Nina is fifteen years old in a society where sixteen year old girls are forced to tattoo their wrist to show they are of legal age. The tattoo is supposed to protect younger girls, but instead it turns those with the tattoo into prey, sexteens who want any and all male attention they can get. Nina doesn’t want to be a sexteen. But how can she protect herself from the norm?
That’s a horrible summary of the book, but it’s really hard to say anything about it without spoiling parts.
I read this book believing that it was a stand alone, and as a stand alone it wasn’t that great because the most important plot points weren’t resolved, so when the book ended I was incredibly confused. Turns out, it does have a sequel (that is coming out today!!!) called Truth, so with that in mind I’m able to look back on the book much more fondly.
The biggest thing that stood out for me in this book was the themes. This book deals with some issues that made me happier than they probably should have:
1. the influence of media on women
2. the definition of rape and how it is changed by society
3. nature vs. nurture
The first and second theme were definitely the focus of the book, but I’m going to talk about the third one. Nina is the main character and she has a mother who encourages her to be an individual. She frequently mocks the media and the message it presents. By contrast, Sandy, Nina’s best friend, is encouraged by her mother to watch all of the XVI videos that teach you how to flirt and how to attract a guy. I find this contrast really interesting because it makes you wonder what if Nina and Sandy had traded lives. What really makes Nina oppose the stereotypes she’s forced into?
But then, I like to look too deeply into things.
Another fun aspect was the personal conflict of Nina as she wants to fight against the “sexteen” stereotype, but also finds herself attracted to a very interesting boy. It’s a battle I can relate to personally, so I really enjoyed reading about it.
Novels with similar aspects
Wither by Lauren Destafano
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
recommended to dystopian fans who are willing to look beyond the text
not recommended to those who can’t handle mentions of rape or murder
Already read and reviewed XVI? Link me and I’ll quote and link you at the bottom of my review!
Might make a discussion post for this…not really sure 😄 I’m so organized.