by Julia Karr
Published January 6th, 2011 by Puffin/Speak
"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"
To be honest, I had some misgivings at first about reading this book because it it's *ahem* "frisky" contents, but when I saw it at my library, I just had to give in and get it because the plot line was just too interesting for me to pass up! This novel gives an interesting take on the increasingly-popular dystopian trend (which, quite honestly, is kind of getting on my nerves...) The concept of an XVI tattoo branding anyone 16 and up as legal for sex is a very scary notion to comprehend, yet I feel like that our own society has had some part in inspiring the author.
This book was an okay-ish read for me---I enjoyed it, and loved the concept of the story, but let's just say that it didn't quite meet my expectations. I was really excited for this book and wanted so badly to really, really like it, but it just wasn't quite there.
The Things I Liked:
- The Concept--I think the idea of a society like this is quite original compared to the other dystopians I've read. It was interesting and fresh and provided a startling glimpse into a dystopian future using elements of today's society.
- The Characters--There were some great characters in this book; my favorite ended up being Wei---each character is unique and even though there are quite a lot, you never forget one or confuse one with another
- The protagonist, Nina, was incredibly admirable in her beliefs, in how absolutely sure she was in what she wanted, and in the way she constantly took care of her sister. You've got to love a character that knows what she wants and doesn't compromise that for anything. Reading about her struggle defining the line that so thinly divides love and lust was fascinating and I think her struggle with the question "what does it mean to love someone?" is something we can all relate to in today's society.
- Character Development---For the most part, the characters seemed kind of flat to me--there was no particular depth, to them, not even to Nina; I feel like she matures and toughens up a little as she learns about the truth of her family, but for the most part, there is no major character development. Don't get me wrong, they were all well-defined and characterized, but I would've liked to see more depth
- On a side note, while I enjoyed the romance in the story between Nina and Sal, I also would've like to see more relationship development there. Yes, they met and fell in love, but it all seemed so fast and got unrealistically intense for the amount of interaction that they actually had
- Execution/plot---- As I said before, I really liked the concept of the story, what with the whole XVI and everything, but I felt like the execution was poor--There were quite a few questions for Nina to figure out, but the answers came way too easily. Also, the plot was kind of slow in the beginning.
- Another thing that bugged me was how the big deal about sex-teens and XVI (which the book was named for!) kind of took a back seat to the whole problem that is Ed, which was disappointing because I was really interested in the background info about XVI.
The really good news is that (yay!) there is going to be a sequel! In January! It might be surprising that I'm super excited for a sequel when I wasn't exactly crazy about this book , but I am! The whole idea of this dystopian society still fascinates me and I feel like this storyline has a lot of potential. The first book set things up wonderfully for a sequel, where I'm hoping I'll get answers for some of the questions Karr left hanging. From the reviews I've read from people who got advanced copies, the sequel sounds extremely promising and much better than the first book. :)
Overall, 3.5 stars
And now for some quotes....
“Religion seemed to me like one group of people telling another group that their color of red was the best. And that everyone had to believe that, or else.”
"I couldn't shake the impulse to help him. It seemed that the older I got the more I believed that everyone, homeless or not, deserved to be treated at least like a human."
"A tiny part of me wanted to kick him, too, not because he was homeless, but because he was a judgmental asshole."
"That line between love and lust was thin as a whisper."
"I'm afraid to have a boyfriend. I don't know how to do that and not lose who I want to be. And I'm afraid of what it means to be close to a guy, a guy I might really like."
There it was: the truth.