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.
Short and Sweet: XVI is an intriguing dystopian read which tended to both thrill and confuse me as a reader. On one side, I was fascinated by the world that Karr created. I would be lying if I said it was not a little bit shocked to see sixteen year old girls believing that this is the appropriated age to begin procreation. However, as much as I loved this shock factor, I must admit that I was a little more than lost at times within XVI. Karr beautifully sets up the world that Nina lives in, but I never understood why these girls had the mentality that they did. Brain-washing? Government mandate due to lack of babies in the society? It never really was clear. Maybe if I had been given a bit more back story about the society I could have followed along better.
Final Verdict: While not a complete waste of time, XVI left me with a feeling that I was missing an important piece of the puzzle. A piece that I think if I had, would have made quite a few details fall better into place. As it is, XVI was enjoyable, just not the awesomeness that I have been hoping for.