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It’s another Guest Review! Yay!

Christina Franke must really love me, because just as I was looking at this next book thinking, “When am I going to have time to read this between puppet shows and slaying dragons!?”  She texts me with a “I’ve just read this book, want a review?”  I am officially in her debt and am willing to offer her my first born child, as is standard procedure (in fairy tales at least.)  So my lovely blog readers, here is a review of Matched by Ally Condie from the practically perfect in every way Christina Franke (who I may or may not be flattering in an attempt to keep the guest reviews coming.)

Brief Summary:
Life is perfect in the Society. Cassia Reyes is looking forward to the best day of her life so far: her matching day and birthday all in one. In the Society, everyone, except the singles, receives their match at the matching banquet. They all get dressed up, choosing suits and dresses (a far cry from their everyday uniform plainclothes) and going with their family to the fancy banquet hall. Cassia selected a light green dress and was the only girl in her district to do so. Most people are paired with people from one of the many other districts. Cassia is surprised and thrilled to find herself matched to her best friend, the handsome Xander. She loves the Society, Xander and her parents; life really is perfect here. Until she goes home and puts the microcard on Xander (one is given to every matched person, since most people do not know their match) into a viewer and sees a face that is not Xander’s. This face is familiar too. What does it mean?

Review:
Matched definitely shares commonalities with Lois Lowry’s The Giver. The Society organizes people into tight-knit family groups, has hazy borders and guarantees long life to a certain point. Within the Society, everyone lives to their 80th birthday, at which point they die, having had a final meal and said goodbye to their closest friends and family. The people are matched up for compatibility, which has led to the elimination of almost all diseases. Food intake is controlled, as is exercise and behavior. Everyone is kept safe from harm.

Also as in The Giver, everyone in the Society has pills they have to take. In Lowry’s story, they had pills to prevent The Stirrings; in Condie’s, everyone has three pills: red, green and blue. The green pill has a calming affect, the blue heals and the red is a mystery to be used only in crisis situations. In Matched too, everyone’s jobs are given to individuals based upon their talents. Here though, they remain in school until the age of seventeen, not twelve as in The Giver. I think Condie actually through in an allusion to The Giver, because Cassia at one point thinks about what it must have been like to be colorblind (the Society bred that out of them long ago); in Lowry’s book, everyone was colorblind.

Condie’s book is not all the same though. The Society feels more realistic than that of The Giver. The most interesting and powerful element of the story is that the society no longer teaches writing, so people are unable to really create and speak for themselves. While I was not entirely blown away Matched, I definitely enjoyed it and hope to see more from Condie in general and this series specifically. Cassia very much feels like a real teen in an odd situation, working through something difficult to contemplate.

Dystopia fans, this one is worth checking out!

See more from Ms. Franke at her site: http://readeroffictions.blogspot.com/

We got ourselves a Guest reviewer!

So this week the Tucker Free Library was lucky enough to score some new books, all of which are pretty awesome.  There is The Madbury Lens for those of you who have strong stomachs and love horror.  For the reader who enjoys a more realistic family drama, why then The Sweetness of Salt is the book for you.  And if you love music and insurmountable odds, then I highly recommend Five Flavors of Dumb.  We also have a new book by Charles de Lint, The Painted Boy.  I while I could go on forever about my love for Charles de Lint’s writing, you might get bored with me.  So I decided to get a friend to do it for me.

Christina Franke is a phenomenal librarian who I had the extreme fortune of meeting while at school.  We were team members on the University of Pittsburgh Book Cart Drill Team, and spent much time twirling book carts around while dressed up as skeletons.  Christina has what may be the best super power in the world: the awesome ability to read advanced copies of books before they are officially released.  We benefit from this power, for she can give us the inside scoop on what is coming up in the fast paced world of Young Adult literature.  She tolerates my love for zombies and in return I have forced her to read many zombie books.  You don’t have to tell me, I already  know that I am a great friend.  So with out further ado, here is a review of The Painted Boy by the spectacular Christina Franke!

Brief Summary:
Jay Li thought he was a normal boy until, at the age of eleven, a tattoo of a golden dragon spread itself across his back in one painful day. This means that he is a yellow dragon, selected to protect like many throughout his line, which runs back to the time of the emperor in China. His grandmother Paupau is a dragon too; she teaches him with riddles and breathing exercises but will tell him nothing concrete. This is understandably frustrating. It is decided that he will leave, as part of his training and go prove himself as a dragon somewhere. He chooses a new place by pointing at a map and then moves to his new home, Santo del Vado Viejo. Quickly, he makes new friends and new enemies in this desert town. His life has more meaning now than ever before and he loves living there, except that he keeps discovering new abilities and responsibilities. How can he live a real life if he actually is a dragon?

Review:
Before picking this book up, I had heard of Charles de Lint, but had never gotten around to giving any of his books a try yet. Well, I will now. I loved this book from the first couple of pages and it never lost my interest. The story is original, the characters likable and the plot well-paced. Charles de Lint, if this book is representative, is a master storyteller and I cannot wait to read more of his books. I may have just found a new favorite!

The only thing that I disliked about this book was some unevenness in the point of view, which may have been sorted out in the finalized copy of the book. Most of the story is told in third person and follows various characters. Occasionally though, a section will be given the heading “Jay” and will be told from Jay’s perspective. While this is clear, it does feel a bit like cheating. Either do the whole book from Jay’s perspective or do it all in third person. This might not have bothered me had it felt like there was any reason for these four or so sections to be from his point of view; I really do not think that these windows to his thoughts added anything that could not have been done with the third person narration.

Jay has a major task to accomplish and a bad guy to take down, which is typical for a fantasy novel, but that is not the real focus of the novel. The Painted Boy is first and foremost a Bildungsroman, a coming of age story for Jay. The focus is placed on his inner development and not on the external struggle. Do not think that this means the book lacks plot or excitement because of this.

Highly recommended!

If you like this review and want to check out others by Ms. Franke go to : http://readeroffictions.blogspot.com/