Review: XVI by Julia Karr

Written By: Kellie - Jan• 11•13

xvi by julia karr

Series: XVI, #1
Publisher: Puffin/Speak
Publish Date: January 6th, 2011
Source: Book Swap

Rating: 3.5/5 Wrist Tattoos

Synopsis: Every girl gets one.
An XVI tattoo on the wrist–sixteen.

Some girls can’t wait to be sixteen, to be legal. Nina is not one of them. Even though she has no choice in the matter, she knows that so long as her life continues as normal, everything will be okay.

Then, with one brutal strike, Nina’s normal is shattered; and she discovers that nothing that she believed about her life is true. But there’s one boy who can help–and he just may hold the key to her past.

But with the line between attraction and danger as thin as a whisper, one thing is for sure…

For Nina, turning sixteen promises to be anything but sweet. -Goodreads

Review: This book took awhile for me to get into. Perhaps, I’ve just finally hit my wall with dystopian fiction, but I don’t think so. A lot of what I love about this genre was present in XVI, but somehow in the first half of the book, the stakes just weren’t high enough and there were few if any heart-pounding moments. Eventually, the book did manage to hit its stride, and I was sold. It just took a little too long to get there.

My favorite part of this story was something unexpected. Despite the slow build, XVI read like something of a mystery. I don’t generally read mysteries, but pieces of the puzzle kept coming together, and that’s what had me turning the pages until the plot took off. Nina’s life features a lot of unanswered questions, although she didn’t initially realize anything was wrong aside from her mothers abusive boyfriend. Her mother’s death prompts some big changes and ultimately Nina realizes that she’s going to need answers.

I was a little unsure about the romance in XVI. This has a lot to do with how (understandably) cautious Nina is about anything remotely sex related. Her society bombards teenage girls with the idea that when they turn sixteen their lives should revolve around promiscuity and being pleasing to men. This is a bit of a shift from how dystopian societies usually view sex and women, but it really comes down to the same principles. I love reading about gender relations, but XVI didn’t touch on quite as much as I was hoping.

One thing I did love is Nina’s family dynamic. Yes, both her parents are out of the picture for most of the book, but this is far from the usual YA trope of MIA parental units. Nina and her sister go to live with Nina’s grandparents, and she has to answer to them for her actions, while also dealing with her sisters ass of a father.

Realistic relationship dynamics carry over into Nina’s friendships. Nina has friends because that’s what most people do, not because she needs people to help her work through issues and move the plot forward. Yes, one or two new relationships fill this roll, but at the same time Nina finds herself drifting away from old friends. It felt a lot more organic than the simplistic way relationships (other than romantic) are generally handled in fiction.

Overall, this was an interesting read, but not quite as thought provoking as I’d hoped. I will absolutely be reading the second book in the series sometime soon.

Buy XVI by Julia Karr
@Amazon (US) @Amazon (CAN) @The Book Depository

Second Opinions:
@30 Nights Insomniac
@Fiction Folio
@Besotted with Books

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One Comment

  1. I like this series, but I get that it’s not quite as… controversial? as it could be. I thought it was going to be a bit more like a Margaret Atwood book. Still, I liked it, and it’s great for an A-Z challenge!

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