Dont Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala

Release Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: ARC
Source: Luxury Reading
Parental Warnings: substance abuse; mild sexual content
(Recommended for Ages 14/15+)

Dont Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala

Joy Delamere is suffocating 

From asthma, which has nearly claimed her life. From her parents, who will do anything to keep that from happening. From delectably dangerous Asher, who is smothering her from the inside out. 

Joy can take his words tender words, cruel words until the night they go too far. 

Now, Joy will leave everything behind to find the one who has offered his help, a homeless boy called Creed. She will become someone else. She will learn to survive. She will breathe if only she can get to Creed before it’s too late. 

Set against the gritty backdrop of Seattle’s streets and a cast of characters with secrets of their own, Holly Cupala’s powerful new novel explores the subtleties of abuse, the meaning of love, and how far a girl will go to discover her own strength.

This is my first book of Hollys, but it came highly recommended and I wanted it to deliver. What I discovered was a book that completely shocked me. It floored me and for a few hours, I was captivated by the powerful story inside of it. Ive heard so many people  talk about this book and say that it was strong.

It is strong and full of grief, anger, hope, and family. Its such a moving story that I didnt come away disappointed. I came away empowered. It was gritty and beautiful and glorious. Hollys words made me feel emotions that I didnt even know existed, as well as be able to use the book for escapism. Her writing paints a vivid picture of Joys life.

Dont Breathe a Word is the gripping story of a teenage runaway. Joy is tired of being suffocated by her parents and her boyfriend. Due to her intense asthma, her parents hover around her, terrified that if they leave her alone, she could have an attack. Asher, her boyfriend, is abusive. Controlling and not above blackmail, he lets his jealousy taint his decisions. Download dewaqq apk versi Mobile

When Asher goes too far, Joy can’t take it anymore. She sets a trail in her room, making it look like she was kidnapped, and runs away to Seattle. In Seattle, she looks for a boy who witnessed Asher’s possessive nature. She is counting on the fact that he offered her help if she ever needed any.

On the streets, Joy learns to survive. Changing her name to “Triste”, she goes on a hunt for the boy. When they meet, everything falls into place. Joy finally has a family, a way of surviving, freedom. She learns how to find her way on the streets and avoid detection.

When her past threatens to catch up with her, Joy has to figure out how to keep her worlds from colliding, and how far she will go to keep things the way they are.

Dont Breathe a Word left me breathless. Holly Cupala’s writing was seemingly effortless, beautiful and broken at the same time. She perfectly conveyed the hard life of a runaway, the lingering afteraffects of abuse, and the connections of family in this great novel. By “family”, I mean the ragtag group of runaways that Joy finds herself tethered to. Each is different, ran away for a different reason, and does their part to contribute to the group. As they take her under their wing, Joy discovers both the good and the bad of the streets.

Dont Breathe a Word was the perfect combination of humor, raw emotions and romance. Cupala’s definitely knows how to play with the readers’ heartstrings and reluctant, as well as seasoned YA readers, are likely to love this book.

Joy herself was incredible. Joy changed throughout the book and is a completely different person at the end of the book than she is at the beginning. At the beginning of the book, she is incredibly naive and trusting of people, but Asher has made her have edges and she is sharper. She changes from her experiences and what she thinks her future will be like. She almost steels herself for it.

Shes been stifled her entire life. Literally, she cant breathe, but she also cant breathe in the atmosphere that her setting puts her in. The constant pressure and watchful eyes of her family doesnt help either. She is fragile when she ventures outside with only a vague sense of the world. Its only when she runs away that she sees the world for how it truly is.

One of the things that truly struck me about this book was how much teens hide things from their parents. Joys parents were a bit blind about everything that their daughter was going through the abuse too, but mostly her other emotional struggles. She felt more suffocated under their eyes than she did without them. Plus, they were looking at her, but they didnt really see her. It was moving.

Joy was the type of person who needs to break her shell before she can start to build a defense against things. She had to get past fears before she could start to protect herself against them. I actually understand why she ran away. Normally in books, not as bad things are happening as the protagonist thinks, but Joy was in trouble.

It truly floored me how you never know if a person is suffering. Joy presented this image of herself to the world and her family that said that she was okay. Nobody knew how deep anything affected her, and that was what was wrong. She couldnt tell anybody either. Nobody understood how things had worked out and would try to protect her even more. They couldnt protect her from Asher. They couldnt protect her from herself. What could they protect her from? She hid everything because she was falling apart on the inside and nobody could fix her.

Her relationship with Asher started out sweet and then took a wrong turn. He became possessive and controlling, jealous of what she did and who she was with. He hurt her, emotionally and physically, and she needed to get away. The ghosts of her relationship with him haunted her, and so she needed to get away.

When she heads to Seattle, its mostly on a whim of a thought, and as she gets there, she learns more. More about herself and the world that she lives in. Seattle was almost like her Wonderland, and she was Alice. Seattle was filled with beautiful, gritty, and wonderful things that she discovered but she was changed by the experience.

Its then that she turns into Triste. Triste is a strong person, one who has overcome much in her past. Joy changes her name to Triste because shes choosing a new life, and with a new life comes a new name. She needs to reinvent herself and heal from the wounds that have been gouging themselves in her. Triste is Joy reborn, a phoenix from the ashes of her former life.

And as much as its a bit of a laughable statement, this book was actually very educational about being a runaway. When Joy finds her own family of ragtag runaways and homeless teens, they teach her how to make her way in the world with them. They teach her essentially how to survive. She learns all the skills of living on the streets.

As strange as it also sounds to say this, all these homeless people were a community. If they didnt have a family, or couldnt rely on them, the people who surrounded them were their family. They had to take the world on their shoulders and make hard decisions to make the best decisions for themselves. Although each person on the streets was really looking out for themselves, when they had a family, they put them before their own selves. Loyalty was very important to them when they couldnt trust anybody else.

The writing shone. It was gritty, powerful, but also very enlightening and entertaining. Holly Cupala has this voice that speaks to your past experiences and makes you find something in each one of her words that speaks to you. It was tense and emotional and absolutely lovely to read. She has one of those writing voices that takes your breath away from the first page.

While there are a lot of books about teens who are struggling with their lives, there arent a lot about the kids who choose to do something about it. This was one of those books. Its very attention-grabbing but not flashy. It was subtle and whispered to you about everything.

It is a bit on the darker side of contemporary, but it isnt a downer. It doesnt make you depressed and this isnt a book that will put you in a hopeless mood for the rest of the day. It does have darker components to it, but its balanced by the promise of family and life after Asher and finding a new future. Joy chooses her own future by choosing this life.

Another thing I actually enjoyed about this book was that the protagonist had asthma. I have asthma myself, and its interesting to read about somebody more affected by it than I am. Its one of the things that has kept her stifled for so long, but its not so much the condition as it is her environment. Either way, it was an interesting detail that caught my attention early in the book.

Asher seemed like the perfect boy at first. She and him met innocently, but as the chapters talking about him went on, we saw what lurked behind his facade. The novel is presented in alternating chapters of Joys past and her present. The present is all about her trying to figure out her future and escape the things that threaten to bring her down.

The character development for one was seamless. By this, I mean not only Joy, but the rest of her family.

Creed was understanding and thoughtful throughout the entire book. He was the rock of their ragtag family, and fought to keep them together. He knew an unfortunate amount about the world they were up against and did his hardest to protect them. May was painful to read. She was angry and dark. She had rough edges and had to do awful things to survive. She was cut down and so she would build walls around herself to keep from being hurt again. Santos was sweet. He reminded me of the Fuentes brothers from the Perfect Chemistry series. He was just entertaining to read about and a cute kid in general, although he was tougher than most. He was crafty in the streets and had a huge heart for the people he was with.

When Joy gets to Seattle, the danger she ran away from may not be worse than the ones on the streets. In a place rife with secrets and hidden pasts, she doesnt necessarily know how to pick her battles. She does make a few mistakes, and they realistically catch up with her. However, it isnt all gloom-and-doom. Shes pretty smart about it for somebody who has been sheltered for as long as she had.

The problem with the environment that she was escaping from in this book was that while people thought that they were protecting her, they didnt really. It was more of the doubts and hidden secrets that affected her. When things are outright, they are easier to maneuver around. That was one of the main reasons that she ended up running away.

The writing was absolutely beautiful. I found myself stunned by Cupalas word choice and usage. She formed the most beautiful sentences and made you think. The true talent of any writer lies in how they make you think for yourself, and apply the story to your own life. Not only was it escapism, but it was deep thought being brought to the surface. It evoked images and dreams and emotions that I hadnt even thought about for a long time. We find ourselves in Joys plight and how she chooses to control it.

The main theme of this book came across to me as self discovery. Joy/Triste needed to discover her inner strength and self before being able to move on. She had everybody telling her who she should be and how she should feel without allowing herself to feel for herself. It was more about her taking control than anything else. She needed to be able to be herself, and life without that freedom was suffocating.

Another great part about this book was that it kept revealing bits and pieces throughout the book. We knew that one of the reasons that Joy ran away was because of her abusive boyfriend, but we didnt realize how awful he was until later in the book when she started divulging part of her memory. In another way, it made it more realistic because it was the way a conversation might go. Immediately, Joy blurted out the truth about Asher but as time went on, we learned the deeper details, as well as the sadness and shame that went with it all.

There wasnt as much action, but it wasnt the type of book that needed it. It was very exciting towards the end but not predictable and not contrived. Everything felt very honest.

The ideas of this book floored me. It was like Holly Cupala was whispering things into my ear while I was reading. You can read it on several levels if you would like. On the top is the entertainment level, but if you look further, the book speaks of deeper things. It had a very Before I Fall voice to it. It was very revealing.

As we drew closer to the ending, I got extremely nervous. All the stories that you hear about teenage runaways never seem to turn out well. I was terrified that after all that Triste had been through, she would end up with an unhappy ending. I must admit that I was surprised by its ending. It didnt tie anything up too well, but it didnt leave the reader unhappy. It was both realistic and hopeful, which was what I needed from it.

Dont Breathe a Word was one of those books that I read on a whim, but Im so glad that I did. It was everything I was hoping for and more. It was dark and gritty, one of those powerful stories that plays with your emotions. The best part was that not only was it dark, but it was hopeful and emotional and simply entertaining. The character development was spot-on and thoughtful. The honesty was cutting. The atmosphere of the novel was so fragile and cleverly created that I was absorbed in this book for a few hours. I couldnt put it down, and if you pick it up, I promise that you wont be able to either.

Recommended for anybody who loves: Bitter End; Perfect Chemistry; Before I Fall; Revolution; etc,.

Possible book club questions:
What do you think were Joys parents reactions when she ran away? Do you think they realized how much they had avoided her feelings?
Why did Joy feel guilty about Asher?
Why would Joy put all her hope into Creed, when she didnt even know him? Why do people do things like this?
Do you think it would be throwing your life away or taking control of it if you ran away?
Do you think that the ending was too unrealistic or do you think it was right? Why or why not?

etc,. 

Iklan

The Turning Point (2)

Hey yall, as I tried before a few weeks ago, when Im in a reviewing slump, I do The Turning Point which is essentially saying how I feel about a book when Im halfway through it. Later, Ill do a full review for it, but right now Im in a slump. For that, Im sorry. I feel like my recent reviews havent been as eloquent or thorough as I usually prefer to be. For now, Im going to do this.

The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder

Dry, sarcastic, sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out hospitals. The last thing she wants to do in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promise, Maine a place known for the miraculous events that occur there. But its undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe in love, in herself, and even in miracles.

A debut novel from an immensely talented new writer, The Probability of Miracles crackles with wit, romance and humor and will leave readers laughing and crying with each turn of the page.

Im in love with this book. Bittersweet, funny, and tearjerking, it explores life and the way we choose to live it. Cam is such an endearing character. Shes almost crafted a defense against the world. Shes dry and witty and lovable all at once. She says really wise things, and still tries to enjoy things when she knows that nothing good can come afterwards.

No person should have to go through this, but Cam is so strong. She spends a huge chunk of her time consoling the people around her, even though shes the one thats going through everything. At first I found myself frustrated with her mom, but the desperation of their situation came through to her and she would do anything to hang onto Cam.

I thought this book would be heavier, and there are parts of it so far, but theres also a light whimsicality of it. It was almost reminiscent of Dreamland Social Club. This book explores hope, life, and love. So far Ive been laughing and crying almost every page. This book makes you want to go out and live your life to the fullest. I came across this quote today and I thought it was perfect, In the end, its not the years in your life that count. Its the life in your years.

So far, expect an extremely positive review.

julie kagawa iron fey

Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.

Unless he can earn a soul.

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought. 

Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive. 

With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side. 

To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale. 

And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Wow. This book has already thrown me twists and turns, the relishing feel of fantasy and romance, and a strong sense of adventure. It has danger, chilling faeries, and explorations beyond what you could ever imagine. Julie Kagawa has created a masterpiece, and Im only on the first hundred pages.

I also love the format. The ruffled pages are so great, and its like the style of the Anna and the French Kiss paperback. I absolutely adore the character development. I love Ash and Puck, so their tension and strange relationship is a great thing to read more about! Many myths creep into the story so far and its highly enjoyable.

Its started to delve into Ashs history again, so we learn more about him. What makes a cold exterior makes him a bit of a sweetheart on the inside. Such is the effect on him of falling in love. This explores the meaning of love and sacrifice. There are already plenty of sword fights, near-forgotten characters brought up again, and hints that keep me itching to finish it.

Theres an ominous sense of danger that keeps creeping up at the strangest moments and I know it will be an insane book to read. I do love reading about Meghan, but itll be nice to read the story from a different point of view!

rachel caine glass houses

The wait is over. dig into the feast

In the town of Morganville, vampires and humans live in relative peace. Student Claire Danvers has never been convinced, though —especially with the arrival of Mr. Bishop, an ancient, old-school vampire who cares nothing about harmony. What he wants from the town’s living and its dead is unthinkably sinister. It’s only at a formal ball, attended by vampires and their human dates, that Claire realizes the elaborately evil trap he’s set for Morganville.

I finished Midnight Alley two nights ago and then immediately raced home to download the next one off my librarys database. This is the audiobook, and its one of the best Ive heard. I love the narrator; shes perfect and I will definitely listen to whatever else she has narrated so far.

One of the best parts of this book is the complexity. The world-building of the town is so utterly impeccable that I cant help but want to devour the parts that talk about it. Its perfectly paced, which makes this such a great transition to audio.

Claire, Shane, Eve, Michael, Jason, Oliver, Amelieall the characters interact in such interesting ways. Their actions and their thoughts only become clear partway through the book and all somehow manage to knit together in the end. Throughout the book, there are incredible twists and discoveries that truly make it an incredible read.

I love love love this series and I cant wait to finish it on audio!

silence becca fitzpatrick

The noise between Patch and Nora is gone. Theyve overcome the secrets riddled in Patchs dark pastbridged two irreconcilable worldsfaced heart-wrenching tests of betrayal, loyalty and trustand all for a love that will transcend the boundary between heaven and earth. Armed with nothing but their absolute faith in one another, Patch and Nora enter a desperate fight to stop a villain who holds the power to shatter everything theyve worked for—and their love—forever.

I got an audiobook of this to review and I really love the story. It doesnt translate incredibly well to audio, but its okay. You could really read it in either print or audio.

The great part about the audio is that I hadnt realized how amazing of a writer that Becca Fitzpatrick was! Her syntax and description is phenomenal. The action and twists in her plot tend to overshadow her skills as a writer simply with words. I hadnt noticed it before because I was rushing to finish the book and find out what happens! The audio is definitely the way to go if you want to have the experience or truly notice the writing.

The bad part about the audio is that the narrator (Nora) isnt the voice I would have chosen. Its higher and not as clear as I imagined. I imagined Noras voice as deeper and a bit throatier. When the narrator pronounces certain syllables and letters, it sounds like her tongue tends to press against the front of her teeth and doesnt make certain words clear. It gets muffled a few times, but at other times, she is great at articulation.

The narrator is excellent with the emphasis of sound. While it will be frustrating to listen to the end simply because of the incredible, suspenseful plot and because I read much faster than I listen, Im going to enjoy the experience of savoring the writing. Its excellent for me so far!

What are you reading?

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Release Date: January 31, 2012
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Format: ARC
Source: Trade (Rani)
*Note: Check out Ranis blog! Shes been a presence on Twitter but she just started a book blog!*

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

NEWSOUL 
Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why. 

NOSOUL 
Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame? 

HEART 
Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all? 

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

From what Ive seen in the blogosphere and in buzz is that this is a pretty hot little book. Everybody seems to want it because everybody seems to love it. One reason might be because its such a new concept. Reincarnation has been played with in books such as Fallen but nothing has really gone so far with it.

Its been much too long since Ive read such a high fantasy book that I didnt really know what to expect. It has a bit of a dystopian air to it, similar to Uglies but lighter. The world-building in this book was fantastic, so that really added to the high fantasy experience.

The one thing that really clinches the high fantasy aspect of the book is that its explained almost immediately. However, I dont know how Meadows did this but she managed to pace the flow of information that we were getting. It wasnt overwhelming, and we werent left out of the loop. Everything was clear and understandable soon, but intricate.

I wasnt expecting this book to actually be this good. I had heard great things about it, but to me it just looked like any other book. Im so glad that I picked it up though because I started to read it and couldnt put it down. I read it on the plane to Montana and was completely engrossed. The writing style and plot just keep it the perfect read for any occasion.

The characters were much stronger than I expected them to be, and actually stuck out to me. After thousands of books, it gets harder and harder for a character like the protagonist to stick out and set a new standard. Ana reminded me of Juliette from Shatter Me and Nikki from Everneath. Although she had similarities to other characters, she managed to stay completely unique.

I really enjoyed the different creatures pulled up in this book. Nobody ever talks about sylphs or dragons (well, some dragons but not like these) in YA. Vampires, werewolves, fey, etc,. are usually the norm. Its nice to have new concepts pulled out and used in these books.

The premise itself was mesmerizing.

Eighteen years ago, the temple went dark. Everybody was expecting Ciana to come back, like everybody does. In this utopian society, each of five million souls is reincarnated after death in different bodies, retaining all their memories, each with a different niche. So what happens when Ana is born?

Ana was a completely new soul. Ciana didnt come back; instead, Ana took her place. Many perceive Anas birth as an omen. Their god is finally punishing them. Anas future is uncertain, but each is certain that her presence is dangerous. On her eighteenth birthday, Ana sets out for Heart. Heart is the capitol city of the Range.

She wants to know more about herself. Why was she born? How did reincarnation work? Why were people incarnated? Her father left her, and her mother was abusive, taunting her because she believed she had no soul.

Ana has been completely alone until she meets Sam, the one boy who is convinced that she isnt a mistake. There was a reason that Ana was there. Sam is convinced that Ana is good and lovely, and is determined to make Ana feel that way herself. But when dragons and sylph attack the city, will everything they know come crashing down?

Ana is almost completely alone. Almost because she has finally found one person who believes in her. Because of her nosoul status, she encounters prejudice and judgement everywhere she goes. People fear her, believing her to be a symbol of worse things to come. It could mean the end of the world as they know it. Still others are curious about her and take every opportunity to pry into her life and discover things about her. Ana takes small comforts in things. She has practically been abused her entire life by a mother who hates her. Her mother punishes her for reading and loving music. Her mother has ingrained in her that she cannot love because nosouls are incapable of love. She shrinks away from what she has been taught may hurt her and shes hungry for knowledge.

Anas existence is much more fragile than everybody elses. For them, they have the promise of returning and keeping the same lives. Eternity is guaranteed for them, but not for her. Nobody knows if she will ever be reborn again, so people tiptoe around the topic of her death. Some want her dead while others would rather have her alive simply to use as an experiment. Nobody sees her as a person.

The experiences that Ana had to go through reminded me of Juliette from Shatter Me and Nikki from Everneath. While she did have many similarities to many other characters, she had a spirit that made her completely unique. Whether this was intentional or not, she had a different soul that was passionate and loving and strong. Her personality was contagious.

She is extremely wise. Knowing those terrible truths about the way people perceived her would be damaging to anybody but shes determined to live life to the fullest. A huge part of this book was dependent on Anas uniqueness because it was another reminder that her existence was wrong to people. In spite of her rough upbringing, she is strong. Shes creative and shy and she has very admirable qualities and she came across as a great person in general. We need more heroines like Ana.

Sam is the boy in love with Ana. He is the person who makes her believe that her soul is good. He destroys the term nosoul and tells her that she has a soul, its simply a newsoul. She is a person just like the rest of them. He knew how to trust even people who didnt trust themselves. His passion for music was incredible and he gave everything to it.

The only hesitation I had with Sam was that he tried to solve peoples problems without asking them first. He didnt allow Ana to help him many times, or would omit something from her for her safety. I dont like it when characters do this in books because why should they choose somebody elses decisions? But other than that, he was extremely likable.

He and Ana were different but they were like mirror images of each other. They had symmetry in their personality, beliefs, and activities.  They were like two halves of one whole, (excuse the metaphor) like the very butterflies brought up in this book.

There was one thing about Sam and Ana that made me snicker like a fourth grader. Excuse the mild immaturity, but imagining Sam in a dress gave me stitches in my side, I was laughing so hard. Apparently as a woman, he was very chesty. The image of him in a dress and lipstick was priceless. Ana wore his old clothes! It was strange to work out the kinks of the reincarnation, but it was funny. Sorry for that brief lapse in maturity.

The pacing of this book was wonderful. Like I mentioned at the beginning of my review, everything was explained clearly and easily at the beginning of the book. The reincarnation process and world-building was elaborated even more throughout the book in the same sort of fashion. We took in a lot of information throughout the book but we could understand it easily and it was all relevant. I loved the imaginative things in this book! Some of it was based on myth (like the creatures) but other parts were incredibly put together and I had never heard anything like it before.

The aspect of reincarnation in this book was very important. The basic premise of this book was reliant upon one of the souls in the cycle of reincarnation being replaced by Ana. Friends of this soul and people worried that they could be next alienated Ana because of this. Doubts swirled in Ana and Sams heads because they were unsure whether she would come back. There were laws about Anas death that even she didnt know about because of this uncertainty. People came back in any form: tall, short, male, female, white black, fat, skinnythey were completely different. The reincarnation aspect was approached similarly to how it was in Blue Bloods with each person coming back in only a few years, still recognizable and retaining their memories.

There was one romanticism of the reincarnation though. It took a whole new meaning to the expression soul mates. It meant that no matter what form somebody was in, if you were meant to be together, you would recognize their soul. The soul stayed the same no matter which body you were in. It was a sweet concept and I enjoyed hearing about it.

Which brings us to another point: the romance. The actual romance in this book was perfectly described. It started as admiration, friendship, passion, and then truly could they be considered soul mates. Sam and Ana were meant to be together, and there were complications because of her status. Sam was the only person who truly believed in her no matter what happened and their romance together was all-consuming. Its inspiring love stories like these that remind me of why I read paranormal romance. I read contemporary too, but theres something incredible about love encompassing death and continuing on forever.

Forever is a strange thing to think about and this book brought up many questions. What if what you thought was forever wasnt? What if you took it for granted and it wasnt there anymore? What happened to the souls that left? There were some deep questions about love, life, and souls in the book that really made you think. This book would make an enjoyable read and a great book club read for teens, or adults that enjoy reading YA.

I must admit that I wasnt expecting this book to have as much action as it did. Or to have pulled it off so well. The descriptions of the dragons and sylph attacking the city clutched you in its terror. The action scenes were intense and filled with fear and extremely well written. They werent random, or put to punctuate long lulls. They had points to them. Everybody staring at this book and thinking its a sappy romance, look again.

The supporting characters were fantastic. Each person exhibited a different response towards Ana. Some were wary while some blindly accepted her. There were those who were kind and mean and people judged her who had never met her. Stef was a particular favorite of mine, but there were so many more who I really hope that we see more of.

Incarnate was a unique story with strong characters, a wholesome romance, and enough danger to keep anybody satisfied. While its world building and high fantasy aspect make it stand out, this book has the potential to be a trendsetter. I look forward to reading more of Jodi Meadows work and I cant wait for this book to come out so I can force it into the hands of everybody I know.

Extraordinary.

Recommended for fans of: Everneath; Dragon Slippers; Blue Bloods; Shatter Me; etc,.

Possible book club questions:

If you were reincarnated, who do you think you would have been in a past life?
How did music link Sam and Ana together? Do you think they would have had the same connection without it?
How does the theme of butterflies tie into the book? When is it exhibited?
Why are people afraid of things that they dont know?
If you could choose, would you choose to be reincarnated with the people you love?
If you knew you would be reincarnated, would you change how you live? How?
How does knowing that theres an end make you live more? How is Anas quality of life different from the other souls? 
etc,. 

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Release Date: September 5, 2011
Publisher: Poppy
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Store

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

 

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, its a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randys car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriends attention 

Then Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys wont get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they dont count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. But what Lissa never sees coming is her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling

May I just start out by sayingI am a huge fan of Kody Keplinger. Not only is she a published teen author, but she writes these incredible articles that are brutally honest. She talks about sex, love, trends, being a teenager, her books, getting an agent, and her strongest suit seems to be talking about labeling. I really admire her for her firm stance on everything. If you have a chance to check out her blog, you should because she is an incredible writer.

Another thing about Kodys stances are that a lot of her views translate across into her books. Dont worry, you wont be preached at, but you can see why she thinks the things she does and how it affects the actions of her characters. This applies to both The Duff and Shut Out.

When I first heard of The Duff, I thought it honestly sounded trashy to me. My sister ended up buying it and I fell in love with Kodys honesty, and before I knew it I was a goner. Her books really can be read on two levels. You can read it on the shallower level and see the hooking up, the friendships, the drama. Or you can see the messages behind them and the character development and growth throughout the book.

Shut Out has such an interesting premise. A sex strike? Based on a Greek play? Granted, hers arent the most appropriate books, but theres nothing graphic. Id recommend it for ages 14 or 15 plus, on occasion a very mature 13 year old. Its not the graphic quality that make people think these are inappropriate (because there is none) but instead the bluntness of her words.

The plot essentially revolves around this soccer rivalry. After make-out sessions with their boyfriends, or special occasions, the boys will just ditch their girlfriends to go prank the other team. People would get hurt. One boy ended up in the hospital, and the boys brushed it off saying that nothing was that big of a deal about the rivalry. They couldnt manage to get it through their heads that it was a cycle. There was no point to the rivalry because nothing would come out of it. It wasnt even a rivalry of different schools. It was the same schools teams! It was the soccer players versus the football players of the school.

At first, the reader doesnt think that the rivalry is all that bad. It starts out with some tamer things egging cars, and some of the other standard pranks. My brother Christmas-trees his friends (its a long story) so I got the boys-will-be-boys and harmless pranks part of it. But then the pranks started to be not-so-harmless. Thats where Lissa decides that she should step in.

The girls are sick of the boys ditching them. Then afterwards, the boys come crawling back to them begging them for sex and such. Lissas quarterback boyfriend Randy is completely ignoring her when he has something to do with his team. She doesnt even get the point of the rivalry. She thinks its stupid. So when she learns about the boy who was in the hospital because of a prank that her boyfriend pulled, and he brushes it off as not a big deal, she is determined to end the rivalry once and for all.

She gathers her closest girlfriends, her friends, her acquaintances, her enemies. At first the girls are skeptical about what she is proposing, but then they start to realize that it just might work. As they become more and more absorbed into what the sex strike might mean, they get deeper than they think until they dont know how far is too far.

Soon enough, the guys catch wind of what the girls are doing, and they decide to fight back. They try to seduce the girls and make at least one of them break their promise to abstain. They resort to trickery, and soon the battle of the sexes becomes just as intense as the rivalry. Could getting past one rivalry mean the beginning of the next? How far will Lissa go to ensure that it works? What happens when she starts to fall in love?

The plot was very well developed, but the best part of the book were the characters.

Lissa was such an endearing main character. To be honest, when I read The Duff, I didnt like Bianca as much. She felt fake and slightly contrived, and I thought that she was shallower than Lissa. Lissa is focused, sometimes a little too focused, and tries to make everything perfect. She is a perfectionist and she wants to prove to her boyfriend that the rivalry is wrong. Sometimes people try to say that Lissa and Bianca were the same, but the beauty of the characters lies in the subtleties. Of course they will be slightly similar, or more than slightly, because the author translates her beliefs into the characters. If you listen to authors talk about writing, many characters personalities come from people they know or from themselves. Many books are based off personal experience or experiences that inspired them. Lissa and Bianca were both fantastic, but very different for most of those who focus on more than the outward.

Shes smart and thoughtful. She isnt as deep as many characters in YA, but many might point that to the focus of the book. Kody likes to talk about teenage drama and problems instead of wider issues, but while many might find that statement going in the wrong direction, I like that shes making it her own. She makes it unique.

The tough part about choosing to make a statement in a book is that it can get a bit repetitive. To my immediate shock and satisfaction, Kody didnt do this. I dont even think she meant to make such a strong statement! It may simply come across unconsciously when she was writing because she feels so passionate about it. It does make an issue of slut-shaming because thats something that almost every girl is guilty of.

This book talks about judging and how it creates rifts between girls and guys alike. It also deals with the harsh truth that it seems to always be the girls fault. The guy is considered a player; girls almost seem to automatically forgive them. They assume that its not something that the guy can control. They think its always the girls fault. This isnt true in all cases, but it seems to be an endless conundrum that we get ourselves into.

Anyways, I loved how the girls, when planning their next moves, had support sleepovers. It was cute, and screamed in a sort of girl-power way. This book was all about girl power! Last year, (although our situation was nothing like the girlsI mean, we we are in middle school at a Christian school) the girls in the grade all bonded at this huge sleepover. It was like Why do we not like each other? Youre awesome and we stayed up all night talking and catching up. I had flashbacks to that while reading this book and reading about Lissa and her friends patching up relationships. A common goal makes everything else fall into place.

The best part is that our grade is still friends. All the girls love each other, and although there may be some drama occasionally, we dont hold grudges like we used to. Another part of that may be the Owning Up program that I spoke of in my List review.

I love how Kody and Siobhan have written these kinds of books for teens because theyre real issues that girls deal with. Some are the ones that we completely ignore but are stabbed in the back with every day. Theyre stereotypes and labels that we try our hardest to escape or change but never seem to. Both authors make strong arguments in their separate books, and I can see these books helping a lot of girls. Plus, theyre just entertaining!

One of the funniest parts of this book was hearing about another character: Cash Sterling. To be honest, his name sounds like the type that would be in jokes about male strippers. Cash Sterling? It made me laugh every time I saw his name in the book. He was so charming, but not contrived. He sounded honestly genuine about everything he said or did, which is rare to find in characters like that. Everything that came out of his mouth seemed to either be the truth or what he believed to be the truth. He had this way of seeing past things, small things that irked other people, or lies that people told. He was a clear guy.

Lissas friends added so much texture to the book. They all contributed in different ways, but it wasnt a forced diversity. There were different ends of the spectrum on sexuality. Some girls were proud to be virgins; others were ashamed of it. Some would go to a certain base; others would go all the way. They were honest with each other.

When I sat down to write this review, I thought it would be awkward to talk about a book like this, where the main plot revolves around sex. Ive read books like Giving Up the V and ones where the girls are open about things like that, but I blush when thinking about my family and friends reading this review. Or even my teachers.

But even though Im thirteen and adults dont expect me to be talking about these things (on the web no less), I have to be honest. I usually get uncomfortable when books talk about teens having sex. I dont believe in sex before marriage. Ive been raised in a Christian community where thats never really happened before. Sure, we hear about people our age and some people we even know, but its more of a taboo subject.

Adults tend to think that theyre protecting us, but most of us (at least the people who Ive been raised with) know right from wrong when they hear it. We can make our own conclusions about it, and it does help to live out several different lives with books like this. It helps us individually experience the emotional connections that the characters have to their actions, with the consequences, and it affects our decisions. This book explores all parts of that. Hooked showed us what its like to be a teenage parent, Someone Like You showed us how to deal with being the friend of somebody who was pregnant. Lost It, Forever, Kiss Itall those talk about what its like to have all that pressure and changes that change you forever. Through hearing about those, and imagining those characters to be us, we can form our own conclusions. I dont think that these books are too inappropriate. For younger kids, yes, but entering high schoolers and above? Older middle schoolers? We deserve to know whats out there in the world. These books educate us, but they dont corrupt us. They also serve as entertainment.

But in books its different. If books are honest like these, it helps. It helps us with the questions that, even though in Health class they tell is that its okay to have a question, were too embarrassed to ask, Kody is blunt about it. She makes everything black and white, but knows when to make something a grey area. She is perfect and blending emotions so perfectly together that you dont know which is which anymore.

I loved that about this book. The emotions of these characters felt so realistic to me. Lissa could screw up sometimes and even make major mistakes, but she knows that she is wrong, and eventually, shell try to fix it. When somebodys wrong, they dont necessarily want to admit it. This book definitely touches on that, and a lot of the outcome is dependent on Lissas decisions.

Overall, I thought that Shut Out was the perfect balance of brutal honesty, entertainment, and emotions. Kody is a fantastic writer, and I look forward to hearing more from her. Her writing definitely connects with teens, and her strength is what makes her books stand out. With honest looks on labeling, slut-shaming, and sex, Shut Out is not one to miss. This one comes highly recommended from me.

Recommended for anybody who loves: The List; Hooked; Someone Like You; Giving Up the V; battles of the sexes; etc,.

Book club questions to come in a separate post.

Top Ten Books I Want to Give as Gifts

Hey yall!
Im sorry I dont have a review for you today. Ive been working on two, but Im fleshing them out a bit more, and Ive been working on my writing recently. However, later this week there should be several much-anticipated ones, so keep your eyes open! There are a ton of books that Im excited about in this post, so excuse the flood of exclamation points!
As for the meme, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. As you can tell from the title, this weeks prompt is Top Ten Books I Want to Give as Gifts. I hope you enjoy!

vampire academy richelle mead

1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone

This is such an engrossing, atmospheric story that I cant help but want to shove it on everybody. Every single person that comes to mind that I have to think of gifts for of my friends would love this book. I might have to purchase copies for a few of them. Its such a clever idea, and its so richness in its setting and the lore behind it! I cant help but be obsessed with this book, even though it released a few months ago.

2. Divergent by Veronica Roth

I know so many guys who have been pining after books like The Hunger Games. The only reason that they havent picked this one yet is that it isnt enough AR points to hold their attention, because when you get to 50 AR points at my school, you get to drop your lowest grade. Although, I think that for me this might be just as good as The Hunger Games. Everything about this book was just amazing!

3. Legend by Marie Lu

I got the opportunity to read an ARC of this over the summer, and this had me spellbound. Its much more political than I believe The Hunger Games and Divergent were, but thats where its strength lies. Im a huge fan of this book, and I have to admit, Im bummed that it hasnt generated as much of a buzz yet! Its incredibly worthy of a gift for somebody.

4. Die for Me by Amy Plum

A few of my friends have the same addiction to paranormal romance as I do and they gasped when I told them about it. A paranormal romance book set in Paris? It sounds incredible to them. Its so enchanting and gorgeous and achingly romantic, with enough sword-fights and action to keep most people interested. I loved this book, and it now ranks among my favorites. I think that my girlfriends would love it just as much as I did if I end up getting copies for them.

5. Penguin Classics

I have another friend (this post is mostly focusing on my friends if you havent noticed already) that loves classics. I definitely admire her for that because I have a handful that I reread, while others seem to bore me to tears. I must say that my favorites would have to be Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Peter Pan, etc,. These ones have such adorable covers.

6. Crossed by Ally Condie

I have friends who are absolutely addicted to this series. I played around with the word addicted while talking about Die for Me but my friends are like vultures when it comes to this series. They eagerly awaited with a countdown to November 1, where they could snatch up copies for themselves. I have a few friends who havent had the opportunity to read this yet, so I may have to give this to them.

7. Bunheads by Sophie Flack

This is a book that I would consider for my dance teacher. I have already lent her a copy of my ARC of Bunheads, but I think that shed love to have her own copy. This author was a dancer in the New York City ballet for years, so she definitely portrays her intense love of dance and she gets it. Non-dancers dont understand what dancers feel when we dance, but Sophie Flack portrays that so clearly and greatly that I cant help but recommend this to every dancer I meet who likes to read.

8. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

I am positively itching to get somebody else I know to read the  series. I know a few, but not nearly enough have read this. A lot of people I know write it off as oh, another vampire book, but its so much more than that. This book has action, love, hate, lust, travels, danger, friendship, everything possible to contain in a YA novel, it feels like. Im in love with this series, and it almost acts as an icon for what many other series would like to be. Every book is a knockout.

9. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

I honestly want to give every adult and teen I know this book. I picked this for my top ten not only because its my favorite book, but one that I genuinely feel would connect with the people Im looking at for gifts. This book is simply breathtaking, and theres so much I could say about it. I say adults also because its one of those rare crossover books that appeals to the mainstream adult market as well. Im speechless when I think about this book.

10. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

I have heard fantastic things about this book. I know that its a very popular picks for book clubs and is on many favorites and must read shelves in bookstores. So many people have gushed to me about this book that I think it would make many people I know incredibly happy to open it on Christmas. Personally, I have not read it, but I want to so badly. It sounds emotional, poignant, well-written, languid. Even that title catches your attention.

Thank yall for reading today, and I hope I just gave you a few ideas for your Christmas gifts!

Grace

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Release Date: June 14, 2011
Publisher: Random House
Format: Hardcover
Source: Random Buzzers

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ann Brashares comes the welcome return of the characters whose friendship became a touchstone for a generation. Now Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting. 

Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness. 

Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected. 

As moving and life-changing as an encounter with long-lost best friends, Sisterhood Everlasting is a powerful story about growing up, losing your way, and finding the courage to create a new one.

There have been different points of view on this book. Some people didnt like the fact that Ann Brashares had written an epilogue to the series, and opted out of reading the fifth book. Others were eager to pick up where the story left off, and some people just stumbled upon it.

This book makes your emotions run rampant. You will cry, you will get angry, you will want to be sucked into the story and both throw it against the wall.

Lena, Tibby, Bridget, and Carmen are some of the most filling characters in stories. There are those series that everybody reads, everybody has seen the movie, and they are just familiar to you. You feel like theyre your best friends and they always have been.

In this novel, the Septembers do deal with issues that are adult, and it should be suited as a nice crossover book for many teens to start reading in the adult genre. This book is mostly marketed to both, because its an adult book, but many readers of the Sisterhood series are teenagers.

Yes, there are some adult situations. There is dealing with money, balancing work with your personal life and respecting those boundaries (Carmen), wondering if the path that you left behind is the one that you should have taken, grief, and the sad reality of growing apart from the people that you grew up with.

In the early years after college, the Septembers were inseparable. Slowly and surely, they drifted apart. Bee moved to California; Lena started teaching classes in Providence; Carmen remained in New York to work as an actress; and Tibby moved halfway across the world.

Almost ten years later, they are about to turn thirty. They wonder whether the choices that they made were the right ones, and what happened to their sisters. They have almost given up hope of being sisters again, when Tibby sends them a letter.

This letter including a plane ticket to Greece tells them to go to Greece at a certain time. It will be like their trip to Greece in the fourth book. They will reunite, and have one last ritual of the Pants. Carmen, Lena, and Bee travel to Greece with the plans to meet Tibby there.

Their experience in Greece will change the rest of their lives and change the Sisterhood forever.

Im writing this review right after I read this book because the emotions bubbling up with me have been taking over my head since I started this book. When I was reading it the other day, my sister walked in on me sobbing as I read because the feelings that this book gave me were so potent.

Im not even being dramatic about this. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was one of the first young adult books that I ever read and perhaps the most honest. While not being graphic or raunchy, it goes through all the troubles and triumphs of growing up and becoming an adult. Between sex and love, friendship and prejudice, this book still gives you a feel-good feeling that makes you feel grateful for the friends that you have.

This book represented for me, growing up and becoming who I am. I turned to the Sisterhood when I felt like I had no other place to go and I needed to know what to do. It truly strengthens the bonds of friendship and it takes you through every hoop that you might face. The previous series wasnt raw or intense, but it was complex and full of life.

This book still retained the elements of the Sisterhood that made me fall in love with it so completely but it will change you. This is the book that you have to set aside time to read. No matter what you think you knew about life, this book takes a look at what it all means. It may be different for other people, but this book changed me for the better. Once you know something, you can never go back to that state of not knowing, and this was the same for this book. I can never go back. I will always remember the Sisterhood like this.

This isnt a book; its an experience.

I hadnt read a book before this in a long time that made me feel alive. I have been on the search for a book that made me feel some strong emotion or experience a memory that I thought was lost forever. Each book was different, and good, but a lot of contemporary books started to have the same feel for me.

I had actually thought that I wasnt going to read this book. In June, my camp counselor had bought this to read, and I was surprised to even learn that there had been an epilogue for this series. I for one, was happy where they had left off.

Im probably going to end up writing this book chronologically, and talking about how I felt while I read.

During the beginning of the book, I was ready for pretty much anything. I thought that I was prepared to see how the girls handled their lives as adults, and how they interacted with each other. With this part of my thinking, I was completely and utterly wrong. This book left me falling apart and torn up inside and then just managed to build me up again.

Reading this book put me through all the emotional pain that I had gone through in my lifetime and my brief experiences with grief were not enough to prepare me for this. This book makes you cry for all that is wrong with the world but leaves you with the hope that it might someday be fixed.

One of the saddest parts to me was the idea that you could drift apart from your friends. When you were so close all throughout the beginning of your life, but when you become an adult, theyre like half-wishes that never came true. They thought about each other and wondered about each other, but none of them were willing to bridge the gap until Tibby came along. It seemed hard to be the one to make the first move.

It just seemed heartbreaking that they could all just be thinking of each other with nostalgia, but they didnt know what was going on in each others life. Nobody knew that Carmen was having doubts about her fiance, Jones. None of the Sisters knew that Tibby had moved to Australia until they went to her apartment one day to find that she had randomly gone with Brian for his job. They didnt know that Lena was still longing for a relationship that she had years ago Kostos in Greece. Bee was constantly moving, and she couldnt seem to settle down.

Carmen liked to think of herself as the spoiled younger sister, but I really didnt think that she was that much. Even if she was a little bit in the first few books, in this book she has matured. Shes an actress in New York, balancing the line between love and work. I liked this point of view because she goes and punctures illusion. Carmen finds a lot of truth in this book.

Tibby was my favorite character throughout the series because I like to think that Im a little like her. I get really moody sometimes, and I think about the bigger things. She was always my favorite, and she didnt like change. She always wanted to look back and stay in the past, and thats why I think that she was probably the one most affected by the Sisterhood drifting apart.

Although Tibby was my favorite character, I just loved hearing about Bees stories. Her adventurous nature made her a standout, and she always was on the move. She was free, and thats something that everyone wishes that they could be. She was that type of uncaring spirit that you always wanted to watch.

Lena was the sweetheart. Her art hasnt been coming to her lately; she hasnt drawn in a while. She was the type of girl who is more comfortable on the outskirts, and I identified with that. While her body was in Providence, her mind was in Greece with Kostos. Kostos was then a high-profile businessman splitting his time between Greece and London, and she constantly thought of going back to talk with him. Doubts riddled her mind and she wondered if he would think of her like she thought of him.

I must say that Lena and Kostos may be my favorite romance in YA. Its not overly hot, but its calm and theres a quiet passion between them that speaks louder than words. They long for each other, and its not overdone. Its every romance that youve ever wanted, every future that youve ever wanted. Lena sees her future in Kostoss eyes. Some parts of it are subtle, but others are on the surface. They both dont want to take the risk of trying to see each other again after the mistakes that they made in their relationship. It was almost like a forbidden love, but they were just so amazing together. Thats the type of love that I want to have eventually.

This book is basically life condensed into 349 pages and everything that you want to have out of it. It deals with the bad things, the good things, and all the shades of grey. If you have ever thought of yourself as a reader of the Sisterhood books, or even just a book lover, you should read this. It wont leave you, but it makes you feel alive.

No book recommendations. Just read it!

No book club questions. Just enjoy it! 

Thanks for reading,

Grace

Matched by Ally Condie

Release Date: November 30, 2010
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback

Matched by Ally Condie

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xanders face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate until she sees Ky Markhams face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. 

The Society tells her its a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life shes destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia cant stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Societys infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life shes known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

As the release of Crossed (the sequel to Matched) draws closer, this book is talked more and more about. More people are reading it, the paperback edition came out, and Penguin is creating more and more buzz about it.

I had actually borrowed and read this book before I got a copy from the #allychat on Twitter from Penguin. I was pretty excited about it. I had wanted Crossed, but I didn’t have a need for it. Matched had left me satisfied, but that was pretty much it.

When I read this for the first time, I kept making comparisons to The Giver, which I had analyzed so often and thoroughly in Language Arts that I started to have a deep seated loathing for it. I know that its a great book, but after a certain point of debating metaphors and analyzing each characters intent, you tend to get kind of sick of a book.

The thought of reading The Giver again had depressed me. Anyways, the first time, I thought of Matched as okay. I honestly hadnt understood why my friends loved it. I thought it was good, but I didnt think it was amazing. The second time that I read it, I truly adored it.

This review is a mixture of both the first and second times that I read this, with comparisons between the two as I continue, so that you know. It may depend on how you look at it, but Matched gets even better each time that you reread it. It did for me.

Cassia has always had faith in the Society. If marriages weren’t regulated, if people didn’t die at exactly the same age, where would order be? There would be no happiness in the chaos, because while one person might be bursting with pride, another might be falling apart at the seams. The Society has drilled these facts into her head since she was a baby.

Sleep tags monitor the dreams of the citizens at night. Food is distributed and experimented with based on each individual person’s dietary need. Careers are assigned.

Sometime after your sixteenth year, you are Matched. You find the person that you are going to be with, the person calculated to be most like you, and that your genes might “match” up perfectly to produce healthy children. You become married at age 21.

Cassia goes to her Matching ceremony on her birthday, with her parents and her best friend, Xander. She will find out her partner that night and she will learn about him. Someday they will be married, and Cassia is extremely nervous about the ceremony.

Cassia has been matched with Xander. For the first time in a long time, somebody has been matched with a person that she knows. She loves Xander, and she knows that they will be happy together.

However, there’s a source of doubt prying away at her. For a brief moment, she saw another face as her Match. The screen showed another face as her Match, and it was also somebody that she knew.

It was Ky. Always invisible and almost never noticed, Ky is the boy that she never thinks about. Until then, she hadn’t thought of Ky in years.

Then she sees him everywhere. As they become friends, as she learns the truth behind their forbidden Match, as they grow to love each other, she knows that she has a decision to make: Ky or the Society?

In this chilling and elegant story of forbidden love and rebellion, boundaries will be tested and loyalties will change. This was an enthralling read, exactly the type of story that I love to read.

The first time that I read this book, I thought that it was kind of boring. I read this over a year ago, I believe, and I didn’t get why my friends were obsessing over it. Nothing much happened at the beginning, and things were much more subtle.

The second time that I read it, I noticed finer details. I realized that this was more of a world-building book, and it was setting up the world for the next book. There is a chapter teaser for Crossed in the paperback that I received, and after reading that, I know that my theory is correct. The second book will be even better than the first. Part of this understanding might have been that when I first read it, I was a reader, but I didnt know much about how series worked. I wanted my books to be immediately fantastic. As I got older, I got that sometimes books were more patient with this and that you had to wait for the world to be fully created.

Although it is definitely true that this was a slower book, I feel that it needed to happen this way. Dystopian books can’t all be The Hunger Games. Like The Giver, this book did focus more on character-building and setting and world-building.

Ally Condie did fully establish the rules and government systems of the Society. She made it very clear what the boundaries were, while she also gave us a sense of secrecy and evilness in the Society. She used fine detail to illustrate the coldness of the society. Everything seemed kind of starch and uniform, and there was a crack in their logic. Everything couldnt be controlled.

There’s a reason why this book is actually very similar to other dystopian books. This would be because in every dystopian, the society has to regulate things to keep order. It’s for the greater good. The problem with these ideas is that you can’t control every variable thrown out there, and this book is the perfect example of that.

A huge theme  in this book was trust. Who could Cassia trust? Ky or the Society? She had to make life-altering choices based on that trust and she sometimes didnt know what to believe. The Society had influenced everybodys decisions and thoughts for years, so when she is suddenly making decisions on her own, she doesnt know what to think. Trust is the key concept of this book, and it was beautifully illustrated.

Cassia was a beautiful character to read about. Her personality was more laid-back. She was content to follow the Society because she was more sheltered, and hadn’t seen a problem with it. However, she does have a fervent curiosity in her that is absolutely stunning. She knew when to think things through but she still acted rashly when talking about love. She was sensible, but not in an annoying way that some characters are.

One thing that kept going through my head as I read was how the Society would tell her that everything was controlled. Even the choice of her dress was calculated by her personality and data. It made me wonder whether everything in the Society was controlled like that and if they truly did know what was going to happen with everybody or if they were lying to her. It brought the points up as to whether or not it was an experiment or if her feelings for Ky and Xander were real.

She was quieter as well, but profound. She didn’t really have any hugely defining character traits, but she was steady and consistent in her personality. It was refreshing to see such a balanced character.

Now Xander sounds like the perfect boy. He watches out for Cassia and is a perfect gentleman. He is her best friend and he acted like it, but he also gave little hints of wanting something more than being friends. You know that no matter what, he was there for her. He was her rock throughout the book and was solid. I loved him a little bit.

Ky was the messy, chaotic, passionate one. He wasn’t a bad boy, or a perfect gentleman, but he was just average mostly. He was sad because of the awful things that happened to him and he expressed himself through his words and art. It was he who put in the seeds of rebellion in Cassia, but he wasn’t a bad influence on her at all.

He laughed and he cried. While Xander was the rock, it was really Ky who was the source of emotion throughout the book. He was the one who truly changes Cassia. He was the one who made her think about what exactly was wrong with the Society, and how they had the power to fix it.

Im not saying that Im Team anybody. Ky seemed better for Cassia, but I did like Xander better. Just because I felt that he was more consistent, and he had been there for Cassia for years. She just started looking at Ky in the past few months in the book and I thought that personally, she was being unfair to Ky. Feel free to disagree, this is just my opinion! :)

The ending was pulled off beautifully. Ally Condie gave the reader exactly what we needed at the end.

The best part of this book was probably how clean it was. During the #allychat that I got this book at, I was stunned to learn that Ally doesnt outline! She did it all randomly. Im not sure if she wrote chronologically or out of order, but I was stunned. Its one of the cleanest books that Ive read but whether thats on the part of the editors and copy editors or Ally herself, its yet to be determined. Im amazed by her!

I also read this for the second time after reading Fahrenheit 451, which Ally also said influenced her work a lot. I can definitely see traces of it in the library scene and in how youre only allowed to have 100 novels, 100 paintings, 100 poems, etc,.

That also brought up another point to me because Im always curious as to whether thats true: I personally dont think that we have too many different arts in our society. The Society claimed that culture was too cluttered and they needed to select only a few to remain. The devastation of having all of those works of art destroyed would kill me. I get upset if somebody ruins a book!

I was very impressed by Matched the second time around. I had read the paperback only because it had been a long time since I had read it, and I knew that I was going to probably end up borrowing Crossed from a friend in November, so I was really excited to dig into this. Once I got into it again however, I ended up picking up details that I hadnt noticed before. I ended up really enjoying it the second time around. I have the feeling that Crossed is going to blow my mind.

Recommended for anybody who loves: The Giver; City of Ember; Fahrenheit 451; Gone; etc,.

Possible book club questions:

If you could only choose five works of art to save, what would you save?
Do you think that the Society considered it in their best interest or in the citizens to keep them in control?
What do you think that Kys adoptive parents believed about him? Do you think that they will play a bigger part in the later books?
Would Matching make relationships easier or harder if it were in the real world?
etc,.