We Have REACHED The End

Nearly three years later, I can finally say I’ve completed Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy. I looked over my review of Crossed, book two from the series, and realized now how brutal I was in critiquing it (I’m sorry!) After finishing this final entry, I now feel more familiar with the author’s tone and have a better understanding and appreciation for the trio.

matched crossed reached ally condie

When I first read Matched, I was coming off of a Hunger Games binge, so my expectations were set for something much more action-packed or thrilling. Matched was more subdued. The premise hooked me right away: soon after their 16th birthday, teenagers of The Society are introduced to their life match in a grand ceremony. They are presented with a data card to take home and review their match’s profile, but once Cassia inserts her data card, she sees the face of a boy who is not the same as the one she was matched with during the ceremony. Was it a glitch in The Society’s perfect system? Cassia finds herself in the middle of secret love triangle and soon discovers that The Society’s cracked facade is starting to crumble. With the help of her two potential matches, Cassia investigates the mystery of The Pilot — a fabled leader meant to head up The Rising and overthrow The Society.

To sum up Crossed, Cassia is wandering around the Grand Canyon with one of her matches (Ky) and a few more teens and discover tubes containing preserved tissue samples from the members of The Society that have all died… presumably to bring the deceased back in the future. We still don’t know who The Pilot is, but it’s got to be one of the three from this love triangle, right?

Reached gives us the collapse of The Society and the takeover of The Rising by the use of a widespread viral plague. Certain members that have been selected by The Rising (since birth) are immune, and therefore unharmed… until someone pops up with a mutated version and then everyone’s at risk. That’s a big “Oops.” Cassia and her two matches are tasked with helping to discover the cure. Ky becomes infected by the mutation, but of course, he survives and is ultimately paired with Cassia.

There were some unexpected curve balls: The Pilot was just a random guy. The Rising was actually created by The Society as a way to feign a rebellion, to gain the community’s trust, and ultimately still be in control of everyone. There was no big blow-out fight for Cassia’s love. In fact, the two boys were stayed friends throughout the entire trilogy… so a bit anticlimactic.

Overall, though, the series has a very steady flow. The first book gave us one point of view, the second book introduced a new point of view, and the third book gave us three. When I first read Crossed, I found this flip-flopping to be a bit forced, but in reading Reached, I found it to be part of a natural progression in the story-telling. Condie’s descriptions of the setting of the story are vivid and beautiful. All of her characters are likable, but I’m not sure if it’s because everyone in The Society is groomed to be regulated and well-balanced, or if there was lack of more interpersonal conflict. I didn’t find myself disliking any of the characters… and I had a difficult time deciding which of the two matches Cassia should ultimately end up with because everyone was so “nice.”

I definitely would not call this the next Hunger Games. But for a strong young female protagonist living in a post-apocalyptic futuristic society in the middle of a love triangle, it fits the bill.

Oh, and a band of Archivists ran a black market of smuggled historical papers, objects, and other such paraphernalia. My future as a librarian is now justified. 

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And the award goes to…!

The 2014 ALA Awards were recently announced and I just had to gush a bit. Thanks to my awesome local bookstore, The Odyssey, in South Hadley, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of the award winners when they started on their respective tours some months ago.

First, I want to congratulate all of the nominees and other winners — It is no small feat to be recognized for your work!

But this entry is really about those few authors I have a particular fondness for and that I think deserve some extra special mentioning.

Though I never had the chance to meet Rainbow Rowell, I’ve heard so many wonderful things about her, and I was able to get a hold of a special copy of Eleanor & Park…

Eleanor&Park

As some may remember, this was one of my books of choice for my Young Adult Literature class this past semester. In fact, this book was read by more people in my class than any others — and for such a book to get such a buzz going, I think it is definitely one to take note of.

Eleanor & Park received a Michael L. Printz Award Honoree,  as well as the Odyssey Award for outstanding audiobooks for young adults (which I can attest to! It was wonderful!).

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Next up: Tim Federle. I actually met Tim at an event for the launch of his book Tequila Mockingbird, but then learned of his book Better Nate Than Ever. This book (which is being followed by Five, Six, Seven, Nate!) is waiting for me on my Kindle (though, I’ve secretly read a bit of it already… I haven’t “officially started” yet). Tim is hilarious, not to mention talented. I never thought I would find myself so excited to read a book aimed at pre-teens, yet it sends a powerful message and is wonderfully written. Better Nate Than Ever is the recipient of the Stonewall Book Award Honor for outstanding LGBTQ titles.

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Speaking of the Stonewall Book Award, there are two more titles that I want to point out! Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kristin Cronn-Mills  and Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo were both winners in this category.

Like Rainbow Rowell, I have not met Kristin Cronn-Mills, but Beautiful Music for Ugly Children was one of the required books for my class last semester and I think everyone was so pleasantly surprised by it! Writing a trans character is not only brave, but can be difficult to grant a strong voice. Kristin brought such life and truth to her cast in this book that I couldn’t help but feel connected. A win well deserved!

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I’ve spoken about how brave, true and powerful these books are, but one that shines through has to be Fat Angie with a big purple heart. e.E. came to The Odyssey on her At Risk Summer Tour and I was lucky enough to have a chat with her after her reading. Instantly I felt connected — and she must have too, because she asked that I tell her to write to her once I finish reading the book to let her know what I thought… As in to her personal email account! That doesn’t happen every day! Little-e-Big-E wrote this book with such honesty and heart that I felt truly inspired. I am so incredibly pleased to hear that Fat Angie also won the Stonewall book Award.

Fat Angie

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Last, but certainly not least, I want to congratulate Holly Black for winning a Newbery Honor for Doll Bones. I met Holly for the launch of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown at The Odyssey and I was surprised to discover that she almost became a librarian! Though Doll Bones is another book I have yet to read, it goes without saying that Holly deserves the recognition for her marvelous work.

 

Congratulations, again, to all of the nominees and award winners!
Keep writing!