Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Review: XVI by Julia Karr

The world of Julia Karr's XVI is dark. Very dark. When teen girls reach the age of XVI (16), they are expected to be ready for sex. Leading up to this age, they are taught to become chic temptresses, full of flirtation and decorated to attract the opposite sex. Apparently, teen boys have full-on access to the girls, whether they like it or not. Basically, government-sanctioned rape is abundant and so are gross pornography vids for older men who may not have access to teen girls any longer.

The main character, Nina, is approaching sixteen, but is not excited at the prospect of having hook-ups all of the time with random guys. She knows that she'll need to have the XVI tattoo inked on her wrist that will announce to teen boys that she's fair game. But, she can't help but try to think of ways to escape the inevitable. And then she meets Sal.

At first, she thinks he's a homeless. She sees him being taunted and kicked by a group of 'letes (jocks) and intervenes, despite the risk of being brutalized herself. In this world, age and status are everything. Higher tiered people have more rights and privileges than their lower-tiered or homeless counterparts. But Sal isn't homeless. So why's he dressing like one? She feels an immediate connection to him, but is perplexed by his sneaky ways and the snippets of insider knowledge about the resistance.

There is so very much more to explain about this complex world, but I don't want to give anything away. This world is rich and deep and scary. There are some aspects of this world that I cannot quite understand, like why the government wants young teen girls to have sex with random boys so readily. Maybe it's a way to keep them focused on being lusty and attractive rather than intellectual.

This world is violent and cruel and almost plausible. I have seen horrible youtube videotapes of young men beating (and killing) homeless people. I know that the media and large companies work to keep teens more interested in trends than the latest news items. And, I know that teen girls are overly sexualized in our media. All of these aspects of the futuristic world of XVI make sense to me.

I am a huge fan of the dystopian genre, and this book is definitely one that I'm adding to my list of recommendations for others who love this genre. It is now out on paperback and you can purchase a copy at most bookstores. (Or you could enter a giveaway for this book that I'm hosting starting tomorrow.)  If you're a fan of this genre, you'll want to find a copy to read. I'd love to hear what you think!
 

**Review copy provided by Teen Book Scene**

49 comments:

  1. Awesome review! I definitely want to read this ASAP!

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  2. I just picked this one up last night when I hit the bookstore to spend my Christmas money. I have seen a lot of good reviews and like you I love a good dystopian novel. I am so glad you liked this one as I know lately some of the books in this genre have been a disappointment. Thanks for the review!

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  3. I've only recently gotten into dystopian lit and I was thinking which dystopian novel should I read next. Thanks to your wonderful review. I think XVI will be next. Thats if I can find it in my local bookstores. Also, I'm a new follower. :D

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  4. I just finished this one and was planning on writing up my review today. Interesting book -- I liked it, but it was disturbing.

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  5. This is in my TBR pile. Sounds so good. Can't wait to get to it. :)

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  6. I definitely HAVE to read this one! I'm glad you liked it, I'm sure I'll love it too!

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  7. Very much looking forward to reading this one - soon!

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  8. This is a cover that sticks in my mind, and this is the first review I have read about it. I had no idea about the content of the book, but it sounds pretty heavy with a lot to think about. I will have to check back for your giveaway tomorrow.

    I was also going to mention to you that I am doing a giveaway right now for Bree Despain's The Lost Saint. You left a post on my review of The Dark Divine. I was thinking that if you ended up reading it, you might be interested in the second.

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  9. Glad to hear you enjoyed the book. I got a copy of this from the store 2-3 weeks ago. it is going on the back burner for a while though because of some book club reads I have coming up.

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  10. You are my go-to person for this genre (seriously! you read so much dystopian/ spec sci-fi stuff, it's awesome)

    i've pre-ordered this one and am glad :)

    i mostly only read contemp but i always seem to enjoy branching out. loved the review and can't wait to read the book soon!

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  11. I think I neeeeeeeeed this book. It sounds right up my alley, like a creepy little Handmaid's Tale for YA. Want. It. !
    :)

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  12. Love dystopian, adding this one to my list.

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  13. I love dystopian books and this one sounds intense but one I am definitely going to have to read. Great review!

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  14. I enjoy dystopian books - I'm even part of YA dystopian reading challenge for 2011. I had already added this to my to read list, but now after reading your review, I'm moving it up the list.

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  15. Whoa, great review. At first I was shocked (and disgusted) by the premise. I work with teens, and the thought of the underlying message is frightening, but the purpose of the dystopian genre is to take some aspect of our culture, blow it out of porportion, and wave it in our faces saying, "You see it now? You see why this is so wrong?"

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  16. Love the review! Thanks for posting! I've read several great reviews on this one. And I'm so excited to read this!

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  17. Wow. This looks like a different kind of dystopia novel than any I've read in the past. This should be very interesting.

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  18. I'm a huge dystopian fan too! I think the concept of this book is totally original! I love the sexteen term too....wicked awesome.

    Jen

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  19. Yikes what a world! Thanks for the review.

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  20. Can't wait to read this for myself.

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  21. Wow! Your review has definately made me want to read this book! Reading the symopsis i was a bit wary, it just sounded like it was about sex but it sounds like a dark, thrilling eye opener of a book. Looking forward to it.

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  22. Thanks for the review! I've been afraid to read any reviews of XVI because I don't want to read any spoilers. This review just gave enough of a hint about the world of the book to make me want to read it even more now!

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  23. This book sounds so interesting, after falling in love with a lot of dystopa lately, birthmarked, hunger games, etc this seems like a great addition and on a really important topic. the world karr created sounds scary but not too far off from what actually is happening too, girls choosing sex over their intellect!

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  24. "government sanctioned rape"?? Yikes! Sounds interesting, though.

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  25. Thanks for the review. Way to keep it interesting! It sounds like a bone-chilling book, but I love dystopia all the same.

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  26. The synopsis didn't catch my attention at first but your review did it! I think my TBR's just got higher...

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  27. I really enjoy dystopian novels but I hadn't heard much about this one yet. It sounds like a brutal story but I'm glad to hear there are redeeming qualities and that you liked it. Great review, I've added this to my list!

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  28. I hadn't thought about that take before--that the media might purposefully try and keep the youth from being informed. Though, as a high school teacher, I can totally see the truth in the statement (I have my students read about current events and they consistently say that they don't care/it doesn't matter.)

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  29. I'm definitely going to pick this one up. I've been waffling for a while now. Great review!

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  30. I'm glad that she's made the world fairly complex~~~ I'm looking forward to reading XVI

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  31. I've got this one on my wishlist. It's gradually working it's way to the top. Great review, good to hear that the world has depth to it.

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  32. Awesome review! I have been DYING to read this one!! :D

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  33. Sounds like a very scary world. I don't really understand the government's reasons behind the tattooing and the sex from your review or the synopsis, but hopefully when I read the book I'll figure it out. Awesome review. :)

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  34. Your review made me want to read this book! Great cover!

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  35. Wow, I didn't even realize what this was about. It sounds really good. Thanks for sharing.

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  36. Thank you for the recomendation. I love dystopian stories, and this book looks really amazing.

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  37. I love dystopian stories! This one looks fabulous and I'm definitely not afraid of the disturbing aspect...its kind of my favorite part ahahah

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  38. I'm just starting to read reviews of this one and they sound awesome. This sounds like a great addition to the dystopian genre. - especially since you describe the world in it as scary!

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  39. OMG this book sounds so awesomely dystopian! LUV the sound of it and the cover? Gorgeous!

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  40. I have seen this book around the blogosphere. But I have never really read the review.
    What A creepy world.

    I think I was wrong when I said I never read any dystopian book.
    I hope I have a chance to read this book

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  41. It sounds like this book's plot is even more complex than I first thought. This is on my Wish List. Thanks for the review!

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  43. Great review. I liked how you explained a bit about Sal and that aspect of the story. All the reviews I have read so far about this book just explain about what will happen to the main character once she turns 16. This book sounds very terrifying yet intriguing.

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  44. Wonderful review. I like reading your reviews because you don't just slop down your thoughts, you really seem to think about it and really explain them well without spoiling it all. This book sounds frighteningly amazing.

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  45. Great review! I have been looking forward to reading XVI, I love love love dystopian novels.

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  46. Amazing review! I definitely have to check this book out soon!

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  47. Awesome review! I can't wait to read this one!

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  48. Awesome review ! I can't wait to read this book moreover I love the dystopian genre since I read The Hunger Games !

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  49. Oooh! Great review! I've been wanting to read this one for a while now!

    The gov't forcing early sexual activity reminds me of Brave New World. I don't know how family works in this book, but I personally believe that a good, strong family is one of the most important parts in our development. For most people, our cultural, social, religious, political and ethical beliefs come from, or are strongly influenced by our family. If the government can completely destroy and eradicate the family, it is much easier to instill in us what THEY would have us believe, and thereby gain more control. After all, isn't that what a dystopian is really based around?

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