if ever explained at all.
Now that I think of it though, maybe it could be a good thing that a lot of those things were left vague. Made the world even more scary, because it wasn't explained and full believable. Hm...
There was a lot of repetition as well. Saying it once was good. Twice made the point. Ten times... I think some could have been cut and made the story much more effective without the need to skim. But that's my personal opinion.
And the ending was... rushed. Not what I had been dying for, at all. But it did wrap up the story. Dot dot dot.
Honestly though, I can look past *most* of that and really like this book. I am scared of that possible future. I know it can happen, which makes it even worse. People too blindly just let the "verts" around them tell them what is normal and desired. What if it leads to... this? Please, no...
(Note: I feel this book should be read by a more mature reader. With all of the almost nonstop talk about sex... I just think the younger YA readers should wait a bit before picking it up.)
I did not hate this book. I think that a reader out there, craving to read a ton of thoughts about sex and the question of what choices we should be allowed to make ourselves, should give this book a read. I just wasn't fully satisfied with it. I felt it was missing just a bit too much. The idea and story line was so awesome sounding and really got my mind spinning. It just needed more... completion? Protection? (Ha, sorry the second bad bad pun... I am on a roll.)
(3 out of 5 stars)
I feel the need to remind: Three stars is not bad. It is average. It is saying that I liked this book, that there were things I loved, but it may not be one I may pick up again to devour. I gladly keep it on my shelf though, and will loan it to you to read anytime.