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XVI Paperback – January 6, 2011

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 600L (What's this?)
  • Series: XVI (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Speak; Original edition (January 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142417718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142417713
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,462,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In 2150 Chicago, girls are walking billboards. Upon turning 16, they receive government-issued tattoos on their wrists that read “XVI.” They’re supposed to keep the girls safe, but in reality, the tattoos broadcast their brand-new sexual availability. As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Nina is increasingly disturbed by her best friend’s obsession with becoming the ideal “sex-teen” and entering the Female Liaison Specialist (FeLs) service, the only option for women from the lower tiers to move up the social ladder. Meanwhile, Nina works hard to uncover the mystery her dead mother left behind, a secret that could end the entire FeLs program. In her unsettling debut, Karr depicts a sex-obsessed future where women are the perpetual victims of predatory marketing, and other societal ills seen in our present—families trapped in the welfare system, pharmaceutical companies in bed with health-care providers and the media—have been taken to terrifying ends. At times the message goes overboard, but there’s no doubt this well-written, accessible sci-fi thriller will provoke discussion. Grades 9-12. --Courtney Jones


Gender politics and sexual awareness play prominent roles in Karr's thought-provoking dystopian debut, set in a totalitarian future. A solid, enjoyable story. Ages 14 up. --Publishers Weekly

Customer Reviews

The characters were drawn very well.
Yes, I felt bad for them and their situations, but when things happened to them, I just didn't feel invested enough for it to really hit me that hard.
A Book Obsession..
I had no desire to know what happened next, or how it all ended.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) on January 10, 2011
Format: Paperback

XVI is one of those books that stick with you. Not just because it is a well-executed and thought-provoking dystopian, but because it has so many components that lend to its greatness. Nina, the MC and a 15 year old girl who is terrified to age that one year and become a `sex-teen,' is strong, but fragile at the same time; she's far too grown up for her years, but still just a child. Her life is dictated by the world around her - which isn't a great one.

Julia Karr has created a Chicago of 2150 that is eerily reminiscent of the world of 1984 (one of my favorite books of all time) and she constantly reminds the reader just how much control the government has over its inhabitants. The technology is believable, at times it's incredible and I wish I could experience it, but other times it just shows how much the government interferes in everyday life.

Nina, her sister Dee, her grandparents, and all of her friends truly have very little control over their own lives. The tier system is very much the same as a caste system and with little hope of moving up in tiers, the girls who turn sixteen sign themselves up to literally become sex slaves, only they believe they're signing up for a better life, just with a few strings attached. Even Nina's best friend, Sandy, is convinced that joining the FeLS (Female Liaison Specialist) is the perfect way to move up in life.

Karr throws Nina into the world of The Resistance and forces her to question all she has ever known, while introducing her to the mysterious Sal too. Nina's only hope at escaping a life of forced sex and possible death, is in the whispered words of a dying woman. Those words drive Nina to become a stronger person, with an unbreakable determination.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jondy Macmillan on July 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
The dystopian future that Julia Karr worked with in XVI should have been creepy, unsettling, and more than a little thought-provoking. It was. Unfortunately, not for the reasons the author probably intended. A lot of these comments have mentioned the way that the narrative dragged and that Nina was essentially a boring heroine. That's all true.

What no one seems to have mentioned is the awful messages that this book perpetrates. Nina's best friend, Sandy, buys into the idea of being a sex-teen (an overly sexualized, vapid sixteen year old who's only motivations in life revolve around boys). And we're supposed to sympathize with Nina on how much she wants to help Sandy out, but just can't seem to get Sandy onboard with her concerns.

I really wanted to sympathize. I did. Except that was kind of hard when Nina refused to actually TALK to Sandy about her problems. Nina finds out that her friend essentially wants to sell herself into sex slavery. Instead of sitting down with Sandy and having a conversation about it, Nina decides on her own that Sandy is too stupid to actually understand. This occurs two seconds after Nina is outlining how Sandy isn't very smart, but can be perceptive. What?

The idea that all men are basically dogs who can't control themselves was unnerving, but necessary to the premise of the story. I get that. The idea that women have no control over their own destinies? That I wasn't so on board with. The only women who had any backbone at all in this novel were those that were fortunate enough to be educated. It's a nice thought, and yes, education is important. But the idea that those girls who haven't been fortunate enough to receive the kind of learning that Nina, Wei, or Mrs.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Angela Thompson VINE VOICE on January 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
It's a little bit strange, but I feel as though I've grown particularly choosy when it comes to the dystopian novels I pick up lately. I'm not sure if this is a result of the seemingly increased number of YA ones, in particular, being released. Or if it's merely that my taste is evolving somewhat over time. I did read several for the SciFi/Fantasy panel I served on for the Cybils this year. Some were good, some not so good, as is to be expected. But so often the substance fails to live up to the premise for me. And those are sad days, where I wonder what went wrong and if it was the book, the execution, or me. In any event, I was looking forward to the release of Julia Karr's debut novel--XVI--with a fair amount of anticipation and curiosity, hoping it would stand out among its fellows and earn a permanent spot on my shelves. I read it in the space of a single evening and have been examining my thoughts on it for a little while now.

Nina Oberon is about to turn sixteen. And in her world, this monumental occasion is about more than just a driver's license and more freedom on the dating field. So much more. At the ripe old age of sixteen, or "sexteen" as her world calls it, girls are essentially fair game for any and every boy/man/pervert that comes strolling by. Girls turn sixteen and get the infamous XVI tattoo on their wrist proclaiming their newly available status and Nina, for one, is scared. Most girls, like her hyper best friend Sandy, can't wait to achieve their new status in the world. Drunk on the wealth of male attention that will come their way and the promise of a whole new host of opportunities that will come their way, they anxiously look forward to the day they get their tattoo. Not so for Nina.
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More About the Author

Julia Karr was born in Indiana, and moved to Chicago when she was fifteen. After the initial culture shock of going from quiet, small town living to Carl Sandburg's, "stormy, husky, brawling," metropolis, she fell madly in love with the city. Her schooling in the art of writing came from reading, voraciously. While students were being forced to read the classics, Julia was busy going on author binges. As a young mother, reading books to, and eventually with, her daughters, she fell head-over-heels for children's literature. Not a far stretch for someone who had loved reading since the age of three. While still working a nine-to-five job, after hours Julia can be found at home, sitting on the couch tapping out stories on her laptop, with one of several cats draped behind her and her dogs sleeping nearby. 

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