blo Teens Read and Write: Book Review: XVI by Julia Karr

Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Review: XVI by Julia Karr

by: Julia Karr
release: Jan 2011
genre: Teen Fiction/Dystopian
challenge: Debut Author
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 like dystopian but sometimes it leaves me depressed. So I was happy to find Julia Karr's  debut XVI does a great job of highlighting how the world can go bad, while also throwing me a lifeline of hope.

XVI explores harsh truths. Bad stuff happens -people get hurt, some die. But on the flip side, Karr has strong characters that overcome and thrive in a terrible environment. Nina is strong, loyal, caring, smart, and fierce when she has to be. Her most defining quality is that she isn't buying into the whole 'sex-teen' thing, thanks to her mom's rebel influence.

Sex is mentioned a lot in XVI, including references to rape, porn, adultery and sex trafficking - but it doesn't happen on the page. I thought it was handled well and relevant to the story. While Nina doesn't consider sex  bad, she isn't ready for it and want's the chance to make the choice for herself. Romance with the mysterious Sal is sweet, her old BFF Sandy is annoying since she buys into all the government's hype, but Nina's new friend Wei is a tough, smart cookie. Loved her!

Enjoy the captivating, thought-provoking world but the delicious twists and shadowy intrigue are what suck you in. XVI is an awesome suspense thriller!

I Did NOT See That Coming!
 Karr cleverly weaves several subplots into a cohesive tapestry of excitement! I loved that there was much going on and how it all connected in the final pages. The ending isn't completely happy but it is endearing, satisfying, and  leaves a sense of hope as well as enough questions that I'm looking forward to more!

Check out our latest (and first) In My Mailbox Video where Jake claims the model on this cover is one of his favorite actresses. ...You decide!



 AUTHOR BIO
I grew up in the small town of Seymour, Indiana. Although I’ve lived as far east (and south) as St. Augustine, Florida, and as far west as Longmont, Colorado, I now live about fifty miles from my hometown. I’ve been writing nearly all of my life. When I was young, I lived with my grandmother and my older sister, but my mother lived in Chicago. I spent a lot of time writing her long, newsy letters about what was happening in my life. She would sometimes correct my spelling by return mail! (I learned to love being edited! lol!) I also loved to write poetry and draw. I would design greeting cards and send them to my friends and relatives.When I was sixteen, I moved to Chicago to live with my mother. I fell in love with Chicago, and have never fallen out of it! There is nothing quite like the thrumming heartbeat of a big city! I have two lovely daughters, who are grown. They both live within five miles of me, and I like that a lot! When they were little, I used to make up stories for them. That was when I first starting thinking about writing for children. But, it wasn’t until they were out of the house that I began to take my writing seriously. I love writing young adult novels. XVI is dystopian fiction, but I am also working on some fantasy and some contemporary themes. Too many ideas, too little time!    

13 comments:

Small Review said...

Whew! I'm getting really depressed with all of these dystopians dooming and glooming all over the place. Glad to hear this one gives a little hope.

Zombie Girrrl said...

I'm glad there's a ray of hope in this dark book. I'm also glad that Karr is covering this topic. I don't like books with sex, so I'm really glad you mentioned how it was covered in a there but there way. Thanks for the review! I'm looking forward to reading this one.

PS I agree with Jake. She does look like the girl from Avatar/Resident Evil/S.W.A.T. I hope that's not a bad sign about the book because her characters always seem to die... o_O

Alyssa@Teens Read and Write said...

SR: Know what you mean. I really wasn't up for another depressing one.

ZG: The sex angle was handled well. More there to bring up questions and discussion, not for titillation. I think it would be a good group read for teen girls.

Blodeuedd said...

Sounds good, and there are sure some heavy topics that are in this one. What a creepy world

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I have been so curious about this one! I don't mind that kind of ending as long as it IS satisfying! Great review. I really need to put this on my tbr!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I have the same issues. So I'm always glad when there is a gleam of hope. Great review.

The Golden Eagle said...

I've heard a lot of good things about this book--I'm not so sure it's for me, but I'd probably try it if I saw it in the library or something.

Great review!

Ladytink_534 said...

I really may pick this one up. It sounds like something I would enjoy.

Jenn (Books At Midnight) said...

Hey, Alyssa! :D
Great review. I've had my eye on this ever since it's awesome cover came out, and I'm glad that you thought the book lived up to its intriguing plot. I love that it's not completely depressing, as some dystopian reads tend to be, and I'll definitely have to check this one out- thanks. :)

Missie said...

I feel the same way about dystopian, so I'm really glad to hear this one turned out to be hopeful. Definitely looking forward to reading it now, especially since Michelle Rodriguez is on the cover. ;)

Tasha said...

I love the sound of this book as I'm a big fan of dystiopia. I really need to get my hands on it soon lol. Thanks for sharing a great review.

Orchid said...

Thanks for the heads up on XVI. I'll probably still read it because it still sounds good. Thanks for the review. ^_^

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

This book sounds so interesting... I want to know more about this world where at sixteen (XVI), a girl is branded as a sex-teen. Why is her world driven to mark their young, is it guys and girls? Is it for reproductive purposes? Or a mad quest for some governmental agency? It is only a certain segment of the population?

I believe I'll be picking this one up, I'm intrigued and wondering.

Dottie :)

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