Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Julia Karr transports readers into an action-packed and dangerous world with XVI, similar to modern United States, but also very different. Set 140 years in the future, Karr's Chicago is bustling with activity and noise, a place where the government watches everything and everyone, but a rebellion simmers in random dead zones all over the city. This portrayal of the future is packed with details, from its own set of slang to descriptions of new technologies on both small and large scales. What is also very fascinating is the way that sexuality is portrayed, with the act of sex and gratification not only at the top of everyone's mind, but also the existence of acceptance for promiscuity, with federally funded pamphlets on how to flirt and date. It is believable that this is the direction in which we are heading as a society, but to read about it in full force is frightening. It is the source of much worry and consternation for Nina as she is determined not to become a "sex-teen", but yet can't deny her growing attraction for rebel Sal. Karr imparts a strong, positive message concerning peer pressure as Nina sticks to her values and decides that she can have a meaningful relationship with him without resorting to sex the minute she turns sixteen.
The pace of the book is a tad slow to begin with, as Karr is definitely an author who shows her readers her world and characters rather than tell them, but it's not long before Ginnie is attacked, thus prompting Nina to look into the mystery of her father's death and her mother's sudden decision to move her family and take a lower-level job, and causing her to throw up her guard as she has to evade Ed, her mother’s abusive and powerful boyfriend, and the threat of the government. Luckily, Nina is able to make some very good friends and allies, which provide an excellent support system for her and some comedic relief at times. The ending, however, is full of very real danger for Nina, with some fatal consequences, giving XVI its edge and tension, but Karr leaves the book wide open for a sequel that will be eagerly welcomed.
Cover Comments: Eh, this isn't the best cover in the world...I like how the girl's face is partially obscured with the title treatment, but this is a very dark cover and a little dull. definitely not my favorite.
Kindle edition purchased.