Author: Julia Karr
Series: XVI #1
Published: 6 January 2011
Length: 325 pages
Warnings: open discussion of sex, forced sexualisation of 16 year old females, slight kissing, violence
Summary : Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world-even the most predatory of men-that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past-one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer
Review: Nina lives in a world where, on their sixteenth birthday, every single girl is given a tattoo. XVI, on the wrist. Marking them as open season for sex. Most girls can't wait. Nina is not one of them. And then her world is turned upside-down. What she'd thought about her family proves to be wrong. Nina is determined to find out, and there turns out to be one boy who can: Sal. But this might be dangerous, and coming of age in Nina's world will be completely different to ours.
I had such high hopes for this. Not many, if any, focus on the sexualisation of young girls, something you can clearly see in todays society, and takes it to an extreme topic. Maybe because it's just a touchy subject, maybe because no-one thought to go there. But for whatever reason, the original concept of Julia Karr's we are given in the summary is amazing.
And then the futuristic world is taken to the extreme. In my opinion, this could be a world with the same standard of technology and the like, but just with the tattoos. Or maybe they could have just slightly advanced. I don't know. I like the idea of the media being controlled by the government, because it's easy to see that media controls the people. But when I started reading, I wasn't prepared. Verts for adverts, and a whole bunch of new technology. A tier system which wasn't really explained and so you have to guess. All of this pushes the tattoos to the side, making them less important, giving them less of a role, than you'd think if they deserved to be the title of the book.
The mysteries that cropped up weren't too suprising, but it was fun seeing Nina tackle all these problems.
My favourite character is Wei, the Creative who tattooed around her XVI and learns a martial art the government tried to ban. She's a very strong character who does her own thing.
The pacing was ok. It wasn't particularly slow or fast; it kept going at a pace that kept you interested but not a need to know what happens next.
Overall: Strength 3 tea to a book that, while somewhat good in its own way, is totally different to what you'd expect.