Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Epic Reading List Updated: Matched

List Update as of February 19th

1. 'The Hunger Games' -Suzanne Collins
2. 'Alanna the First Adventure' -Tamora Pierce
3. 'Anna Dressed in Blood' -Kendare Blake
4. 'In the Hand of the Goddess' -Tamora Pierce
5. 'Graceling' -Kristin Cashore
6. 'The Woman Who Rides Like a Man' -Tamora Pierce
7. 'The Name of the Star' -Maureen Johnson
8. 'Lioness Rampant' -Tamora Pierce
9. 'Tale of Two Cities' -Charles Dickens
10. 'Wild Magic' -Tamora Pierce
11. 'Catching Fire' -Suzanne Collins
12. 'Wolf Speaker' -Tamora Pierce
13. 'Matched' -Ally Condie

14. 'Emperor Mage' -Tamora Pierce
15. 'Divergent' -Veronica Roth
16. 'The Realm of the Gods' -Tamora Pierce

I'd heard a great deal about Ally Condie's Matched. Having picked it up a number of times and scanned over the description I wasn't sure it was for me. Then I kept hearing people talk about it and I decided to give it a shot. For a while it was sentenced to be one of those books that I bought and forgot about as I bought other ones. But then Crossed was released and there was a certain amount of hype again so I added it to the reading list.

The first thing I have to mention is that I fell victim to the influence of blurbs. There are no less than four comments that mention The Hunger Games. I know this is done mostly to draw people who like books that have garnered so much attention. In theory there is nothing wrong with that. It bothers me a little but I understand why they do it.

This however became a problem as I started Matched. When I read The Hunger Games I get this indescribable feeling, an ache unique to that series. It's the sort of series that lingers long after you finish. With all of the comparisons being made right there I went into Matched holding on so tightly to that feeling. That is not the same feeling that Matched gave me and for the first couple of chapters the book was a bit dirtied by it. I just kept thinking that it wasn't The Hunger Games. I didn't ache the same way. I think my finishing Catching Fire shortly before only added to this.

I do not mean that to be anything against Matched. They are two different beasts and Matched did make me feel just in a different way. I didn't have that edge of my seat, pulse pounding reaction that I get with The Hunger Games. But Cassia's situation is different, less dire and immediate. But then Cassia's awakening is also different. She's coming alive in a completely different way than Katniss. The need is more emotional and internal and less physical.

I'm going to try and stop comparing now.

One thing I absolutely love is how words are the catalyst for Cassia's change. As any reader/writer, general words lover will tell you words are powerful. Learning the Thomas poem (one of my favorites as boring as it probably is) and how to write wakes her up when spurred by her grandfather's assurance that "It's all right to wonder." It's a beautiful use of words and I struggle to think of something more romantic than the secrets between lovers being hidden words.

Cassia, herself, took a little time to grow on me. I can't say if it is something specific or was that comparison thing but there was some growth needed.  But then she grew on me like a weed. By the time she is running after the officials toward the station I was practically cheering. She wakes up in a very real way as she notices all of the small things that are spinning out of the Society's control. The little rebellions of other characters are more noticeable as the book continues. Though it's more subtle in some places than others.

I thought it was a nice balance that Cassia was not the only member of her family who was quietly either rebelling or struggling with what should be done. There are several subplots but they all tie together beautifully. Especially in a moment on the train where Cassia compares the actions of her parents. It's a powerfully written and executed moment in the novel.

I really like the double reveal toward the end (I'm never sure how much I should give away. Perhaps I'll talk more about it when I talk about Crossed). Cassia's Official reveals something that startles her and may not totally startle the reader but is just interesting enough to make the reader wonder how much of the people's lives are toyed with at will. Then Condie turns around and flips it back on it's head. It's brilliant. It will be interesting to continue to read about the relationship between Cassia and Ky knowing what we do.

I loved Ky and I could see why Cassia would fall for him. Even considering that, who I wanted to see more of was Xander. All we heard from Cassia is how charming he is and I don't think we actually saw enough of that. I wanted to be charmed by Xander. He was a nice friend and my heart hurt a little for him toward the end when they chat on the porch but there could have been a little more heart-string tugging in that moment.

One major question I had was who exactly are they fighting? Just people in the Outer Provinces? Or is there something outside of the Society? That wasn't too clear (or I totally missed it) but I imagine it will be later.

Ally Condie has dropped enough hints and left enough questions that I am pretty excited to pick up Crossed. I'm glad I read Matched even if it took my quite some time. And here's to hoping I don't fall victim to the blurb effect again (I inevitably will).

Overall Rating: Massively Epic
(I really need to make that rating graphic...)

What did you guys think of the book? Love it? Hate it? Did you fall victims to the blurbs?

Next is Tamora Pierce's Emperor Mage, which has always been my favorite of The Immortals quartet. Huzzah!


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