By Julia Karr
From Back Cover:
Every girl gets one. An XVI tattoo on the wrist-sixteen. They say they're there for protection. 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 as 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.
XVI is set for 140 years into the future-2150 Chicago. The story takes place around 15 year old Nina who is dreading her 16th birthday. For a good reason- in this new society girls who turn sixteen are tattooed on their wrist and become legal to be sexually used and abused by men.
Julia Karr does a wonderful job setting up this bleak dystopian world where the government has taken control of people by setting up a tier system. The lower tiers depend on the government for food, housing and medication while the upper tiers have more luxuries such as better housing and more career opportunities.Turning sixteen or sex-teen is hyped up by the media and portrayed as freedom and choices. Early on we learn that Ginnie, Nina's mom has taught her not to buy into all the media hype.
Girls in the lower tier system have the opportunity to move up the ladder by applying and being accepted into the FeLS program- a government run program designed to help girls achieve their dreams of bettering themselves. Right away the reader gets the feeling that this program is not all that it proclaims to be as Nina's mom does everything she can to buy Nina's contract so Nina doesn't have to go.
The story moves along quickly as Nina's situation changes after a tragedy strikes. Nina and her sister are taken to live with her grandparents. Things quickly gain momentum as Nina soon finds out that her mother was involved in secret things that must be kept hidden from the government. Time is running out for Nina as she tries to uncover mysteries of her past, her family and her uncertain future before she turns sixteen.
I thought this was excellent debut novel by Julia Karr. This story had a great combination of suspense, action and romance in a dystopian setting. After visiting her website I learned that she is working on a sequel tentatively called The Sisterhood which will hopefully expand on her already amazing world. I'm eager to find out more about the FeLS system and the resistance-Non-Cons.
This book was read for Dystopian February hosted by Presenting Lenore.
I plan to give this book away next month as part of a prize package celebrating my 3rd year of blogging! Yah! Stay tuned!