Book Review: Matched

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate… until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow

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Title: Matched

Author: Ally Condie

Published: November 30th 2010 by Dutton Juvenile

Time it took me to read: 28/08 – 01/09

Rating: 2/5

I’ve been hearing about this series for a while now and I’ve finally decided to pick up the first book and read it. And, I have to say, I am not a fan.

Cassia lives in a dystopian totalitarian society in which everything is regulated. Based on data gathered in every day life, the society dictates what and how much you eat, where you work, what activities you do, and even who you marry and when you die. People are restricted in what they learn; because knowing too much will make this harder for you. So if it is decided that you will work in agriculture, you will only learn about agriculture. Similarly, the society has selected 100 works in every cultural category (poems, paintings, songs) and has forbidden making any more. This prevents their culture from becoming too cluttered.

Cassia trusts the Society completely, never doubting the decisions it makes for her. Up until the moment that an error occurs. After being Matched to her childhood friend Xander (which means that she will marry and have children with him), a second face shows up on the screen: the face of Ky Markham. And through getting to know Ky, doubts start to form in Cassia’s mind. Is the Society as good as it seems?

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I am severely disappointed in this book. The premise had a lot of promise but the execution was extremely lacking. I really had to push myself to finish it, something that almost never happens. Let me break down the things that annoyed me.

First of all: the writing. I am not an expert and I have no authority when it comes to judging the English language. However, in this book it was very obvious to me that the writing could have been better. I felt like it was a little choppy and that some parts of the story could have elaborated on a little more while other parts were stretched out unnecessarily. I think that Condie maybe focused on the wrong things, leaving out or only shortly mentioning things that would have been more interesting for us. I’m guessing that she did this because the things she did focus on are the things that are important in the next books. However, as we don’t know this it maybe would have been better if she had done this more subtle. How we know for instance that the artifacts will play an important part in the later books even though they didn’t in this one. The foreshadowing was too obvious. Oh and if the Artifacts aren’t important in the next books then the amount of attention that has been spent on this subject is beyond weird. Why not rather tell us more about how the Society works? Or what the difference between Anomalies and Aberrations are? So much that could have been focused on instead.

And then there is Cassia. I didn’t care for her. She seems very naïve to me. And I suppose that Condie did this on purpose. After all, Cassia is a resident in a world where she’s kept completely in the dark. But it was done in a way that it was getting slightly annoying. Is a little critical thinking too much to ask? Also she seemed very whimsical. She’s totally into Xander, who is her best friend. But then suddenly she switches her attention to Ky so completely that we don’t hear about Xander for pages and pages. Doesn’t she think about him at all? Doesn’t she care? Doesn’t she feel at least a little guilty? I mean, come on.

As for the Society, I’m on the fence about it. On the one hand it’s an interesting and intriguing concept, on the other hand it’s very drastic.  I enjoy the idea of a government being so restrictive that they calculate the probability of a person’s behavior in every possible situation but I don’t like the idea that they simply destroyed hundreds of years worth of art, music, books and poetry. The people in this story can’t even write because the government want to keep them from creating anything. It’s a tad far-fetched.

So for all these reasons I rated this book a 2 out of 5. I found it an extremely frustrating read, especially since it had so much promise. However, I will probably try and read the second book to see if it gets any better. I think that there is a definite possibility that it could be better. We shall see.

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Book Review: Eight Mile Island

Dylan James is used to boarding schools. He’s been thrown out of so many in the past two years, he’s lost count. So when an elite academy in Oregon offers him a place, he doesn’t think he’ll be there more than a week.

But Eight Mile Island isn’t like anywhere Dylan has been before. In the dense forests around the school, there are things that look human but aren’t.

Things that are hungry, and waiting…

But that’s the start of the mysteries, mysteries that mean Dylan may never escape.

Even if he wants to…

Welcome to Eight Mile Island

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Title: Eight Mile Island

Author: Tony Talbot (Goodreads | Twitter | Blog)

Published: 2012

Time it took me to read: 19 – 21 August

Rating: 3.8 / 5 

Dylan has been kicked out of so many schools, he lost count. Truth is that he’s bored. He has always been so much smarter than his classmates (he has an IQ of 150 you know?) that he finds other stuff to do while they are slaving away over their homework. So when his mother gets a letter from a highly exclusive school for the smart and the rich, she jumps at the opportunity to send Dylan there.

Of course, Dylan is not happy about the idea. The school is on a secluded Island, surrounded my an electrical fence. But is it to keep the students in or to keep something else out? Both options worry Dylan. It won’t be so easy to run away from this one.

But things start to get worse when weird things start happening at school. Why did he have to have a tracker inserted in his skin? Whats with his sudden obsession and aversion to hands? And most important of all, what is up with the sudden holes in his memory? He can remember what he had for breakfast six years ago but now he suddenly can’t remember what he did last night.

When Dylan goes to investigate, everything goes from bad to worse. And he will discover things that will change his life forever.

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From the moment I read the blurb, I was excited about reading this book. So I was very happy when I won it in a giveaway on Becky’s blog many months ago. I’m glad that I finally got around to reading it.

When I first read about this book, it reminded me of Anthony Horowitz’s Groosham Grange, which is also about a troubled kid going to a creepy boarding school on an island. But while Groosham Grange is a children’s book, this is definitely not.

From the first page on you are caught in a whirlwind of excitement, action, horror, and mysteries. When I was reading I had one thought continuously running through my head: what the Hell is going on here?!

On every page There are a lot of twists and turns that keep you guessing and every new bit of information that is revealed, more questions pop up. It really keeps you on your toes. It isn’t until the very end that the real answers are given, and let me tell you: it is shocking and amazing but still believable if that makes sense. It is not like the story suddenly takes such a turn that you get the feeling of ‘yeah, right’. It fits well into the story.

The only issue I have with Eight Mile Island is that it is too short. It is a really good book but I would have liked some more backstory. As it is, a little backstory is given but it could have been more expanded a bit more. Also, as a whole the story had the potential to be longer than it was. For example, I would have liked to know more about Keiko and Driscoll, that organisation, and about the school and it’s purpose. I would definitely have liked to know more about the others. I just want.. More. Hey Tony, how about a sequel? Maybe?

On the whole I give Eight Mile Island a 3.8 out of 5. Weird number I know. It is such an exciting read that you just can’t put down. It is well written and easy to read. I really recommend this one if mystery and action is your thing! Give it a shot!

DAY 19. – A favourite author

DAY 19. – A favourite author

30 day book challenge

I swear I was going to do this post yesterday but out of nowhere my mom decided that she had to make a dessert that involved warming cherries in red wine and then flambéing them with some other 40% liquor. After that, I was kinda tipsy and I thought that it wouldn’t be the best thing if I would keep writing because it would either turn out really bad or really inappropriate.

While on the subject, those who know me know that I rarely drink and never have been really drunk. And, to be honest, I don’t see why people would want to get absolutely hammered. I just can’t get past that tipsy stage when you’re just feeling dizzy and light headed. As soon as that hits I just want it to go away. I guess I’m also too practical to allow myself to be drunk. I’m always concerned with getting home and being safe and I’d not want my judgement to be clouded. Other than that, I don’t like the taste of alcohol. I rather have something to drink that I can take a few good swallows of instead of having to sip. No.. no drunkenness for me.

Anyway.. back to why we are here. I’m supposed to name my favourite author. That’s impossible. I mean, there are so many awesome books and writers, I can’t possibly choose one. Those who read my blog somewhat regularly will not be surprised by this list as I talk about them all the time. =P But these are my favourite authors:

1. J.K. Rowling 

2. Stephen King

3. Jodi Picoult

4. Jim Butcher

Yea, that’s about it. Those are the big 4. These four writers have pretty much everything that I need in the world. Apart from air and sustenance. Yea, you got your Teen angsty magic school with awesome adventures with wands. Then, there’s the ultimate mater of Horror. Next there is the one who writes about important social issues that appeal to me as a pedagogue and finally there’s the awesome fantasy/mystery writer who created Harry Dresden who saves the world at least twice a year. Need I say more?