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Matched April 17, 2013

Filed under: Books — Heather @ 2:21 pm
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Matched by Ally Condie

matchedIn the not-so-distant future, The Society controls all aspect of life.  They decide what you eat, where you work, whom you marry, and even when you die.  That’s just the way it is.  A Matching ceremony is held when you turn seventeen.  It is here eager teenagers learn who will be their life-long mate.  Cassia’s seventeenth birthday coincides with her Matching ceremony.  She will learn who she’ll marry-what a present!  Her match just happens to be her neighbor and friend Xander.  She’s surprised and thrilled.  Never has she thought of him romantically, but somehow it’s comforting and easy.  Cassia and Xander timidly enter into a new relationship.

After she’s Matched, Cassia receives the details about her partner-to-be.  What could she not already know about Xander?  But she’s in for a surprise when it’s not his face she sees flash on the screen.  She immediately recognizes Ky from school.  He’s a loner she’s never gotten to know.  Xander’s smiling face reappears, wiping Ky’s from the screen. Cassia is confused to say the least.  Could it be a mistake?  Is Xander really her Match or is it Ky?  The Society does NOT make mistakes!

Intrigued by what she’s seen, Cassia can’t get Ky out of her head.  She encounters him at school and during hiking class. The more she gets to know Ky, the more she finds herself attracted to him.  But Xander is her Match…or is he?

I know what you’re thinking-not another dystopian future story.  That’s what I assumed before I read Ms. Condie’s work.  I really liked this one.  Maybe the premise is an old one but the characters are refreshingly different.  Yes, there’s a love triangle, but I think it worked.  I know many of the other reviews out there have been harsh on Matched, claiming it is “stolen” ideas from past books.  I totally disagree.  The author gives us a new interpretation of what life is like in one society.  The details woven into the story give the characters depth.  I especially liked Cassia’s grandfather and the role he plays in her life.  The preparation for his death and his passing was beautifully written.  It’s moments like this that separate Matched from other dystopian novels and makes it an instant classic in this reader’s opinion.

Matched is a 2014 Teen Nutmeg Nominee.  Check out the further adventures of Cassia in Crossed and Reached.

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The Darkest Minds February 20, 2013

Filed under: Books — Jessie @ 4:42 pm
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The Darkest Minds
Alexandra Bracken

The United States has recently fallen victim to Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegenation, IAAN, a disease that targets children between ages 8 and 13. Those that haven’t died have been left with psychic abilities and are now considered dangerous to be around. In order to protect the country, the government has created camps to rehabilitate the survivors. When Ruby turned 10 she was sent to Thurmond Camp where she has spent the last 6 years being “rehabilitated” and trying to hide her abilities. Everything changes when a rebel group breaks Ruby out of Thurmond when they learn that she is really an Orange. Once out of Thurmond, Ruby does not know who to trust and sneaks away from the rebel group and meets up with a group of runaways from another camp. Together they begin looking for the legendary Slip Kid who may have the answers to their problems and be able to keep them safe.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read this book but the premise looked interesting. A disease that kills off so many of the country’s young population and leaves the survivors with unnatural abilities sounds plausible in a not too distant future. I liked that the kids all had different abilities but they were focused into 5 main categories. There was no sugar-coating in this book and violence and death were very real. I hate to compare it to The Hunger Games but it was very similar in that there is so much violence and even though the characters cling to a small bit of hope, there does not seem to be a happy ending in sight.

Ruby started off as a timid character because she was so afraid of her abilities but she learned to trust herself and become more confident. Lee was a great love interest. He is kind, loyal, and protective and never gave up on what he believed. I really liked Chubs, he was brutally honest and a little standoffish but he grew into a great character by the end and I really started to understand feel for him.

One of my big issues with dystopian novels is the world building but Bracken did a really good job building Ruby’s world. We learn what was the cause of the problems, IAAN, and what happened to get them where they were then, the government setting up camps for the surviving children to “rehabilitate” them. Overall this book was very good. It was interesting and definitely action packed however, because of all the violence, this book is not suitable for all readers.