Author: Julia Karr
Genre: Dystopian (YA)
Quality Rating: 8
Content Rating: PG-13
In Julia Karr's debut novel, when girls turn sixteen they get a tattoo of the Roman Numerals "XVI" on their wrist, signaling they are ready to have sex. Nina, our main character, is a fifteen-year-old girl who is not looking forward to turning "sex-teen". As if that's not hard enough, her entire life changes when her mom is killed. Now Nina must stop her step-father from stealing her little sister away from their small family.
I was looking forward to reading XVI because I have been following Julia Karr on the League for quite some time. And Julia did not let me down. Though I wished we had gotten to explore the world of XVI a little more, I realize this is a YA book, and as such it must meet the usual YA themes and standards. There is only so much you can explore from a 15 year old's perspective. And yet what Nina did explore was a scarily realistic world--a world that ours could easily become. Nina was also a realistic character. She's the sort of character I would have enjoyed reading about as a 15 year old and enjoy reading about now. And though her love interest is handsome and charming, he's also realistic in the way he interacts with Nina. He doesn't always know the right thing to say, and sometimes puts his foot in his mouth. In short the characters were realistic, the plot was intriguing, and the conflict riveting. I was rooting for Nina the entire way and felt for her the entire time. I highly recommend this book for lovers of YA dystopian novels or just YA in general.
I give this book a PG-13 rating for violence, murder, rape, discussions of sex, and some intense sexual situations. However I would like to add that this book is a great discussion starter about gender roles and the over sexualization of teens. It's the kind of book I could see a mom and daughter reading together and discussing.