When I first started reading Matched I was intrigued by the premise and the main character. By the end I was bored. The story is set in a culture where every aspect of life is controlled by a mysterious entity (the Society) that strives for conformity and blind obedience. There are hints, however, that the society is cracking around the edges. My major disappointment was the main character's (Cassia) lack of reaction to discoveringthat significant aspects of her life and the foundation of her believe system were lies. When she finds out the pictures of war and violence in the outlands are real, not just cartoonish scenes to scare the kids, she doesn't even express surprise or dismay. She spends the entire book mooning over two boys, one to whom she is matched and one to whom she is drawn.
This is the beginning of a trilogy. I won't be reading the second book. I have nothing invested in the main character or her journey. I wanted to know about her world and the hints and teasers weren't sufficient to bring me back. If you want a dystopian teenage series, go for the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. It has more meat and more emotion without degenerating into the physically repellent third book in the Hunger Games series. Like both the Hunger Games and the Ugies series, Cassia lives in a closed world that is supposedly surrounded by wickedness and violence. Only we don't know enough about that outland area to want to go on a tour. Best saved for the under 12 set.
I enjoy a good dystopian story but Dystance isn't one of them. The story starts off on an intriguing premise, with women used as surrogates to produce new soldiers for an unexplained war. To add to the story line, our main heroes, Winter and Tallow, discover a lost library in which they uncover the history of their world. But these aspects of the story disappear into fighting and violence. Glaring plot holes and unexplained happenings leave the reader feeling cheated. What could have been a fascinating world is empty.
I found the story derivative at best and shallow at worst. The story arcs that could have saved it were abandoned early on. It seemed like an excuse for violence and warfare. To make matters worse, the story is told from Winter's point of view, from her journals, yet she is constantly talking about things she found out in the future. And it was just too pat that the first book she read was Tom Sawyer; instead of exploring the library, which was a monumental discovery, she plops down and reads the whole book, ignoring everything else. Considering the only light was from one window 30 feet up, it is amazing she could see anything. And (BIG SPOILER HERE) she somehow manages to write her own death scene in her journal. Dah!
There are so many aspects of Dystance that could have been explained and incorporated into the story. How, for instance, do the young children survive when they are escorted out of the bio buildings at age six. Man cannot live by bread alone, as they say. The children receive rations but it takes more than food to survive. How are they clothed? Tallow also has an apartment. What did he do to earn that or does everyone have one? Where do the others live? Where does Winter live? How does the community function in terms of goods and services other than the bio building and the medics. Are there adults in the community who have not been conscripted? And what about the women who live in the bio building as breeders? No thought is given to them after a brief mention. Winter and Tallow seem to have no interest in them.
I have to say the whole storyline of the sticks that turned out to be rifles was laughable. Bullets seem to magically appear when needed. In all the time the people had lived in Dystance, how was it possible that they had never seen a rifle yet the guards had them hanging on the wall? Were the single shot or automatic weapons? Tallow manages to shot a number of people with his.
Even more fantastic, how do the main characters all seem to have such a firm grasp on reading? Based on the early chapters of the book, they seem to be left on their own once escorted out of the bio buildings. Did they go to school? What did they study except war? They have never seen a book when they discover the library and paper is in very short supply. Why would a culture that bred children to die educate them and how was it done? Based on the early part of the story, they wouldn't have had anything to read except a few "pamphlets." Then too, if there was no paper, what did Winter write her journal in?
I could go on but why. I agree with other reviews I have read of this book (on other sites) that the ratings must be for the author rather than the book.
The epilogue was totally confusing and unrelated to the story, unless I missed something big while bored listening to the book.
I found the narrator to be excellent. I think she saved parts of the story because her voices were excellent.
My high overall story rating is for By the Pricking of My Thumbs.
By the Pricking of My Thumbs (1968) is a great listen. Tommy and Tuppence are nearing retirement and dealing with an aged aunt who passes away at an old ladies home. Tuppence stumbles on clues related to old crimes and eccentric villagers. The listener is kept guessing until the end.
Postern of Fate (1973) doesn't fare as well. It has an interesting premise but fails to provide a satisfactory ending. The Tommy and Tuppence are retired (now about 70 we learn late in the book) and have moved to the country. It turns out the house has ties to a decades old espionage case. It was difficult to determine "when" the story was taking place until late in the plot and the date of the crime is vague until near the end. The listener is never privy to the documents uncovered by Tuppence. I wasn't ever sure who did what in the past and how it threatened prominent persons in the present. Postern of Fate was the last novel Agatha Christie wrote. That may have played a role in the weakness of the story. It is funny her final story is about two retirees.
Hugh Fraser is great. No one does an old lady better than he does. He reading saved Postern of Fate to some extent. He brings Tommy and Tuppence alive for the listener.
I enjoyed both books immensely. They are so different from Christie's Piorot and Marple books. Endless Night is so unexpected, with twists and an ending that will surprise most readers. It is on of Christie's later books, published in 1967. Crooked House is a bit more of a romp, though still a whodunit.
I have been listening to a number of Christie books lately and noted that her first person narrator, even in the Marple books, is always a man. Miss Marple sometimes appears very little in her books. I wonder if there are any Christie books with a first person female narrator.
I enjoyed the book from a historical fiction point of view because it looked at religious events under Henry VIII from a new angle, the common man rather than palace. The information about the Tindale bible was fascination. The story concerns an actual unsolved crime from 1536. Unfortunately, the main character is flat and a bit thick. He sees violence all around him yet is confused when his actions set off reactions. He seems so naive at times. The book is missing the drama and intensity of the Matthew Shardlake books by C.J. Sansom.
The narrator does an excellent job. I would listen to other books narrated by David Thorpe.
I listen to audio books before I go to sleep. This one put me to sleep rapidly. It was all talking heads. Almost nothing happens. There was almost no setting are description. The characters were flat. And there was not one single woman in the entire book.
The narrator was excellent. I only gave him four stars because he didn't have any women's voices to to do so I can't tell if he would be good at them.
I loved the two main characters, Carol and Jude, and will definitely give the author another chance. I felt the story ended abruptly and could have had more depth. I was also perplexed about the epilogue which disclosed what the future held for many of the secondary characters. I am on the fence about whether I liked that feature or not.
Simon Brett is a wonderful narrator. He knows his characters well.
This is one of my favorite Heyer novels but I just couldn't listen to it. The narrators male voices, especially for the main character (Ravenscar) is awful. Sadly, I am going to return this book.
The Harlequin Tea Set, a collection of short mysteries, was a revelation to me. I knew Agatha Christie was a great story teller, but was unprepared for the quality of these short stories.
I am returning this book. The narrator's voice is awful which makes the bland dialogue and weak story even worse. I couldn't get past the first few chapters.
I love the genealogical aspects of this book. The the first in the series, it is what maintained my interest enough to finish the book. Unlink the first book ( To The Grave) however, there is no second story to keep the reader interested.
The main character (Jefferson Tayte, an American genealogist) is flat and typecast. The assassin appears very early on and the reason for a string of assassinations is over the top. It might have been more interesting if there was more variety in the way people died. Like To the Grave it is all guns, guns, guns. The problem started for me when the bodies started mounting all over London.
The lackluster response of law enforcement was unrealistic in this day of terrorist threats and realities. British Intelligence does get involved in the case but are clueless. Why don't they take Tayte off the street after the two agents escorting him are shot? They let him wander and reveal case details to the public.
The problems from the first book show up again here. Tayte repeatedly mentions he is searching for his birth parents and that he has a weight problem. But that's all we know. Why is his weight an issue? How heavy is he? Does he have health issues. Or is it just an impression the author has of Americans? Doesn't Tayte have any relatives who know he was adopted? Were his birth parents British? It seems that is why he is so interested in British genealogy. But how does he know this? And Tayte must own stock in a tan suit manufacturing company. He seems to have a never ending stock.
The narrator, Simon Vance, is one of my favorites and he does a good job with Tayte's American English accent and pronunciation. There are instances, however, where Tatye uses a British pronunciation when he just wouldn't have.
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