Showing posts with label ally condie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ally condie. Show all posts

Thursday, January 3, 2013

December 2012 in Review

Ah, December...thanks to Amazon $$ as Christmas gifts, it's the one month of the year where I make it rain (with book purchases, that is).
Liz Lemon grabbed that money and went straight to B+N.
Now that I have shelves chock-full of new and exciting reading material, I hope to have lots of equally new and exciting reviews for you soon!

Let's review December, shall we?  Let's start with my most and least fave books of the month.  The favorite was REALLY HARD to choose, I read a lot of good stuff this month:

December 2012 Favorite: Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose
December 2012 Least Favorite: Matched by Ally Condie

Annnnnd let's review the rest of my reading month.

I read and reviewed 7 books (click links for my reviews):
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Blackout by Mira Grant
Bluff by Lenore Skomal
The Uninvited by Liz Jensen
Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose
Matched by Ally Condie
The Intercept by Dick Wolf

I did a full review of one past read:
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

I also posted 4 mini reviews of past reads:
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

And I posted 5 new Small Fry Saturdays!
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Merry Christmas, Ollie! by Olivier Dunrea
Santa Claus The World's Number One Toy Expert by Marla Frazee
Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star by Petr Horacek
Jingle All The Way by Tom Shay-Zapien

In addition to all that, I signed up for a ridiculous number of 2013 reading challenges, declared my favorite books of 2012, shared my Christmas book haul, and announced my new domain name (which I'll admit, makes me feel like a certified baller.  Balla?  Baller?  I don't know, whatevs).

Also, the blog has only been up since August, but I already have over 100 posts!  YEAH BOIIII.

Now, in keeping with my new resolutions, I'm working on coming up with some new post ideas, and trying to make sure I keep up with my crazy reading challenges.  Happy January, all!

What's your first read of 2013?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Book Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Title: Matched
Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication Date: November 30, 2010
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Plot Summary from  Goodreads :

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

My Review:

I am late to the Matched party.  But with book 3 in this trilogy (Reached) getting so much hype, I HAD to see what all the fussin' was about.

Let's start with the good stuff.  Matched draws you in at the beginning.  I love seeing what kinds of crazy dystopian worlds YA authors can come up with, and the Society in this novel gave me a lot to ponder.  In the Society, everything you do (down to the calories you consume and the dreams you have) is monitored by Officials.  Citizens are only taught information that they must know (so if you're a doctor, you wouldn't ever be taught something a carpenter knows, and vice versa).  And their lives are strictly regulated in order to ensure production of high-quality offspring.  So enters the Matching ceremony, where 17-year-old Cassia finds out who the Society has decided she will marry.  You don't have a ton of information about the Society at the beginning of the novel, so this immediately left me wanting to read more.

Another thumbs-up goes to the romance in this book.  I often find teenage love triangles high on the eye-roll scale (Twi-hards, DO NOT even get me started), but Cassia/Xander/Ky had a great dynamic.  I love how the Society created so much doubt in the relationship between Cassia and Ky--they were constantly left to wonder if what they were feeling was true, or just pushed upon them by their environment.  Kind of a cool spin on the whole thing.

However, despite these plusses, I struggled with the novel.  Let me be more clear: it was kind of dulls-ville.  "It's DYSTOPIAN!," you proclaim.  "How can it be boring?"  Ooooh, but it is, my friends.  Trust.

My first issue with Matched is that it is not an original concept.  It only took me a few chapters to realize that I was basically reading Divergent again, but with different characters and goals. The Society, with its strict rules and classification system, runs very similarly to Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago in Divergent.  The characters realize that they want to rebel against this society for one reason or another.  Their family members harbor secrets that complicate the situation. There is a love story involving a boy with a mysterious past.  Etcetera.  It all felt very repetitive.

That is not an entirely fair thing to say, because Matched was actually released before Divergent, but the fact remains that anyone reading both series is going to see the overlap in theme, setting, etc.  (If I read Divergent second, I'd be telling you that that one didn't have an original concept either.)  I've heard similar comments about the Delirium series, which also generally gets high ratings, so maybe it's just a YA dystopian thing and I have to get over it.  But as someone who reads this genre once in a while (rather than all the time), it irked me.

Also, Cassia.  Ugh, Cassia.  She seriously underwhelmed me as a protagonist.  She just didn't have any FEELINGS for such a large part of the book.  I felt like the first 200 pages involved all these crazy revelations being thrown at her, and she blandly took them in without any forceful emotional reaction.  There was finally one scene where she gets in an argument with her brother, and responds to him with "acid" in her tone, and I was like, "YES!  ANGER!  LET IT RIDE, GIRLFRIEND!!  FEEL THAT RAGE!!"  I wanted more volatility from her.  Tears, screams, throwing things.  By the end, I would have taken an eye twitch.  Really, anything.

That "flat" feeling unfortunately ran all the way through the novel, even through the conclusion.  I was hoping that the end would sucker-punch me with a huge cliffhanger,  There are questions at the end, but absolutely nothing that makes me want to jump out of my seat and go buy Crossed rightthissecond.

Overall?  Matched left me scratching my head about all the hype around it.  If the romance angle is what draws you to YA fiction, then this could work for you.  But if you want anything that falls into the "gut-wrenching" or "emotionally-charged" categories, I'd say: look elsewhere. 

Will I read Crossed and Reached?  Eh...maybe.  Part of me feels like I should (stopping after part one of a trilogy feels like only finishing a third of a novel to me...and I hate to DNF).  And maybe things will pick up in those installments?  But I won't be scrambling for them anytime soon.

If you liked Matched, what sold you on it?  And if you haven't read it yet, have you read any other YA dystopians that you'd recommend?

Monday, December 17, 2012

What Are You Reading? (3)

Happy Monday, reader friends!  We just had our first (of 3) Christmases this weekend, as we traveled to my in-laws for some holiday celebrating.  As a result, I did not get a ton of reading done, but I DID get Amazon and B+N gift cards, so BOO-YAH!  Christmas reading win.

'Twas kind of a crazy weekend though as well, because Small Fry got sick with croup, and we spent all of Friday night in the ER as a result.  (Luckily, it has subsided and he's doing much better now.)  We came home from the in-laws a day early, and spent yesterday recouping and watching the Giants play disgustingly.*

Christmas #2 is this weekend in Connecticut with my family, and Christmas #3 is the actual Christmas day, at home, just the three of us.  Ahhhhh.  I can't wait to just relax with my boys in front of the tree for a few days.  It's nice seeing our families, but all those car rides get exhausting.

(Says the girl who used to jump in the car and drive from NY to Florida at the drop of a hat...oh how the mighty have fallen.)

Anywho, right now I am currently reading:

Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose
I am reading this as part of Mandy's Blogger Book Club at The Well-Read Wife.  Mandy bought 20 copies of the book and sent them out to some fellow bloggers so we could discuss and enjoy together.  How cool is that?  
She also has awesome taste in blog names.  Obviously.  
Oh, but the book!  I have only a few pages left, love it so far, and I'm looking forward to posting a full review for you later this week.  Stay tuned.

And I'm listening to:
Dreamcatcher by Stephen King
I love me some Stephen King.  That said, I think maybe this was the wrong one to pick for an audiobook.  It's really long (20 CDs) and while the story started strong, I'm feeling kind of stuck halfway through it.  While reading, I can usually push through slower/longer novels fairly well, but on audio, it involves me having to rewind way too many times because my brain wandered.  Anyway, I hope it picks up and gets better soon.

What will I read next? 
Probably either The Intercept by Dick Wolf (yes, of Law and Order fame! I have an ARC for review), or Matched by Ally Condie (which I know, I'm about the last person on that bandwagon).

What are YOU reading today?
*There was also a really horrible thing that happened on Friday (you've seen it in the news), and no, I didn't post about it. I'm keeping it mostly off the blog, because it hits a little too close to home for me (I grew up in CT and have several friends that knew the victims). But suffice to say those families are in my prayers.  I am hugging Small Fry a little tighter these days.
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