Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Reading Updates

Greetings readers!

It has been awhile, and much to my dismay, I haven't finished reading all of the books on my list yet. I have overestimated my time and am now working harder on the list. I have cut a bit into several of the books, and wanted to give a little bit of an update as to what I think so far.

Hearts in Atlanta was the first one I started, and I am farther along here than in the others. I love Stephen King's format, and he's got me into a story I don't think I would be interested in had I just read a review. There are little nit-picky things I don't like, such as random peeks into Bobby's future and general awfulness on his mother's behalf, but other than that, I am anxious to see what happens next!

The Flanders Panel, I must admit, is a bit of a disappointment thus far. I am about halfway through the first chapter and struggle to continue on. Perhaps it is just the books I am accustom to reading, but the main female character is a bit full of herself. She seems like the type of woman who would sit lazily in her windowsill, blowing cigarette smoke smoothly from between her lips while gazing regally around the city thinking 'I'm the best thing that ever happened to this town.' While some might like the idea of a beautiful protagonist, I'd prefer (even if she was gorgeous) for her to think of herself as...average. So far, she is very unrelateable to me, and it is hindering my progress.

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner is, by far, my favorite so far. It may not seem so as I am not as far into the story as I am with Hearts in Atlanta, but there is a good reason: the way this book was written is quite a bit more difficult to decipher. Another part hindering my progress is I am reading it on my phone, as I could not locate a copy of this book anywhere. Part of what I love about Memoirs is just the prologue. Often in tales like this one, there are references made in the book that you could not understand without reading a few other stories. So, they lay out the stories you need to know right there at the beginning. The one I am on right now is so outrageous and inventive I have forgotten numerous times that I haven't even reached the actual book yet! I would say more, but I would give away everything. I look forward to writing my review of this one.

I am about to break into A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton, but I have been reluctant for two reasons: fear of bad writing, and a weird fear of getting absolutely hooked. I have been pretty thorough looking through reviews of the books I'm reading, and from the sound of this one it is either love or hate. What gives me hope though is quite a few of the haters did give Grafton the benefit of this being her first novel, so perhaps the later ones are better...hopefully I won't have to wait that long!

Well, that's about enough typing for one night. I have a stack of books to get reading, and the stack is only getting bigger. Who knows? If the server for Diablo III keeps going down, I may make a good dent in it before the end of May!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Matched: A Review

I received this book as a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law and am ashamed to say I didn’t pick it up to read until recently due to work and general busy-ness. After not really reading a book for a long time, reading another book becomes more of a romantic thought. I wanted to read more, but I was worried I wouldn’t really like anything (which is ridiculous.) Matched was a great way to get back into the swing of things. 

Let me start by explaining a few things about this society: 

 • At one point in time, it was decided that society was too cluttered and disposed of all but one-hundred of songs, poetry, paintings…you name it. Shockingly people in this society know about it and are perfectly content with this.

 • This society knows how to read, but no one writes. They all take notes for school and read on their government issued electronic pads. Everyone gets one as soon as they start school, and everyone is in school until around age seventeen when they start going out for their careers. 

 • Food is given out by the government, and is for nutrition only: not taste. You get only what you absolutely need and nothing more. Portions are decided by your age, height, weight, and activity level.

 • Everyone is given pills to keep with them at all times: a blue, a green, and a red. You get each one after reaching a certain age. Blue is for an emergency situation where you have no food, green calms your nerves, and  red is not immediately explained in the book because no one the main character knows of has ever taken it.

 • When you are around seventeen, you become eligible to be Matched – meaning, the government can pair you up with someone to marry.No one has a say in the matter of picking a future spouse, and the vast majority of people who are Matched have never met their match before. They are Contracted to (married to) their Matches three years from then. Some people are chosen to be Singles and may date socially, but cannot be Contracted to a person, and cannot EVER have children. 

 • If you break a law and it is serious enough, they say you have committed an Infraction. This labels you as an anomaly (or criminal) for the rest of your life. If you have children, it marks them for life as aboriginals. They can never get married, and they will never have a chance at a good career. 

 • Finally, when a person turns eighty, they have what is called their Final Banquet. At this time, they see their family and friends one last time, eat their last meal – a meal of their choice, and receive a microchip with clips from their life (this last part is primarily for the surviving family members). By midnight, they have passed on.  

This series is about a girl named Cassia, just turned seventeen, on her way to her Matching Banquet. Cassia’s Match turns out a bit different. She is matched with her neighbor and dear friend Xander and, while this is almost unheard of, everyone involved seems delighted. Cassia adores Xander, and it becomes clear that Xander has always had his eyes on her. They live in the same neighborhood, which means that after they are Contracted they will likely get to live relatively close to their families. 

Things are going fantastically in this Dystopian world…until a mistake is made. The day after the Matching, Cassia goes to look at the microchip she received with information about Xander on it, and another face soon replaces his: that of her other friend, Ky. 

 Cassia is told by an official that a mistake had been made, for Ky is an aboriginal and can never be Matched to anyone. This mistake and newfound knowledge changes the way Cassia thinks about everything. From this point on, Cassia becomes more inquisitive about the way their society works. Why does Ky need to be punished for something his parents did? Are all the Matches made good ones? Is she really meant to be with Ky? 

When she listens to her heart, there is a resounding ‘Yes.’ 

 What I love about this book is that it is very different from every dystopian novel I’ve read thus far. The officials act friendly (for the most part) and even at the times Cassia has messed things up or things have been messed up, she’s been talked to like an equal. I think if there were to be a point in time where our entire lives were government run, I think they’d want us to at least think that we were equals to the officials. 

There were a few things that did peeve me. Every dystopian novel has a new set of rules that make up the new world, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt so bombarded with rules as I did with this one. Before I started truly reviewing the book I had to make a bullet-point list just so you could understand it! I believe this was the reason it was a bit hard to get into at first. The first five or so chapters seemed to be filled with rules and Cassia explaining them. I wondered if Matched was just a rule book and then Crossed would get into the plot. After everything was explained and we got to focus on the characters, it did become quite the page turner. 

 Over all, I give Matched 4 stars.