XVI, by Julia Karr (fiction) – in future, 16 isn’t so sweet

book cover of XVI by Julia Carr published by Penguin

Sweet Sixteen for American girls can be cake and candles, maybe new driver’s license…

But a 16th birthday in Nina’s future Chicago means no more protection from sexual assault.

Now added to the government stranglehold on the Media which bombards city-dwellers with advertisements around the clock and all-pervasive surveillance is a mystery about Nina’s long-dead father, who may be alive after all!

The over-sexualization of girls by the media has certainly begun. Is it time for young women (and those who protect them) to fight back before a coercive XIV  society takes away their freedom?

While sexuality is a main theme of XVI,  it is not sexually explicit, so read it now, then rush to your local library or independent bookstore for more of Nina’s story in the sequel, Truth.

Book info: XIV / Julia Karr. Speak, 2011.  [author’s website]    [publisher site]    

My Recommendation

Nina’s friends can’t wait to get their XVI tattoo, showing they’re old enough for anything, but this 15 year doesn’t want to be a “sex-teen” that guys can have at will.
Her best friend Sandy might stay a virgin to get into FeLS to move up a social tier or might succumb to the constant media sexteen hype. Nina will do anything to stay out of the program, especially since her mom’s creepy married boyfriend Ed is a FeLS Chooser. If only her dad hadn’t died on the night she was born, forcing them from Tier 5 into the poverty of Cementville…
A bare wrist and implanted GPS should keep her safe in 23rdcentury Chicago, but Nina has seen violence against young teen girls that the Governing Council denies. Lately, there have been so many police forays looking for NonCons rebelling against the GC, sudden city-wide silences in the constant Media vid streams, heightened audio surveillance everywhere.
And now her mom has been attacked, leaving Nina to care for her little half-sister in her grandparents’ tiny welfare apartment. Mom’s last words warn her to keep Dee away from Ed and reveal that Nina’s own father might still be alive and hiding out in Chicago!
As Nina looks into her parents’ past, she meets people who knew them both in their youth and realized that their anti-GC opinions would put their lives in danger. Sal and Wei at her new school are level-headed about XVI, cautious about accepting Media news as complete truth.
Could her dad really be alive after all this time? Why did Mom want to make sure Ed never saw Dee again? Why is the GC suddenly stepping up security? What’s the truth behind FeLS?

Set in a future that divides the Haves and Have-Nots further apart with each generation, XVI considers questions of personal liberty, freedom of thought, and social justice through Nina’s eyes and heart. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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