Just finished …
Reached by Ally Condie | This is book three of the Matched trilogy (preceded by Matched and Crossed). If you’re not familiar with the concept of these books, they are set in the future in a time when the Society rules and in order to “simplify” things, the Society has only retained 100 poems, 100 stories, 100 etc., etc. from the past. As teenagers, couples are “matched”– and that is whom you will marry. The first book was quite fascinating because Cassia was matched with her best friend Xander but was secretly falling in love with Ky. The second book was much less interesting, particularly because Cassia, Xander, and Ky were all separated– I essentially skimmed Crossed. I still wanted to know how the story ended, so I requested Reached from the library long before it was released and was relatively near the top of the waiting list (within the first 100 probably). I started reading it, and it was more interesting than the second book, but the library book ended up being due back sooner than I could finish it, so I skimmed the rest of the book (a very thorough skim!), and I think I made the right choice. It was good, and I liked the ending, and Condie has brilliant moments in these books, but all told, I think the third book might have been drawn out too long. Can’t say for sure since I didn’t fully get to read it. But I don’t think I will return to it to do just that.
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta | I re-read this one, this time on audio, and was just as thrilled with it the second time through. Finnikin’s country has seen half of the people in bondage inside the country’s borders and half of the people in exile outside of it. He is on a quest to come up with a solution of some kind, and he has to take a young novice named Evanjalin with him. This book has lovely twists and surprises, and it is such a delight. This second time through (since I knew the ending), I would actually talk aloud to the characters in my car: “Oooooh, you’re gonna regret that later!!” and “Oh man, if you only knew what I knew!!” I know I’m a nerd. But it’s pretty awesome when a book can suck you in that much– especially with all its secrets already laid bare.
Graceling by Kristin Cashore | This book was recommended to me by a friend, but others warned me that I wouldn’t like the ending, so I devoured it … but nervously. I loved the characters in this story about a land where some people are Graced– that is, they have a special skill. Katsa’s skill is killing– or so she thinks. She meets Po, another Graceling, and they go to another country in search of a secret. It is fascinating, and the dialogue is incredible. Loved this book, even though I read it nervous that I’d hate the ending. And did I? No. Not exactly. It wasn’t as disappointing as I’d been guessing from the warnings I’d been given. Still– it is obvious that Cashore is a feminist, and she inserted her beliefs into this book decently, I thought (though I am not a feminist myself).
Fire by Kristin Cashore | This is a companion book to Graceling, although it has a new set of characters, save for one important person. This. Book. Was. Great. Wow!! I think I liked it even better than Graceling— maybe since I could relate better to Fire, the protagonist, than to Katsa. This book takes place in a kingdom east of the lands where Graceling occurs, in The Dells, a kingdom on the verge of civil war and filled with gorgeous but dangerous “monsters”– monster animals … and even a few monster humans. Fire is a monster human, with bright orange-red-gold-pink hair that is so beautiful that many people can’t control themselves around her. She can also read minds and influence them, although she has been careful with her power and guards herself against manipulating others. She can read almost anyone’s mind … except for Prince Brigan, the younger brother of the king. When the royal family asks Fire to use her powers to save the kingdom, Fire has to make some big decisions … and she is mysteriously drawn to and scared of Brigan, who looks at her with hate. I loved these characters– so real, so flawed, so layered. I love the conversations Cashore creates, and I love the secrets she reveals at strategic times in both this story and Graceling. This is a must-read. And while you can read this book without reading Graceling, it is even more fascinating if you have.
Every Day by David Levithan | I have been intending to read this book for so long, and I finally got it on audio from the library (though I purchased the hardcover months ago). Audiobooks I seem to get through faster, since I use a lot of my free time for writing instead of reading– but you can’t write while driving! 🙂 This. Book. Was. Fascinating. First there is A, who inhabits a new body every day. A has done this for 16 years without questioning it too much until one perfect day A spends with Rhiannon. After that, A wants to spend EVERY day with this girl. This is a problem, obviously. I have never read a more gender-bending book in my life– some days A is a girl, some days A is boy, all days A loves Rhiannon. I just gobbled this book up, could not wait to find out what would happen next. The ending was PERFECT and unexpected, but I can’t tell you how it made me feel because I want you to experience it for yourself. Interestingly, the audiobook was read by a girl. I didn’t know if that was subliminal or not … on the other hand, although A is the protagonist, since A changes bodies daily, Rhiannon’s voice is the most consistent one, so in that sense, it fits that they chose a female reader. The book was really, really, really good– except for the moments Levithan got on his homosexual soapbox. Those diatribes interrupted the story and felt as if Levithan were intruding out of nowhere. The book already makes the reader ask a lot of questions; I didn’t think Levithan needed to provide his own answers. All that said, though, this is an EXCELLENT book. I loved it, as in, really, REALLY loved it. Highly recommend.
Currently reading …
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern | Got this on audio for Christmas and so am re-reading this one. Jim Dale is the narrator!!!
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore | The sequel to Graceling … I AM LOVING IT!!! Almost done … review to come.
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta | Just as brilliant the second time around.
Up next …
Son by Lois Lowry | The brand-new fourth book in The Giver series!
Divergent by Veronica Roth | It’s about time, right? 🙂