In Cassia’s world, everything is controlled by the Society. They decide where you will work, who you will marry, and when you will die. At her Matching Banquet, Cassia anxiously waits to see who will be her ideal mate. The face she sees on the screen is her best friend, Xander. But later, when she goes to look at Xander’s image on her microcard, which contains all sorts of data about her new Match, she sees another face – Ky Markham, a boy who has always kept to himself. The Officials assure her it was just a prank, but now Cassia finds herself drawn to Ky. Until now, she has always accepted the way her Society functions, but what if all of their rules and plans are not in their citizens’ best interests after all?
Matched was a very quick read for me. I was expecting it to be mainly a story of forbidden love, but the Society’s corruption runs much deeper than that. The reader discovers along with Cassia the dubious means the Society uses to maintain control over the citizens, which made me eager to keep reading in order to understand how the Society operates. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Xander, who really does love Cassia, but Cassia does try to be honest with him about her feelings. Condie handles the love triangle well by showing that Cassia really does care for Xander and doesn’t want to hurt him, but Ky is just a better fit for her. I look forward to reading book two, Crossed.
Maggie Stiefvater Maggie Stiefvater
The follow-up to Shiver, Linger finds Sam firmly a human, but now Grace’s future is uncertain as she begins to fear that one day she will shift. Linger also introduces Cole St. Clair, famed musician turned werewolf. Chapters from Cole and Isabel’s points of view are interspersed with chapters from Sam and Grace. I found this a welcome change, since to me Isabel and Cole were much more interesting characters. This book felt very much like a second book in a trilogy – the main characters and plot are established but nothing much happens until the end, when it’s time to set up the finale.
In Forever, Grace is now the wolf while Sam is the human. Tom Culpeper, still angry over his son Jack’s death, wants to do an aerial hunt to eliminate all the wolves. Now, Sam, Grace, and Cole must come up with a plan to save the wolves. Meanwhile, Cole looks for a cure to keep them human. Of the three books in the trilogy, I liked this one the best by far. There was a lot more at stake, so the pacing was a bit quicker. We also got to see Cole and Isabel develop more and of course the romance between Sam and Grace is as endearing as it is tragic. I’m a fan of Stiefvater’s writing style and her ability to create believable characters even while writing in four different voices. I look forward to reading her newest novel, The Scorpio Races.
Sixteen-year-old Lucy has survived the plague, floods, and droughts that have killed her family and most of the population. Now, she survives on her own in the wilds of Central Park. When a mysterious boy named Aidan rescues her from a pack of hounds, she realizes she may not be able to survive on her own forever. After she joins Aidan and his camp of survivors, a group of Sweepers targets the camp, abducting several people to use for scientific experiments, and Lucy and Aidan set out to rescue their friends. What Lucy doesn’t realize is that there is something special about her the Sweepers want, and they will stop at nothing to get it.
With all the dystopian trilogies hitting the market, it was refreshing to read a novel that can stand on its own. I found the pacing a bit slow for my liking, especially early sections of the book describing Lucy’s camp and her daily workload at her new camp. The final third of the book was a lot more exciting, but I wish there had been more action throughout the novel. I did find Lucy to be a capable heroine, and the romance that develops between her and Aidan is sweet. Not my favourite dystopian read, but a decent choice for a stand-alone novel.
This Dark Endeavor
This Dark Endeavor is the story of young Victor Frankenstein. Victor, his twin brother, Konrad, and their distant cousin Elizabeth discover a hidden library of books filled with dark magic. Although Victor’s father forbids them from visiting the library again, when Konrad becomes seriously ill, Victor cannot resist searching through the ancient tomes in the hope of finding a cure, namely, the Elixir of Life. Victor needs only three ingredients to create the elixir, but how much is willing to sacrifice in the name of love?
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I found it slow-moving in parts, particularly during Victor’s quest to find the ingredients for the Elixir of Life. I expected a bit more excitement than I got. Still, I enjoy Oppel’s writing and I think this is an interesting concept for a book. In fact, it’s already being optioned for a movie. Victor is a complex character who is torn between brotherly love and jealousy, a situation further complicated by the fact that the woman he loves is in love with his brother. The ending sets up a sequel, which I hope will be a little more action-packed.