Book review: Matched by Allie Condi

Matched by Allie Condi

This is an Orwellian story. But where the original 1984 paints a gloomy picture by focusing partly on the surrounding and structure of society this book uses emotions to drive you forward in the story. There is generally very little descriptions of how, why or what has happened. This is a story about youthful rebellion in an all controlling society.

This book could easily have fallen in to so many clichéd pitfalls but the author seems to avoid them all. This result in a very pleasant read, the characters are genuine and evolve through the story. But avoiding pitfalls seems to have come at the cost of substance. Don’t get me wrong there is enough substance in both the story and the characters, but I am left a little disappointed. This story has taken the “Big Brother” concept and sprinkled sugar over it, but not enough to make it become a headache (of sugary proportions).

The sugar sprinkling of the Orwellian theme of the book becomes apparent in the story, as there is little that made me reflect on the big brother side of the story, and more on the characters development throughout. It could easily been a romance novel with an original concept, despite this however I was not discouraged, but bit disappointed.

The story is based primarily on three teenagers and their life after getting matched. A governmental dating agency on steroids arranges everyone’s coupling, and our heroine through a glitch finds out that her match is actually not. There was another, now then we are all set for the classical two guys’ one girl love drama right?

Wrong, though some of the story of course involves this particular development in the story, it is not emphasized. It is merely an undercurrent one of the many that drives this story, and keeps you turning the pages. One of main drives in this story is  Cassia’s (our heroine) thirst for more knowledge. After her grandfather reveals two secret poems he has saved from what you could call the purge/the cleansing and other such things. There are only a 100 left of everything; poems, paintings, songs and stories etc. But her grandfather managed to save two more. One of which is Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night” which plays very well with the story.

This spurs Cassie on, and with a curiosity that would possibly have killed a cat she starts to question the wisdom of the government. And slowly things start to happen, and the story evolves and we find ourselves deep in Cassies world without realising it, it does so slowly but there is enough tension in the story to make you dig deeper into it. Now this is where I’ll stop, because anything else could possibly spoil it for those who want to read it.

This book would be excellent as an introduction to the Orwellian nightmare without forcing someone to read 1984 by George Orwell. I would recommend reading this and Little Brother by Cory Doctorow for any person. They should come as a matched, no pun intended, set. Little Brother for the confrontational rebellion against oppressive governments. And this book for the emotional and physiological rebellions.

This is a recommened read. A short book that doesn’t mind a few interruptions, so it is perfect for the morning commute, travelling or such things that might interrupt your reading.

Book review: Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear

Hull Zero Three by Greg BearThis book is interesting and challenging, interesting in the same way that you might think chugging a bottle of tequila in one go to be interesting. Better leave it to someone else. And the challenging part is to actually muster the will to keep turning over to another page.

In this case the reviewer (me) has chugged this particular bottle of tequila*, but rather than an intoxicating effect and a massive hangover (and possibly a trip to A&E.)
I am left with the feeling of having spent a weekend watching paint dry.

Now I must confess; this is one of the very few books that I have given up on. I have not read it through. Despite encouragements from friends who have also read it and said that it picks up towards the end I still can not bring my self to open up this particular book again. So this review is based solely on the first half of the book. If I however should at some point read the rest and discover that I was wrong about my educated assumptions I will of course post a mea culpa.

The story has potential, and for the first few pages I was interested in what kind of story this was going to be, the problem is that after reading 1/3 of the book I still had now clear idea of what, why or how or even if I should care.

Now I can understand that some stories have a slow build up, that there are methods that authors use to instill uncertainty  in the reader as to what is happening and who we actually are reading about.

But after reading about half the book the thing that I remember most from the book. (after only 24 hours of reading in it last) Is that for the better part of the beginning the main character, who we only get to know as “Teacher” has very few interactions and seems to focus more on his internal monologues regarding his vocabulary and how it is expanding. And/or that he remembers a word, but not quite what it means. And when that is the only part of the story you’re left with after reading well it should give you some idea of how boring I found this book to be.

And the rest of the characters introduced have as much dimension to them as an IKEA flat pack bookshelf, before assembly. There is really nothing more to say about them… I am at a loss to describe them as anything other than lifeless, uninteresting and dull.

Now as I said earlier in this review, there are reasons to build a story slowly but then you need something to keep me turning the pages other than pure stubbornness… this book does not have that. It felt like a chore to read and frankly the only reason I stuck it out as far as I did was that I wanted to be able to write an accurate review. But even that was not enough in the end. Thus I end this review and recommend that you read something other than this book.

If anyone has read this book and disagrees with me please leave a comment detailing why you think I am wrong…

Notes:

* – well half of it anyway, since I did not finish the book… but still it is not recommended; both the book and the tequila.

Taken out of context I must seem so strange -Ani