Monday, October 14, 2013

Matched by Ally Condie

Matched (Matched, #1)

Matched is the Jessica Simpson of Dystopian novels. 

Hunger Games, of course, is the Britney Spears. It's the original, the coolest, and it has a slightly disappointing ending. Divergent is the Christina Agulara; dirty, soulful, and hasn't ended yet.

Matched is pretty, overproduced, and soulless. It is, in fact, the Jessica Simpson. And that's probably not fair to say. Standing on it's own, Matched isn't a bad book. It just has the misfortune of being marketed and promoted as the next Hunger Games.

Matched compares itself to HG, by it's present tense, its love triangle, and it's corrupt society.

But these are the ways it fails in comparison,

     1.  The lead girl. Katniss Everdeen, is a warrior who scrapes to survive, and battle an empire of evil. Tris Prior, pushes off her own upbringing and family to stand on her own.
Cassia likes to sort things. She is unassuming, unflawed, and boring.

     2.  The book boyfriends. Peeta, the boy with the bread, or Gale the best friend who protects her family. FOUR. FOUR! The powerful, fearless(ish), revolutionary with a twisted upbringing.

In Matched, you have Xander, the perfect Ken doll of a best friend, and Ky, a boy who was so boring and unimpressive, that even Cassia can't remember him. The romance did not work for me. I did kind of sort of grow to like Ky, I like his poems very much, but I just didn't care which of these too perfect boys she ended up with. There were no stakes here, no relationships that felt real, or important.

     3.    The stakes. In The Hunger Games, children were killing children for the Capital's amusement. In Divergent, children were taken from their families to keep the order.

 In Matched, they took away someone's watch.

    4. The society. The villains in The Hunger Games had mutant creatures made out of the bodies of dead contestants. The villain in Divergent used mind control, to force innocents to kill friends and family.

In Matched, the capital pulled the trees out from the front yards.

The other two are dystopian societies. Matched is more like a really bad HOA. 

Yes, there's the whole poison thing, but honestly, there is a difference between children in peril and an 80 year old in peril.

Also, it's kind of stupid. The whole plot wouldn't have happened if the bad guys didn't make it happen. Cassia had no influence on the story whatsoever. The capital, or whatever they were called, were the ones who created the glitch in the Matching, and when Cassia was too obedient and boring to do anything about the glitch, they pulled her out of class, and then told her, expressly, to ignore the glitch...which she was clearly already doing. They pushed her to go after Ky. They gave her an assignment that meant chapter after chapter of nothing happening except pointlessly walking up a hill.

The bad guys pushed the story forward, to their own demise.

Also, there were a bunch of times when characters responded to thoughts Cassia never expressed. And I'm like, "No, you're not reading the narrative, so why are you talking about this random thing right now?" But there were some really cool moments in the book. I dug Ky's poetry, and her descriptions are really clear and interesting. All the notes are sung, and sung well. It's pretty. It's polished. It's just forgettable. It's the Jessica Simpson of Dystopian novels.

To sum up. Matched is a well written book, standing in the shadow of several AWESOME books. If I could only have a hundred books, this wouldn't make the cut. However, if you have a very sheltered young daughter who wants to read a dystopian novel, but can't handle violence, or kissing, then Matched is a good option.

And in case you were wondering, Scott Westerfield's Ugly, Pretties, Specials, and Extras are the Pink of Dystopian novels. Cooler, sometimes messier, but still relevant ten years later.

Matched gets 3 stars from me, and several million dollars from its publisher.

Monday, July 15, 2013

My Stupid Girl

My Stupid Girl

My Stupid Girl is one smart book. It's a love story told from the point of view of teenage goth David. I LOVED David.  At first I thought he was a girl, he was so concerned about his makeup, and how other people thought of him that I wondered how the author was going to convince me he was a boy. But that's where the intelligence of this book comes in. 

This author is one to watch. She slowly got me to fall behind, and then in love with David. He's imperfect, and broken. His past is littered with everything the author could throw at him, yet he somehow finds the way to escape his own wallowing to save this popular girl, Lucy, from crashing through a frozen pond. 

That inciting decision changes the course of David's life. It changes him for the better. Loving Lucy changes him. I love a good love story, especially one that ignites change. Lucy and David change by falling in love, David for the better, and Lucy for the worse. I love that this story is also about how love can hurt you, about how even falling in love with the right person can be hard, and hurt. I adored Lucy by the end, and I admire so much how the author trusted Lucy enough to make her imperfect. Love saves her too, just not for a while.

The thing I like the best about My Stupid Girl is David's voice. He's a bit of an artist, and he see's everything with a ton and a half of visual description, so the world of the story is really clear. There are moments of funny and moments of sad, and not a single moment where I wouldn't let a teenage girl read this book. 
It's not a perfect book, the prom scene was a bit confusing for me, and there were times that I wondered on the character's motivations, but it's a moving powerful little book that broke my heart and made me happy and neglect my home and family for a little while. Read it or I'll punch you.

:) ~Sheena