This middle book unfortunately turned out to be middle of the road for me. I truly enjoyed its predecessor, Matched, and I eagerly looked forward to sThis middle book unfortunately turned out to be middle of the road for me. I truly enjoyed its predecessor, Matched, and I eagerly looked forward to seeing how Cassia would develop further in book two. Sadly, I think she went stagnant. I know middle books often act as bridges, but wow, characters can hop off the bridge at some point, right? With a limited number of major players, very few twists, and little character development, Crossed turned out to be a prettily written, but ultimately, superfluous book in the trilogy. And trust me, I am very disappointed that it was as I thought Cassia was turning into someone more kick-ass in the first book.
Don't get me wrong. I don't need all my female leads to be full of charisma and feel they are **different**. I like the quiet girls with invisible steel. In book one, it seemed like Cassia was gaining a growing awareness of her world, its origins and limitations. While her confusion and attractions to both Ky and Xander were very significant parts of the story, I thought that storyline paralleled Cassia's growth as a character and her burgeoning dissatisfaction with the Society. The bulk of Crossed was made predominately of her quest to find Ky. The other part of the book focuses on her and the other characters' ponderings about the rebellion against the Society, called the Rising, and its fabled leader, the Pilot.
The 'yea' things about the book are the alternating first-person points-of-view from Ky and Cassia. Loved hearing Ky's thoughts directly from him and learning a bit more about his background and secrets. However, the lack of action mixed with Condie's lovely and lyrical prose made most of the book feel anti-climatic and seem like a serious study on constant introspection. Almost EVERY LITTLE THING said was thought upon by either Ky or Cassia. So, if Ky said paragraph A in Cassia's chapter, then Cassia in turn thought about it, and often, it was simply a reinterpretation of what Ky already said, as if she was retelling herself so she could really soak it in. And vice versa when it was Ky's chapters. A little of this is lovely, particularly with Condie's soft and impressionistic writing style. A book full of this understated narrative with a steady and quiet plot made for dull reading at times.
I will still read book three. I've read the first two, and I want to know what happens. I realize that three books is a nice number for a series, but like Lauren DeStefano's Wither, I think the plot of the entire series would have been better served if it was limited to two books. At the very least, I think Crossed could have been shortened, thus creating a more urgent and exciting plot while keeping Condie's lyrical writing in tact....more
You know, it's all about the classics nowadays. We saw the resurgence of the vamps, then the weres, and even the zombies saw a little action recently.You know, it's all about the classics nowadays. We saw the resurgence of the vamps, then the weres, and even the zombies saw a little action recently. So, it makes sense that the creme de la creme of supes should reemerge in literature . . thank you, Susan Bigelow for bringing back actual superheroes in a fantastic way. Broken is such an invigorating breath of fresh air. If you are looking for a post-war, dystopian-type read with interesting characters possessing a supernatural twist, this one is for you.
The book was a bit confusing at the very beginning - you are thrown into a paranoid world full of Unions, suspicions and violence. The details are a little sketchy, but essentially two warring alien races introduced themselves somewhere in the mid-part of this century. The human race allies itself to one. In the midst of that war, war also broke out on Earth. NYC in particular got the holy hell bombed out of it, and now Australia occupies the seat of power for the Earth and its planetary colonies in space. It sounds like a lot, but the history is built up through out the book, and you quickly catch on through the alternating third-person limited points-of-view of Michael and Broken. Like the synopsis says, Broken is a has-been superhero who's lost her ability to fly. Flying defined Broken back in the day, and without it, she doesn't feel that she is anything much worth loving. Michael is a prescient - someone who can look people dead in the face and see their possible futures. He has inherited a mission of sorts - to get a baby who holds the future peace of the world or its destruction in his tiny hands to a safe place to be raised. And he needs Broken to help, but she's turned into a homeless alcoholic. Michael has a hook, though, and it's not one that Broken can say no to. Seriously, could you say no to your heart's dearest desire?
I may have to change my tune now about plot driven books because this ride was awesome. Not that the characters were lacking, because they weren't - in fact, I should say that Broken is a great example of balancing good plot with solid characterization. Michael is this baby brother-like kid forced into the role of reluctant hero, and wow, could you feel his apprehension about having to do all this. He nearly broke my heart sometimes. Broken was one of the saddest, most pathetic creatures I've ever read (she and Tom Mackee from The Piper's Son would have some fabulous conversations), and Monica . . she was the wild card, the one who got thrown into this mess after she loses her family. Although not as significant as Broken and Michael, she adds a very human, very poignant touch of being caught up in everything and just trying to deal.
The writing is tight, simple and its simplicity works well against the gritty landscape of this world, and it moves the story along at a great pace. There's a lot that happens in this book, so I think it's a huge testament to the plot that it never felt lacking or lagging in any areas for me. Biegelow also keeps you guessing about many things and reveals them slowly through flashbacks and chance encounters. In fact, you don't even really know Broken and Michael's ages until you are well into the book. About the only thing I could have asked for was a clearer explanation about what happened on Planet We're Screwed a bit earlier in the book - but, hey, it's speculative fiction! What's the point in reading if you aren't paying attention and figuring things out for yourself?
This is a book I would suggest for older YA readers - there are a few sexual encounters, some language,and a good age range amongst the three main characters. In general, there is a very mature, older feel to this book. In fact, I see a great crossover potential. It deals a lot with ideas we can all relate to: that life is about choices, that you have to put your faith in doing the right thing, no matter how hard it is, and that there are things far greater than yourself in this world. Sometimes poignant, sometimes humorous and always immersed in the what-ifs, Broken is a great book about deciding what your future is and making the choices and taking the actions to get there....more
I like lot of things in life. I like a lot of cream in my coffee, cinnamon and honey in my oatmeal and when the evil cat I live with doesn't attack myI like lot of things in life. I like a lot of cream in my coffee, cinnamon and honey in my oatmeal and when the evil cat I live with doesn't attack my feet. I like these things. They are a part of my daily routine (the daily cat attacks included), but having or not having them does not make or break my day. That's kind of how I feel about Divergent. I 'liked' it. I just 'liked' it, but truly, I could take it or leave it. Veronica Roth is a good writer, and I read the entire book in one day (don't let the almost 500-page length scare you - the print is big and the margins wide - the pages fly). However, there's nothing standout to me about it, nothing that makes me want to shove this into someone's arms and say, "You HAVE to read this." The 'zing' you get when you meet that magic book didn't happen for me, and I am pretty sure I can boil it down to a single thing:
The premise. I didn't buy it, not one bit.
Now, let me back up here. I think the human race is capable of many things, both truly good and absolutely evil. I can buy the possibility of being assigned lifetime occupations (it's happened before), being matched to spouses (take e-harmony and regulate it - there you go), and the possibility of a xenophobic, post-apocalyptic future (ever watch Alfonso Cuaron's The Children of Men? It's the worst of possibilities, but I can buy that it could happen). I even can believe that a religious faction could take over by gaining a government majority. However, I cannot buy a society based on people circumscribing their lives to the devotion and pursuit of a singular, chosen virtue. It's too simple, too fractious, and I didn't see enough historical context in Divergent to give me a reasonable basis as to why a government would set up shop this way. I can believe that individuals might choose to live that way (nuns and priests of various religions prove this, but even then, it's usually devotion to a group of virtues), but a government doing this does not make sense, particularly one based in the possibly former state of Illinois, political home of the late Mr. Abraham 'A-House-Divided-Cannot-Stand' Lincoln. Especially with any group of people with a U.S. cultural footprint. We admire commitment but tend to sneer at fervent belief in abstract concepts. It's a fine line; I think the political term for it is 'moderation'.
Given the above, you might think that I didn't like Divergent. Not true. I did. I just didn't get emotionally involved in it. Granted, Tris belongs to the the 'Katniss'-class, a fantastic group of strong, unflightly and practical female characters. I hope they don't become cliched by being in every book, but I love that we are seeing more of them. Tris is well-written, relatable and brave. More than that, she's an honorable badass. She wants to do the 'right' thing, but she understands that absolutes have no place in 'the' moment. If it comes down between you and her walking away, she's going to do her absolute best to make sure it's her. Her romance with Four is a believable first-love attraction with all its uncertainty and awkwardness. Four might be my favorite male lead of 2011 with his aloof tenderness and adherence to personal values. I also like Roth's name choices (for those of you who pay attention to that, the name 'Beatrice Prior' must have given clues - that was fun). I also love that she didn't flinch at depicting the brutal violence that Tris endures in no uncertain terms. Her use of sparse language also made the story flow and really made Tris' physical and emotional experiences pop, but occasionally, it felt like the sparseness was carrying on with the style of writing rather than adding substance to the storyline. Additionally, the story simply lacked for me a 'hook'; I've actually given better reviews to books with plots that weren't as well-executed or as well-edited, simply because the emotional element was stronger or the premise more original or believable.
I guess in the end, I just didn't feel that Divergent added much to dystopian YA. It's a solid story with good writing and a steady plot, and I basically read it one sitting. It's enjoyable but not a standout. I think I might be a little picky because 1) SO much dystoian is out now. Books that aren't technically dystopian are being marketed as such - it's overkill; 2) Roth actually IS a good writer. This is a GOOD story. I just don't think she's hit her full potential here. Which is fine. How many authors do we know of who had stunning debuts, but lack-luster sophomore efforts? I'd like to think that the best of Roth's writing is yet to come. I may or may not pick up #2, but I will be on the lookout for her fist non-Divergent novel, definitely. ...more
I can say with certainty that this book had me from the first sentence:
“I’m about to forget everything I'm going to tell you.”
I adore this book. It’sI can say with certainty that this book had me from the first sentence:
“I’m about to forget everything I'm going to tell you.”
I adore this book. It’s different from anything else out there right now. Everything in it is something that we’ve possibly seen before, but the way Angie Smibert has put the different elements together felt completely fresh and wonderfully thought-provoking. It’s unusual for me to really enjoy a mostly plot-driven book, but that’s what Memento Nora is: a fast drive through contrivance, compliance, choice and consequence. It’s a thin book of only 192 pages, and not a single word is wasted.
The setting takes place about 40 to 50 years in the future from what I can estimate. 9/11, the London Underground attack, the Madrid bombing, and a fourth fictional tragedy are defining moments that have shaped the world Nora lives in. Car bombings, curfews and armored escort vehicles are the norm. Consumerism is considered a right and civic responsibility, and Therapeutic Forgetting Clinics (TFCs) truly are the opiate of the masses. See something horrible? Hop over to your neighborhood TFC, pop a pill, and you will never have to remember it again.
Nora is the main protagonist of the book, and she has a dream life as the beloved, spoiled, petted princess of her mother and father. In particular, her father concentrates on success and social status. The book opens with her and her mother on a shopping trip. During the outing, Nora witnesses a bombing and sees the body of person who died as a result of it. Hence, her trip to a TFC.
Nora eventually meets Micah and Winter, the other two main characters in the story. Micah’s personal and economic situation is the exact opposite of Nora’s. He and his mother previously have lived out of a car, and they now essentially squat in a makeshift home in a commune, and by that I do not a Manson family-style commune, but more like a like urban food co-op/DIY/artesian community. Living there means you have no where else to go, but you wouldn’t mind sampling their kool-aid from time-to-time. However, the sense of community he has there is far preferable to the personal home situation Nora faces. Winter, on the other hand, is a rad, burgeoning artist who loves her best friend, Micah, and is wary of Nora. Her family has a past and a whole lot of pain that they carry on their backs and in their hearts. She has a very tight relationship with her grandfather, who appears to be one of those rare people who encompass both high personal standards and a warm and open mind. After everything she has lost and under her grandfather’s love, Winter’s art gives her something creative and useful to channel her emotions through. Winter also makes the best connections out the trio, and she’s the one who knows that junked, forgotten things sometimes offer the best solutions.
The story is told through the eyes and ears of these three, and they take turns telling the narrative through alternating first-person points-of-view. Together, they write and distribute a comic book that changes everything. They have chosen to retain their memories and then record and distribute them so that they become a part of everyone else’s collective memory. Doing so exposes some people and entities whose actions would otherwise be wiped from memory. In a world where forgetting keeps the machine smoothly moving, such a step is not an act of rebellion so much as a call for revolution.
Memento Nora is fascinating. It takes the premise that those who forget history are doomed to repeat to an extreme and very personal level. It mixes that with the idea of government-sanctioned, corporate control over the populace. I wouldn’t exactly call this book dystopian. Usually in dystopian novels, an author presents us with a seemingly perfect and well-ordered world and deconstructs it as we read. Smibert does the opposite and shows us that chaos can be as carefully constructed and controlled as perfection. She also pays homage to the book’s literary predecessors throughout the story, so be on the lookout for these nods (my personal favorite was the Jonas Defense Fund). In conclusion, Memento Nora is one those rare books that takes old ideas and reinvents them in a fresh, new way so that we may see their importance and relevance again. It’s savvy, political, intelligent and controversial – a mesmerizing what-if tale that hits way too close to home and already has seeds planted in the present. I highly recommend it....more
Ever wanted to wipe a guy from your mind because he shattered your heart so soundly?
In Lena’s world, you can. However, like all small blessings,3.5/5
Ever wanted to wipe a guy from your mind because he shattered your heart so soundly?
In Lena’s world, you can. However, like all small blessings, it comes with a catch, and it’s a biggie.
Lena lives in a future United States where a group called the ‘Consortium’ has taken over. In true dystopian fashion, the government, not individuals, make all major life decisions for citizens, including place of post-secondary education, profession and spouse. Lauren Oliver creates a future U.S. with beautiful, descriptive language, and sometimes you get lost in the loveliness and the originality of the sentences, especially when she writes comparisons. That being said, I found it difficult to ‘sink into’ this novel at first. When we first meet Lena, she is about to turn 18 and full of anxiety about her future. Because of this, Lena is an extremely introspective character, and at times, I think I would have liked some more dialogue or action to break it up a bit, but then Oliver would come out with a completely amazing sentence that would make me reread it with pleasure.
Lena's world is SUPER circumscribed, and this is where Oliver’s novel really differs from other dystopian reads for me: Lena’s world never feels safe, not even at first. Yes, she was told her world was safe, orderly and protected, but I never got that feeling. I was creeped out from the beginning by how regimented her life was: early curfews, absolutely no contact with boys who weren’t family or cured yet, and the constant reminders that if you are suspected of doing anything that smacks of civil disobedience, you will get a one-way to ticket to death or hell on earth. The government certainly has covered its tracks with the mother of all PR campaigns in Delirium; everything, from the Bible to national history to current events, has been rewritten. At times, it felt like something akin to Nazi Germany.
Lena's insecurities as a young woman are poignant and familiar. However, she mentions them enough times to make me think of other contemporary characters who also are self-deprecating. She feels that doesn’t measure up in the looks department and is nothing very special. Here family also lacks in social status and her legal last name is a burden because of the shady past of her parents. Because of these things, she actually is grateful for the procedure and her government’s system – it ensures she’ll have a place in the community and have someone in her life, albeit one who is chosen for her, not by her. You get the feeling that Lena isn’t happy to get the procedure so she can dodge the love sickness, but so she can escape her memories and feelings about the past.
She didn’t count on meeting Alex, who is a marvelous example of a loving, brave, and selfless guy (he’s my new lit crush). Alex has a few secrets of his own, and they both broaden Lena’s horizons and endanger her future at the same time. Oliver’s writing really shines at its best during the beautiful moments shared between Lena and Alex. I won’t spoil anything here, but let’s just say I said, “Ahhhhh,” and “ Awww,” several times. Outloud.
I have to admit, I had a hard time wrapping my brain around the premise. Who wants to get rid of love? Sure, it’s really inconvenient at times, but capable of being a national threat? No. And then I realized the catch. Remember the old saying, “It’s a thin line between love and hate?” It’s a thin line between a lot of different emotions: love, hate, passion, anger, etc., and all these different feelings provoke strong actions. Take away the ability to feel those emotions, and what sort of person do you have? A damn boring one who won’t cause trouble. This isn’t spelled out in Delirium, but I have seen this comment in a few reviews and wanted to add in my two-cents.
While I struggled to get into the first third, I couldn't stop reading the second half. Lena really develops in it and creates her own beautiful world within the one she has to live in. I hope we learn more about what circumstances the Consortium came to power under in book two, and gain more insight into what kind of world Lena is truly living in. I wish I had more background context for this book as I think it would have helped me get into it a bit earlier, but I will say that once I was hooked, I stayed that way. The world in Delirium is a refreshing, new dystopia we have not yet seen before with an original premise - a truly fascist, threatening government right from the start with a paranoid population in which a forbidden love flourishes and a young woman starts to find out what she is really made of. I think once we know more about the the reasons behind the premise and understand more about the world outside of Lena's immediate frame-of-reference, we will have a wholly satisfying trilogy in our hands....more
What kind of whack-job government requires sixteen year-old girls to get proof-of-age tats on their wrists that publicly announce they are ripe for thWhat kind of whack-job government requires sixteen year-old girls to get proof-of-age tats on their wrists that publicly announce they are ripe for the raping? How does a society even get to that point?
To be fair, the synopsis warned me, but bravo to the author for managing to make my skin crawl anyway.
Ug, and crawl it did, right from the beginning. Sixteen year-old girls have zero rights in the year 2150. Men openly leer at young girls and check out their wrists to see if they are legally available. If an of-age girl is preyed upon, there basically is no legal recourse for her to take. She is 16 or ‘sex-teen’ as the Media so cutely describes her, and was of victim of her own poor choices. However, this is only one aspect of the future world that Julia Karr sets up for us. Another defining point is a tiered level of citizenship, where being at level one makes you only a step above being homeless and being a level 10 gives you a cushy job and nice play to live. How you are treated by hospitals, the Media, and your peers is determined by your level. Other futuristic elements include hovering ttransportation vehicles, or ‘trannies'; points, which are used to buy food and goods rather than cash; ID chips, which citizens have implanted in their hands; and GPS tracking implants, which everyone has in an ear until age 16.
Karr does a great job of making this world plausible in her book, and that might have a lot to do with her characters. Nina is believable from the beginning as care-taker of her physically abused mother and loving older sister to Dee. Aside from her mother’s horrible boyfriend, what she is stressed most about is turning 16. Her best friend, Sandy, is the boy-crazed ditz we all would love to smack (honestly, I don’t think I could take a real life Sandy). Derek is a passionate musician with a mellow attitude, and Mike simply is a likable guy who isn’t a threat to anyone. Add in new friend Wei (who is freaking rad, tough and very artistic) and love interest Sal, and you’ve got yourself a believable high school group of friends.
This was a decent book with an interesting premise. However, my mind did wonder a few times, but the chapters were short and the story would quickly pick up again. I think XVI probably could’ve been a shorter, more tightly written book. It seems to have two major plots for Nina: 1) making sure she and her sister are safe (there are significant threats to them both); and 2) completing the final task her mother left her before she dies after being lethally attacked. Besides that, there were many subplots, mostly to do with the drama one would expect within a high school crowd. They seemed to mesh together relatively well and one flowed in and out of another, but at times it was a little difficult sorting through what was important. The all-controlling government and Media invoked a sense of paranoia, but this wasn’t an overstretched aspect of the story; it simply was something the characters dealt with through a few different means. Obviously, sex is a major topic in the book, and it was interesting to see how control over it could shape a one’s entire sense-of-self. It is portrayed by different people as a choice, a commodity, a right-of-passage, a means to a better future and, of course, as rape. There are never graphic, detailed descriptions of sex or rape, although the few occurrences of leering men and the references to rape will make you cringe. I don’t think it was overly done, however, and it really does make you aware of how it must be for Nina and other girls who have to live this way. Given the synopsis, the reader is fairly warned. Thankfully, Nina is a particularly self-aware character who was raised by a mother determined to make sure Nina was as free from sexual threats as possible once she turned 16. However, Nina fears men and sex regardless, and her views on her own choices are heavily influenced by her mother’s relationship with her violent, disgusting, foul miscreant of a boyfriend. Seeing her work through these fears is one of the more significant subplots of the book.
XVI had a lot of interesting elements going for it, but it also left some things unexplained. I would’ve loved having more background on the following:
***It’s never explained how or why the U.S. disintegrated and/or was overtaken. Several different groups seemed to have had control between now and when the book takes place, but I could have used some more concrete background information. I am one of those people who needs the narrative of the past to help me define the present.
***Why the 10-tier system? That’s a whole lot of tiers and some big time micro-managing. I would’ve have liked to know what defined the different tiers. We do learn that occupation defines status to a certain extent, but so does whom one marries.
***Although girls get tattooed at 16, boys don’t until 18. I definitely did not get the impression that this was the green light to adult women that the lads could be carnally feasted upon, so I am not sure of the significance.
***More on the NonCons (which I assume means ‘non-conformists’ - duh). How did the resistance start? What do they do to combat the government? It seems to be more a group of people who simply live under the radar, but there is little concrete action taken by them in the book.
XVI ends on an interesting, hopeful note. However, I still wanted answers to my questions and visited Karr’s website to see if I could find any there. It turns out that she currently is writing a sequel called The Sisterhood, which I look forward to reading, especially if it contains more of Wei and gives additional background to XVI. Although the writing could have been tighter, this was a decent debut by a new YA voice. You have to have a stomach for the issues it deals with, but for those who do, I think this will be an interesting read. Karr wrote believable characters, an easily imaginable setting, and an interesting plot. For me, these are the most important things in a story, and I likely will be back to see what happens to Nina & Co.
This book has a lot of hype, and I was extremely excited to read it for a few different reasons: 1) I love a good dystopian book; 2) I love a g3.5/5.0
This book has a lot of hype, and I was extremely excited to read it for a few different reasons: 1) I love a good dystopian book; 2) I love a good 'issues' book, particularly if it affects young women. Doesn't matter if it's fiction or nonfiction, I love reading about 'issues'; 3) anything that smacks of FDLS interests me - that whole concept fascinates me in a heebie-jeebie kind of way.
First off, Lauren DeStefano is a beautiful writer. That's the best part about Wither. Her descriptions are wonderful, and I never had any issues picturing what she was describing. The first chapter? I thought it was one of the most captivating intros I've recently read, and my personal opinion is that it was the most exciting part of the book. As for her characters, each is distinct and interesting, from the quietly headstrong Rhine, to the complex Jenna, to the child-bride Cecily. Housemaster Vaughn is a creepy, creepy old man, and his son Linden, aka, the Governor, is both pathetic and good-natured. In particular, Rhine, the protagonist and first-person narrator, has a very clear voice. I found that her intelligence and vulnerability made her a very 'real' character. At first, she quickly assesses her situation and is fiercely determined to escape from her pretty cage, but as time goes on, she occasionally finds herself slipping under the spell of her prison's charms and the kindness of Linden. As much as I think any of us would sympathize with her plight, I think we equally would find common ground with her as she starts to acknowledge her growing affection for various people in the house. With there being three different wives, the reader is treated to an excellent lesson on perspective, about how one's background can help determine how a person approaches various hardships. Straight up, if I were in Rhine's place and had to live as she and her brother did day-to-day and knew I only had four years to live, I would think, "Sweeeeet! Hey, can we get my bro a job here or something?" Would I play happy little wife in a gilded cage to spend the remaining years of my life in comfort and to secure my brother's comfort, as well? In our current 2011 world? Hell no. In Rhine's post-apocalyptic world? You better believe it. Does that sound crazy? Let me know what you think after you read. My personal opinion is that necessity and comfort are the mothers of persuasion.
The setting is fascinating, and it's also where the trilogy gets its name. Rhine lives in world that seems half real, half illusion. We don't get this sense of artificial living when she reflects on her former life with her brother in their home, but in her new life as a beautiful trophy wife (and prisoner), everything seems made up of holograms or doesn't quite seem authentic to her. She notes it when things seem 'off' - it's subtle and the plot quickly moves on to other things, but it's certainly mentioned enough times that I think that authentic living vs manufactured living is going to become even more important as we read on in the series.
The story flows very well. There is great style and consistency in DeStefano's writing, and I was pleased with her natural talent, especially since Wither is her first book. With that being said, the flow is of a softly moving stream, not a swiftly moving river. I didn't feel like any parts lagged, but nor did I feel a sense of urgency, either. After all, we are not dealing with characters who have very long to live, according to the synopsis. The book takes place in just under a year, but that's a precious amount of time considering 16-year old Rhine only has until age 20 to live. I just felt that I very comfortably drifted from one section of the book into the next. Obviously, this is part of a trilogy, and I look forward to reading what happens in the next two books as there certainly are some unanswered questions and unfinished plot lines. However, this book could so easily have been a stand-alone story or maybe a two-parter. Had it been, I think I would have found it a more fastly paced story and read it with a greater sense of urgency.
Here's the odd thing that occurred to me while reading: if I had only until age 20 to live, I would not be having any children, and supposedly, the whole premise of kidnapping girls is to have multiple wives so you can have many children so the human race can keep on keepin' on. I realize that girls in Rhine's place do not have a choice in the matter, but even if I was a guy, and knew I was going to die at 25, I still don't think having children would be on my brain. Even if Linden hypothetically had a child at 13 or 14, he would be dead by the time the kid was 11 or 12. Who am I to leave a child in such a world without me? The book does a good job of making sure that we know what happens to such children, but I still didn't understand the idea of perpetuating that. It seems kind of sick and cruel to have children when you know you won't live long enough to raise them or for them to really remember you.
Obviously, the book raises a lot of questions, and I can't discuss them all here - I would be spoiling some things for you if I did. I hope that the series moves on, we have more insight, more answers and more urgency. I am not sold on the premise, and given the ending, I am not really sure where the trilogy is going, but I am invested and intrigued enough to want to read more. The ending is not exactly a cliffhanger. I actually felt like it could have ended right there had some questions been answered beforehand. It would have been ambiguous, but it would have been a completed story. While I had some issues with the plot, DeStefano's writing is eloquent, her characters are interesting, and I overall enjoyed reading Wither. I am looking forward to seeing what happens to Rhine and Co. in book two....more
Do you ever get creeped out at how much access Google has to information on you? Forget it, because it Unidentified, that’s just a fact of life. In faDo you ever get creeped out at how much access Google has to information on you? Forget it, because it Unidentified, that’s just a fact of life. In fact, ‘Google’ is so accepted as an all-knowing entity that it has replaced ‘God’ in common phrases, i.e. “For the love of God,” is now, “For the love of Google.”
This is the world that Katey, aka ‘Kid’, is growing up in. It takes place at an undefined point in the future U.S. She is educated by corporate companies who monitor and analyze her decisions every time she swipes her student card at school, aka the 'Game'. The kids get ‘cliqued’ into groups like the Fashion Fascists or the Crafters. Instead of grades, there are game levels. Almost every student at the Game hopes to be ‘branded’ by one of the corporate sponsors who fund and run Kid’s school. Being branded means being put on the fast track to success, complete with access to VIP lounges and oodles of freebies. Branded kids have ‘stream groupies’ who follow them on the Game’s network. All they had to do is sign away rights to their personal identities, their talents, and the fruits of those talents. All students are a part of one big marketing study that is always in progress. Everything is very carefully planned. Then, one day someone throws a dummy over the railing at the Game with a sign attached: “UNIDENTIFIED. CHOOSE YOUR SUICIDE.”
Kid thinks it’s the most authentic act she ever has seen in her carefully orchestrated world. She also doesn’t get it – she initially thinks it’s a failed publicity stunt since there is no clear message. Then she sinks into the mystery and doesn’t let go.
First off, I like Kid, and I love her nickname – ‘Kid’ as in she can be ‘any’ kid. It felt that way to me, too. She wasn’t a poseur. She was into what she liked for the simple fact that it brought her pleasure. She wasn’t out to be branded. She felt accessible, but on a ‘real’ level, not on a virtual one. Once she latched onto the mystery of who threw the dummy over the railing and why, I was hooked.
However, before that, I had trouble getting into the book. It failed to capture my interest initially, but I think that was because the author was trying to convey the sense of boredom Kid feels in her own life. By the time the book did capture my interest, it still fell within the ‘under 50 pages or it’s out’ rule. Okay, maybe that’s my rule, but it works. Once I was, I was all in, and the majority of the rest of the book flew by for me. The ending wasn’t the best – it felt rushed, and truly, I ‘get’ what the author was trying to do, but it felt like the easy way out.
Let me say this may not be a book for everybody, but it could be. Frankly, it probably should be. I found the vast majority of it fascinating, with minor disappointments at the beginning and end. Despite it dealing with very real and weighty issues such as online privacy, unknowingly participating in a hegemony, corporate bullying and rebellion, Kid goes through the regular motions of being a teenager: crushes, jealousy, feelings of not belonging, etc. However, to truly enjoy it and 'get' what the author is saying, you need to have an understanding or interest in a few different things:
***Social networking: if you don't understand social networking, i.e. what it is, how to use it, its advantages and its controversies, you may feel a bit lost.
***PR and marketing: If you are not in the least bit interested in how companies gather their information for publicity and sales campaigns, particularly in the online world, then you may have trouble getting into this book. That being said, once you read this book, you may find yourself very interested.
***Corporate involvement in education: remember the controversy over credit card companies pushing their cards on college campuses? Did that alarm you? If it did, and you have any insight and knowledge into how corporate sponsorships are playing into education, you might like this book.
***If you like 1984 and Matrix-type things, you probably will like this book.
Despite the beginning going slow and the very end being a little flat, I really liked the rest of the book. I would definitely pick up another offering from this author.
Imagine a world where your only worth is what your body can do for others. Imagine a world where adults give teenagers the message, “If it feels good,Imagine a world where your only worth is what your body can do for others. Imagine a world where adults give teenagers the message, “If it feels good, do it! If it doesn’t feel good, here’s a pill for that!”
No, I don’t mean 2010. I mean 2010 aged 26 years and on steroids.
Welcome to Bumped by Megan McCafferty. Everyone under age 18 in this world is a liability or a commodity, and you better protect your brand if you want to take it to the bank. So, the question is, how do you decide who you are when your brand, your life already has been determined for you?
This is Planet Earth post-HPSV. That’s Human Progressive Sterility Virus to you. People infected are sterile by the time their bodies reach full maturity. HIV is a thing of the past in Bumped but unless teens keep bumping so teen girls can get those bumps, humans will cease to exist. Consequently, their lives are cultivated, regulated and leased by couples who offer the best bottom line.
The story is told through the first-person perspectives of twins Melody Mayflower and Harmony Smith, who were separated at birth and adopted by two very different sets of parents. Melody is placed with parents who raise her as a commodity, a high-achieving scholar athlete with ‘flawless’ Northern European DNA that’s sure to make her a slam dunk on the fertility circuit. Harmony is placed with a devout couple who eschews Melody’s market and image driven world for the uber-religious Goodside – think an FDLS compound minus the polygamous marriages but with color-coded dresses. Both characters feel stereotypical at first – Melody sounds like a self-absorbed over-achiever, and Harmony is a classic Bible-thumper. However, the book is set up to follow the pattern of a developing pregnancy with the first three sections titled first, second, and third. This timeline carries the story, keeps it well-paced, and adds layers of explanation and revelation throughout. Melody and Harmony’s characters, strengths, personal conflicts and doubts also emerge within this frame. Finally, a fourth section titled ‘rebirth’ sends the sisters into situations they’re unprepared for, and both are faced with choices they never knew were theirs to make. Adding more texture to the story are a variety of other characters, the most important of whom is Zen. He is Melody’s best friend and adds a great amount of humor and genuine emotion. He also acts as a de facto voice of reason.
When I first read Bumped, I was stunned. The 1960s have nothing on free love in 2036, but only unambitious teens have sex without some sort of possible bonus. Adults are so focused on not only getting a child, but on having the ideal child birthed for them, that an entire industry has popped up around that quest. The products that stores thrust at these girls to promote pregnancy are overwhelming and begin when they hit the early pre-teen stage. Agents scoop up young girls for signing contracts faster than you can say Jerry McGuire. They come under extreme pressure to save themselves for their perfect 'bump' or 'pregg' partner so they don’t taint themselves before hand. They are matched with teenage boys whose specifications match the paying couple’s desires. While Melody’s parents have carefully reared her to fully participate in this industry, Harmony is in the same situation with a different name. In Goodside, girls are betrothed at 13 and married shortly after. Whether controlled by Church law or the laws of supply and demand, the fertility of teen girls definitely is a commodity in both communities. The only people who do not seem to have ownership in this are the young women themselves.
What makes the book shocking is not its subject matter per se, but the manner with which its presented. We’ve seen similar issues before in other dystopian novels, but in books such as The Giver by Lois Lowry and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, there was a formality in the characters and language that provided a buffer. It gave you more of an objective space to take in and interpret the setting before you became emotionally involved. That doesn’t happen in Bumped. Right from go, you are immersed in a world that’s extremely familiar, particularly from Melody’s viewpoint. You see her at the average U.S. high school, hanging out at the mall, joking with her her friends, straining under parental pressure to succeed, etc. They seem like any group of teens you might know today. So, when you see that they’re treated as wombs for rent, it feels very, very wrong. It’s akin to your own 13 – 17 year old daughter, sister, cousin or friend saying to you, “Hey, I just got a sweet deal. A couple is going to pay me have sex with a total hottie while I’m ovulating. They’ll take the bump off my hands once it’s out, and I’ll get a car, too! So, you want to go to the mall?” That’s how Bumped reads – it’s girl-next-door familiar, and that adds both an authentic voice and a frightening level of realism. The true influence over these teens comes not from an ever-present and feared government, but from the same people who are influential today: parental, peer and marketing pressures combine into a triple entente that leaves teenagers with little reason to think, “why?” Other nuances between this future world and our current one are planted slowly throughout the book. Things you pick up on as being very strange in the first 'trimester' of the book will have their explanations later on and often will take you by surprise.
Bumped also is written with a good amount of humor that fans expect from McCafferty's writing. After the initial shock, you likely will snort at the tongue-in-cheek comments. It also is the first book I’ve read in a while that gives relevant commentary on actual current issues. I’m not talking about an ambiguous ‘self vs. society’ feeling, although on an overall scale, yes, that’s in this book. I’m talking about the media’s current obsession with teen sexuality, pregnancy and the blurring line between reality and celebrity. I’m talking about financial illiteracy and irresponsibility. I’m talking about using pills to give and take away emotions so people can ‘perform’ how society expects them to. I’m talking about producing designer babies. I’m talking about young women being raised with very little say in their own sexuality. Traditionally, the choice has been between bad girl or good girl with little middle ground. Bumped takes those traditional oppositions and flips them: the bad girl is suddenly good because society needs her to be bad, and the good girl is mocked - she, too, remains 'pure' but not for the mainstream's benefit, and she gets no monetary kickback. It's a very public, either/or kind of world.
Bumped will take you for a ride. What starts as a test drive between sisters takes you full force into a head-on crash that lands on one hell of a cliffhanger. You will read it with ease and cheer on Melody and Harmony as they struggle to decide who they are and what they want. However, the real dystopian fear factor is how close we already are to this future world. I predict that parents and conservative groups are going to have some things to say about this book. Frankly, I am looking forward to the show. Bumped is not a ‘simple’ book. The issues it raises are weighty ones: circumscribed existence with limited choices, parental and societal pressures, ignorance, and the effects that all of these produce. It’s fascinating, provocative and controversial - an important book with something to say being put out at the right time. I recommend it.
"They predicted sixteen years ago, almost before anyone else, that girls like me - prettier, smarter, healthier - would be the world's most invaluable resource. And like any rare commodity in an unregulated marketplace, prices for our services would skyrocket. It wasn't about the money, really, not at first. It was about status. Who had it, and who didn't. And my parents did everything in their power to make sure I had it." -Melody
"Despite her musical name, my sister gives little thought to the sounds hat come out of her mouth. She doesn't seem to understand that words serve as a bomb or a balm and all too often Melody chooses to hurt instead of heal." -Harmony, pg 43-44
"Where are you in your cycle? Oh, WHO CARES? Let's get you two BUMPING right away. We don't want another trimester to go by with a FLAT TUMMY. And not to put any pressure on you or anything, but it would be just BREEDY if you could deliver the goods by next March." -Lib, an agent, pg. 76
"'Hornergy' is Zen's term for the indomitable athletic edge powered by sexual restraint. The basketball, baseball and football teams haven't had a winning season in years. The table-tennis team, however, is undefeated." -Melody, pg. 147
FTC - received this book from the author in exchange for an honest opinion. In no way was I compensated for this review....more
I really enjoyed this book and regretted when I had to put it down. The protagonist is Cassia. In the beginning, her life is perfect. She is a level-hI really enjoyed this book and regretted when I had to put it down. The protagonist is Cassia. In the beginning, her life is perfect. She is a level-headed 17-year old who comes from a good family and is excited about her future. She is Matched to her best friend, Xander. She does well at school and at work. Her life will be a series of contented and controlled experiences. She will close her eyes at age 80 like all citizens, and she will slip easily into death at her scheduled time. She could be any girl, but I don’t mean that I found her dull, or that I could easily transfer my own personality into the story via her character. She’s her own person, knows what she is good at and what her place in her world is. I found it very easy to connect with her and her fully confessional, first-person narrative makes you feel like you have a very close friendship with her.
The glitch on her screen when she sees Ky’s face is the main catalyst for Cassia to start questioning how are in the Society. Several more things then happen that add to her sense of unease: her grandfather gives her forbidden words and encourages her to start asking questions, talk of her receiving her final work assignment increases, she receives more information about Ky that tickles her curiosity even more, her father gets into major trouble for losing something important, and the whole family starts to feel the strain of being scrutinized. Through it all, Cassia struggles between the ideas of choice vs. safety, of data vs. emotion, etc.
All these things revolve around each other in the book and basically boil down to a question of free will. Is it worth letting people make their own major life decisions given the risk for failure, or is better to have even-steven contentment without choice? The catalyst for the question is not entirely a moral one for Cassia; it’s a question of love. She knows Xander is a sure thing, and that their Match likely would prove to be a successful one based on the Society’s meticulously gathered data. However, the attraction she feels for Ky is so potent, she struggles with ignoring it. Ky also offers her something that she desires: knowledge. Along the way there are other subplots that help build to the story’s tipping point, and these things lead to warnings and a very harsh crackdown by the Society. However, the story’s spotlight is the forbidden attraction between Cassia and Ky. I think the book on the whole is very well-written, but Cassia's growing tension over her feelings for Ky was wonderful, and I was genuinely excited for Cassia. Ky is the most fascinating character in the book, and I hope we hear more of his personal voice in the sequel. I wouldn't call him Cassia's opposite, but he certainly comes from a completely different frame-of-reference than she does. He came from shadowy background and was adopted by Cassia’s neighbors. He blends in, has been assigned to menial work despite his intelligence, and simply exists. He is just there.
The pacing is steady – this is a book that simmers, not boils. Cassia’s growing awareness and questioning of how the Society runs things and how they control her life carries the narrative. It’s interesting to see her anger build, and her soft-spoken ways give way to a real determination that leaves you hoping it’s the ‘real thing’ between she and Ky. My prediction is that she will be a different sort of character in the next book. The grit she shows towards the end leaves real promise for further development, and I look forward to seeing who Cassia will grow into in the squeal.
There are a lot of elements in Matched that we’ve seen before: controlled society, forced domestic partnerships, love triangles, etc. The Society in Ally Condie’s Matched is extremely similar to the Community in The Giver. So similar, in fact, that I checked the ‘Acknowledgments’ to see if she credits Lowry at all. She doesn’t, and I really think she ought to. The Society reads like a less formal, more affectionate version of the Community from Lowry’s work. Emotions aren’t as checked as they are in The Giver, but there definitely are limits to what the Officials in Condie’s book will allow. While not wholly original, Matched is a well-written, attention grabbing story that kept me turning the page. Each character is distinct and helps builds the tension leading up to the climax. Condie skillfully balances the plot and Cassia’s inner, emotional struggle, and never once did I feel that one or the other was missing. In fact, I kept it in my bag over the weekend and snuck in reading time where and when I could. I definitely recommend this book. ...more