Sunday, June 26, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

I gave this novel a rating of three out of five. The setting is sometime in the future where the Officials control almost every part of the citizens' lives. Cassie's best hopes are realized when she is matched to be married to her best friend, Xander. However, the day after the matching ceremony, Cassie sees that she's also been matched with another boy named Ky. The Officials say that Ky's matching was a mistake, but Cassie starts to wonder. She finds herself doing group activities with Ky and starts to have feelings for him. Cassie can't go against the plans of the Officials, so she must keep her feelings secret. She starts to notice some strange things about the Officials and wonders if there is something they're hiding. She also remembers the message shared by her grandfather before he died. How can one girl fight an entire society?

Readers who enjoy romance will probably love this book, but I needed more to the plot. The main conflict was Cassie and Ky's relationship against the Officials. The plot of this novel seemed to move slowly as the relationships between Cassie and Xander and Ky developed. The book has some strong feelings about the future of society, but it didn't interest me enough. Other novels like The Hunger Games and The Barcode Tattoo had similar messages about future societies, but they had more action to keep the plot flowing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

This book has a rather unusual setting, and I gave it a rating of five out of five. Incarceron is a prison with a life of its own, literally. Finn is the main character living inside the prison, while Claudia is the main character living on the Outside. Finn believes he's from the Outside and has visions of past memories, but most people doubt that he came from somewhere else. He receives a crystal key as part of a ransom and hopes to use it to escape Incarceron. However, the band of thieves ruling inside the prison, the warden and queen living on the Outside, and Incarceron will not let that happen. Meanwhile, Claudia's father oversees Incarceron, although they live on the Outside. He's not a kind man and has arranged for Claudia to marry the son of the queen. Claudia was originally supposed to marry the queen's stepson, but he died unexpectedly. Claudia suspects murder, but she has no evidence. She finds a crystal in her father's study and discovers she can see and communicate with Finn. Little do they know how closely their past and futures are joined.

I had some trouble early on as I tried to grasp the meaning behind the setting of Incarceron. It's location should surprise you! The conflict and plot became clearer as Finn made plans to escape, and Claudia's wedding day drew nearer. I liked how the author kept me wondering about what was really going on even as Finn made his way through the prison. There always seemed to be lingering, unanswered questions. The questions are answered as the plot nears the climax, and a sequel seems likely with the way things were left during the resolution. The themes of friendship and trust are strongly demonstrated.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Boy at the End of the World by Greg van Eekhout

Apparently, this book hasn't been published yet, but I gave it rating of four out of five. The setting is many years in the future after Man has managed to destroy himself. However, a young boy survives in an ark and is awakened by his robot protector when the ark comes under attack. The boy, Fisher, is accompanied by the robot, Click, and a small woolly mammoth, Protein, as he searches for other humans. Fisher discovers the existence of a second ark, but must survive attacks by deadly machines, mutant crocodiles, and giant parrots. He travels along what used to be the Mississippi River in search of other human survivors. The human race will become extinct if Fisher is unable to complete his quest. However, the whole quest may be useless if no other humans remain.

The conflict is interesting, and the author has a good amount of action to keep readers interested. Fisher's group is an unusual blend of characters as Click keeps trying to stop him from taking risks, and Protein leads the way while eating and pooping most of the time. I like how the author had the three characters bond even though they were so different. Fisher risked his life several times while trying to save the robot. The conflict became more and more difficult to resolve, and the climax was suspenseful and unexpected. It's a good read for people who enjoy science fiction.