Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Do not go gentle into the night...

In a place where the Society chooses everything for you- where you work, what you eat, who you love- Cassia managed to find a different love.
The Matching Banquet is a ceremony where every seventeen year old's name is dropped into a database in order to select who their life mate will be. The computer decides who will be placed together to be married later on, and this is the person they will create a family with. Cassia is pleased to discover she will be placed with her long time friend, Xander.  However, the microchip she was given does not show Xander's information; it shows Ky's.
Ky is an Aberration, an outcast to the Society who is forced to live alone and cannot be matched. So how did he end up on her screen? There's something about him that is so different and so dangerous that Cassia cannot help but investigate.
Although this information is baffling, Cassia also receives a poem from her grandfather before he passes on. It is not one of the 100 the Society has cleared. Her grandfather tells her she is stronger than the pills the Society delivers, and he informs her to not go gentle into the night. What does this mean? Matched by Ally Condie is a journey in which Cassia must discover the truths the Society is keeping, but also she must decide is her love for Ky worth the risk, or was it simply a mistake?
Haven't read it? GO READ IT! It was probably one of THE BEST books I read last year. Truly amazing. Condie's writing is a dream so you float right through. Plus it is an incredible dystopic society. Everything is thought out, and the secrets just get deeper and deeper.
Crossed is the second in the trilogy. And unlike some authors who decide they want to drag out their series, Condie is pretty confident this is a trilogy. Crossed gives Ky a voice as well as Cassia, and the two are on a mission to find each other again and break free of their chains. It begins a couple months after the last one leaves off. It was an amazing read, although my five stars went to the first book. The writing was more amazing, the adventure was just as heart wrenching, but for some reason my heart just wasn't in it as much as in the first one. The characters really discover who they are, what their purpose is, and what they want for their future in the second book. Of course, it needed to be written in order to explain how each character ends up in their state of mind. I'm not saying it's bad, I just liked the first one better. The Hunger Games is a perfect example of a series where the second book is the weakest. I am even more anxious for the finale.
Condie does a really neat thing with these books. On her blog, which yes I am a dork so I visited the site, she has a play list for each book. That's why it takes her so long to finish her series, she puts so much love and effort into it that it makes readers believe it. I love her use of poetry, paintings, music, and voice. It is truly an amazing series by a very talented author. Do yourselves a favor and read this series. It won't disappoint.
Plus the site for the books is really fun. It has bios, the book trailers, and a mock matching. I entertained myself for about forty-five minutes just matching myself. So have fun, and don't go gentle into the night.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"The Scariest Apocalypse is One That Could Really Happen"

Everyone has heard of the idea that there is a volcano under Yellowstone Park. If you haven't, well now you have. People wonder what if that volcano were to erupt? What would happen to the world? In this novel, Ashfall by Mike Mullin, readers are given a first glance at the possibility of this natural disaster.
Alex is almost 16 years old. He argues with his mother, can't stand his younger sister, and sure as hell is not going to visit his Uncle this weekend. His parents don't put up a fight and leave him home alone. During his first night of freedom is when the volcano erupts. Ash covers the entire town, but Alex manages to get out of his house to the safety of his neighbors. Unfortunately, he discovers quickly that many people are so desperate they turn violent. Alex plans to leave his town in search of his family, so the journey begins. Long days of being on the road with no food, water, and no chance of survival leave him expecting the worst. Luckily, Alex encounters Darla, who accompanies him on his journey. The two encounter dangerous people, loss of food, and a few brushes with death. They have only each other and the determination to survive this apocalypse.
I found this book very real. The situation the young travelers are in seems as though it could happen in today's society. Even though the whole hurricane and blizzard scene appears scary and chaotic to us, I always wonder what would happen in a real natural disaster; one similar to the situation Alex finds himself in. Of course there are those people who buy tons of water and canned goods because they believe the world will end, but in reality, we haven't come close to anything like Mullin explains. Alex and Darla are both young, and to witness so much violence, death, and starvation really does break your heart. I found myself seeing Alex grow with each step of the trip, and I was terrified for him throughout his journey. Of course this is book one, so I knew Alex wouldn't end up dead, but the question is who will? Will he make it? This story was so believable, and even though you don't want to think about an apocalypse, the whole scenario of violence, the government taking over, and people with shot guns everywhere was something I could see happening. No one knows how to deal with a real disaster, so when it comes unexpectedly, the worst is brought out in people. They try to protect their own, and when it can't be done, no one knows how to react. Really creepy.
This story was a lot like Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. It was a real disaster and real emotions. Miranda is young, but I found myself in her story relating more to the other brother. He was constantly trying to protect his siblings and make things easier for their mother. That story was so real and believable I have not read the second or third ones yet. I can't bring myself to do it. It's just scary. Knowing that chaos is easily brought out among the human race almost makes you feel embarrassed. How can we just panic so easily? It also makes you wonder if something happened how you would react. Would you have the will to survive? Could you kill if it meant you'd live?
These books are great topics for authors to write about. It's even better for readers because we become painfully aware that we know nothing about survival. All we know is what we're told. Sometimes that may not be enough.