Author: Ally Condie
Copyright: Allyson Braithwaite Condie 2010
On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her Match. Society dictates he is her perfect partner for life.
Except he’s not. In Cassia’s society, Officials decide who people love. How many children they have. Where they work. When they die.
But, as Cassia finds herself falling in love with another boy, she is determined to make some choices of her own. And that’s when her whole world begins to unravel . . .
No spoilers, as ever. We follow Cassia, her friends and family as they learn that growing up isn’t just about falling in love and getting a job. It involves learning about things you didn’t even contemplate.
There are a few clever hints back at a life that we, in the present day, may recognise, these made by reference to Cassia’s grandparents and their stories.
Cassia now lives in a very controlled environment, everything and everyone is regulated for their own protection, apparently. Secrets are kept, lies are told. Who and what can be trusted?
Why do they all carry pills?
It’s obvious the author values hand writing as a skill we should all hold dear. It forms a thread running through the story and linking characters together, sometimes it become a bit too predictable but didn’t become annoying.
Recently I was informed by an agent and an ‘expert’ in writing fiction if there is such a thing, that if you mention literature in a novel it can seem pretentious. This novel does include various references back to poetry. As the author was a teacher maybe she wanted to encourage her young readers to go out and learn about the referenced works, never a bad thing so I won’t criticise too harshly.
Cassia – a young woman, 17 years old, learning that not everything is as she thought
Xander – Cassia’s friend from childhood
Ky – an adopted child, growing up as Cassia and Xander’s neighbour
With minor characters such as Cassia’s family and the ‘officials’ in charge in this future world, the focus is on Cassia and her experiences.
In Hunger Games I didn’t really like the protaganist, I’m not sure the reader was really supposed to. Here I didn’t feel that close to Cassia, however I think this is a problem with first person narratives. The character can’t be drawn as well without the ‘outsider’s eyes.’ You learn about how she thinks, but not what others think of her.
I would have liked to learn more about the ‘Official’ and Cassia’s mother, their stories and motives were hinted at but not explained. Maybe their stories are elaborated on in the sequels, which form a trilogy.
I enjoyed this YA fiction. A book aimed at young people learning about life as they grow to maturity. The young characters are not only learning about love and honesty, but also hidden agendas. They learn that not everything is as it seems, decisions are not always easy, in other words adulthood does not bring all the answers. You don’t always get the princess prom and happy ever after.
As is often the case nowadays you can tell the ending is aimed at hooking you to the next book, neatly advertised at the end. It did end well enough that I don’t feel I need to read the next one to discover the character’s fate which was satisfying.
One element I didn’t like? The coloured pills, it reminded me of the Matrix film each time. I wish the novelist had used a different tool to achieve the same result.
Yes, although maybe only if you fit the demographic for YA fiction. It has male characters, however it’s told in first person by the main female protaganist. I’m not sure it’s particularly aimed at male readers. The cover image also reiterates these aims.
I was told about it, as one of the best books to study the ‘form’ of YA fiction, it is formulaic but aren’t they all? It’s a readable light novel.
It isn’t as violent as Hunger Games, with just one or two kisses, so is a safer option for younger readers.
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