Does anyone actually refer to this book as “Sixteen”?
I’ve never called this book anything but “ex-vee-eye” and I don’t think I’ll ever think of it as “Sixteen.” Was that the intention? Am I doing what I’m supposed to do, or did the publisher/author intend us to call this book Sixteen?
Honestly, though, if I didn’t already know the title, I think I’d probably look at this cover and be really confused. It would take me an embarrassingly long time to realize those cut outs were roman numerals and not just random slashes on the cover. I might even think the title was “Julia Karr” and wonder who the author was. As far as clarity is concerned, this cover gets a fail from me.
Then there’s the girl. She doesn’t really stand out for me in any way. She doesn’t glitter. She isn’t wearing a pretty dress. Her hair isn’t flowing beautifully. There are no pretty colors here to grab my attention. Eh, I’m disinterested. Shallow? Sure, I won’t deny that. But I’m still not picking up the book based on the cover.
She does look tough. I’ll give her that. She looks like a girl I don’t want to mess with. Looking out through those slashes makes me think she’s looking out through prison bars, which ups her tough-quotient considerably. It also makes me wonder about the nature of her prison. But…this isn’t tough in the “Woah, she’s kickass!” kind of way. This girl looks tough in a slightly annoying “girl with attitude” roll-your-eyes kind of way. Do I really want to read her story? I’m thinking no.
Those are my initial impressions. Looking a little deeper and in conjunction with the blurb, I start to gain a little more appreciation for the cover. Here’s the blurb (from Goodreads):
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.
Ok, so now I know what the XVI stands for and I see that while the tattoo may be small and on her wrist, its presence really defines her entire being in this society. It makes a lot more sense now that the XVI takes up the entire cover and is plastered over the girl’s face. Those numbers redefine her entire world and supersede every aspect of her life. In a very real way, she is a prisoner of the numbers.
Based on the blurb and knowing this is a dystopian, I’m guessing this girl isn’t going to take her branding sitting down. I imagine she’s going to fight, and so that tough girl look is a lot more attractive. I like my dystopian heroines to kick butt.
The tagline also makes a lot more sense now. What an understatement it is! Innocence really does end at age sixteen if these girls are being turned into sex chattel. The idea is horrific for anyone, but the emphasis on the word “sixteen” underscores the idea that sixteen is a shockingly young age for this sort of thing to happen. I imagine it also speaks to sixteen year olds looking at the book, drawing a bright red connection to their own experiences.
It also might help connect the dots about the title for people like me (XVI, huh??)…
I appreciate the cover a lot more now that I’ve read the blurb. But, I’m not drawn to reading it. I’m still shallow and it still turns me off.