XVI – Julia Karr
Genre: YA; Dystopia
Summary: Set approximately 100 years into the future, XVI is told from the perspective of a fifteen-year-old Nina Oberon, an average girl living in Chicago. Nina has no desire to reach the age of sixteen because girls in this dystopian society are branded with an XVI tattoo on their wrists, and are expected to become sexually active at that time. While her worries are a stark contrast to her best friend, Sandy’s, feelings about reaching the age of “adulthood,” turning sixteen becomes just one of a series of issues that plague Nina’s life after somebody she loves is attacked. Can she escape her fate, or is she doomed to live the life of a typical sixteen within the society?
Review: While I thought the concept of XVI was rather interesting, for me, the execution mostly fell flat.
I love a good dystopia, but there were way too many unanswered questions in this book that made it near impossible for me to suspend disbelief. How did society get this way? Why does everyone just go along with it? From the way XVI ended, I have a feeling that there will be sequels, so perhaps these questions will be fleshed out a little bit more in the next books. It was also kind of strange that, in some instances, the characters were discussing things that they had been acquainted with all of their lives, and therefore, shouldn’t really have had a need to discuss since it was already part of their collective experience.
The one-dimensionality of the characters also really stood out to me. The females, especially Wei and Ginnie, were definitely tough, but it was hard to really feel any sympathy for their plights because they all seemed rather generic. In the same vein, the male characters didn’t seem to have any personality at all, and much like the females, it was quite hard to get to know them. Additionally, Sal and Nina’s relationship seemed a bit contrived, and I really didn’t find myself caring about what happened with their romance at all.
Taking all of these factors into account, I actually did enjoy this book and read the whole thing in a few hours. Yes, most of it was rather predictable, but that didn’t really detract from the fun I had reading it; in fact, I’ll probably continue with the series. Ed was a great villain, and I spent the whole book wishing vengeance would finally come to him. The technology and dead zones were also rather cool, and I loved that it enabled the characters to talk freely about what was going on around them.
If you enjoy dystopias, especially any of the ones listed below under “read-alikes,” XVI may be a book worth looking into.
Read-alikes: The Adoration of Jenna Fox – Mary E. Pearson, Feed – M.T. Anderson, Uglies trilogy – Scott Westerfeld, Matched – Ally Condie, 1984 – George Orwell