Blurbed by Melina Marchetta: 'Beautifully written with characters that stayed with me long after the final page,' and with it's stunning cover, MatcheBlurbed by Melina Marchetta: 'Beautifully written with characters that stayed with me long after the final page,' and with it's stunning cover, Matched is the shiny new temptation of the season.
Okay - so I was completely PUMPED about it. I am an unashamed fan of a good love triangle - tension! drama! heart-ache-y choices! swooning! Also - a dystopian, well, it's a fascinating setting to explore all kinds of themes and deliver some twisted showdowns.
Matched begins with the Matching Banquet, on Cassia's 17th birthday, where Cassia is Matched by the Society to her long time best friend, Xander. She's thrilled, but then a glitch causes things to unravel and Cassia starts questioning more than just her match... Oooh - something's going to go down...
Because the pacing is a slow. It's a deliberate build, more introspective than action. However, I found it compulsively readable. I casually sailed through the first 2/3's and then the final third really comes into it's own. By then it felt like the story was into it's own completely addictive groove and by the time it ended, I was ready to pick up the next installment (Ah, Dec 2011, it's a while away...).
Rather than it being gritty with undertones of foreboding - it is more laying the ground work for a future rebellion and show-down - taking Cassia from a place of acceptance of the Society, to questioning and ultimately finding a strength inside of her that will alter the course of her life. It's very much a coming of age novel set in a manufactured world.
Condie has laid all the groundwork for some thrilling discoveries, impossible choices and deadly stakes. (re: thrilling discoveries, impossible choice and deadly stakes - it was kind of lacking in this title - but I'm thinking they're coming in the next, yeah?)
Xander and Ky are both stand-out characters (although neither had me swooning - what was with that? Two guys and neither one did anything for me?) However, I so appreciated the restraint Condie showed in fashioning the love triangle aspect - it does not tread the well worn path of YA melodrama (although I'm hoping she'll amp it up a bit in the sequels in terms of choices and stakes).
The prose. Some have called it beautiful. It does read effortlessly - and there's a few instances of lovely thoughtful introspection and nice phrases. There's also a lot of prose. As in, occasionally, it feels overwritten - I sometimes felt that urge to skim over redundant paragraphs.
Recommended: This is right in the pocket of the YA market and all my teen readers out there (love you guys!) are sure to enjoy and devour it and maybe even find it earning a starred place on your favourites shelf. It's an entry level novel into dystopian worlds, perfectly suitable for mature middle grade readers. It's a squeaky clean read.
As for adult readers who are still digging the YA scene, it's enjoyable, sure, and perfect for a rainy-day comfort read. As Alexa said: A word of warning though, if you are looking for a book to fill the void left by the end of The Hunger Games, this may not be for you, despite the dystopian tag. Matched is more reminiscent of the coming of age/romance you might expect from Sarah Dessen. It is quiet, and it is beautiful, and it is well worth reading. (and I get what she means) - which worked okay for me as I love that Sarah Dessen vibe. ...more
Characters that are flawed, 3 dimensional, that you want to hang out with. A rich cast surrounds the main characters, all uniquely drawn and portrayed. I love these guys.
A setting that you feel immersed in. Scenes that you want to be in.
Alongside the fun and the charm and the swoon-worthy goodness, there's depth and sorrow and a richness that makes your heart swell and ache and hope for the characters. There's some tear jerking moments in there.
There's moments where you hold your breath and hope hope hope the story is going where you want it to. The plot feels organic and true.
The romance will have you swooning and crushing hard without cringing :)
It's ridiculously unputdownable and crazily good in general
A closer look at two main characters who I absolutely LOVE:
Anna Oliphant: She's whimsical and slightly OCD. She's dynamic and confident but also unsure. She's fun to hang out with, brave yet scared. She sometimes makes a mess of things despite her best intentions. I ADORED her from the first chapter. No doubt she will soar to the top of 'favourite female characters' lists :)
Etienne St Clair: What a guy, hey. SWOON. He's beautiful and not at all perfect. Charming and sometimes elusive. He's funny and clever and stuffs things up. A lot. He's genuine and dynamic and lights up the pages of any scene he's in. He is a literary crush that will knock all your other crushes off the top of your list.
If I was to compare this book to another, I can't think of what to pair it with. It's a unique blend: not quite as literary as Melina Marchetta (though just as funny and real and ache-y), it's more dynamically paced than Sarah Dessen (and just as lingering and true) and it's not as quirky as Jaclyn Moriarty (but is whimsical and has that friends you want to hang out with thing down-pat). It's pretty much the perfect blend of YA goodness. ...more
I'm just going to come right out and say it: This book was BRILLIANT and I absolutely LOVED every moment of it. I devoured it all through the night anI'm just going to come right out and say it: This book was BRILLIANT and I absolutely LOVED every moment of it. I devoured it all through the night and have been thinking about it ever since (3 weeks ago).
Where to begin with my (rave-on) review?
It's epic, dystopian, has an impossible romance, mystery, creativity and lots of heart and soul.
The prose: Gorgeous and evocative. For a sci-fi it was so not complicated to follow - it flowed seamlessly.
The whole concept: Mate, it's so well explored. The world building felt flawless. It's in depth but so accessible. I can only imagine the immense thought and creativity involved in producing such a book. Exceptional stuff. It was so easy to imagine myself on board the Godspeed - a beautifully painted world. I loved being a part of it.
The characters: Loved them. Particularly Amy - I really felt for her, nothing was easy for her - (Revis does not suffer from the whole being kind to your characters syndrome :). There's some genuine moments where I was so moved with compassion and emotion. Also, the villains - ahh, complex with shades of good and bad, making the moral ambiguity so conflicting to read. Really well drawn.
The plotting: WOW. There's a lot to admire. As in, HOLY COW, it's just brilliantly plotted.
Twists and turns and mysteries and conspiracies. The stakes are continually raised and then something happens that you don't see coming and they are raised again. I thought I had things figured out but then Revis would throw a new spanner in the works and I'd be all whirling about again. Which is why I read it all through the night... unputdownable kinda stuff. Plus, she juggled all the world building, flashbacks, outer space, mystery, history and multi-POV.
Recommended: Absolutely one of my favourite reads this year. I am completely in awe of it. This is a book to suck in non-readers, males, fans of any genre. It's one my dad would enjoy as well as my teen niece. Even more - I recommend SNATCHING it up as a high school text. The themes in this book would be brilliantly explored in class discussion. A first class book from a talented new author. Just wow.
*note: there are some mature themes regarding, ahh, human mating :)
Here's my casting call :)
Karen Gillan as Amy (just imagine her a tad younger. PERFECT :) ...more
This is a hard one for me to rate. First off, I flew through it - it's an easy and fairly addictive read - but I don't think it's a book that2.5 stars
This is a hard one for me to rate. First off, I flew through it - it's an easy and fairly addictive read - but I don't think it's a book that will linger or be a favourite.
For a serial killer book, it wasn't that creepy and there weren't clues for the reader to feel a part of the investigation (which is part of the thrill for me as a reader). I can't help but think of books in this similar genre in Adult fiction which pack a lot more punch, and maybe it's unfair to compare a YA novel with Adult thrillers, but it fell a little flat for me - there was nothing original or surprising about the killing/investigation part of the story.
The book really was more about Jay and Violet. Unlike most people, I found Jay to be fairly dull despite his gorgeous grin. We are told he and Violet are best friends, told he is hot and then watch for a good quarter of the book how half the girls in the school are falling all over him. The scenes with him and Violet were sweet, but he didn't do anything to impress me. His dialogue was standard, neither funny or brilliant.
That is, until half way through. Okay, so after the party - things turned (suddenly) hot and Jay's personality finally showed up. It just took half a book for him to get there. And considering nothing happened between him and Violet for the first half, well, Derting more than made up for that in the second half. Jay knows how to charm the parents but once they leave the room, he brings the sexy right on back.
As for the supporting cast of friends, they all seemed a little interchangeable - none made an impression on me.
I did love the family vibe, Vi's parents were cool and so was her uncle.
This book is written for teens and it probably is the perfect blend for them - some wish fulfilment with a hot stud of a best friend turned boyfriend, lots of sexy/hot scenes that are still PG, a not too freaky serial killer to ease young teens into the genre - (although when I was a teen I read lots of thriller/killer adult fiction with some freaky bad dudes and coped pretty well :) ...more
Linger gets off to a slow start - which I didn’t mind b/c the prose is engaging and I liked the characters from last time - so it was nice to settle iLinger gets off to a slow start - which I didn’t mind b/c the prose is engaging and I liked the characters from last time - so it was nice to settle into the groove.
Problem is - the slow start lingers until halfway through the book.
200 pages of Not A Lot Happening.
At which point I check the blurb to try and figure out what the book is about anyways - because half way in and I had no idea.
sooo... after finishing it i’m still not sure what it is about? what were the stakes? what did the protags want? :/
Some points: I think the prologue (a key scene from the climax) served as a way of having at least something happen. so after 300 pages of meandering around we know it is going to get to a point.
Unfortunately, the same prologue gives away the ending and therefore any mystery that could’ve been built into that plot-line. It also robs readers of any satisfaction they may get in figuring things out before the protags do. Makes for a rather passive reading experience - being told the ending before the story has even begun.
Then there’s Cole, hot muso boy. Naked. A lot. And making out with Isabel. some people didn't like them. I did. Mainly as at least it felt like something was happening when they were on the scene whereas Grace and Sam’s scenes fell completely flat for me.
As for Grace's parents. sigh. I don’t care if parents are used and abused for plot purposes. I get that. But I do like it to at least seem organic. Their reactions didn’t entirely make sense to me and didn't seem in line from what we know of them from Shiver.
Obviously, judging from the ratings and that it’s a best seller, I am in the minority here (as I often am).
The prose is gorgeous, though as times meandering. As much as I loved reading the lyrical stuff- I was tempted at times to skim to try and get to some action...
I felt like I read this simply for the sake of reading.
I also feel like Shiver is a great stand-alone book ~ it wraps things up quite nicely and I would prefer to leave this series at that.
Note: I don't read a lot of YA paranormal romance* ~ so keep that in mind, haha ~ if you love the genre, you'll probably enjoy this more than I did.
I love Helen Fitzgerald's Adult Fiction, which are darkly funny, wild and always surprising. So I was pretty much absolutely thrilled to hear she had I love Helen Fitzgerald's Adult Fiction, which are darkly funny, wild and always surprising. So I was pretty much absolutely thrilled to hear she had a YA novel coming out.
And it's got a different flavour to most YA out there. It's got the same trademark gutsy pacing - it doesn't linger over scenes but keeps pushing on forward making it a swift and page-flipping read.
I LOVED ADORED the Scottish setting. More please.
As a protagonist, Rachel is pretty different. She's a perfectionist, she's angsty towards her parents, she's drumming it out to her own beat, unconcerned with making friends - more concerned with making grades. She's a keeper of secrets (of which she knows many) and regarding the little bit of romance she has going on the side, she's strangely, infuriatingly indifferent at times. She may take a bit of getting used to... :)
As for the mystery: Helen Fitzgerald loves to play head games with her readers, and this one's a doozy, haha. Even if you figure out where you think it's going, it doesn't diminish the enjoyment and satisfaction of watching Rachel all the way to the the climax where more than just secrets are revealed. I love a cringe-worthy, LOL showdown and this book delivers. Boy, does it deliver.
It's a book that you appreciate once you're done and join all the dots and see where the author was expertly taking you the whole time. My brain scrambles just thinking about it all. A brilliant nugget of an idea which played out nicely.
In all my reading of YA, I can't think of a book to compare this too. It's got such a unique, distinct flavour - it's a blast to read. It's funny and a little bit silly (in that teen way) and perfect for teens.With a narrative style different to most contemporary YA it may be a change from what you may be used to - so looking forward to seeing what others think of this one. It was a fun read for me - from a clever author who dares to be a little bit different....more
I psyched myself up before reading this because it looked intense and emotional and maybe even a little disturbing.
It was kinda intense and it hit meI psyched myself up before reading this because it looked intense and emotional and maybe even a little disturbing.
It was kinda intense and it hit me hard emotionally but don't let the slightly disturbing subject matter deter you from reading this. Despite the premise, there is a lot of breathing space in these pages which not only focuses on the main premise, but also includes a beautiful love story and an unforgettable main character with a cast of faithful and fun friends.
There's a lot to admire about this book. It's lyrical and haunting. There's moments of stillness amidst bubbles of fear. It's a little creepy and I had chills by the end. It's a page turner with masterful execution of the plot.
The ending was powerful and liberating. It really superseded my expectations and I know I'll be passing it on to teens I know.
I had this sense of peace and empowerment when I finished reading the book. It's a story that will linger and I am so glad that this story has been told.
*Slightly spoilery, but not much ~ so just click it anyways:* (especially Tina b/c it make help you make a decision as to whether you want to read it :) (view spoiler)[ I was grateful the story didn't get into physical/sexual abuse (at all) as I had thought it might. It was all psychological and stalker-y - which, while just as powerful and scary, was easier for me as a reader to stomach. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Waiting for you is a classic coming of age novel - spanning a good year of one teen girls life. Marisa is easy to relate to. Almost too easy, taking mWaiting for you is a classic coming of age novel - spanning a good year of one teen girls life. Marisa is easy to relate to. Almost too easy, taking me back to those high school days where little things (small fights with your best bud) are the big things. Marisa has recently struggled with anxiety and depression and throughout the book sometimes slips back into that place. It's handled expertly, delving straight into the mind of a teenager with a light touch, never taking the path of melodrama.
Likewise, family issues in the novel are tackled well, as Marisa comes to terms with the image of the family she thought she had and the reality of her parents separation - there's anger, hurt, resentment, disappointment and a yearning to make sense of it all.
The romance. It's a complicated one. There's two boys in the picture and a mysterious third guy. There's juggling of boyfriends and best friends. There's daydreaming and hope and longing and a little bit of kissing too. There's crushing on a best friend, finally getting with the hot guy and romance in her parents, Aunt's and best friends life.
Waiting for you concludes with a powerful message: showing the messy side of relationships and the real side of anxiety, the complications in friendships and the way you can be the difference in your own life - working out who you want to be and how to get there and learning to be happy with who you are. (note: it's done subtlely - no preaching :)
Confession time: I struggled to initially engage with this novel. Once I got past the first hump (I'll say about 80 pages in) it was a surprisingly addictive and swift little read. I'm glad I settled into the read as by the end I found a lot to admire with how Colasanti handled everything.
The dialogue tags and slang in this alienated me and thumped me out of the book. At first, they grated, then they amused (I'm pretty sure amusement was not the intention). Here's a taste: He goes, 'What?' And I'm like 'Seriously' 'Get out!' she's like. etc. At times they jumped out at me and other times they slipped by as I was more caught up in the story. Still, I'm not really a fan...
And now I will bombard you with quotes which can give you a feel for the heart-beat of the novel :)
I wish it could stay like this forever, with the anticipation of everything. I know what it’s like when you just need to be alone for a while and block out the world.
It’s weird how time can change something you thought would always stay the same.
When everyone expects you to be a certain way, it’s really hard to escape that image. It’s like once everyone decides who you are, you’re locked into their version of you and that’s it.
I love the beginning of the year. It’s all about renewal and reinventing yourself, becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be.
But we also need to realize that we all have the power to make those changes for ourselves. We all can change the way things are. Maybe not as much as we want to, but we can at least make things better.
I probably just didn’t try hard enough to be happy. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t try harder now.
You can’t go someplace that doesn’t exist anymore.
Failure is not an option. If your life sucks now, it can only improve later. We all feel alone. We all feel desperate. Know that we’re all in this together. You’re not alone, no matter what. Remember that.
Recommended: It's a bit of a rainy day comfort read that many teens will easily relate too. It's an easy book to read, with clean prose, which makes it a good choice for a reluctant reader. I would particularly suggest this title to teens who may struggle with depression/anxiety - it's an uplifting read that brings a comforting and powerful message. This book is written brilliantly for a teenage audience but I'm not sure it will have wide appeal beyond that :)
It's also a lovely PG - no swearing, sex, drugs or violence - mature middle grade readers may be interested in checking it out. ...more
Karen Tayleur knows how to capture a readers attention from the outset and tease her way through to a twist-y climax.
6 opens with a haunting prologue:Karen Tayleur knows how to capture a readers attention from the outset and tease her way through to a twist-y climax.
6 opens with a haunting prologue: "But the facts are simple. A recipe for disaster. One car. Five seatbelts. Six people. A late night party. A generous splash of alcohol. A sprinkle of bad weather. Two P-plate signs." p.5 And no one is answering the ringing mobile phone...
6 follows the lives of 6 teenagers in their final 6 months of year 12 (the last year of school). There's the teaser that one of these 6 teenagers will die by the end of the novel. You don't know who or how it all goes down. BUT what grabbed me was, after the rocking prologue, it opens with an inciting incident that will suck you in.
On a stormy day, 6 teens stumble across something shocking, and despite misgivings, keep it a secret amongst themselves. It continues to haunt them throughout the year. There's uneasy feelings between them. The 6 teens are like a Breakfast Club assortment ~ not all are friends and they all fall on different places on the social hierarchy, one crushing one another who's crushing on another... it's complicated yet realistic.
It's like reading a coming of age novel, exploring friendships, family relationships, love, that sense of identity and being on the cusp of adulthood. It so finely portrays the stress of exams, giddy anticipation of The Formal and choosing what to do in life. All this is set against a back-drop of something truly sinister tying a group of teens together and something horrific looming unseen ahead of them.
I love how Karen Tayleur pushes the boundaries with experimentation in her novel. This is a taste of what you can expect in 6:
6 different points of view, male and female past, present and future tense first person, third person, omni-present Vlog entries, diary entries, narration, flashbacks additional extras: mini character profiles, chapters opening with nursery rhyme snippets ~ which, although familiar, were creepy and ominous in the context. The nursery rhymes were so cleverly used ~ one of my favourite aspects.
There's a lot to admire. I always love extra titbits in novels and in 6 it was pulled off to add an extra dimension. It really enhanced my reading experience. Each POV felt distinct and it was effortless to follow. It takes incredible vision and talent to produce such an energetic and layered plot. It barely hits 200 pages, and it's an incredible feat, juggling so much story.
While I was hooked from the out-set (really, who wouldn't be?) I did find a little restless lag in the middle, despite churning through the book in 48 hours. Blame it on being anxious to get to the conclusion to see how it was all going to play out...
Recommended: 6 is atmospheric, unexpected and unique. The ending is a bit of a twist and it's a book you could easily re-explore, finding clues and hints cleverly hidden amongst innocent-seeming prose. 6 is a novel that will easily engage reluctant readers ~ with characters that teens will oh-so-easily relate to.
Discussion point: While the book is Australian, using Aussie terms for our final school exams, it didn't have a strong Australian vibe. In fact, I was initially thrown with some terms I see in imported work but I don't hear Australian actually use. Such as:
they drank soda (we call it fizzy or soft drink) they talked about The Woods (we call it the bush) they shopped at The Mall (simply the shops or the plaza) And didn't seem to wear a school uniform (most US school don't have a uniform but in Australia it is the norm)
Or was it just me? These things threw me out of the story when they popped up. (I know, I am pathetic like that). Little details like that made the setting foggier for me ~ I just wasn't sure what I was imagining? An Australian town or some random universal western world setting? ...more