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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
Books: Matched, by Ally Condie 
8th-Nov-2012 09:13 pm
Summer
Matched, by Ally Condie. YA Dystopia. Paperback, 369 pages. First in the series.

Cassia Reyes is a normal teenager of Society, she thinks. Society is right, and keeps everyone safe, productive, and happy until they die at the Society-proscribed age of eighty. At seventeen, teenagers who are chosen to be Matched learn who their partner will be. This partner is supposed to be the perfect match, in psychology, physical interests, etc. and will be the mother or father to their children together. It all is going according to Society's plan until Cassia's match microcard shows her two faces, not one. At which point her doubt begins.

If there weren't already a play by that name, Doubt would be a good name for this book. Cassia's official match Xander is everything she wants, but the mistake-match has everything she needs... to start questioning Society and learning to rebel in small ways. Cassia learns to rebel from her Grandfather, but sees it in her father as well. The encouragement she receives from both boys only causes her to question more of what she sees around her. And as Society keeps tightening down on her family and neighborhood, it starts to crack.

This book starts in a very different type of dystopia than Birthmarked, Divergent, or Hunger Games, but all of them have the all-knowing, all-controlling Government system that dictates distribution of resources and assignment of responsibilities. And it starts in the same place in time as those three named books - the point of choice. All of the books focus on a teenage girl who has a choice to make, and learns responsibility and consequence as a result of both choice and rebellion. All of the teenage girls have some male counterpart of about the same age who serves as a teacher, mentor, friend, confidant, and emotional foil. All of the males are sympathetic, intelligent, and have their own secrets...

Matched was well-crafted if simply written. I did not find it as challenging a read as Divergent, nor as painfully real as The Hunger Games. It also stayed much smaller, with very little change in scenery or expansion of characters. For all its smallness, Matched ran well from exciting beginning to inconclusive ending. I enjoyed the lack of resolution of what little "love triangle" there was, and appreciated that, in this novel at least, both of the parents survived through the end of the book. In fact, the only death that happened during current time in the book was the one pre-ordained by Society. The lack of real violence was amazingly refreshing, to tell the truth.

I picked it up because I was interested in the concept of having a totally-controlling Society make a mistake, and wanted to see if the plot device would hold.

I recommend it to readers of dystopian YA who don't mind more angst and less action than usual.

New-to-me Books for 2012

January
House of the Star by Caitlin Brennan, YA fantasy. 282 pages; hardback; stand-alone. 3/5 stars on Goodreads (3 = "liked it"), 4/5 stars on Amazon (4 = "liked it"); straight into the giveawaybox (eta: gone)
Gwenhwyfar by Mercedes Lackey, Fantasy. 404 pages; hardback; stand-alone. 2/5 stars on Goodreads (2 = "it was OK"), 3/5 stars on Amazon (3 = "it was OK"); straight into the giveawaybox (eta: gone)
Blood Engines by T.A. Pratt, Urban fantasy. 336 pages; paperback; first in the series. 3/5 stars on Goodreads (3 = "liked it"), 4/5 stars on Amazon (4 = "liked it"); going to keep it around and loan it to friends
Hexed edited by uncredited, listed under the first author, Ilona Andrews. Urban Fantasy, 326 pages. Paperback; anthology of four novellas. 3/5 stars on Goodreads, 4/5 stars on Amazon; going to loan it to friends who like Kate Daniels, then likely give it away.
Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White. YA Fantasy, 335 pages. Hardback; first in the series. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
Stormwalker, by Allyson James. Urban Fantasy, 330 pages. Paperback; first in the series. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson. YA Fantasy, 423 pages. Hardback, stand-alone. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox. (eta: gone)
Shadow Ops: Control Point, by Myke Cole. Urban Fantasy... sort of... 382 pages. Paperback, first in the series. [4/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox.

February
Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, fantasy. 672 pages. Paperback; first in the series.[4/5 on Goodreads] Borrowed.
Westward Weird edited by Martin Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes. Hell-if-I-know, 302 pages. Paperback, anthology. [3/5 on Goodreads] Giveawaybox.(eta: gone)
Discount Armageddon, by Seanan McGuire. Urban fantasy, 360 pages. Paperback; first in the series. Keeping it for now.

March
Fair Game, by Patricia Briggs, Urban fantasy. 293 pages; hardback; third in the series. Keeping it.
The Modern Fae's Guide to Surviving Humanity, edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray, Urban fantasy. 308 pages; paperback; anthology. Giveawaybox.(eta: gone)
Tempting Danger, by Eileen Wilks. Paranormal romance, 301 pages. Paperback, first in the series. Giveawaybox.(eta: gone)
Too Much Information, by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes. Comic book, 127 pages. Paperback. 9th in the series. Keeping it.
Touch of Power, by Maria V. Snyder. Fantasy romance. 390 pages, paperback. First in the series. Giveawaybox.(eta: gone)
Out Whom Shall We Gross?, by Brooke McEldowney. Comic book. 87 pages, paperback. First in the series. Keeping it.
Sonata for Piano and Armpit, by Brooke McEldowney. Comic book. 87 pages, paperback. Second in the series. Keeping it.
Sphinx's Princess, by Esther Friesner. YA Fantasy. 365 pages, paperback. First in the duology. It was a loan. 4/5 on GoodReads.
Sphinx's Queen, by Esther Friesner. YA Fantasy. 347 pages, paperback. Second in the duology. It was a loan. 4/5 on GoodReads.

April
Bone Shop, by T. A. Pratt. Urban Fantasy. Online. Prequel to the Marla Mason series.
Kitemaster and Other Stories, by Jim C. Hines. Fantasy. e-book anthology. 3/5 on GoodReads, 4/5 on Amazon.
How is that Underling Thing Working out for You?, by Scott Adams. 128 pages, paperback. Comic. Keeping it.
Teamwork Means You Can't Pick the Side That's Right by Scott Adams. 128 pages, paperback. Comic. Keeping it.
The Sentinel Mage, by Emily Gee. Fantasy. 509 pages, paperback. First in the trilogy. It was a loan. 4/5 on GoodReads; 4/5 on Amazon.

May
Dragon Ship, by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. e-ARC. Science Fiction. Fourth in the series; 14th in the Universe.
Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers, YA fantasy. 549 pages; hardback; stand-alone. Giveawaybox. 4/5 on GoodReads; 4/5 on Amazon.(eta: gone)
Eon, by Allison Goodman. YA Fantasy. 531 pages, paperback. First in the duology. It was a loan.
Silence, by Michele Sagara. YA Fantasy. 289 pages, hardback. First in the series. Keeping it.
Divergent, by Veronica Roth. YA Dystopia, paperback, 487 pages of story, 72 pages of afterwards. First in the duology.
Princeps, by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. Fantasy. 496 pages; hardback; fifth/second in the series. Keeping it.
Black Blade Blues, by L. A. Pratt. Urban Fantasy. 398 pages; paperback; first in the series. It was a loan.

June
Home from the Sea by Mercedes Lackey, fantasy. 311 pages; hardback; seventh/eighth in the series. Keeping it for now.
Kitty's Greatest Hits by Carrie Vaughn, urban fantasy. 308 pages; paperback; anthology related to the series. Keeping it for now.
Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander, urban fantasy. 331 pages; paperback; first in the series. Giveawaybox.
Hex Appeal edited by P. N. Elrod, urban fantasy. 356 pages; paperback; anthology. Keeping it for now.

July
Spellcast by Barbara Ashford, fiction (urban fantasy). 433 pages; paperback; first in the series. Keeping it for now.
Monster in My Closet by R. L. Naquin. Urban Fantasy. E-ARC. First in the series.
Spellcrossed by Barbara AShford, urban fantasy. 448 pages; paperback; second in the series. Keeping it.
Cyanide & Happiness; Ice Cream & Sadness by Kris, Rob, Matt, and Dave. Comic books. 160 and 176 pages; paperback. Loaners.
Raven's Shadow by Patricia Briggs, fantasy. 334 pages; paperback; first in the duology. Loan.

August
Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews, urban fantasy. 433 pages; paperback; sixth in the series. Keeping it.
Greywalker by Kat Richardson, urban fantasy. 352 pages; paperback; first in the series. giveawaybox.
Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill, urban fantasy. 341 pages, paperback; first in the series. giveawaybox.
Friday Night Bites by Chloe Neill, urban fantasy. 357 pages, paperback; second in the series. giveawaybox.
Charming Blue by Kristine Grayson, urban fantasy/romance, E-arc, stand alone (I think). delete.
7th Sigma by Steven Gould, science fiction / western. 384 pages; paperback; stand-alone (I think). Keeping it for now.

September
Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris, urban fantasy. 325 pages, hardback, 11th in the series. probably giving it away.
Something Red, by Douglas Nichols, e-ARC. Stand-alone.
What Do You Want to Do before You Die? by Jonnie Penn, Dave Lingwood, Duncan Penn, and Ben Nemtin. NonFiction, gigantic paperback, 224 pages. Giving it away to someone who needs it.
Cast in Peril by Michelle Sagara, e-ARC. Book 8 in the Chronicles of Elantra.
Ashes of Honor, by Seanan McGuire. Urban fantasy, paperback, ?? pages. Book 5 in the October Daye series.
Last Wool and Testament, by Molly MacRae. Mystery, 319 pages. Paperback, first in the series.

October
Reason to Believe, by Diana Copland. Paranormal romance. e-ARC. stand-alone.

November
Matched by Ally Condie, YA Dystopia. 369 pages; paperback; first in the series.

Books abandoned in 2012:
Vamparazzi, by Laura Resnick. Accidentally picked up book 3; couldn't invest in the characters.

In case you want back references, here is the Books for 2011 round-up post
Comments 
9th-Nov-2012 09:40 pm (UTC)
I would not recommend reading book two. I enjoyed Matched quite a bit. Crossed was... annoying.
9th-Nov-2012 10:50 pm (UTC)
Really? That's disappointing. I have Crossed sitting in my car. Sigh.
I may read it just for the satisfaction of it. but...
9th-Nov-2012 11:06 pm (UTC)
I'm hoping that the third one will redeem it, but I found it quite disappointing.
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