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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Review: XVI by Julia Karr

Publisher: Penguin
Published: January 6, 2011
Pages: 325
Source: Won from Logan E. Turner (Thank you!)
Rating: 2 Stars

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.

In short: XVI by Julia Karr was an unfortunately obvious satire that suffered from awkward writing and a lack of urgency.
XVI by Julia Karr is set in a world where the government is controlled by the Media and girls are encouraged to seek out sex when they turn sixteen. This makes for a rather ham-fisted and obvious satire, unfortunately, and this was my main problem with XVI. It's not that I don't agree with the overall message presented, it's just that I don't need to be hit over the head with it. A more subtle approach would have been much more appreciated.

I did like Nina as the main character, however. She was a strong and moral girl, determined not to be just like every other teenaged drone. She had an admirable ability to stay strong and not break down in the face of terrible events and her love and protectiveness she had for her little sister was sweet. Still, she had a few TSTL moments.

Julia Karr's writing was a miss for me. It was awkward and repetitive. There was also a distinct lack of urgency throughout the novel that made for a bit of a boring reading experience. Despite the seemingly serious events that would routinely take place in XVI, Nina would be back to normal and hanging out with her friends the next day. And I lost count how many times Nina and friends would get together and rehash the situation again and again, barely progressing.

Overall, XVI didn't work for me. Though I appreciated Nina as a strong, female character, I was put out by the obvious satire, the awkward writing, and the lack of urgency. I will not be continuing with this series.

Other Reviews:
A Blog About Nothing
Avery's Book Nook
That's Swell!

Author Links:

*Read as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge
*The Letter X in the A-Z Reading Challenge


  1. Ooh, dang! Sorry XVI didn't work for you! :( I enjoyed it, but I did feel that the messages Julia Karr was trying to send were a little obvious. Thanks for your honesty, Aylee! :)

  2. Too bad this didn't work :-( I am interested in reading it. There are three key things about a book: plot, characters, and writing. I still like a book that fails on one of these qualities, but it's hard to like a book that fails on two of them.

  3. Aww shame that it didn't work for you I've been really curious about this series. At least now I've got a heads-up! :)

    Xpresso Reads

  4. I had a few problems with this one as well Aylee, but I found the world kind of horrifyingly fascinating:) And Ed was disgusting, I wanted to reach through the pages and punch him in the face even though I've never ever punched anyone and it would most likely hurt like crazy:)

  5. This doesn't sound like a winner.
    It think a friend of mine read it and liked it but I'm not that big into dystopian and it sounds like the author just keeps hitting you with the punch line over and over until it's no longer funny.

    Thanks for such and honest review!

  6. Yikes! And I hate to repeat myself, but Yikes!

    LOL! My jokes are so lame.

    Anyhoo...sorry this one didn't work for you. At least the cover is pretty cool. I remember reading a number for reviews for XVI when it first came out, and I lost interest in it right away.

  7. Sorry to hear you didn't like it Aylee! The premise sounded pretty good (not too original but still)... I don't know if I would like it because of it being repetitive and the awkward writing :/ Thanks for your honest thoughts :D

  8. I liked this one a little more than you, Aylee, even if the message was kind of obvious. I thought the world was pretty well done and liked Nina (though I felt rather detached from her), but the slang and Sandy were the biggest issues for me personally.

  9. Lauren: I'm sorry it didn't work either. I used to be so into dystopians but now I think the market has become so saturated with them that they've become hit or miss for me. But I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    Alison: That's a good rule to live by. I agree, I can still enjoy a book when two thirds of the elements are there but not with only one. I hope you like it more than I did!

    Giselle: Well, don't write it off right away. People seemed to like it more than I did, so maybe you might too!

    Jenny: Horrifyingly fascinating, yes. But still not all that original or interesting to me. Ed was bad, but I was still annoyed with the mother for not trying harder to leave him. And yeah, it probably would hurt like crazy :)

    Alex: Heh, that's a good way of putting it. It was frustrating for me because it didn't feel like progress was being made in the story very quickly. Just rehashing again and again. I wouldn't recommend it for you if you don't like dystopians.

    Missie: Ha! I like your jokes. Strangely, I don't recall seeing too many reviews that turned me off this one. The reviews seemed to be pretty complimentary, actually. It just didn't work for me.

    Lulu: Not too original, but it did have promise, true. Unfortunately, it was just too literal for me. And the writing didn't help things either.

    Zahida: The world was sort of well done for me, but just way too literal. And yeah, the slang was pretty annoying. It felt a bit like it was trying too hard, you know?

  10. I have a feeling I wouldn't enjoy XVI too much, either-- I'm not a big fan of obvious satire and didn't love Beauty Queens even though it was Libba Bray. Thanks for the honest review... Cool that you found a title for X in the A-Z Reading Challenge, anyway! :)

  11. Great review! This is another book that I've been on the fence about reading, now I can let it go once and for all. :) Thanks!

  12. Kat: Ha, yes that was something good about it, even though I've pretty much given up on that particular challenge. That's too bad to hear about Beauty Queens, but obvious, too literal satires are a pet peeve of mine.

    Jessica: Happy to help! Though I always feel a little guilty when I have that effect on people... I mean, what if it turns out you would've loved this book?

  13. Well, at least it was useful for you A-Z challenge! This does not sound like the book for me at all. I'm with you, I don't mind messages, but please, please authors, don't preach and beat me over the head with the messages!

  14. Bummer to hear this one fell short. I can't say the book blurb hooked me, but your review cinches that I probably won't be checking this one out. I love dystopian, but only when it's done well, and it doesn't sound like one does.

    Thanks for the honest review!


  15. I didn't care for this one either. Like you, I felt the message was too in your face. However, I did like Nina. The thing that bothered me the most was the world-building. It was almost like Karr was trying to hard. A great book set in dystopian Chicago is Divergent. It's no longer Chicago, but it still feels like Chicago. If that makes sense. Great honest review!

  16. Nina sounds like a great character, but repetitive writing is so annoying. It drives me crazy when books reiterate the same info over and over...

    Nice honest review, Aylee! :)

  17. I haven't heard great things about this one. Which is partially why I haven't been to eager to read it. I am not a huge fan of being "hit over the head", when it comes to a moral message, and what not. Thanks for the review, I appreciated the honesty.

  18. That's too bad this book didn't work for you!

    I haven't read this book yet and to be honest I didn't really know what it was about. From the sounds of your review it doesn't really sound like something I would enjoy either.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  19. I started this one, but couldn't get into it and ultimately put it back on the shelf. I really liked the promise it had, but I found the world a bit too unbelievable and the character motivations seemed off. With a story like this, from the beginning, I need a good explanation for why this doesn't create a completely dangerous rape culture and why these girls would be excited about being sex toys. When it was clear I wasn't going to get that, I gave up.

    Awesome review, Aylee.

  20. Small: Heh, yes it is nice to now have an X title for my review archive. The hit me over the head message was the real deal breaker for me. I felt like I was being patronized.

    Lori: Dystopians really seem to be hit or miss with me lately. I agree that I only really love them when done well. World building is most important of all in dystopians, for me.

    Julie: I know exactly what you mean when you say Karr was trying too hard with the world building. It was too literal and unoriginal and the slang was definitely trying too hard. Agree about Divergent! I loved the pseudo-Chicago setting in that one.

    Lea: Ugh, yeah. The only time I ever feel the need to skim writing is when I get annoyed when it is too repetitive. I don't need to read the same kind of scene again and again!

    Sara: Heh, yeah being "hit over the head" is definitely not appealing. Such a huge turn off. I don't need to be spoken to like a child.

    Christa: Glad I could help! I'm sad it didn't work out for me either... can't like em all, I guess.

  21. Logan: The world building really wasn't there, I agree. I love reading about unique dystopian worlds but when the background isn't set in place for why this world came to be the way it is, then it's incredibly frustrating. Which is why the most critical aspect for me in dystopians is well developed world building. I have no idea what's stopping this world from becoming a rape culture and why the girls have no backbone. I often assume that if it isn't explained in the first book, then it will be eventually in the series, but I think I lost some patience for it with its too literal message.

  22. I totally agree with you on this one, I was annoyed at how many times Nina kept acting like normal when there were serious problems going on around her. I tried liking it but it didn't really work out for me either. Great review!!

  23. Ooh, that annoyed me to no end, too! One minute, everything would be serious and Nina would be concerned about Ed, and the next it was just relationship drama and hanging out with friends! I really wanted to like this one too.

  24. I finished this book but felt much the same as you. I'm not sure if it was the writing or Nina's voice and demeanor but I was frustrated and unsatisfied the whole time. The premise had lots of promise, but didn't deliver. Such a shame. Oh well - thanks for your honest review! It was well put.

  25. Oh, that's too bad you didn't like this one, I personally enjoyed it but not enough to continue reading the series .. =) !! Thanks for the review :) !!

  26. BookGeek: Thanks. I feel like it was all those things you just said - and more - that I had a problem with. The writing didn't flow particularly well and Nina's demeanor would change on a dime. She would be serious and worried one moment, then hanging out with friends the next. It was odd. It truly is a shame.

    Elodie: There were a few things that I liked, but certainly not enough to keep me coming back for more, unfortunately.