Book Type: Softcover
Age Range: Young Adult
Publication Date: January 6, 2011
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.
Forget the world as you know it and try to imagine it if we lose our identity and the ability of deciding. This is what Julia Karr features in her impressive debut novel. XVI narrates Nina’s story, a normal girl about to turn sixteen, where society she lives on means sexual exploration with or without her consent. Lots of girls her age wish to turn sixteen and get marked with such enigmatic tattoo, but Nina is not one of those. Her life is altered when her mom is brutally murdered and asks her to go find her dad, whom she thought dead all her life. I’m really impressed with this book by the way Karr handles the topic on media governing society in all aspects of decisions, it’s interesting and invites you to meditate on it. One of the aspects I liked the most was the character’s platform, most of the main and secondary having self identity and not being each one’s clones. Nina’s aspect on trying to solve her dad’s enigma while assimilates certain information, protecting her sister and falling in love is really captivating. Another aspect which drew my attention was that regardless of the serious topics in the book, the character’s interactions as friends and the presentation of these bonds are beautiful. Romance is pleasant and does not outshine the main plot. The only thing I would have liked was knowing a little bit more about the past story; how this world got to be what it is in the story. Even having information, I would have liked more in order to understand certain things. XVI, the story of a society with no self identity where a youngster, along her friends and the resistance fight for their identity and won’t stop until they win.
This book could be used as extra curricular material where teenagers can analyze how media defines their behavior or the way they interact actually and how they would do under the circumstances narrated in the story.