Monday, April 18, 2011

Love: It will kill and save you, both

This quote completely sets the tone of Delirium by Lauren Oliver. The more I read, the more I believed in the words.
In Lena's society, which is the Portland, Oregon years in the future, Love is a disease. Those in charge have developed a 'cure', which is given to all citizens on their eighteenth birthdays. Having the surgery for the cure means a peaceful life where people are happy and set forever. Their marriages, jobs, and even how many children they have are matched for them. The only thing people need to worry about are the stresses of the everyday. Love, whether it be from a significant other or from family, is non existent. Lena has always went with the norm, assumed she was plain, and that things would be different after she was cured. Her mother committed suicide when Lena was 6 because she could not be cured. After 3 procedures, society could not cure her. So Lena's mother would rather die than go through another procedure. After desperately trying to get rid of the reputation her mother created, Lena looks forward to her procedure and accepts her place in society.
Then she meets Alex. Alex begins to open her eyes to the lies the community has been feeding her. She soon realizes that her family has been keeping a few secrets as well. Towards the end, Lena decides that the pain love causes is worth the risk.
This book reminded me a lot of Matched because of the dystopic society and the matching of people. In addition, the main characters in both discover the truth and try to break free of the norms. Delrium brought in the deep concept of friendship. Lena and Hana's friendship is so simple, yet so pure. They both risked their own lives in order to help each other. Her emotions, her questioning of authority, her love for Alex are so real.
I felt myself constantly being swept up in their sweet romantic outings. I have to say once I finished the book I was almost in tears because of the tragic situation her society traps her in. I believe this is a trilogy, which I am looking forward to. Unfortunately, because this book just came out, it will be a while until we get the sequel. I loved this book, quite the roller coaster ride.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Judy Blundell: Strings and Lies

Judy Blundell is one of those emerging authors that writes towards an older, mature audience. Her writing weaves a story filled with betrayal, lies, and blooming romance.
After reading What I Saw and How I Lied upon a recommendation, I realized that her writing is more sophisticated. Although her books are meant for young adults, they are targeted towards young girls whose minds are mature enough to handle the concepts. It took a while for me to read both books: What I Saw and How I Lied and Strings Attached because the writing wasn't meant to be chunk read. It wasn't meant to be skimmed. Each sentence, each word she wrote is meant to captivate readers and show them this world. You are thrown into the lives of these young naive girls and expected to figure out the puzzle pieces as they are left for you.
What I Saw... takes place in the 40's after the war. The main character, Evie's,  family appears perfect. Her father, the war hero, her mother, the perfect example of a woman, and Evie, young but getting used to being in her own skin. Their family trip to Florida slowly begins to unravel secrets of Evie's father's time during the war, and it begins to make Evie wonder who she can trust and who is betraying her.
Strings Attached takes place in the 50's, and it focuses on the battle of ethnic upbringing. In particular, the Irish and the Italians. Kit is Irish, and has a love for the theater, so one day she packs her stuff and runs to Manhattan to find a job as an actress. Kit's ex-boyfriend's father finds her and makes her a deal she can't refuse. You can immediately see Nate Benedict's ties to the Italian mafia, and one can assume Kit sees it too. Kit's story takes a longer time to read because she flashes back often so readers can get the whole story. Her flashbacks give clues about the future and the more you read the more secrets are revealed. Once her ex-boyfriend returns from the war, more lies send Kit's life into a tornado of confusion, and it is no coincidence that Nate continues to appear at her shows and her apartment. So she took the offer she couldn't refuse, but what favors need to be returned before Nate and his mysterious work efforts are out of her life?
I liked Strings Attached better than What I Saw... because I could relate more to Kit's character. Evie is young and naive, whereas Kit is strong and catches on to the lies faster. She believes so much in this dream that the reader wants her to come out on top. You want to believe she'll make it, you want to believe things will work out. Evie's story focuses on her coming of age, but Kit's character is more sure of herself and her dreams.
I also found it was extremely interesting how Blundell added the aspect of the Italian mafia into her novel. No, it's not a major part, but during this time mysterious deaths, mobster hits, and well dressed men in clubs was emerging. Kit is not directly apart of that reality, but as the novel goes on readers can see how she is indirectly an accessory. I think this made the book more interesting to me because there aren't a lot of books that focus on the mafia. It's a very 'hush hush' topic, but Blundell did a really nice job of including it. For some reason, I am drawn to the idea of the mafia. Maybe it's because I am Italian, I don't know.
Blundell paints a great picture of each time period, so the reader is fully aware the stories did not take place in 2011. She describes the economic difficulties of families, the women during the war, how men were portrayed after they returned home. The books were beautifully written to the point where I needed to take my time and not try to finish quickly because I didn't want to miss the elegant sentence structure and word choice. Both female characters share many qualities, however each have their own voice. As I said before, these books were written for young adults, but meant for mature audiences, so it makes adults feel better about reading them. The books are great too because it gives a little romance, but the entire book does not revolve around that concept. It's a nice break from the typical love story. Plus, the covers are enchanting and pretty, so that's always something that grabs people's attention.
I sincerely hope we see more of Blundell's writing, and I hope she continues to focus on particular time periods because it would be really neat to see what she does with the 60s and 70s era.