Sunday, March 6, 2011

XVI review

January 2011

Nina Oberon dreads the day that she turns 16 and will be tattooed, as a sign that she is now sexually available to any man who wants her. In 2150 Chicago, citizens are assigned numbered tiers based on their social class. Although Nina and her family were born to a higher class, after the disappearance of her father, her newly-single mother, Ginnie, takes a demotion to tier 2. Nina's grown up trying to avoid her mother's odious boyfriend Ed, who likes to leave sex-teen vids around the house, and beats her mother from time to time. Nina's very protective of her little sister, Dee.

Things change quickly when Ginnie is killed, and her dying words to Nina suggest that her father may still be alive, as one of the "NonCons" leading the resistance to the current authoritarian regime. Nina then meets love-interest Sal, a cute guy, (who we know is a good person because he doesn't pressure Nina.) Poor Nina is really terrified of intimacy, mainly because between her mother's abusive boyfriend and the stories in the news about teenagers who are raped and murdered with impunity, she has no positive role models to look up to. Nina also befriends Wei, an older girl whose parents were friends of her dad's, and who provides an alternate career possibility - getting a "creative" designation so she can work as an artist. We see Nina's mother in a different light when it's revealed that she'd only been dating Ed in a "keep your friends close, but your enemies closer" kind of way.

It's hard to understand why Nina puts up with her annoying best friend Sandy, who is obsessed with turning 16, can't wait to have sex and desperately hopes to join the FeLs, or Female Liason Specialists, a supposedly elite group of women who work in space. If that doesn't sound disturbing, I don't know what does. It's obviously a cover for some kind of government-run prostitution or unsavory sex slavery scheme. I was shocked by how long it took the main characters to figure this out. I felt that the search for Nina's father was a little drawn out. Nina's hopes and fears about ensuring she is not chosen for FeLs and how she hopes to get a "creative" designation make up a major portion of the book, and the ending felt a little anticlimactic. Sure, Nina is able to squeak by and get things set up well for herself. But what about all the other girls who aren't as lucky? I thought there would more of a massive change to the world by the story's end. Still, this gritty, dystopian novel with mature themes was hard to put down.

I purchased a copy of this book.
I read this book for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge.


  1. Great review Madigan! The plot for this book really got me interested. Excellent job. :)


  2. I liked your review, but I can't say I think I'll like the book. The main character's friend sounds awful. I also think I'd be really annoyed by the main character. Thank you very much for your review!

  3. Fabulous review! I almost bought this book the other day, but I passed cause I wasn't sure that I would like it, but after reading this now I know I need to go back and pick up a copy!!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!!!

  4. @Smalls - Yeah, the best friend, Sandy, I didn't get her at all. She seemed kind of stupid and unlikeable. Lots of madonna/whore complex kind of stuff going on. For example, in order to join FeLS you have to be a virgin. If it's supposedly a group of women doing awesome diplomatic work on Mars or the Moon, or where ever, then why would THAT make a difference? That's a huge RED FLAG, right?? Why don't any of the characters see that 'til the end? Just common sense stuff like that, kind of drove me up a wall. But I did really like the book!

  5. I've been trying to read this - it keeps getting checked out. Great review!

  6. I thought the world in this one was incredibly disturbing, but almost so disturbing I kept wanting to read and know more about it:) I agree the end was a little anticlimactic, but I'm still curious enough to pick up the next book! Nice review Madigan!

  7. Great review Madigan! But I don't think I'll like the main characters though. Even so, I'll try to get a copy of this book.



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