Read over at Smash Attack Reads! http://www.smashattackreads.com/2011/05/review-xvi-by-julia-karr.htmlI love a good dystopian book that brings ugly socio-political issues to light. XVI does just that, as the premise of this book is horrifying. On their 16th birthday, teen girls are branded with a tattoo on their wrist: XVI. This announces to the world that they are now sexteens and ready and willing to pleasure you. Predatory men await the day that tattoos appear on the wrists of teenage girls so that they can have their way with them, regardless of the girl’s consent. Big Brother was in full effect in this novel. The Media has constant verts talking in your ear, which doesn’t give you a moment to think for yourself. You can’t talk freely lest the big ears in the sky pick up your Non-Con speak. Society is also now a caste system. The lower the tier, the lower the class, and thus, the lower opportunities you have and the bigger chance you have of being royally screwed.All of the above creates a terrifying world that really makes your skin crawl, and we are presented with this ugly, disgusting society…with no explanation. We get no history on how the world came to be as such, and while that isn’t a required component for dystopian novels, it sure as hell helps. I think that history assists the reader in absorbing why society has become Hell on Earth, and not just accepting it as is. I need cause and effect!Nina was forgettable to me and was not the standout in this book. While her character seemed to have the right combination of substance and mindlessness only a teenager can possess, I did not find myself connecting with her. I loved her relationship with Sal, but it was mainly because of Sal. He was an enjoyable character, providing me with my much needed witty sarcasm and vulnerability. Nina’s grandparents were amazing too, as was Wei, Nina’s upper tier friend. Nina’s grandparents were so realistic and endearing. I felt so much love between those pages. Wei was a very interesting character. She has already turned 16 and thus, has the tattoo. However, she is strong-minded and confident in herself and does not worry about what the tattoo means for her. She shows much concern for her friends and sticks her neck out to keep them safe.Slang can be hit or miss with me. The slang in this book did not annoy me as it was not overused and it was easy to figure out the meaning. Ultrayums is about the best word ever. And while Nina’s best friend, Sandy, was as close to getting bitch slapped as a fictional character can get, her use of the world ultra was too fun. Domestic violence was integrated into the story, although it takes a backseat to the main plot. Nina’s mom endured years of abuse to keep Nina safe. You will have to read the book in order to find out the story there. The ending was way too abrupt. It was anticlimactic and a tad disappointing. However, this is a series so it was likely written that way on purpose. I am glad that is continuing. These kids must make it out of the grips of this horrific society!