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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

2 for 1 Special! Book Review of Matched AND Crossed by Ally Condie

Today is the beggining of a 3 week long 2 for 1 book review special. I will be reviewing three trilogies that are two-thirds of the way to being complete. I will begin with the Matched Series which has received a great deal of attention:

"The hottest Y.A. title to hit bookstores since The Hunger Games."
-Entertainment Weekly

"Impressive writing that is bound to captivate young minds."
-Los Angeles Times

 "If you  like a ton of romance with your totalitarian government, this novel is for you."
-Family Circle

Now, without further ado, I present to you Matched and Crossed (Matched Series, Books 1 and 2) by Ally Condie:

An Overview of 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 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.

As for Crossed…lets just say it takes off right where the first one leaves off. And yes it does have a higher degree of action, though not the steamy kind…damn. Oh and there is shifting point of views. But that is all I can say about it. We all hate spoilers!

Now let us take a moment to admire those pretty cool covers, especially the first one! I want to paint my bedroom walls that exact shade of green! Ok that’s enough.

So what do I have to say about 2/3rds of the Matched Series?
Well it’s certainly no Hunger Games, but it’s not too bad. Grade? hmmm...I would say a B (3 stars ***), although the second book might be more of a B-. Overall, I say that this is an "eh, it's not so bad, I don't love it but I certainly don't hate it" kind of series. 

I don't want to be a hater, and I don't think I am being one when I say that I feel this series is really nothing special. I do not understand the comparisons to The Hunger Games. I mean there is a love triangle--which is obvious from the synopsis---but other than that it is nothing like The Hunger Games.  I love The Hunger Games and I take comparisons to it very seriously. Matched lacks the pace and succinctness of The Hunger Games. The writing isn't bad, it's actually beautiful, but the story itself doesn't connect with the reader the same way The Hunger Games does. Reading Matched and Crossed is simply reading a beautifully-told-sorta-interesting story that you don't really get sucked into. You are simply an observer, whether you are an interested observer or not I guess depends on your taste.

It seems like this story is mostly a not-so-romantic love triangle with the dystopian stuff in the background. I mean it is something to read, but it is no MUST read. Mostly I feel that Matched failed to provide proper character development. I did not become emotionally invested in the characters. I see them all as pawns in a game, not as people I could really connect with. None of them really stood out, except maybe Xander, but even he didn’t really leave a strong impression on me. And to be honest, the whole story feels forced. It lacks a sense of direction and structure. It roams the surface of an interesting plot, but it never dives into the awesome story it could have been. The first one ends with a not-so-exciting ending, yet an intriguing concept is introduced/hinted at.The second book was rather slow, even though it does pick up at some points and there is more action, I feel the writing made it feel like it was going slow even when it was meant to be fast paced. Even the shifting viewpoints turned a bit tedious at some points, but it was still refreshing to see things from the other character's point of view.

I guess the best way to phrase it is to say that the Matched Series is just ok. It has its moments, but mostly I find the story sort of...whats the word I am looking for? Dry. Yes I find it a bit dry. There are still things I liked about it, though. I liked the world. I think it would be an interesting sight to see. I like that Crossed uses shifting of point of views between the two main characters. I liked that there was some poetry incorporated into the story. But it just doesn't come together in a way that makes me LOVE these books. They are just "eh." I feel there was so much potential here, it was just never...REACHED (jeje take a look at the third cover, I just made a PUN!!). To make matters worse, I don't buy into the main love story. I just don't see it. And I have a confession: I read the second book, but when there were just a few pages left I just skimmed the rest of it because I didn't find it very interesting...yes, I feel bad about that. Especially since I think it was supposed to be a major cliffhanger. I suppose the real problem comes from the fact that based on all the hype, I was expecting, well, more. I know that all books can't be The Hunger Games. When I hear that this book is "as good as The Hunger Games" I am not expecting to read a different take on the same story, I am looking for impact. I am looking to be sucked in like I was with Suzanne Collin's books. I want to be drawn in by an interesting story with characters with depth and I want to be confronted with questions about my beliefs or point of views.

imageI would recommend these books for the younger readers. It might be a good start for those who are not familiar with dystopian Y.A. novels. If it is on your Wish List...what can I say? I guess the advice I would have given myself is get other books you are excited about and maybe save this one for a slow day. I don't hate  this series, but I also don't love it. I do not want to influence your opinion too strongly, I am just being honest. The first one is definitely worth trying out. Go hang out at Barnes and Noble and sneak a read, you know, taste it and see if it is to your liking. I read the free sample before I went out and purchased this book and I got really excited. Then when I read it I was a bit disappointed because I thought I would have gotten into the story and I found I didn't really care about it all that much. I had such high hopes and maybe my disappointment is fueling this review too much. As Shakespeare said, "Expectation is the root of all heartache" (I read that in a bathroom stall). I am a bit heartbroken. I wish I had liked this series more, but like I said before, its really not too bad!

Coming November 13, 2012!
So here is the important question: Will I be reading the third book, Reached, when it comes out Nov. 13, 2012?

The answer is yes, probably yes, most likely I will, if I can. Although this series doesn’t spark the ardent devotion others have, although neither Ky nor Xander have joined my other book boyfriends, the plot is interesting enough to stir my curiosity. I do want to know what happens next. But will I have a heart attack if I don't get my hands on the third book? No. This is no Hunger Games, or Infernal Devices Series...still, I want to know how Ally Condie plans to fix this weird love triangle thing, (I think I already have an idea, but I want to see). I really don't care about any of the characters so I wont freak out regardless of what she does. Here's another reason why I will probably get the third book: I already have the first two, why not just complete the set? So yes, I will most likely be reading Reached… Hell! I hope my ERA (Extreme Readers Anonymous) sponsor isn’t reading this…I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t have a reading addiction problem, I could stop if I tried! ehh...*Cough, Cough*
So what should you take from this review?
1) This series is ok, (yes just ok). I have focused more on what I didn't like so I want to make it clear that this series is still pretty ok.
2) It is well and beautifully written, but the story is not very engrossing.
3) It is not like The Hunger Games.
4) I recommend it for the younger Y.A readers.
5) Read it if you have a chance.

Now take some "free samples" of Matched:
“Every minute you spend with someone gives them a part of your life and takes part of theirs.” 
“It is strange how we hold on to the pieces of the past while we wait for our futures.” 
“They are giving us pieces of a real life instead of the whole thing. They have perfected the art of giving us just enought freedom; just enough that when we are ready to snap, a little bone is offered and we roll over, belly up, comfortable and placated like a dog... "

“For what is the point of having something lovely if you never share it? It would be like having a poem, a beautiful wild poem that no one else has, and burning it.”

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