I'm a big fan of dystopian fiction but when I thought back to which books I'd actually read, not many sprang to mind, except for the fabulous 'The HanI'm a big fan of dystopian fiction but when I thought back to which books I'd actually read, not many sprang to mind, except for the fabulous 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood and more recently 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy. I don't think I'll have any problem remembering 'Matched' however. I absolutely loved it and it's a perfect example of dystopian fiction which lives and breathes in your hands and your head. I know it's only January but I have a feeling that this is already going to be competing for my book of the year.
What I enjoy most about this genre is reading about the imagined world as it may become in the future. Yes, obviously we can't see into the future but who's to say that these things won't actually happen. We have no idea what awaits humanity. It's both chilling and frightening and intriguing all at the same time. Cassia lives in a perfect society governed by officials who make all the rules and decisions for people - who they marry, how many children they have, when they will die, where they will live, what job they have and so it goes on. People are given pre-packed meals catering to their individual dietary requirements and there has been a cull of art, poetry and books with only a hundred items of each selected to remain in popular culture. The latter is horrifying! I'm someone who loves culture and being surrounded by literature and theatre and art. I can't imagine only being able to read a prescribed 100 poems and not having the ability to write and create.
All choice and free will has been eradicated in cultivation of what the officials call an equal society. Cassia believes in the virtues preached to ber by the officials and the story begins as she is about to attend the ceremony that will 'match' her with her future husband. All goes well until a mistake is made and Cassia's whole life is turned upside down. Her future is no longer clear cut. Cassia is a strong central character who begins to question the rules and regulations which are imposed upon society. She finally starts to see things clearly for the first time in her life and fights back against the bonds which are imposed upon her.
The love triangle between Cassia, her best friend Xander and neighbour Ky is dealt with sensitively and thoughtfully. When Cassia does finally make her choice, I liked the fact that it wasn't necessarily a choice which would isolate her from one or the other. She loves both boys but in different ways and it was nice to see those feelings explored. She has known Xander all her life and they've grown up together so the potential is there for them to have a long and happy life with each other but there's also Ky with whom she feels the first blossomings of a love that's new and exciting and real. He teaches her about things she has no knowledge of and they learn and grow together.
Hope is a significant theme in the book. The idea that there's always something to hope for and that however much you may have to struggle and however futile things may seem at times, hope always remains. That meant that the book ended on what I thought was quite an uplifting, rather than bleak, note.
Ally Condie's prose is exquisite. I savoured every single word. I felt like I was living Cassia's story with her and experiencing the same emotions and feelings. I'm hugely impressed by this sensational debut and thrilled that Condie is planning a whole trilogy. There's so much more to come and I'm excited to see where the story is going to go next. The film rights have also been sold to Disney so there's a big screen outing for 'Matched' sometime in the future too.
'Reached' is the third and concluding part of Ally Condie's incredible trilogy. My expectations were high as I loved the previous two books and couldn'Reached' is the third and concluding part of Ally Condie's incredible trilogy. My expectations were high as I loved the previous two books and couldn't wait to see how the story of Cassia, Xander and Ky was going to be wrapped up. I was also excited to see which boy Cassia would finally commit her heart to as the love triangle between the three main characters has lain at the heart of much of the books.
Firstly, 'Reached' is a big book at 512 pages long. I have to say that at times I almost felt that it was too long and too drawn out. A large part of the story deals with a plague which hits society but although this was in itself interesting, I think so much attention was given to this one single element that other aspects of the story suffered. At certain points in the book it really felt like not much was actually happening. As I've come to expect from Condie, her character development is extraordinary but I would have liked to have seen a little less of this in the final instalment of the series and instead more of a focus on wrapping up all the threads of the plot.
I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the story combines three separate viewpoints; those of Cassia, Xander and Ky. It was lovely to finally get to hear from Xander in particular as he has always been my favourite character in the series. I learnt a lot more about him as a person, his feelings and aspirations and by the end I felt I could understand where he was coming from and what he hoped for the future. Each characters' voice is distinctive and well written and this meant that I was never confused about who was telling what part of the story.
If I'd had a little more time, I would probably have gone back and reread the other two books in the series first before starting this one. Because the release dates have been a year apart, I couldn't remember as many details as I would have liked and I think it would be interesting to read the whole trilogy in one continuous flow.
Although I did think that the pace of the story was extremely slow, I loved the ending of the book. The series has always been about the struggle for freedom and the right for the individual to choose and make decisions for oneself. Ally Condie has always stayed true to this message and 'Reached' exemplifies this with the characters all choosing the path which they must walk.
The concluding instalment may not have been quite what I was expecting from the finale of this tremendous series but after having invested so much in the incredible world that Condie has invented, along with her wonderful characters, it was great to finally see how the story concluded. I hope to read much more by this hugely talented author in the future. ...more
'Crossed' is the sequel to the fantastic 'Matched' by Ally Condie which has been one of my favourite dystopian books of the last few years. The ending'Crossed' is the sequel to the fantastic 'Matched' by Ally Condie which has been one of my favourite dystopian books of the last few years. The ending left me hanging, so I couldn't wait to get started on this one as soon as it arrived. I have to admit that I was feverish with excitement because I'd been waiting for this book to be published for months and was dying to find out what was going to happen on the next step in Cassia's journey.
After Ky is sent away to the Outer Provinces, Cassia is determined to find him so sets about leaving everything she loves behind - her family, friends and more importantly Xander, to track him down. The narrative is split between Ky and Cassia who tell the story in alternate chapters, providing greater insight into both of their feelings and motivations. I wasn't a huge fan of Ky in the first book, but I enjoyed getting the opportunity to find out more about his background and family history. Although he is growing on me, I still love Xander and was a bit disappointed that we didn't get to see more of him.
My main problem with 'Crossed' is that the plot was very slow to progress. I think it did suffer a little from middle book syndrome and it felt like there was much more to come but it was all being saved for the last book in the trilogy. There are still a lot of unanswered questions, there was no real resolution to the Cassia, Ky and Xander love triangle and although more was gleaned about the the Society and the Rising, it wasn't enough to feel like a substantial step forward had been taken with the story. Ally Condie is obviously keeping a lot up her sleeve!
I liked the fact that both characters were not only on a physical journey, but also a mental and emotional one. Cassia discovers that her path and Ky's may not lead them in the same direction and has a lot of time to think about what she actually wants out of life and more importantly, who she wants to spend the rest of her life with.
Some interesting secondary characters were introduced, such as Eli, who reminds Ky of Cassia's younger brother Bram and Indie, who Cassia journeys with to try and find Ky. I loved Eli who may be young but is also incredibly brave and resiliant and I liked finding out about the enigmatic Indie who there's a lot more to than meets the eye.
The third and concluding part of the trilogy is due to be published next year and although this book didn't quite meet my very high expectations, I have a feeling that the final part is still going to be amazing and will answer all those questions that I'm still puzzling about! ...more
I’d seen some mixed reviews of ‘After the Snow’ prior to reading it so I tried to approach the book with an open mind. It doesn’t easily fit into theI’d seen some mixed reviews of ‘After the Snow’ prior to reading it so I tried to approach the book with an open mind. It doesn’t easily fit into the dystopian genre although this is how it could be pigeonholed as the story is set in a barren future wilderness. The book features fifteen year old Willo whose entire family disappears leaving him to survive alone in the cold snow of a bleak ice age.
Narrated by Willo himself, it took me a while to adjust to the style of narration which consists of his inner thoughts and ramblings. He doesn’t have a very wide vocabulary and his inner monologues are often quite short and stilted, so it was several chapters into the book before I was able to read fluently without taking so much notice of his unusual style. After a while it did seem to actually suit the book but overall I did find it difficult to get on with.
I really like books which feature one character battling against the elements and having to survive against all the odds and this seemed to sum up Willo perfectly. Although he does make several friends along the way, including Mary who he takes under his wing, he still seems a lone figure for most of the book even when in the company of others. But he’s quick-witted and has the survival instinct embedded deep inside him which always made me feel confident that he would come out on top in the end.
The overall message of the book seemed to be about having hope and believing in a better future even when things look bleak. Although I found this inspiring, I have to say that I was a little bit disappointed with ‘After the Snow’ as I was hoping for a gripping, dystopian read with interesting and appealing characters but didn’t feel that the book quite delivered all this.
I had heard amazing things about this book so I was extremely excited to finally get my hands on a copy!
I'm a massive fan of dystopian fiction so theI had heard amazing things about this book so I was extremely excited to finally get my hands on a copy!
I'm a massive fan of dystopian fiction so the premise of Blood Red Road hugely appealed to me. The book is massive in length - 492 pages, and at the very start I wasn't too sure about the direction of the story. I found the first few chapters a little bit slow going and it took me a while to adjust to the style of writing which is very different but eventually became second nature. This style helped to establish Saba's character and her own original narrative.
The book features cage fighting between girls, giant worms with claws, an epic rescue journey and more thrills and spills than is legal to fit in one book! It kept getting better and better as the story progressed. By the end I was well and truly gripped and dying for the sequel. ...more
'Exodus' takes a giant leap into the future and is set in 2099 at a time when global warming has wreaked havoc on the planet and the melting of the po'Exodus' takes a giant leap into the future and is set in 2099 at a time when global warming has wreaked havoc on the planet and the melting of the polar icecaps has led to mass flooding and destruction. The story begins on the island of Wing which is in danger of being engulfed by the rising sea level. When the situation worsens the residents of the island have to set out to seek new land and a new life.
The story is told through the eyes of Mara who has never known a life beyond the one her and her family have led on Wing. One night when she is wizzing through the Weave (which seems to be a version of the web), she stumbles across a Fox who shows her evidence that the mythical Sky Cities really do exist. She convinces the other islanders to leave their homes behind but what they find may not be the safe haven they were hoping for.
Julie Bertagna has written a fast-paced story which is both immensely enjoyable as well as educational. A serious ecological and environmental message is conveyed throughout and provides a warning about the sustainability of the earth and how we look after the planet. This is done in a way which doesn't come across as being too preachy but actually makes you stop and think about some of the issues which are raised.
I found the plot totally absorbing. It really kicks into gear in the middle section of the book where the islanders arrive on the outskirts of New Mungo. The nightmare which faces them is both horrifying and shocking and I ended up turning the pages faster and faster as the story progressed, right up until the climatic finale.
Mara is a great central character. She's intelligent and brave and a born leader and she has a well-honed sense of survival which stands her in good stead for some of the situations she has to face. She has to make tough decisions at times and find a strength within her which she never thought she had. Her friendship with Fox develops near the latter part of the book and he is a bright spot for her in an otherwise bleak world. I found some of the scenes between the two of them heartrending but also hopeful. I like the fact that even amidst the devastation around them, they manage to find each other and each inspire something in the other.
The predictions made in 'Exodus' about the future are terrifying and appalling and the themes and issues are extremely thought-provoking. I thought that the story was full of suspense and action and was fantastically imaginative and inventive.
'Zenith' is the sequel to 'Exodus' and continues the story of Mara as she searches for a home in the North. Now aboard a ship with refugees from New M'Zenith' is the sequel to 'Exodus' and continues the story of Mara as she searches for a home in the North. Now aboard a ship with refugees from New Mungo, Mara has a terrifying journey ahead of her as she seeks to find Greenland and a safe place where she can begin to build a new home. Having left Fox behind to fight his own battle, she has to face loss and heartbreak as she clings to survival.
When the ship she's aboard crashes into a city of boats, barges and bridges, they cause untold chaos and destruction. Tuck, a gypsea who has only ever lived at sea, joins the chase for revenge as they hunt down the ship. But new struggles face both Mara and Tuck as their paths cross and they face new dangers and challenges to their very existence.
The book's chapters alternate between the stories of Mara, Tuck and Fox and their viewpoints are told in the present tense as they cope with an uncertain future. I did find that in places the story was a little slow and not quite as exciting as the first installment. A lot of plot threads were set up but a lot was still left hanging at the end and I didn't find the ending satisfying at all. There's so much that needs to be sorted out. I can only imagine that people reading this book back in 2007 must have been tearing their hair out at the end! Luckily, I don't have long to wait as the final part of the trilogy, 'Aurora' is published on 3rd June 2011.
This is a brutal depiction of a future which has been marred by environmental devastation. Stark and terrible, the book itself is a warning about the treatment of our planet. Although I didn't enjoy it as much as 'Exodus', I thought that the character development was extremely good and there were a number of surprising twists which kept me in suspense. There's a sense of adventure and excitement throughout and I found all the new discoveries that they made extremely fascinating.
The second book in a trilogy is always difficult but although I think it suffered slightly for this reason, I'm definitely still looking forward to seeing what Julie Bertagna has in store for the big finale.