Reviews for XVI
Booklist Reviews 2011 January #1
In 2150 Chicago, girls are walking billboards. Upon turning 16, they receive government-issued tattoos on their wrists that read "XVI." They're supposed to keep the girls safe, but in reality, the tattoos broadcast their brand-new sexual availability. As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Nina is increasingly disturbed by her best friend's obsession with becoming the ideal "sex-teen" and entering the Female Liaison Specialist (FeLs) service, the only option for women from the lower tiers to move up the social ladder. Meanwhile, Nina works hard to uncover the mystery her dead mother left behind, a secret that could end the entire FeLs program. In her unsettling debut, Karr depicts a sex-obsessed future where women are the perpetual victims of predatory marketing, and other societal ills seen in our present--families trapped in the welfare system, pharmaceutical companies in bed with health-care providers and the media--have been taken to terrifying ends. At times the message goes overboard, but there's no doubt this well-written, accessible sci-fi thriller will provoke discussion. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2010 December #2
In Nina's world, children have GPS trackers until they turn 18, and surveillance satellites monitor for subversive talk. Tight control stands between young women and a threatening sexuality; at 16, teenage girls get tattooed with their age and become fair game. Fifteen-year-old Nina, unlike her friends, dreads becoming "sex-teen." Her life is too confusing without extra complications: Her mother's just died, and Nina's half sister Dee might be legally claimed by her father to be a servant—or worse. How does the cute boy who might be a member of the resistance fit into Nina's life? And had Nina's mother been part of the resistance herself? Nina doesn't want to get involved, but she needs to protect Dee. A large suspension of disbelief is required for the dysfunctional gender politics. (How did the situation get so broken? How do teenage boys and girls manage to be friends when they're only weeks or months away from effectively legal rape?) Otherwise, a fun little thriller for the abstinence romantics.Â (Science fiction. 12-14)Â
Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 November #2
Gender politics and sexual awareness play prominent roles in Karr's thought-provoking dystopian debut, set in a totalitarian future where world peace came at the cost of certain civil liberties and personal freedoms. At 16, every girl gets a XVI tattoo to signify her status as a sexually legal adult, along with a chance to join the Female Liaison Specialists (FeLS), often the only hope "low-tier" girls have of escaping poverty. Despite mounting peer pressure, Nina refuses to buy into the "sex-teen" mindset thrust on her and her friends since they were young. After her mother is murdered, Nina embarks on a hunt for the father she never knew, even as her mother's creepy boyfriend stalks her for unknown reasons. Nina may possess a key to shattering the corrupt government and the secret behind FeLS, but must decipher it before tragedy strikes again. An unusual blend of futuristic thriller and pro-abstinence advocacy, Karr's story has much to say about the increasing sexualization of teenagers. The balance between plot and preaching can be wobbly, but overall, it's a solid, enjoyable story. Ages 14-up. (Jan.) [Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2011 April
Gr 9 Up--In the Orwellian world of the 22nd century, turning 16 or "sex-teen" marks a girl's entrance into adulthood and freedom, literally, with an "XVI" tattoo on her wrist. Nina Oberon, 15, dreads coming of age because it also marks a lack of safety in a world where men can basically have their way with women without consequences. Nina's concerns are compounded when her mother is attacked and mortally wounded; on her death bed she tells Nina that the father she thought was dead is actually alive and that she must find him and deliver her little sister's baby book containing coded messages to him. Now living with her grandparents, Nina juggles her new life of old and new friends; a budding romance; finding her maybe alive, maybe underground radical father; and keeping her mother's powerful and abusive lover away from her family and the book. Karr manages to tackle big topics of the darker side of sex, media influence, government control, and women's equality. Teens will enjoy the romantic melodrama, and fans of dystopian novels will be drawn to the plot. While the future universe that Karr creates is imaginative, the writing often falls short, and the characters are one-dimensional. However, the strengths of this book and its quick pacing will likely pull readers through its flaws. With an ending that hints at a sequel, newer fans of dystopian fiction might want to read M.T. Anderson Feed (Candlewick, 2002) or Scott Westerfeld's "Uglies" trilogy (S &S/Pulse) while they wait for its arrival.--Adrienne L. Strock, Maricopa County Library District, AZ [Page 176]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
VOYA Reviews 2011 February
In Nina's world, turning sixteen means something, but Nina is not sure she is ready for what it means. Also called "sex-teen," this is the year all girls receive the tattoo which marks them as ready for sex. The media sells a story of girls eager for sex when they turn sixteen, casually grooming them with advertisements and articles. Karr creates a world with a constant bombardment of information, but information controlled by the government. The population is constantly watched and listened to, and rebellion is actively struck down through arrest and "assimilation." It is a strict class system arranged in tiers with little room to move between them. In this world, Nina's world is rocked by her mother's murder. Desperate to get keep her sister safe from Ed, her mother's abusive boyfriend who is also her sister's father, Nina finds herself in the middle of an unfolding secret. Is her father alive, like her mother said when she was dying? Or did he die when Nina was a baby? What does Ed want? What is the secret in the baby book? As Nina tries to adjust to losing her mother, she finds new friends and an uncomfortable but growing romantic relationship with Sal, who may be a Non-Com (a rebel). XVI takes a while to get going as Karr establishes the details of the dystopian future but eventually the pace increases as Nina finds answers to her questions and faces her sixteenth birthday. --Mary Ann Harlan 3Q 3P J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.