Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world--even the most predatory of men--that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past--one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.
I've been anxiously awaiting the release of XVI, and I certainly wasn't disappointed! The book is a great mix of future dystopia, feminism, and reality. Nina's character is really believable. She's a teenager who's not sure she's ready for relationships, and, even if she, she's not really ready for sex, but she lives in a society that applauds sexuality and believes that teenage girls should be open to everyone, everywhere, anytime. She's a really nice foil for her best friend, Sandy, who craves the attention of guys so much that she can't wait to be sex-teen and get more of it, even though she wants to stay a virgin in order to get her dream job. The plot is great, although I hesitate to describe more for fear of ruining it! The characterization of both guys and girls, and the government, is all spot-on. There's a little bit of the middle that drags as the exposition comes out, probably a bit too much because the author wanted to build suspense but drug it on a bit too long. It's worth sticking out, though, because the ending is great and, although it's not world-changing, it's a refreshing change from the current dystopia trend where the heroine totally destroys the world by the end of the book.