Wrap up – The Matched Trilogy by Allie Condie

A dystopian adventure that left me a little disturbed.

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Such an amazing concept – the Matched trilogy has hues of ‘The Giver’ and ‘Divergent’ but did not deliver as well as those did. Sad to say, but this series has got to be the lowest rated I’ve read to date. Maybe it’s because it was released at the start of the dystopian craze and marketed towards a tween demographic, leaving me feeling like I’d read it all before and the immature narrative tone felt boring.

I didn’t know what to expect going into the series because of such mixed ratings on Goodreads and from my friends, so I took it on faith of Ally Condie’s popularity as an author.

I guess the best way I can sum this series up is ‘soft,’ having all the elements to make a great dystopian, but not quite hammering them home for me. The pacing felt slow to start with, though the descriptions of the landscape are inspiring, the story lagged. The poetry elements were also lost on me – I skipped over every one of them.

Each book seemed to be an improvement on the last; especially in terms of character development and pacing. Though I can say I was never sure where this story was going to go. Not because of predictability, but because of its narrative style. The changing perspectives and what felt like a lack of direction left my interest waning several times. The world-building felt over simplified and at times waffly. There felt like a compulsion from the author to pair all the characters up too. It was too nice for a dystopian series. I wanted more grit, higher stakes for the characters and the world.

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I supposed ‘stylized’ is the best way to describe the treatment of this trilogy. While it was entertaining, the characters took a while for me to care about, I was frequently bored or frustrated. And ultimately, upon finishing the series, I did not feel satisfied. Book 1 ‘Matched’ dealt with escape; Book 2 ‘Crossed’ with a battle for survival in the wilderness; and ‘Reached’ turned out to be a rebellion… fought in a Lab. It wasn’t cohesive and felt like an author’s first draft.

The elements of medical science and technology were really interesting and I would have liked them more in the forefront of the plot (with details – many times the details were skipped over or dumbed down.) As too with the survival aspects – fighting in a war and trekking across inhospitable landscapes. I love these aspects, but wasn’t lead to feel like they were desperate and on the brink of death – which they were.

I did like the covers, the simplicity and symbolism. They definitely drew me in. The collection as a whole blended well together aesthetically. Large readable font in the hardback boxed set that I purchased. The cover art definitely lead me to believe there would be a heavier sci-fi element than was represented.

So a great premise, but lukewarm delivery for me. Sadly the trilogy took a slow downward slope to disappointment. Not a collection of books I’d recommend. 😦

Matched Trilogy Wrap Up Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

For individual reviews click on the links below:

Matched’https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/book-review-matched-by-ally-condie/

Crossed’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/book-review-crossed-by-ally-condie/

Reached’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2017/06/22/book-review-reached-by-ally-condie/

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Book Review – ‘Reached’ by Ally Condie

A slow decline into obscurity…

Reached Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Dystopian, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 512

From Goodreads:

After leaving Society to desperately seek The Rising, and each other, Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again. Cassia is assigned undercover in Central city, Ky outside the borders, an airship pilot with Indie. Xander is a medic, with a secret. All too soon, everything shifts again.

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I think what I’m glad about most, is that I managed to finish this trilogy. This wasn’t the series for me. As interesting as the concept was, the delivery and characters didn’t grab my attention like I had hoped. One hundred pages in to ‘Reached’ and I was so bored. The story jumped forward in time a little from its predecessor ‘Crossed’ and I had difficulty connecting with the cast. Additionally, it tells the story from three points of view (Ally has added a POV with each novel,) changing in each chapter, adding more strain for me to get into the narrative.

I liked Xander’s strength of character, Ky’s determination, but Cassia, though steadfast, lost the oomph she had in the previous two books. She actually felt somewhat superfluous for most of the novel.

While the plot was interesting enough, the writing style and wordiness ultimately left me on the bored side. I pretty much adopted a speed reading method for the entire book because I never got that engrossed to slow down and lavish in the language. Again, as I did in the previous books, completely skipped over the poetry sections – for some reason I didn’t find these appealing at all.

It felt like there was a compulsion from the author to pair everyone up as well, which came across as cheap and cheesy – but that could be because my experience was starting to tilt more towards the uninterested side. I wasn’t invested in the characters or the story.

The myth of The Pilot and the other places were introduced too late in the storyline for me to give them any credibility, and weren’t explored/explained enough to add value to the plot. Felt a little wishy-washy.

The premise is great and well thought out, but the execution was wobbly and waffly. I enjoyed how the priorities of the society changed because of the rules and regulations, what was valued and what wasn’t, what was considered powerful… it really is a thing of beauty, I just couldn’t get into it. There was no grit, the stakes didn’t feel high enough for the characters, and the world did not feel fully realised through the eyes of Ky, Cassia & Xander.

Over-simplified in world building and the structure of the society gave this book a tone of a first draft. Additionally the general population in the novel were grouped enmass in descriptions, like there was very little individuality, leaving it feeling unrealistic. The series came across as too stylised. On the whole, this trilogy left me uneasy. I had too many unanswered questions.

With what turned out as a pathogenic war – a complete departure from where I thought it was going and from the type of action established in the previous two books. Book 1 ‘Matched’ dealt with escape; Book 2 ‘Crossed’ with a battle for survival in the wilderness; and ‘Reached’ turned out to be a rebellion… fought in a Lab. It went from a physical challenge to an intellectual one. And Ky, Cassia and Xander are the only ones capable of succeeding against all odds as a team? Too much of a cop out! What happened to all the experts in technology and science who built this world. Cue me growling in frustration. With all that (unrealistic) pressure there was also a huge missed opportunity – there was such little tension and emotion between the trio… it all fell flat.

At the end of ‘Reached’ I got no feeling of triumph or accomplishment, the book was mildly interesting but when I reached (pun intended) the last page, I kind of thought ‘okay, well that was that…’

Overall feeling: A lukewarm wet mess on my front lawn…

Reached Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Reached Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Crossed’ by Ally Condie

An adventure in the rocky wild that plateaued…

crossed-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: Y/A, Dystopian, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 367

From Goodreads:

The Society chooses everything. 

The books you read. 

The music you listen to. 

The person you love. 

Yet for Cassia the rules have changed. Ky has been taken and she will sacrifice everything to find him. 

And when Cassia discovers Ky has escaped to the wild frontiers beyond the Society there is hope.

But on the edge of society nothing is as it seems…

A rebellion is rising.

And a tangled web of lies and double-crosses could destroy everything. 

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I just don’t know about this one. I enjoyed the survival aspect, and their quest. How they were out in The Carving, the wilderness, and had to rely on a different set of skills to survive. But the tone of the narrative was nearly anesthetising. I found myself speed reading through a large chunk of the book because the words weren’t grabbing me enough.

crossed-book-review-pic-02-by-casey-carlisleI enjoyed how we got to see more depth from Cassia and Ky – and this book is told in dual perspectives.. I’m still a little lost in to why Allie Condie changed up the format of her storytelling. It didn’t add too much to the plot, other than to let us know all the characters keep secrets.

It is an interesting story, but the delivery is, I hate to say it, bland. The hints of poetry we got in ‘Matched’ are a lot heavier in ‘Crossed,’ to the point where I was bored of them. I’m not a big fan of poetry, especially in YA. Poetry is compact, meaningful and something to be pondered over, where YA is punchy, fast and riding on the waves of current trends; so it felt jarring to have the two collide in the narrative. It is very symbolic and carries a romantic theme about life and rebellion – but I didn’t feel that. As soon as I reached the italicised letters I skipped down to the end.

The ending was okay – a bit of a cliff-hanger that has enticed me enough to read ‘Reached’ – the final in the trilogy. Luckily enough, these books are quick and easy to digest. I just wish the writing style was punchier and the pacing faster. I don’t find it melodic or engaging – merely interesting. Let’s hope the final book really shines, otherwise this series is going to seriously bomb.

A lot of the questions I had in ‘Matched’ went unanswered, and even more are raised in ‘Crossed’ – so it’s set up the finale for a doozy – and I really want to find out what is going on in this society, as well as the fates of Cassia, Ky and Xander.

As a middle book in a trilogy, I was expecting to be a little weaker than it’s predecessor, but it’s about on par – the character development is much better, as is the plot, but pacing felt really slow. I wanted a lot more to happen in this book. And at least get some resolution. I didn’t feel any satisfaction when I reached the last page. Just that I needed to read ‘Reached’ to get some answers.

Overall feeling: fun, but flatlined.

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Matched’ by Ally Condie

A fragile equilibrium is about to be tested…

matched-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: Y/A, Dystopian, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 369

From Goodreads:

In the Society, officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.


Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one…until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

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Every one of my friends who read ‘Matched‘ before me gave it different rating – so much so that I had no idea if I would like the book or not. I’m glad it turned out that way, because if I had high expectations, this book would have bombed big time. Going in tentative, this novel ended up being a solid okay read. Which is promising for the series if the writing and stakes are increased with each volume.

Matched‘ is understated and slow paced. I mean that in a positive light. It reflects the attitudes and landscape around our protagonist: carefully filtered to keep things in an artificial balance. It’s unrealistic and unsustainable; and we start to see cracks before the end of the novel.

But the main part of this story revolves around Cassia awakening to the thought that she wants choice. Choice of who she is matched to, choice of her vocation… and that line of thinking is dangerous to their society.

Her biggest dilemma is mixed feelings between two guys: Xander And Ky. I’m loath to call it a love triangle, because it isn’t, even though it falls into that category. It just narrowly escaped one of my all time despised YA tropes. Ky surprised me – I had him pegged as the bad guy, the rebel – but he is nothing like that. Just as Xander is not so much the golden boy he is made out to be.

The characters are rich and we take time to get to know them through Cassia’s perspective. It feels very organic as each of the cast grows and develops.

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I found myself wanting more fast paced action and for Cassia to stand up and challenge the system – but it’s an easy mistake to make – that would not have worked for this novel, or for Cassia. She hasn’t found her feet yet. But it left me excited for where the next two books in this trilogy.

Ally Condie’s writing style is effortless. She paints colourful backdrops with a breezy prose with you can get through quickly – which helps because of the slow pacing.

I was a little disappointed in the world building. There wasn’t enough information for me to get interested in Cassia’s plight. It was the relationship that drew me in. I’m hoping we get the origins, mythology, and reasons behind this dystopian world better explored in ‘Crossed‘ before I get too frustrated in the series.

I can’t say that the book was predictable, because there wasn’t enough resolution for me to sink my teeth into. I still have sooo many unanswered questions. And the last few chapters dropped so many teasers. I’m kind of thinking this isn’t a book I’ recommend unless your committed to the entire trilogy‎.

Overall feeling: It was okay.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Creepy dolls, cool cars and cuddly cuteness.

The Distance Between Us Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 312

From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

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This is the third title from Kasie West that I have read so far in what has turned out to be a typically expected pleasant contemporary. Interesting characters and predicaments make for a lovely romantic escape, and ‘The Distance Between Us’ does not disappoint.

The Distance Between Us Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleCaymen was a lot like me growing up (except I had two parents with high expectations and rules like hers). Her hard work ethic masking a romantic, yet practical side gave Caymen a grounded edge that had me easily relating to her. It was a nice break from flighty and stubborn protagonists and lent our lead a realistic and mature edge.

It was great to see a love interest that was just what he seemed. I lurved Xander. He was real, making no apologies for his lifestyle and the resources he has at hand. Yes, that can be a little entitled, but he wore it well. I was ready to tackle Caymen to the ground and claim Xander all for myself.

One thing about this novel – the doll shop had me freaked out – porcelain dolls are scary little buggars. I can remember my cousin chasing me around the back yard with one when I was younger wanting to play… the only thing you’ll get out of me with those creepy things about is a scream and a cloud of dust in my wake.

I do enjoy Kasie’s writing style, it’s very easy to read and lends to a fast paced afternoon read. Great to curl up on the lounge and while away a lazy weekend!

The surprise ending was a little cliché, but with a romance, it’s mostly expected. Very after school special. Recommended for those who enjoy quick, light-hearted, contemporary reads.

Overall feeling: strange + cute = adorkable

The Distance Between Us Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

The Distance Between Us Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.