Number in Series: 1
Release Date: January 6, 2011
Genre:Young Adult/Dystopian/Science Fiction/Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads
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.
XVI is about a dystopian world where the media runs all, specifically teenager girls. Media tells them what to be and how to act so by the time they hit 16, they will be “ready”. And to make sure everyone knows it, it is the law they get the "XVI" letters tattooed on the wrist. But our protagonist, Nina, doesn’t feel that way. She thinks it is wrong for the media to tell her what she should be doing and that when she is “sex-teen” it is expected of her, even if she doesn’t want it. Of course, she can’t think that for too long, because they also monitor your thoughts and what you say. To make matters worse, however, Nina’s mom is attacked by someone close to her. While in the hospital, Nina’s mom reveals to her that she has evidence that could take down the government and the Media, evidence that shows her best friend could be in more danger than she thought. It is up to Nina to find it and protect or else Nina and her family and friends will pay the price.
I really loved this book. Another dystopian book I’ve read that doesn’t have zombies, but is no less scary. What makes this book exceptionally creepy for me is that you can almost see something like this happening. The Media does play a huge role in our society especially where young people are concerned and this book really plays on that possibility. This book really goes beyond a creative dystopian world, it goes to how important it is to have a mind of your own; just sitting back and believing everything you hear is true.
Nina was a great character to follow. She was strong and had a mind of her own. She fought for her friends and for her family. When Dee, her younger sister, is in danger due to her psychotic father, Nina wastes no time in doing everything she can to protect her. I love that she didn’t keep it all to herself, she reached out to her friends and her grandparents (who had a few tricks of their own). Her best friend, Sandy, who was more than ready to become a “sex-teen”, pissed me off. She was so obviously to everything around her except boys. She knows Nina and her family is in danger, but she couldn’t care less. This was why I loved the new girl, Wei. She was tough and a lot like Wei. Also Wei and her family for Nina because of the surprising connection they have. I loved the love interest, Sal. He thought the same way as Nina and even though they were both experiencing lust for each other, but they waited and weren’t letting the Media control them.
The plot was so suspenseful and thrilling. I love the world that Karr has given us. It is scary and creepy knowing that the government can see and hear everything you are thinking unless you take extra precautions. It was scary being in Nina’s shoes and seeing that she has to constantly look over her shoulder. But I love how things unraveled in the book. There were plenty of twists and turns that I won’t spoil, but they are great.
I highly recommendation this book to everyone especially teenage girls, it is very thought-provoking. As my friend Jessica Subject said in her review (she also recommended this book to me, thank you hon), this really should be required reading for teenage girls in high school. There is a lot to take away from this book. I must mention this, this book talks a lot about sex; sex trafficking, rape and more. But it never shows us any of that, but it is all a constant scare in this book. Trust me, once you read what men do because of those insipid tattoos, you’ll understand the terror. I am flabbergasted by the fact that this is Karr’s first book. It was well written, mysterious, provocative and very hard to put down. This is definitely going on my favorites list.