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[Book Review] - Matched by Ally Condie

Title: Matched
   Author: Ally Condie
   Series: #1 - Matched
   Format: Hardcover
   Release Date: November 30th, 2010
   My Rating: 3.0 out of 5.0

     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:

     This book had me on the fence, I am still uncertain if I would openly recommend this book to serious avid readers, or if it was just a flat out decent book. Let me bridge this gap so everyone knows; when I recommend a book I want the book to represent part of my reputation, I want people to trust my recommendations and believe that if a book is good enough to be recommended it's worth it. So when I have this on the fence of that, it's got something to say behind it.

     This book was rather slow to start, but when it got going, Matched took off. Ally Condie created a monster of a book here; getting past all the poetry, deep descriptions, and a weird love triangle that really doesn't appear to be a triangle at all, leaves way to a few decent characters and overall a book ending that makes you crave for more.

     Cassia, Xander, and Ky. This is supposed to be a good love triangle, and poses to be a good love triangle in the beginning, but as the story unravels you find out that the love triangle is more of a one-sided triangle without a connection between Cassia and one of the other boys (No I will Not spoil who that is). I am grateful for that; I am not a huge fan of love triangles. They tend to be awkward, childish, and just frankly annoying; so when I say this book could have been better leaving it out, I'm not exaggerating.

     Cassia is a very intriguing character. She's presented as this normal everyday girl who knows who she wants to be matched with, but when that other face shows up her world is thrown for a loop. She first poses herself as a simple flat character, but as the books slowly comes to an end you can see the life in her, the three-dimensional Cassia jumps to life and for once you're screaming in joy at the pages. Cassia isn't one of my most memorable female characters, but she's part of one of my favorite couples.

     Xander, this is a character that I wish we saw more of. He along with Ky are very well developed and thought out from the beginning and starts making you question Cassia and wondering more and more why she isn't right away. Xander and Ky even though taken and molded from one person, the two characters distinguish themselves really quickly. Xander is the one that's calculating, knows where he wants to go and what it takes to get there, but at the same time, doesn't want to force action or make choices for people. His character was staggering and intriguing, I just wish there was more of him.

     Finally Ky shows us a world that I could only dream of. He's free spirited, but can come back to earth when needed. He's got this air of freedom in him, that every time he's present makes you want to look to the sky with him and count the clouds. This character is one of my favorite male supporting characters in a book; he's got the energy and the pure raw reckless freedom he has makes him hard to not enjoy.

     The book revolves primarily around Cassia and Ky, and their relationship as it slowly turns inward against the rules of the Society. The society in this book is awkward, you are given food at given times, clothing is monitored, and everything is uniform. It’s almost reminded me of an extreme case of socialism. I had a hard time wondering if this society would even be possible.

     The problem I had with this book was the long long duress of the book was building the relationship between Cassia and Ky. It lacked a bit of action, or something to pull me more into the book. It seemed like the book wanted me to keep reading, like I was supposed to want to know what happened next, but there was something missing that made me want to keep turning the pages.

     In all fairness though, I did keep turning the pages and it wasn’t for the relationship between Cassia (least not until the end of the book). It was the world, the descriptions, and the smothering of poetry and imagery. The words that were put together in this book were far beyond what I could imagine and I was enthralled seeing what Ally Condie would write next.

Introduction to My Book Reviews

Greetings,

     Well, The Paper Critic here (or Ryan if you want to go by my real name), and I would like to first thank you for taking the time to at least stop by and read. I am starting this Blog as a critic and well frankly trying to do a few book reviews of a few books that I’ve read and in the process of reading.

     The types of books will change from time to time. I tend to enjoy the variety of Young Adult, a few romance, dystopian, etc. novels, but most of what I look to read comes from other suggestions and ideas of what I’m remotely interested in. The books generally should have some familiarity, because really I’m one person, I have a general set of tastes in a book that I enjoy and well, I don’t think that’ll change till I’m a bit older.

     Anyways, it’s probably best to show how I will rate each book and explain how I am going to conduct it. I will be unbiased, and treat each book as its own individual; even if it is part of a series. Because many of the books I read are in fact part of a series, I will as well try to give a best expectation if I think the next book will be worth reading and how anticipated I am in picking up the following one as well.

     There will be a set of five categories that I will rate on a scale of zero through two. I will allow myself to do halves; ie: 0.5, 1.5, 2.5. At the beginning of the section I will do an overview with the total accumulated score (10) and then break the book down in the five categories; Character Development, Theme, Plot, Style, and Environment. The basics of these categories are best described by a Los Angeles Valley College who use this format for review books and frankly I fell in love with it. Their rubrics look something like:

Character
1.       From what sources are the characters drawn?
2.       What is the author's attitude toward his characters?
3.       Are the characters flat or three-dimensional?
4.       Does character development occur?
5.       Is character delineation direct or indirect?
Theme
1.       What is/are the major theme(s)?
2.       How are they revealed and developed?
3.       Is the theme traditional and familiar, or new and original?
4.       Is the theme didactic, psychological, social, entertaining, escapist, etc. in purpose or intent?

Plot
1.       How are the various elements of plot (eg, introduction, suspense, climax, conclusion) handled?
2.       What is the relationship of plot to character delineation?
3.       To what extent, and how, is accident employed as a complicating and/or resolving force?
4.       What are the elements of mystery and suspense?
5.       What other devices of plot complication and resolution are employed?
6.       Is there a sub-plot and how is it related to the main plot?
7.       Is the plot primary or secondary to some of the other essential elements of the story (character, setting, style, etc.)?
Style
1.       What are the "intellectual qualities" of the writing (e.g., simplicity, clarity)?
2.       What are the "emotional qualities" of the writing (e.g., humor, wit, satire)?
3.       What are the "aesthetic qualities" of the writing (e.g., harmony, rhythm)?
4.       What stylistic devices are employed (e.g., symbolism, motifs, parody, allegory)?
5.       How effective is dialogue?
Setting
1.       What is the setting and does it play a significant role in the work?
2.       Is a sense of atmosphere evoked, and how?
3.       What scenic effects are used and how important and effective are they?
4.       Does the setting influence or impinge on the characters and/or plot?

     I enjoy their setup and how they suggest books should be reviewed. I will adhere and try to answer many of their questions and delve deep into the book and give an honest, opinionated response and review. I don’t want to sway you to read or not read the book, but at the same time I don’t want to give you a fluffy useless response that you more than likely won’t use or have stick in your mind. I want to help, but not make the choice for you.

     As well, I don’t want to make getting a ten star rating easy. In fact, I would greatly appreciate it if only 1% of all the books I review to get that rating. I want to strive to be a good critic, but not someone that will throw ratings and stars around like they are candy. Granted as I am typing this now I know of one book that will more than likely rise to that occasion, and NO it’s not The Hunger Games…

     Either way I’ll be working on the first book soon, I hope you all stay attentive and find my review and interpretation of the paper and books I read, rather useful. Thank you again!
 
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