Author: Ally Condie
Publication Date: 11/30/10
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
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.Review:
First thing first. I think Ally Condie
owes at least half of her seven-figure paycheck to Lois Lowry
. The entire dystopian world is lifted directly from Lowry's The Giver
. Almost everything interesting in Matched
is very familiar - the idea of highly controlled Society (the Community in The Giver
), the prearranged Matches, uniform clothing, the pills suppressing emotions, predetermination of everyone's life course, euthanized elderly, regulated personal possessions, the precision of the language, the family structure. The list goes on and on... What Condie adds of her own is too often doesn't make much sense - people are not allowed/can't write, but they know how to read and operate computers; Matches and procreation are controlled but teens can still snog around a bit; and what is the sorting job all about, I still have no idea. I am not the biggest fan of The Giver
our there, but that novel had a horrifying, structured, world hiding behind its simplistic language. What hides behind the words of Matched
is sheer emptiness. And boredom and unoriginality.
If all "borrowed" dystopian ideas are stripped away, what is left is a tepid, G-rated teen romance affair with an obligatory love triangle and magical love connections. Even the male love interests are the same old tired cliches - a sweet and loyal best friend type and a mysterious, hurt, emo type quoting poetry. Yawn! Yawn! Yawn!Ally Condie
's writing is serviceable enough. So are the characters. No male character requires a restraining order against him, no female - a head check for putting up with abusive crap. But is this (and a pretty cover) really a recipe for success these days? There is nothing in this novel to get excited over. There is no urgency to Condie's writing, no passion. Just dull characters, dull relationships, dull conflicts, dull conversations...
I can't whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone, it simply doesn't offer anything new or noteworthy. But some fans of lukewarm-romance-driven stories like Birthmarked
or Beautiful Creatures
might enjoy it I suppose. 2/5 stars
Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publication Date: 9/29/11
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion, she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.
When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. Review:Did you read Anna and the French Kiss?:
A.YES, I loved it!
B.YES, it was okay.
C.YES, and I didn’t like it.
D.NO, but I intend to.
E.NO, it’s not for me.
If you picked A, B, or D, please proceed to review #1.
If you picked C or E, please proceed to review #2.
__________________________________________________ Review #1:
LOVE! This book is fun, fun, fun (til her daddy takes the T-bird away). It has a very similar feeling to its companion novel Anna and the French Kiss
—a teenage girl who already has a boyfriend falls for a guy who seems practically perfect in every way, except his family doesn’t appreciate him as much as they should. The current boyfriend is sort of a douchebag and plays in a band and the protag is quirky. The main character in this one, Delores (Lola) Nolan, lives with her two dads in San Francisco. (Remember that show ‘My Two Dads’? I totally forgot about it until this moment) She loves fashion and spends a ton of her time designing and sewing costumes and putting together all sorts of crazy outfits. In the first few pages, Lola sees a moving truck and I think it is no spoiler who is moving in NEXT DOOR-- her love interest. (see: title of the book) Cricket Bell is tall, stylish, and always inventing all sorts of things. His family’s been on the move a lot because his sister is a world-class figure skater and her career dominates the family. Lola’s never gotten along with Calliope but she got along fine (*winkwinknudgenudge*) with Cricket before they moved away two years prior. That is, except for the last day she saw him. Now he’s back and it is reconciliation time. There’s only one boyfriend standing in the way.
Lola frustrated me a bit because several of her problems are self-inflicted. I know it isn’t always the easy thing to do but if you are dating someone and totally have the hots for someone else, you are a huge d-bag if you don’t break it off. Sure, the other person’s feelings will be hurt but no one likes looking like a fool after the fact. I did like Lola as a character but I wish/ed that she would man up, stop leading Cricket on, and be a better friend to Lindsay.
Anna and St. Clair make much more of an appearance than I thought they would. They actual show up throughout the entire novel and it was a plus and minus situation for me. I was happy to see characters I knew but I have probably read 100 books since Anna and I no longer remembered the details of their true love always and forever relationship so their constant togetherness was a bit off-putting to me. Like those newish couples who are always PDAing all over the place.
I’m a pretty huge sucker for boy next door stories. Or really any situation where someone awesome has been under the protag’s nose for years. I hope I am not making it sound like I hated this book. I was annoyed with Lola quite a bit but I really LOVED most of this book. And you know what made this book even better for me? That my friends sent it to me with their comments written in it. I absolutely adored reading their thoughts and adding my own for people later on the tour list.
I really enjoyed this and will keep reading anything Stephanie Perkins writes…but a little more than a little of me wants to see how she handles something other than this storyline.
Thank you so, so much Arlene for sharing your copy with me! Review #2:
You probably won’t like this book. Move along, nothing to see here.3.5/5 stars
Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publication Date: 12/2/10
Blurb (GR): Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.
As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?
Boarding school story
Girl meets short boy with girlfriend
Cue teenage drama
Also it is in France, some of the parents are douchebags, and it is as enjoyable as cookies and milk.
Where She Went
Author: Gayle Forman
Publication Date: 4/25/11
Publisher: Dutton JuvenileBlurb (GR):
It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.
Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay
, Where She Went
explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.Review:
My heart gushed rivers of love when I reviewed If I Stay
. I listened to the audiobook and just adored it because it felt like Gayle Forman
tapped into my heartbeat and the rhythm beat right through to the end. I put off reading Where She Went
because I wasn’t ready for another heartache. As it turns out, this is a rare instance where the sequel (or companion) has an entirely different tone than its predecessor. Rightly so, as Where She Went
is told from Adam Wilde’s point of view, whereas If I Stay
was primarily about Mia, his ex-girlfriend. In regards to spoilers, it is near impossible to have anything to say about this book without spoilering things about the first, but I think WSW can stand on its own even if you do
know the setup. That said, I’m not going to use spoiler html on anything related to If I Stay
. Since Mia decided to come out of her comatose state, she’s been studying at Juilliard. Adam’s band, Shooting Star, shot to the top of the charts and he is recognized everywhere he goes. The band’s two albums are filled with songs Adam wrote, and it should come as no surprise who served as the inspiration for all the lyrics. While he is dating a famous actress and has achieved so much musical success, Adam is disillusioned with life and the way Mia left things when she cut him off cold. Before he embarks on a world tour, he goes to one of Mia’s cello performances and gets the chance to speak with her afterward. Cue the life and relationship analysis…
Several reviewers have mentioned that this book wasn’t as enjoyable as it could’ve been because Adam seems overly angst-ridden for nearly the entire thing. Sure, I can see that. The whole thing just felt over-the-top, I agree, but I just loved the two of them together so I wanted
to think their relationship could define Adam’s whole being, his anger, his disillusionment. I wanted
to believe that he was missing his perfect complement. It was so interesting to me because the first book felt like an exercise in grief at the time I listened to it. I see now that, just like in life, the time right after a death is surreal. It doesn’t hit home for everyone at the same time. That
book is about losing someone. (or many someones) This book is about the actual recognition of loss and the crisis that follows, whether it be from the end of a life or the end of a meaningful relationship. As someone who has seen what a terrible breakup can do to a person, it didn’t feel like Adam’s actions were beyond the realm of possibility. True, he was sometimes a prick. True, it didn’t seem like he tried to move on. I was just rooting for him to get his own life back together. Where She Went
reads like a novella. I watched as the percentage completed on my Kindle just flew by. For me, there were a few negative points—the lyrics at the beginning of each chapter (not because they were awful, only because it is cliché) and Mia, for starters. She came off as self-involved and I didn’t enjoy how aloof she seemed. I felt like I was holding my breath through a tunnel until the two of them actually start talking about something real
. After that point, it was a much more comfortable read, despite the plot remaining heavy.
I was both happy and disappointed at the conclusion of Where She Went.
I have to spoiler it and, for that, I apologize. **SPOILERS**I don’t think I’m encouraged by Adam and Mia getting back together right away. Mia has had 3 years to build up a life for herself. She said herself that Juilliard was more than she ever thought it could be. She thought of Adam but he didn’t define her. Adam, on the other hand, spent the last three years missing her, writing songs about her, and taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills to compensate for the void. He never had that time after the breakup to actually figure out who he is. They get back together—great, except I am still unsure how much he understands about himself. He seemed so willing to just give everything up for her…and I kind of believe he would do just that if she asked him. That’s depressing.**END SPOILERS**
Many people loved Adam in If I Stay
and if you were one of them, I’m fairly confident you’ll enjoy this one as well. Forman does a good job of creating a realistic male voice and painting raw emotions on the page. And to the rest of you, if you can handle the angst and the foreverlove foreverandalways, give it a try. Hey, at least there’s not a love triangle.
I loved this video. The author gives a tour of many of the sites from Mia and Adam's whirlwind NYC adventure.
If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
Publication Date: 1/1/09
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile, Audio-Penguin AudioBlurb (GR):
In a single moment, everything
changes. Seventeenyear- old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she fi nds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...
A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make - and the ultimate choice Mia commands.Review:
Books about death and dying are particularly hard to review. The way we react to them is so deeply personal that I'm skeptical about the actual value of my (or anyone's) review of the work to other readers. When we read, we don't come to the book with a clean slate--we come to it with years of experiences, friendships, and memories that provide us with a vantage point from which to view the story. And if you have an awful tendency toward existentialism, like I do, these books only become more emotional as you evaluate your own life,choices, and relationships along with the protagonist.
I spent two years of my life moving around the US doing service projects, and most of that time I lived in the gulf after Hurricane Katrina. Living in a tent city and gutting houses for months in what basically felt like a post-apocalyptic world was life-changing for me, but the absolute devastation of the area wasn't what did me in, it was the people. Most of the people whose homes we gutted had not returned from evacuation yet. Their homes had been under 10-12 feet of water for two weeks. My point is this: we threw out almost all of their belongings. Barely anything was salvageable--at the most, we found a few pictures or some of their silver or china. I cannot imagine what it was like for those families. Is it better to come back to a nightmare or to come back to an empty, clean slate from which to start again? I still don't know. But I realized, after speaking to so many residents, that most of their stuff didn't matter to them. They had their lives. Their family. Their connections to other people. I know it sounds cliche, but I feel like it is something that a lot of us tend to forget. Even when it feels like all is lost, there is always
something there to hold on to.
Mia, the protagonist of If I Stay
is in the intensive care unit after a horrible car accident. While she is in a comatose state, some part of her (her soul?) is able to see everything that is going on outside of her body. I found it fascinating--so often with an outside watcher, we see a person hovering over their funeral or watching to see what happens afterward. In Mia's case, we were able to follow along with her while she makes her decision to stay or go. I wasn't sure what Mia's choice was going to be, even to the last second, and I appreciated that fact--Gayle Forman
gets it. The relationships between the characters felt so real to me, especially because a lot of my immediately family are doctors and nurses so I've spent a lot of time in hospitals.
I read an article today about the decline of the "book review." The author was discussing the extent to which people used to depend on critical and objective book reviews for suggestions of what to read and how the number of literary critics has severely decreased. (actual literary critics, not just reviewers)It got me thinking about what I actually look for in a book review. What makes me want to read it? Though I definitely enjoy the NYT Book Review, I am much more likely to buy a book that my friends recommend, on Goodreads or in real life. Give me a subjective book review about what a book made you feel
and I am all over it. If you are the same way, you should know: This book made me feel optimistic for the future at a time when I have been feeling completely lost, so for that, it is getting 5 stars. (9/10 on my blog scale)
As an aside, I'd just like to add that this book was fantastic in audio format. Once in awhile, cello music played in the background and it was lovely to hear it considering Mia was an amazing cellist. Also, having a person actually read me the lyrics to Mia's father's song and to hear Adam say his speech to her was beautiful. I'd definitely recommend this book in audio format.5/5 stars