Following in the trend of Dystopian Young Adult fiction, Matched is a story that takes place in a heavily regulated world, where the government controls everything from a persons diet and job to the person they can marry. Despite this premise having been done before, Ally Condie creates a compelling world, and dynamic main character, who will draw you in to the story immediately.
The main character is a young girl who is easy to relate to. She is a smart girl, who enjoys the comfortable life that the society she lives in has created for her. However, she is also given a mind of her own, that begins to question the authority the society has over it's citizens and what she wants for her own life. The first book in this series was extremely compelling, and I cannot wait to start on the second book.
As a fan of Armstrong's Darkest Powers and Darkest Rising young adult novels, I was excited to listen to her her adult series (especially as it would be aimed more at my generation of readers). However, I did not find this book to be as fun or intriguing as I did her young adult novels. The main character in Bitten is a rather dramatic and melancholy character, whose mistakes you can see coming from a mile away. While she was thinking one thing, she actions and words would often spell a completely different story. This kind of behavior would be plausible for a fifteen year old girl, but was harder to believe from a grown adult.
The book starts of rather slow...too much backstory, too many lush romantic descriptions with no real reason. But the story picks up about half way through, and will leave you pretty enthralled once you get there. Overall, I am not totally discouraged from this series...but am not quite sold on it yet.
One thing I do want to point out is the narration: while most of the time the narrator did a fine job, the voice that she used for the character Clay was absolutely grating on my last nerve. I wanted to scream at the narrator "Have you ever heard of subtlety?" every time she had dialogue from him. For a lead romantic characters voice to be so thoroughly tarnished by narration really impeded my overall enjoyment of the audiobook. However, as I said, she was able to do every other character's voices perfectly fine.
A week after finishing this book, I have to say, I still don't know what to make of it. This book was a marked departure from the first book. Where the first book felt like a normal teen story, complete with protective parents and high school relationship drama, The Calling is more of a survival story then anything else. I thought this book could have been a bit shorter - there was not as much intrigue or character development as the first installment, and was mostly a blow-by-blow action story.
With the main romantic character missing for most of the novel, I did not feel the same anticipation or thrill at watching Maya's relationships play out. For the most part, the way she interacted with the people around her (Daniel, Cory and Sam), did not change much. The small realizations that she did have were not major when it came to her character development as a whole. And by the end of the book, I felt like she was still the exact same person that she was at the beginning of the book - just a little more informed about the St. Clouds and Nasts. But, alas, as I have read Armstrong's other books, the information that was revealed about these organizations held little intrigue for me, as I was already familiar with them.
Overall, I did not think that this book was as strong as The Gathering, or the first trilogy of Dark Powers books. However, the end of this novel leaves me highly anticipating the third book, which I feel will be a lot stronger then this current novel. If you are a fan of the Dark Powers books, I would still recommend reading this one, despite the shortcomings, as I feel this novel is just a stepping stone towards what should be a great book!
The new characters that Armstrong introduces into the Darkest Powers world/series are far more grown up then the previous foursome. The group of teens in Armstrongs latest series delve into more makeout sessions and drinking parties that I am not sure the Chloe, Derek set from the first trilogy would have even contemplated. Unlike the previous group, which we (and Chloe) all met in the middle of a mental institution, this group of teens has known eachother for years, and allows us to experience their "normal" lives more then the previous bunch.
I was immediately drawn in to this novel with Maya Delany's strong voice and character. The setting of Salmon Creek is a richly drawn, and the feeling of the remote, small town was strong. The love-triangle in the book does not feel forced, as many do in young adult novels. In fact, the relationships that Maya has with all the townspeople (and animals in the forest) felt remarkably realistic.
Armstrong throws in hints about the Edison Group, the St. Cloud corporation and Lyle House/Samuel Lyle throughout the book - allowing the readers of the previous trilogy to know and understand the consequences of the medical research facility far before our main characters (who actually end the book still seemingly unaware).
While I was initially hesitant to begin this new trilogy, with new characters, after enjoying the first trilogy in this series so much; it did not take long for me to get sucked into the new storyline. I cannot wait to listen to The Calling, and am hoping that I will be able to withstand the wait that will come to hear the last of this series.
This was the first book of the series that I ended up listening to all in one sitting...and there were some moments in the book that had my heart pounding from excitement. Chloe's story picks up during this book - this book covers about 48 hours of time, instead of a week or so, as with the previous novels. The relationships that Chloe has with her fellow escapees, as well as their guardian figures is picked up and turned on it's head in this novel. Things are not always what Chloe expects, which often leaves both her and the reader surprised by the turn of events. Chloe, as a person, has continually grown stronger throughout the books, but in this novel, she also seems to become a much more insightful and introspective character. Her romantic life also starts experiencing some action (instead of just veiled illusions to romance, as with the previous books). All in all, I think that this was a strong conclusion to the trilogy - which left lots of open ends for possible follow-ups. I cannot wait to hear how this group of characters stories end and only hope that Armstrong gets around to telling it soon.
Yes. I believe that the second novel of the series was significantly better then the first. While, with the first novel, I felt like the book was trying to be something it was not (a scary, mental institution story), this book seemed to know exactly who it was and what it was doing. The intrigue that Armstrong creates by introducing the Edison Group as a highly secret, experimental organization created lots of intrigue in the novel. Chloe realizes that not everyone was what they would seem, and that even good people make mistakes, which added some dynamics to the main character and her relationships with others that was lacking in the first novel. Chloe's relationships with her friends and pseudo-enemies grows significantly in this second novel, and is enjoyable to watch. Overall, I think this book was better then the first, and has me excited to hear the last of the series.
While Morris tells the story well, her narration is still too child-like for a fifteen year old narrator. The main plot of the novel involves these teens being on the run and fending for themselves. Morris' childlike narration, that make Chloe seem more like she is ten then fifteen, makes it hard to imagine the girl being able to fend for herself. I more or less wish that a person with a more adult-sounding voice had been chosen for this narration, so as to make the character sound more believable as a strong fifteen year old teen, rather then hearing naive, scared girl's voice.
I found Cassandra Morris' voice to be one of the more detrimental aspects of the audio book. Either her voice naturally mimics a child's, or she made the creative choice to sound like she was five years old, however by sounding like a naive kid she made the main character, Chloe, sound much younger then 15 years old. However, once you are able to get past the child-like narration, I do think Cassandra Morris did a good job making each character sound distinct, but not cartoon-y.
In terms of storyline, I think Armstrong did a great job of creating a a disturbing, creepy feeling to the first half of the book. However, as the story wears on, the plot gets more and more fantasy-like, which takes away from the creep-factor that was so good throughout the first half of the novel. I will definitely be listening to the second novel; however, I do wish Armstrong had kept the storyline a little bit more simple. Ultimately, I think a creepy novel about a girl who may or may not be seeing ghosts while locked in a mental facility is much more compelling then the supernatural-deluge that this novel became.
Humorous, Insightful, Self-Deprecating
This book can easily be broken down, chapter by chapter, to listen to over your commute to work. However, I enjoyed it in almost two sittings while completely some repetitive but necessary tasks at work. Fey was able to keep me from going insane while completing these ridiculous tasks; something I think she would be proud of.
I love fairy tales, and typically love good modern day retellings. This was NOT a quality retelling. The story was over-melodramatic, to the point where I wanted to rip my hair out. The characters were flat, unoriginal and stereotypes of themselves. They never once surprised me, or even interested me.
The audio for the book was well done by Chris Patton, but even with his voice, the story left a lot to be desired.
Yes. Mindy was extremely entertaining, and I found myself able to relate to many of her stories! Despite the sometimes frequent name-dropping, I found the book incredibly enjoyable to listen to, and will likely do a second listen.
This book can be easily enjoyed in one sitting, but can also be easily broken into smaller digestible parts, nice for a short commute to work.
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