Friday, June 10, 2011

Two Books

Growing up, I didn't have many friends. Mostly I played with my sister Lexia, but when my family moved to Georgia, she basically abandoned me for cheerleading and parties. She'll get mad at me when she reads that, but it's true. It's also okay because thankfully, I loved to read. Throughout middle school and most of high school, reading was what I did on the weekends. My mom would often take me to a local book shop called A Likely Story (Isn't that clever?), and she would let me pick out one or two books. (Looking back, she really should've taken me to the public library instead. Buying books is expensive!) I'd read the books that weekend and eagerly anticipate the next weekend with it's accompanying set of books.

Perhaps that's why I have really enjoyed reading young adult fiction lately; it reminds me of my pre-adolescent years, when I read books in one long sitting. That's exactly what I did with Matched and The Hunger Games. I started both books in the evening and read through the night. I felt like such a kid. I thought my mom would burst into my room at any moment and tell me to "Turn the light off, and go to bed!"

But that's what those young adult books do -- they suck you in!

Having read both Matched and the first book in The Hunger Games series, I can tell you that both were good books, but I liked Matched much better. Part of that is probably because I read it first, but in general, I thought Matched was a smarter book. The stories are basically the same: teenage girl grows up in a dystopian society and begins to question her society's government. (Also, she has to choose between two love interests.)

I was pleasantly surprised with the world that author Ally Condie created in Matched. She gave us reasons why the world is so repressed and controlled -- as technology flourished, general knowledge diminished. People were living longer, but living less. Think Gattaca, here. (Actually, that's a fairly good comparison.) What I loved most about the book was that at the heart of it was a Dylan Thomas poem, Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night. Just think -- in a world of 140-character tweets, abbreviated text messages, and high-speed grammar, Condie introduces a piece of literary history into her young adult novel. I thought it was brilliant. Also, Condie raises some interesting questions about agency in this story, which I loved.

In The Hunger Games, on the other hand, Suzanne Collins only tells us that there was a war a long time ago, and it resulted in one controlling Capitol and its surrounding districts. We really don't get much information beyond that. And I can't quite buy the kids-killing-kids plot in this book the way I can in The Lord of the Flies, for example. I do like the chapters about survival, though; they remind me of Hatchet, a young adult book I can really get behind. Still, I was a bit disappointed when I finished the book. Perhaps the second and third books of the trilogy will resolve some of my questions about how this society became so oppressed.

Bottom line: If you read only one dystopian novel this year, let it be Matched.

Thing I'm thankful for: work


Anonymous Erin Bryson said...

I was always proud to call you my friend as a kid! Still am. Matched sounds awesome... I'll have to check it out.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Jacqueline said...

I really enjoyed the first Hunger Games book -- the second and third, not nearly as much. The second just made me think -- again??

I will definitely check out Matched though. I'm in need of some good books to read.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Eve said...

Thanks for the tip- I'll go check Matched out ;)

9:20 PM  
Blogger Jason Kesler said...

Ahhh . . . A Likely Story. I got a call from them every month when a new Hardy Boys mystery came out (and later when another Christopher Pike book was released). I didn't like to read my books all the way through in one sitting, though. I wanted to save them . . . and savor them.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Lexia said...

Liar! LIAR!!! I'm not even going to comment on that. Just know I feel betrayed by a bosom friend.

party girl

P.S. You should be a professional book reviewer - that's something I can get behind.

7:49 PM  

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