Book Review: XVI (read sexteen)

Title: XVI

Author: Julia Karr

Genre: YA Dystopian Fiction

Read: Jan 16-19, 2011

Summary: Good premise, tried hard, fell flat.

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I really wanted to like this book more than I did. The premise is fine, set in a dystopian 2150 where teens are branded at 16 as”legal for sex.” Nina is almost 16, and is dealing with not only the stress of this oncoming rite of passage, but boys, the death of her mother, and a bigger conspiracy.

But where to begin with the problems. The protagonist is okay, and there isn’t anything wrong with the prose, but fundamentally this book stands out as an example of premise over plot. Plot, we are told is how the characters in a story deal with or overcome the premise. A good one sells the premise in an engrossing and personal manner. The plot just felt weak, and the characters reactions to it rushed and forced. People keep popping up out of nowhere. Dramatic events — like the narrator’s mom dying — blink by. They live in Chicago, yet everyone seems to know everyone. The villain tattles his villainy while playing hide and seek with the heroine — so very Scooby Doo.

And the Science Fiction is pretty darn mediocre. This is 150 years from now and music and films are stored on “chips!” There won’t even be physical media in 15-20 years. There is no mention of a net or internet — nary a computer. They still have magazines! Video playing machines that play films on chips (like a DVD player). People have phone numbers (also on the way out already). There are no substantial tech improvements. Some “transports” that maybe fly. Mention of moon and mars settlement, but no matching tech on earth. No new biotech, no new computer tech.

150 years ago is 1860 and the civil war!

I didn’t hate the book, in fact wanted to like it, but it just fell flat.

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