Released January 6, 2011
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.
This book is scary. Not scary in the sense of a horror novel, but scary in the way that all good dystopian novels should be. It made me think a lot about our world and what’s “important” in society, like what the media tries to sell us. Some parts reminded me of 1984 by George Orwell. The kind of world where you’re always being watched and things work a certain way. Needless to say, this is not a world you would want to live in.
I really liked Nina’s character. She is strong and brave but believable. A character that really annoyed me was Sandy. The only thing about the plot that bothered me was I kept thinking these two people couldn’t possibly be best friends. Sandy was way too superficial and selfish to the point where she was just plain annoying. I also thought Nina’s younger sister acted a bit too young to be eleven-years-old, but I didn’t dislike her like I disliked Sandy.
Julia Karr’s writing is great. I liked how she explained the world as the story went along and all the technology details throughout. It gave the story a bit of a science-fiction feel to it. While there is obviously mature subject matter, this is not an explicit novel. Some things are referred to, but not described so don’t get that idea from the summary. This isn’t an inappropriate read for teens, but probably a bit mature for most young teens.
I enjoyed the book from the beginning, but towards the end I literally could not put it down. I originally thought this was a stand-alone, but a sequel is scheduled to come out next year and I am eagerly looking forward to it already.