Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: XVI

XVI by Julia Karr
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Goodreads description:

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.

My rating: 1 out of 5 stars

I hate giving a book with such a great idea such a low rating, but honestly, aside from the idea, there wasn’t a single aspect of the book I liked – it was executed very badly, and the plot was overdramatic and clichéd.

For one thing, there just weren’t enough explanations for the reader to really understand the world Nina lived in – we never find out how it was possible for society to change so drastically. The reader got plenty of information and explanations about minor things like how they don’t eat meat anymore in the future, but nothing about how it’s possible that society moved backwards so much that people are classified in “tiers” and women have basically no rights.

I was also annoyed by the characters and their relationships. Nina was not a relatable character whatsoever – her emotions switched from sad about her mom’s death to happy to worried to in love with Sal to sad because of Sal way too quickly without any sort of explanation.

Sandy seemed too superficial and selfish – when Nina’s mom died and Nina had to move in with her grandparents, she only thought about herself and how she won’t have a friend living close by anymore. I didn’t understand why Nina would be friends with her, they were just too different. The only explanation about their friendship is that they became friends because they both like animals, which, honestly, is ridiculous.

Nina’s relationship with her mom seemed to perfect – she told her mom everything, which I don’t think is realistic. I didn’t like Dee or her relationship with Nina, either – she was 11 but usually acted like she was 5. The relationship between Nina's grandparents was supposed to be funny, but it was trying to hard and just got annoying.

The dialogue seemed fake; they switched topics way too often, which made it all kind of random, and all the characters, in my opinion, were too open and always said whatever they were thinking. That would be fine if it were used as characterization for one or two characters, but each of her friends spoke like that.

The different storylines were all over the place. Nina’s obsession with Ed and Dee was overdone (I thought that if I had to hear “Cinderella girl” one more time, I’d have to scream), while the plot of finding her father, which I thought would have been much more interesting, wasn’t elaborated on until the very end.

I don’t know whether there will be a sequel for this book, and if there will, I can’t criticize this, but I had the feeling the plot didn’t really pick up until the end. I thought the book would be more about Nina turning sixteen and having to deal with what that entailed in her society, but she didn’t turn sixteen until the last chapter. The ending didn't offer any solutions, but (again), if there will be a sequel, I can't really criticize that.

This novel had great potential but was executed very badly. I did not like the writing and never cared about the characters, and most aspects of the story were lacking. I would not recommend this book, but since it has gotten mainly good reviews, maybe it just didn’t connect with me personally.


  1. I was looking forward to reading this because the idea sounded so good but of all the reviews I have read, none have been positive. So disappointing :(

  2. Its disappointing that you didn't enjoy the book, I read this book and I actually liked it.

  3. I actually really enjoyed this book. Maybe it's because I really enjoy dystopian novels


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