He's a rebellious Ojibwe professor with a penchant for activism and a bad reputation. She is a small-town cop with a troubled past. Together... they f...moreHe's a rebellious Ojibwe professor with a penchant for activism and a bad reputation. She is a small-town cop with a troubled past. Together... they fight crime werewolves!
The plot -- Jessie (female MC and narrator) discovering that the rash of odd deaths and disappearances isn't rabies or dumb tourists, but werewolves, lead by someone planning on becoming the Wolf God through Ancient Indian Ritual -- is decent. What I couldn't stomach is how Jessie and Will (male MC and Obligatory Love Interest) interacted. Really, the two of them could be quite interesting, if the plot didn't tend to take a derailing into 'Jessie thinks Will is hot and sexy, which leads to sex'. I mean, I thought Jessie was interesting and Will could be interesting, and the two of them might have had an interesting interaction, except most of the stuff they did when sharing a scene together is basically hump like bunnies.
There was also attempt to make it seem like Will was the antagonist, which didn't work for me, just because the book couldn't make me forget that it was a romance -- in other words, the odds of Designated Love Interest being the villain is about the odds that both main characters take vows of celibacy.
The thing is, that the non-romance plot was decent, and if I could just maybe get some vibe for how Jessie and Will interact besides 'sexsexsexsex', I might have enjoyed the romance. I mean, I don't care how hot a fictional character (especially one in a book) is -- if I wanted to read hot fictional sex, I could take my chances on the internet. Make me care about the characters, and their relationship, and I'll care a lot more about the sex.
The short story I picked this up on was about Jessie and Will's wedding, in which it's revealed that Will's meddling grandma (who has been dead for ten years, but this is a paranormal romance) planted a love charm on both of them. Which might explain the hormonal overdrive, but might just be a retcon.
There are also more in the series, but it appears to follow the romance series pattern of 'couple tangential to the previous couple meet and fall in love/have hot sex/both'. Which is a shame, as one of my favorite things are seeing how established couples balance work and romance, plus learning more about the actual plot. I'd rather read more about Jessie than get attached to a new character -- who looks to have a Tragic Past involving her husband and kid getting killed by werewolves. Yeah... giving this a pass.(less)
**spoiler alert** Okay, so this is the third book in a four-book series (fourth isn't out yet). It's also fantasy romance -- to the point where people...more**spoiler alert** Okay, so this is the third book in a four-book series (fourth isn't out yet). It's also fantasy romance -- to the point where people on the Bujold mailing list make a game of guessing whether reviewers are fantasy fen or romance fen by how the reviews read. And, I like it -- enough to have books 2 and 3 in hardcover.
So, I'm going to try not to spoil books 1 and 2 for this. The book has kind of a post-apocalyptic fantasy feel to it. Dag, Male Main Character, is a member of a group of people called Lakewalkers, who use their magic to kill monsters called malices that would otherwise suck dry all of the life force on the continent. (They are also descended from a group of mage-kings who used to run the area and caused the malices to come into being, so it's sort of an ancestral guilt thing.) Fawn, Female Main Character, is a Farmer (non-magic settler in the area) who, at the start of the book, is running away from home thanks to getting knocked up out of wedlock. Fawn happens to get kidnapped by a malice's goons, and Dag is present to help save her -- though Fawn is actually the one who delivers the final blow to the malice. Since this is a romance, they end up falling in love -- which creates problems, since Lakewalkers and Farmers don't trust each other, and barely interact. Dag's people are unhappy, Fawn's people are unhappy -- we have conflict (you know, besides the malices who will eat the world).
Now, this could turn predictable, but Bujold uses Dag and Fawn's romance to explore how the Lakewalkers and Farmer interact. And it isn't simple -- by Book 3, Dag and Fawn are out to find a way to bring their two cultures together, since the other two models (avoid each other, and have mages rule non-mages) don't seem to work. Dag also promised Fawn a trip to see the ocean, so they are heading down the river by boat. The geography is similar to the Great Lakes/Southeast US -- Bujold has a history of doing that with her fantasy -- so you can imagine the two of them heading down the Ohio/Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. By Book 3, Dag and Fawn are comfortable in their relationship -- which makes me squee.
Overall, this series does a bit better than the other series I'm reviewing. I could get a sense of both Dag and Fawn as characters and how their relationship grew. Also both of them had problems and brought things to the relationship -- both characters had family issues, Fawn had the twit of the guy who got her pregnant (who she had a crush on, but he was just interested in an easy lay), and Dag was a widower (his wife was killed by malices -- he also lost an arm in this). Having both characters POVs let me see the other from their eyes, which was nice. It also helped that both Dag and Fawn related to the other people on the boat -- Fawn's brother, Whit, the boat captain, a couple of stray Lakewalkers they picked up. A friend of mine commented that calling it a romance was overly simplistic -- it is a book about relationships, and not just Dag/Fawn.
So, yeah, I like this series, and can't wait to see how it concludes. (less)
So, I've been rereading this book. It basically, is the story about Dag and Fawn get along in the Lakewalker camp, and segues into the third book by s...moreSo, I've been rereading this book. It basically, is the story about Dag and Fawn get along in the Lakewalker camp, and segues into the third book by setting up a malice attack right under a farmer town, that pulls Dag away into the action of the book. (Besides the camp council that Dag's mother and brother call to tell what is to be done about Dag and Fawn)
I like Fawn in this book. She might be out of her element, but she is both smart and tries to listen and make a place for herself, and is too stubborn to quit. It also is very telling that she is the one who comes up with the idea to free the Lakewalkers trapped by the malice, though Dag refines it and puts it into practice, and that most of the other Lakewalkers would rather believe it was a fluke, or that Dag somehow told her what to do.
One thing that I especially enjoyed was the fact I got a sense of why Dag loved Fawn and Fawn loved Dag. Many books leave me cold if I can only see one half of the couple -- or, worse, neither. If [The Sharing Knife Volume 1: Beguilement] is about Fawn growing out beyond her upbringing, this book is about Dag healing old wounds and developing new talents. (less)
So, I've had this book for a while, and have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I like Elena, and I like the world, and reading the climax is s...moreSo, I've had this book for a while, and have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I like Elena, and I like the world, and reading the climax is satisfying. I'm a fan of fairy tale meta, and the Tradition (the magic that gives Godmothers their power and tries to put everything into a neat little tale) makes an awesome antagonist/protagonist/thing -- it's easy to struggle against a force of magic that is supposed to be arbitrary and unconcerned with human morality. Also, if I had read the last part of the books, with Elena and Alexander acting as a team, I'd be a happy camper.
(It didn't help that it didn't occur to me that this was also a romance when I picked it up at first.)
On the other, I'm not sure if I believed Alexander's transformation in the middle of the book or not. And... well, there's something in the last chapter (before the epilogue) that bothers me. It pretty much felt anti-climactic, like that most of the conflict of the book (or the romance part) depended on Elena's teacher (or anyone, really) not mentioning a specific piece of information that caused Elena to worry that her actions would cause a backlash.
Again, we run into the problem that, while I like seeing new aspects of the world, I also want more adventures of Elena and Alexander. Which seems to be something I run into a lot with fantasy-romance -- I like the story of 'how we got together', but I prefer 'we are a couple and also doing awesome things'. (less)
Irony-chan, the writer of the webcomic Get Medieval, once ran a side comic in which she commented that nothing happened in shoujo anime/manga besides...moreIrony-chan, the writer of the webcomic Get Medieval, once ran a side comic in which she commented that nothing happened in shoujo anime/manga besides relationship drama. I love Irony's comics, but she is wrong about that. Basara is a shoujo comic (and apparently crazy-popular in Japan in the 1990s) that still has a good dose of action. Plus, it has a strong female character as a lead.
So, the comic takes place in a future post-apocalyptic Japan that has pretty much been returned to the feudal era by massive climactic changes -- I'd say the fantasy level in Basara so far is 'magical realism'. There are some things that are unusual and some that are outright fantastic, but it feels realistic.
Anyway, Sarasa and her twin brother Tatara were born at an auspicious time, causing the local village wise man to declare that the Child of Destiny was born. Things being what they are, everyone assumes he means Tatara, who is raised to be the savior of the nation and leader of a revolution to kick out the corrupt monarchy, while Sarasa is shuffled off to the side. On the twins' fifteenth birthday, the leader of the country, the Red King, kills Tatara and orders the rest of the village to be destroyed and everyone else killed as well. Sarasa, realizing that the loss of their icon was sending the village into panic, quickly chops off her hair and convinces the villagers and the Red King that he got the wrong twin.
Of course, it being shoujo and all, there's also a romance. Sarasa runs into a guy her age named Shuri that is attractive, but kind of a jerk. Want to guess who he really is? (I give the author credit in the second volume she makes it clear that Shuri/the Red King is not secretly a nice guy deep inside. Makes a potential relationship a lot more interesting when it's more than 'opposite sides of a conflict' but also 'one party is very much a jerk and the other party will be pissed when she finds out'. Here's hoping that this is kept up.)
Another thing that I liked was that Sarasa's first win -- reclaiming the village's legendary sword from the Red King's trap -- was shown as taking brains, and it doesn't go perfectly. The series also deals with the fact that even two twins won't look alike if one is a boy and the other is a girl -- Sarasa notes that the rest of the village is so caught up in the idea of the Boy of Destiny that they don't notice that a switch was made. (Which doesn't do much for her self-esteem, since she always felt like she was the leftover, and now that she's supposed to be dead, no one much is mourning her, besides her dead childhood friend's mother.)
Anyway, I recommend Basara, and am looking forward to reading the rest. (less)
So, the story continues as Sarasa leaves home to seek the bearers of the other three swords. I enjoyed seeing how Sarasa handled the tunnel, because i...moreSo, the story continues as Sarasa leaves home to seek the bearers of the other three swords. I enjoyed seeing how Sarasa handled the tunnel, because it showed that she was able to keep calm under pressure and use some smarts. I approve of that in a character.
For that matter, the villains also seem to be smart about dealing with a 'Boy of Destiny'. In the first volume, we had some traps, many of which Sarasa only partially escaped. Here, she manages to only escape with the help of Ageha, and the second half of the story is a bit of a Pyrrhic victory for her.
I also like the parallels between Sarasa and the Red King.
Now, to get a female character on Sarasa's side. (One strong woman is nice, but more would be nicer.) Currently, the only other living female characters are Sarasa's captured mother, and Senju, Shido's fiance. (less)
There are definitely books that will only appeal to limited audiences. The Sagan Diary is one of them -- if you really are a fan of the Old Man's War...moreThere are definitely books that will only appeal to limited audiences. The Sagan Diary is one of them -- if you really are a fan of the Old Man's War series, you'll like this peak into Jane Sagan's head. If not, there are probably better things to spend your money on.
The other reason I could see buying this book is that it has some of the prettiest prose I've seen in a while. Perhaps since I got out of Shakespeare classes. It doesn't scan like poetry, but it does flow off the tongue like poetry. I actually ended up reading have of the book aloud to myself just to hear it. While I've been known to do this when I find a particularly apt turn of phrase, and I want to hear how it sounds, this is a record for reading for me.
(Seriously, I want to show this to English teachers as an example of something that is both good SF and a finely crafted piece of language.) (less)
This is proof that I read something other than science fiction and fantasy. With the Light is the story of Sachiko, a newlywed who has her first son,...moreThis is proof that I read something other than science fiction and fantasy. With the Light is the story of Sachiko, a newlywed who has her first son, Hikaru. Hikaru is a highly-strung baby and hates to be held and Sachiko can't figure out what's wrong with him until his pediatrician diagnoses him with autism.
The first volume covers Hikaru's life from birth to midway through elementary school. A lot of it resonates with me because my little brother is high-functioning autism, and I ended up giving my copy to my mother for Christmas, even though watching her try to figure out how to read it was interesting. It struck me as really well done -- several times I wanted to reach into the book and give Sachiko a hug and start telling her about my brother, who is autistic and gearing up to graduate high school. Or introduce her to my mother. It felt real, and compelling, and kept my interest, and I say that as someone who knows something about autism.
I also gave this book to my mother, who, as I mentioned, is the parent of an autistic child. She's not normally a comic fan, and wished the book was in prose, but she enjoyed what she read of it. For people who don't normally read Japanese comics, I'd recommend this as well, though it may take you a bit to get used to the conventions. (less)
I am beginning to wonder if anything shelved with the romance novels instead of SFF will be the death of me when it comes to 'paranormal/SF with roman...moreI am beginning to wonder if anything shelved with the romance novels instead of SFF will be the death of me when it comes to 'paranormal/SF with romance'. There were elements of the story I liked -- most of them having to do with the plot, rather than the romance. But, overall I wasn't terribly happy with this book. Any spoilers I write will be at the end -- just warning you why I don't have the flag up.
So, the basic plot is that Earth's governments have been divided into city-states after wars and eco-catastrophes, with a sort of global police force that our Female Lead, Gina, belongs to. She decides to take some time off to investigate suspicious animal attacks in Arizona. Our Male Lead, the local sheriff, is a mix of help and hindrance, and Gina is trying to figure out why -- and why she finds him so very pretty.
So, my problems are twofold. The worldbuilding was a bit inconsistent -- I could never get a sense if the town Gina visited was the whole of the Republic of Arizona, or just a part, and if so, what happened to the rest of the state -- Arizona is a big place, and the town had a very small-town vibe. Actually, I had scale problems with a lot of the book -- one of the antagonists was a senator, and I could never quite grasp of what, since the US government no longer existed, and yet, he seemed to be markedly US focused. Speaking of him, he was obsessed with the idea of this Other -- modified people with special powers created in the last war and hiding.
The book generally seemed to regard the Other as something that most people thought was about on par with Roswell aliens and Bigfooy, and yet, a popular government official would openly mention them in speeches. If my senator was claiming that aliens were hiding among us, I'd be voting for the other person.
(Also, minor pet peeve with the use of synth- in front of everything -- I can see how things like chocolate and coffee would be commodities, but you do not need synth-alcohol, given you can ferment anything.)
As for the romance, Gina and Morgan hit two of my pet peeves in paranormal romance. The first is that I could never get a sense of their relationship outside of 'OMG, hot' -- I got the fact that they found each other physically attractive, but I never could pull past that to figure out how they worked as something other than a good lay. (Okay, I did get that Morgan was impressed with Gina's sense of justice, but from her all I got was 'OMG hot'.) The book did have a reason for this, but it's a spoiler, albeit one I saw coming.
The second reason had to do with the Others. A lot of times 'wolf' behavior was used as an excuse for Other customs... except, it was more related to the romantic idea of a wolf, rather than actual canine behavior. Someone really needs to read Limyaael's fantasy rants. Now, it could work, given that these are still humans we are dealing with, but I'd like to see something other than 'lol, werewolves' as an explanation.
In conclusion, I wasn't impressed. It might be something I would buy for a plane ride, but not something that will be staying on my shelf.
 Gina turns out to be part Other (werewolf, in fact), through her father, which is why she is attracted to other weres without even knowing it, including Morgan Hunter and his cousin, more than baseline humans. On the other hand, she's got a baseline human mother, which makes me wonder why one wins out over the other. And it still doesn't change the fact that I couldn't pick up anything else about the relationship from her end. (less)
So, I will endeavor to review the final book in a series without spoiling the other three.
Frankly, I'd hold up The Sharing Knife series as how to do a...moreSo, I will endeavor to review the final book in a series without spoiling the other three.
Frankly, I'd hold up The Sharing Knife series as how to do a multi-book romance without plunging into unbelievable melodrama. The 'will they or won't they' is settled in the first book, leaving books 2-4 as a story of a young couple with a 'forbidden' relationship trying to carve a place in the world. Book 4 opens with Dag and Fawn in the south, where the problem of Lakewalkers and farmers is shown in high relief. The south hasn't had a malice attack in living memory, so Lakewalkers are forced to interact somewhat, but even then they don't have a solution that satisfies Dag. Dag is able to find a teacher for what he wants to do, though, and then strikes up north to return to the part of the country he grew up.
I continue to like how things are set up. Fawn continues to be 'the smart one' in the relationship, something that Bujold never says but does a wonderful job of showing. A lot of times in 'normal'/'paranormal' relationship fiction I get the sense that the normal person is just a kind of placeholder, and Fawn is nothing like that.
The book also does a good job of showing Dag-as-mage, in that some of what he does is reinvented because he didn't have access to a teacher, and some of what he does is innovative. I also like the interaction between him and his teacher, Arkady.
The one problem I had with this book is that Bujold introduces a cast of characters for the trip north -- a group of settlers that Dag offers to help guide, another wagon that they help in the mountains, and a Lakewalker patrol led by Dag's niece. A lot happens with those -- one set of siblings are half-Lakewalker and the sister has both a decent amount of groundsense and a bad case of Caught-Between-Two-Worlds, both of which the party addresses. There's also a romance between Dag's niece and his teacher. A lot of these don't get as much time as I'd like, and some of the characters (the male settlers, for instance), blur together. It's possible I'll resolve this on a reread, but it was disenheartening in a series so good about character relationships.
Overall, I do recommend this series as one of my favorite fantasies and romance-oriented fiction. I'd recommend the series to anyone who wants to see 'forbidden romance' done right, without either character abandoning his or her home culture but instead trying to forge a new path. (less)
**spoiler alert** So, in an effort to branch out, I've been trying to read new authors. Plus, this gives me things to tell my mother when she asks wha...more**spoiler alert** So, in an effort to branch out, I've been trying to read new authors. Plus, this gives me things to tell my mother when she asks what I want for Christmas (sequels!). A couple of weeks ago, I read The Charmed Sphere by Catherine Asaro. I was a bit wary, as I always am with new authors. But it did have pretty, pretty cover art.
So the basic premise is that protagonist Chime was found to be a powerful mage and asked to study at the capital (and hopefully marry the heir to the throne, since it was customary for the consort to be a mage). Of course, there are all kinds of problems -- the original heir is dead, his son is missing, and the cousin who is the current heir is seen as a flake. Plus, the neighboring kingdom -- which has had a sort of uneasy peace with the kingdom -- is up to no good, they might have a mage themselves, and people keep trying to kill Chime and Mueller (the cousin).
Anyway, I had some problems with the magic system while thinking it could have been neat. The magic was based on shapes and colors -- mages had to focus through regular polygons or polyhedra and each kind of spell had colors -- for instance red spells called light and heat, green spells let the user sense emotions, orange and yellow spells soothed physical and emotional pain, and indigo and blue spells healed physical and emotional wounds. You could also reverse the spells to do the opposite -- cause harm and agitation -- but considering most powerful mages were wired into others' emotions, it wasn't a good idea at all. The shape aspect came in because mages need to focus through shapes, and the higher level mages could use different shapes for more power (triangle, square, regular pentagon... up to circle, then regular tetrahedron through sphere).
So, first problem. I somehow suspect the author needs to think a bit more about geometry. So, she specifies that regular/perfect shapes work, and imperfect shapes disrupt concentration (except for Mueller). For polygons, I assume that means regular ones. For polyhedra, I'd assume it meant the five Platonic solids (regular tetrahedron, cub/hexahedron, regular octahedron, regular dodecahedron, regular iscosahedron) , except one mage uses a square pyramid, and another uses a 18-sided shape. So maybe it's just 'shapes made of regular polygons', which seems a bit odd to me, since those don't really approach a sphere as the sides get infinite and are much less regular. (The Platonic and Archemedian solids do, but that limits you to 4, 6, 8, 12, 14, 20, 26, 32, 38, 62 and 92 faces -- I don't think anyone got higher than 20 without going to a sphere.) For that matter, you get 'box', 'cube' and 'hexahedron' all being used in the book, with no real reason as to why the difference in terminology.
So, second problem. The book suffers a bit from Planet of the Hats syndrome. So there's shape magic. It's common in the royal family and shape mages are revered, with them often wearing crystal polyhedra marking their rank and serving as a magic focus -- the more faces and the higher-frequency the color, the more powerful the mage. The royal family decorates with mosaics, which makes sense, since they are mages and the constant use of shapes will mean they always have a focus at hand. The nobility and middle class folks copy this, because royalty are trendsetters. The non-magic folks use shapes as rank like the mages (and boy howdy did I get sick of shape-title in ranks). The army is trained to march in formation so the mages can supplement them -- and here things got a bit silly, since each unit does a separate shape, and it's mentioned that losses causes problems in keeping the formation supported via magic, especially since you can't transfer guys from other units out. Here is where I'd like to see some concession to actual military tactics -- do something like the hoplites or Roman legions where you put all your dudes in lines with shields as a wall (you can get hexagons if you stagger the lines). That way, everyone knows whats what, the army can fill in holes, tactics match the formation, and you can use your archers or cavalry to keep the enemy from trying to get around your army. Jeez, no wonder the kingdom gets nearly taken over,
Third problem has to do with the Planet of the Hats syndrome. I can buy mages shaping things... except later we find out that: -- There are, on average, only a couple green to indigo mages born per generation, plus the Royal Family. And the Royal Family doesn't seem to be spreading the blood around by having younger siblings and marrying them off to nobility. -- No one bothers to train the red to yellow mages, despite the fact they are much more common, and the spells are still useful. Sure, they can't heal, but they can block pain and fear, and still use the army formation as a focus. -- Somehow, having under a dozen mages makes up for the fact the Angry Despotic Kingdom to the north has a competent and larger army, and this kingdom... doesn't. Also Angry Despotic Kingdom doesn't have mages -- the mage they employ turns out to be a refuge from the Protagonist Kingdom.
It feels like the book tries to have its cake and eat it too. Magic is special and elite, but it also influences everything. Generally, that doesn't work.
(It does get pluses for showing that, despite a pretty ordered magic system, all the four mages we meet have unique talents and work in different ways.)
Also, the plot. It avoided a few of the cliches (Oh, look, the heroine meets the prince in disguise while she's upset about being pressured to marry the prince. How long can the author string this out... oh, good, she finds out right away and we don't get stupid melodrama), but it felt like the author was pretty much bouncing from plot point to plot point without giving time for things to develop. I think she could have gotten two books out of this if things were developed better -- the relationship between Mueller and Chime, the location of the missing heir and discovery that he was a bit crazy, and then the war (okay, battle) with Angry Despot Kingdom.
I also liked the protagonist, but the author really needed to lay off the 'she is so pure and good that the antagonist puts conquering the kingdom on the line to get her'. And here I'm going to go into ending spoilers...
Okay, so Angry Despot King and Crazy Mage try to conquer Protagonist Kingdom. They are stopped by Our Heroes, who decide... hey, let's give Angry Despot Kingdom to Mueller and Chime, while the Missing Heir and his wife rule Protagonist Kingdom. Which was like... did Angry Despot King get hit by the Idiot stick and not leave some guys back home? And are they okay with this? And are the people, even if they were taxed horribly, okay with being taken over by the kingdom to the south? And did Angry Despot King's wife and son -- only mentioned under the 'he had a treaty marriage but was so bad that his wife went home' -- okay with this? Not to mention the neighbors, who might be a tad upset by Protagonist Kingdom taking over Angry Despot Kingdom, even if the ADK attacked first.
It was kind of a fairy-tale ending tacked on so that it would be happy, but the author didn't sell it to me.
Yeah, this was an interesting world, and I didn't mind the characters, but the plot was an Idiot Plot. I might read the next one, but it's definitely going on the 'buy used or get as gift' list. And it might improve with practice -- a lot of first-in-series books can be shaky. (less)
Some of that was probably due to 'book was something different than I wanted'. Which, you know, happens: authors are not...moreSo, my overall reaction? Meh.
Some of that was probably due to 'book was something different than I wanted'. Which, you know, happens: authors are not mindreaders. They don't even get to write the jacket copy. I'm not going to bitch out Condie for not writing to order for a reader she's never met.
So, what I wanted was more play with the Match system -- basically, in the Society, teenagers at 15 decide if they want the 'heterosexual marriage + 2(?) kids' or to be single. If they want to go the spouse + kids, they are put into the system to be Matched for optimum personality and genetic compatibility, then have six years to get to know their Match before they are contracted at age 21, and have until age 35 to have their required kids. So you essentially have a system where there are two options: surrender a lot of freedom of association for kids and domesticity, or end up single, which allows some ability for freedom to romance who you choose, but no Society-sanctioned commitment or children.
And, well, this was ripe to get social satire. And works well with romance -- social commentary usually does, in my opinion. But, well, once we got the back jacket plot going: 'Meet Cassia. She's Matched to Xander, but, just for a minute, sees Ky's face in her Match datacard. Xander is a friend and she cares about him, but she finds herself attracted to Ky', we move into more standard dystopia affair. Which... well, the Society isn't too different than other centrally-planned dystopias. And here is where we get to the 'meh' angle: nothing about this book sets it apart from anything else I could be reading. The romance angle really detracts from the non-romantic plot, in my opinion: really, I was skimming across most of the 'Cassia angsts about loving two guys' to get to the other bits. Cassia's relationship with her grandfather and her love of poetry and running would make her interesting, except most of the investigation she does is motivated by a boy she's got a crush on. Ky has the whole 'outsider' POV that make him interesting, and even Xander and Cassia's parents have some secrets, but because this is strictly in Cassia's POV, we don't know them (yet).
Also, the Society seems a bit... well, like parts aren't talking to the other. And here I'm going to leave spoiler space:
So, we find out that Cassia and Ky's faux Match was part of an experiment to see what would happen, though Cassia expects her initial leak wasn't planned. But the folks monitoring her were aware it was making her a lot more rebellious. But, at the same time, Cassia is being tested to join the government bureaucracy, since she's bright and has good data analysis skills. Her final exam is to sort through workers at the factory Ky works at, to send the better half on 'special assignment'. Not only is it an exposure to an uglier part of the Society -- even before she sees the plant, most of Cassia's classmates know Ky's job is hard, low-prestige work -- but Cassia would have extra sympathy seeing a classmate. Which could be part of the test, I suppose, but it strikes me as a Dumb Move with both things happening at once. At least without some kind of safety net that prevents your subject from, you know, turning into a problem.
Which, I can understand if you want to portray it as a flawed system, but it strikes me that, given the degree of monitoring, it seems like This Should Be Caught. Or, you know, figure out the motivation that will keep Cassia from running off to join the Resistance, since you keep planting clues for her to figure out she's been living a lie.(less)