Perfect Ruin: Limits

I’ve been waiting for this one ever since the author announced a new series. After reading the Chemical Garden trilogy, I am sure as shooting that another Lauren DeStefano novel would turn out no less amazing. And what do you know – after weeks of searching for a copy and reading it overnight – I am definitely not disappointed (well, mostly). Spoiler warning, dear readers!

The premise captured my interest from the start – a floating city in the sky, Internment. This is the utopia we encounter in this world – an island found amongst the clouds, bordered by train tracks and completely surrounded by a protective sphere. The geographical limits are reason to set up population control that comes in the form of ‘dispatching’ (a person has to be ‘dispatched’ once he/she reaches the age of 75, when he/she can no longer functionally contribute to society) and ‘the birth queue’ (married couples sign up for the privilege to get permission to have children). Also, somewhat similar to the Matching of the Matched series, the so-called decision makers of the city decide upon a person’s betrothed (your The One), the only one you’re to marry, to love and spend the rest of your life with, even before your birth. :\ Talk about taking arranged marriage to a whole new extreme. The world building is just fantastic.

Let’s move on to the characters. Well, I guess they’re okay. Morgan’s okay – I like her enough, but I didn’t really love her. She’s just so indecisive (To kill the king or not to kill the king? And have you decided whether you love your betrothed already or not? Poor guy…) Speaking of Morgan’s betrothed, Basil – while possessing nearly all the qualities I’d like in my The One – just seemed all too superficial to me. Oh come on, a guy like that’s bound to have some demons somewhere. He can’t be all about Morgan! Aside from being defined as a pretty nice older brother and practically the perfect betrothed, I got absolutely no substantial characterization of Basil. Which is to say, Morgan has absolutely no substantial characterization of him, since I was technically reading from her point of view. Or maybe I’m just speaking too soon. It is a trilogy, after all. I appreciated the supporting characters more than our heroine and her love interest, I’m afraid. There’s Pen, the free spirit, the faithful, the ever pakipot/hard-to-get, easily my favorite character in the novel. GO PEN! Big brother/sister characters always get hugs from me, especially when they come as perpetually troubled but nonetheless caring like Lex and perfectly angelic like Alice. I’m looking forward to getting to know Judas more (though I have my theories about where that’s going to go. You know, in terms of Morgan and all…). 

The storytelling is nice and fluid and I fell right into the heart of the story and the building of the conflict. One murder leads to another and soon, the seemingly perfect world Morgan, Basil and their friends live in does not seem so perfect anymore. Secrets are revealed and just when Morgan thinks she’s truly becoming insane, yearning for the forbidden edge and the uncharted territories of the world below, she finds herself with no choice but to truly challenge everything she once believed in – her life and the city she used to call home. There are some parts of the plot that confused me – particularly in the last part, the events seemed to come from nowhere (chosen by random?) just so some characters can be brought into the scene again (and therefore, into the sequel). Are the King’s children really that stupid? Why on earth would they do that? -__- But like I already mentioned, this is a trilogy. I’m guessing Lauren has some tricks up her sleeve. :)

Overall, Perfect Ruin is amazing. The premise is great. The world-building is beyond compare. It ends with the perfect cliff-hanger and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book. You’d do well picking this one up. I know that after reading, I catch myself looking up at the sky sometimes and wondering whether there really is some island floating up there… You never really know. 

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Allegiant: Damaged and Mended

A moment of silence out of respect for the well-written series that has given me all sorts of feels, both good and bad; the three books that stand for what is definitely good writing, excellent world-building, and probably the best YA-dystopian novels I’ve ever read thus far (and I’ve read quite a number, mind you…)

Breathe in. Breathe out. Come on, Angeli. Time to get over it. Time to write your review/reaction entry/ranting…

Insurgent ended with such a cliff-hanger that I wanted to get my hands on the next book as soon as possible. I waited for such a long time for Detergent  Allegiant and when the day of its release got closer and closer, I made it a point to already reserve a copy so as not to be a victim of out of stock.

And now that I’ve finally finished reading it – took me longer than usual because I had to stop reading at some point (you’ll understand when you reach Chapter Twenty-Nine and Chapter Fifty) just so I could let loose some emotions. I’m going to for the faction approach for this review! :) Spoiler warning, as usual, dear readers! I’ll try to keep them at a minimum, but still… 

"I am not a desperate, unsteady child who throws his trust
around. I am not damaged."             - Tobias, Allegiant

CANDOR – The truth hurts. Man. It’s something common between all the dystopian novels I’ve read so far – revealing the deception and manipulation that has been happening in what was once believed in to be the ‘perfect’ society starts a revolution. The ‘Divergent’ series is no exception to this one, yet at the same time, it manages to completely stand out from the crowd.

The revelations about the world outside the fence, the history of the Purity War, the ongoing battle against genetic damage, and the whole GPs-vs-GDs thing are so brilliant and Veronica Roth’s clear talent in world building and story weaving just makes execution perfect. I don’t need the truth serum to be perfectly honest with you all – it’s so perfect that it’s practically heart-breaking. THE ENDING. It was so freakin’ hard to accept that that happened – Chapter Fifty, people, better watch out. But, that’s just the thing with the truth, isn’t it? It’s so hard to accept, but in the end, we have to. Because it’s the only way to start moving on.

"And I know, without being told, that's what love does, 
when it's right - it makes you more than you were, 
more than you thought you could be."  - Tris, Allegiant

ERUDITE – Is Veronica Roth some kind of super genius? God. Writing like that takes serious intelligence. I mean, genetic engineering? The serums? Matthew? Dude, the existence of that character and the fact that his dialogues about all those intellectual shiz are enough evidence I say to prove Veronica Roth’s genius.

Knowledge can be pretty overbearing – hell, who am I kidding? It’s like that all the time. It can push you to doing things you once thought you never can do. It can make you desperate, so desperate that you’d seek an outlet – any outlet – just so you can take some sort of action. Throughout Allegiant, we see Tris and Tobias struggle with each new learning and discovery and how they try their hardest to stay true to their selves, their own judgment, so as to make a decision on how to go about the things they know and the things they want to know still.

"I love my brother. I love him, and he is quaking with 
terror at the thought of death. I love him and all I 
can think, all I can hear in my mind, are the words 
I said to him a few days ago: I would never deliver 
you to your own execution."          - Tris, Allegiant

ABNEGATION – Here comes the feels… The Divergent trilogy has made me realize just how thin the line that separates selfishness and selflessness is. Bold statement, maybe I should transfer it to the Dauntless portion of this review…  Tris. Oh God. One of my favorite YA heroines of all time – TRIS PRIOR, WHY ON EARTH DID YOU DO THAT?! *insert screams of frustration* Tobias provides the answer to that question – Because she’s Tris. “Of course she would.” One can interpret her choice of action in two ways: 1) It can only be selflessness when you choose to give up your life for the sake of your traitor of a brother (who, by the way, practically gave you up to die just a few months ago) and for the sake of humanity. To willingly embrace the possibility to death and head straight toward it… ; 2) Dear Lord, how can you be so selfish and leave him?! So self-indulgent is the fact that you took the decision upon yourself, Tris. No matter how noble it may be, it’s still so incredibly… ugh.

I write a paragraph especially for Evelyn and Tobias. What happens in Chapter Forty-Eight is just so touching that I soon found myself in tears. I guess being a parent just makes you that selfless – you would always choose your children before yourself. You’d give up everything, even all those you worked hard for, if it is for your children.

"Life damages us, every one. We can't escape that damage. 
We can be mended. We mend each other - Tobias, Allegiant

AMITY – I practically had to force myself to read the rest of book after Chapter Fifty. YES. IT IS THAT EMOTIONALLY TRAUMATIZING. But, in the end, I’m glad that I did. I felt like I was grieving with Tobias with every turn of the page. And I guess that’s what makes the Epilogue all the more heart-wrecking. The moment I read the word “zip-line”, I knew what he planned to do and it just brought so many emotions up the surface that (yes) I cried again. Finally, there is acceptance and along with it, peace. That’s when it really ended and a true new beginning can take place.

DAUNTLESS – It takes a lot of guts to write something like this. Thank you, Veronica Roth, for taking a chance with Divergent and sharing it to all of us. Brave plot decisions all over the place – CHAPTER FIFTY – but all for the sake of what you believe is right and true for the story. Thank you for showing us the power of taking chances and of facing fears. The Divergent trilogy is certainly something that I won’t forget about in a long while.

No, I’m still have a bad case of literary hangover. :( But that’s it for this ranting (for now). I’m waiting for my best friend to finish reading, so we can rant about all the feels together.

 

Extra Ranting:

  • I liked learning about the back story of Tris’s mother. She’s always been shrouded with mystery from the start – she’s not your typical Abnegation! – and Allegiant explained a lot. I kind of wanted more though. Any chance of a short story compilation from Natalie’s perspective? :D
  • I have my own personal take on the Allegiant cover! First of all, it’s quite noticeable that it’s not a faction symbol, unlike Divergent and Insurgent. And after reading the book, I think I understand why it just shows water. Remember the weird statue in the compound? Yep, the one with the dripping water. I think it’s the same symbolism, only this time, the cover shows the water in wave form, a much extreme form, compared to the slow dripping line of the statue. It stands for change and ultimately, healing, something Allegiant has shown to be possible to attain even after warfare, even after grief, even after damage.

Just One Day / Just One Year: Accidentally in Love


Can just one day be enough to change a person’s life? How about just one year? Oh man, Gayle Forman’s masterpieces (these two books right here) have left me with a lot of life questions, moments of smiles, laughter, tears, and even cursing with its simple yet plot and even more brilliant execution.

"Loving someone is such an inherently dangerous act. 
And yet, love, that's where safety lives."
                                     - Just One Year

*Spoiler warning as usual, my dear readers* 

Where do I even begin to rant? God. Well for one thing, I immediately related to Allyson in that I always did the good girl routine. Obey your parents. Do what you want to do (or at least, what you think you want) but never forget to do what you’re expected to do. Embrace your safety zone. Do things predictably, according to plan, according to schedule. I really wasn’t big on the whole take risks thing. But, Allyson makes a giant leap the moment she decides to pass on that performance of Hamlet and take on a stranger (who happens to be incredibly charming and good-looking) and his offer of a performance like no other. 

That meeting already sparks magic, but somehow, as if by workings of fate or simply put, as if by accident, Allyson finds herself in Paris with Willem. They spend one whole day together – and what a whirlwind day it was, so full of the unexpected – and somehow, they both end up so irreversibly, undeniably, and inevitably stained (Using a play on words here. Read these awesome books to get in on the language game!). The perfect guy and the perfect date in the most romantic city of the world. Sounds too good to be true? Well, yeah… Of course it is and life just won’t allow that. When Allyson wakes up the next morning, Willem is gone. The fairy tale is over. 

And you’d think it’d be easy to get over a quick vacation fling. It isn’t the case with Allyson. What she had with Willem just didn’t feel like a fling. It was different. It was beyond anything she’s ever experienced before. So forget about moving on. Allyson spends the following year at first, trying to move on, but eventually learning that that really isn’t what she wanted. Self-discovery. Growth. Independence. Freedom. Allyson certainly gains a lot over those months and she achieves all these by working towards what she really wanted: to see him again.

Just One Day was so open-ended that I almost threw the book against the wall in frustration. Good thing I’m so meticulous when it comes to my babies that I don’t actually do that. I impatiently waited for the companion novel, Just One Year, to come out and well, here goes my ranting about that one…

Just One Year is Willem’s story. What happened to him when he left Allyson all alone that day in Paris. God, this guy is something else. For one thing, if you were going to leave a note, make sure that it’s somewhere she can see. Leave something of yours to show that you have intentions of coming back. And for heaven’s sake, a whole day passed by and you didn’t even consider asking for her real name? Freakin’ stupid! Even if you did intend for it to be just a one day thing, that was the least you could do! *insert uncharacteristically Angeli type of language here* Then again, if you’re suddenly faced with your true love, who can blame you for doing such a stupid thing? Forgetting to ask for her name and contact number… Tsk!

Anyhow, setting aside that unbelievably stupid fact that he didn’t have any means of contacting her, Willem (who apparently ended up at a hospital on that fateful day) spends the year searching for her. He does it both consciously and unconsciously, leading him to his own journey of self-discovery and growth. The perpetual adventure-goer who used to rely on mere accidents and the blowing of the wind for everything that happens in his life ends up realizing that he needed to take the wheel. That he couldn’t just rely on fate. That sometimes, he needed to step up and make life his own.

Gayle Forman’s writing is so beautifully done that I practically enjoyed travelling around Paris with Allyson and Willem on that one day, and around the world with Willem on that one year. She succeeds in conjuring questions in the reader’s head about life, love, decisions, dreams, family and yes, the self. You keep going back to that question, How can just one day be the cause of all this? And as the story progresses, you learn that sometimes, one day is more than enough to spark a change in a person’s life. One day can be enough to disprove everything you thought was true about yourself. One day can be enough to show you who you really are.

The ending (for both books) is bittersweet and though I wish for more Allyson and Willem moments, I would have to content myself (as they did) with their one day. I recommend these to anyone looking for an excellent change in today’s YA market and anyone prepared for a story that seems all too fictional but at the same time, a perfect mirror of what life can bring you once you learn to take risks, embrace accidents, follow the blowing of the wind and eventually, take the wheel into your own hands.

Personal Ranting: Wonder if I’ll ever have to backbone to do what Allyson did? Guess, we’ll never know. I’ll be waiting for my random Willem to show up and offer me that chance to take a risk. I only hope he isn’t such a womanizer. But, if a guy travels halfway around the world, to several countries even, looking for me, my God, no questions asked – it’s straight to the I DO’s!

"Part of me knows one more day won't do anything except 
postpone the heartbreak. But another part of me 
believes differently. We are born in one day. 
We die in one day. We can change in one day. 
And we can fall in love in one day. 
Anything can happen in just one day."
                                          - Just One Day

Every Day: The Fragility of a Moment

Every Day by David Levithan
Every Day by David Levithan

I was just halfway through the book when I decided with absolute certainty that I was going to add Every Day to my list of favorite novels. By the time I finally did finish the novel, I was in tears over how it ended, how it didn’t end, and how brilliant the writing was.

Dear reader, be wary of spoilers ahead! :) 

A, A, A, how do I even begin to write this review?! I can sit here in front of my computer and spend hours and hours of every day trying to think of the words that would best convey what I honestly thought of this masterpiece, but none of them would ever prove to be sufficient. YES, IT’S THAT GOOD. YES, IT’S THAT BRILLIANT.

“I am a drifter, and as lonely as that can be, it is also 
remarkably freeing. I will never define myself in terms 
of anyone else. I will never feel the pressure of peers 
or the burden of parental expectation. I can view 
everyone as pieces of a whole, and focus on the whole, 
not the pieces. I have learned to observe, far better 
than most people observe. I am not blinded by the past 
or motivated by the future. I focus on the present 
because that is where I am destined to live.”

Our protagonist, A (a name he chose and gave himself) spends every day as a different person in a different body. Yes, it’s still him (though A is neither girl or boy in truth, I choose to simply use the masculine pronouns) inside, but every 24 hours, he “borrows” the life of somebody else and becomes that person (in the physical sense, anyway) for a day. Having this kind of mode of existence of about sixteen years already, A has already gotten accustomed to it. No use trying to get anything more from it. It is what is. For a day.

“What is it about the moment you fall in love? How can 
such a small measure of time contain such enormity? I 
suddenly realize why people believe in déjà vu, why 
people believe they've lived past lives, because there 
is no way the years I've spent on this earth could 
possibly encapsulate what I'm feeling.

But everything changed when he met a girl named Rhiannon. Wait.
At this point, you may be thinking, Ah. Here we go, it’s just another cheesy love story. No, my friend, you are very much mistaken. It’s not cheesy. And it can’t be any more different than it already is. Every Day shows love in all its forms, in all its illusions, in all its ideals, in all its tragedies, in all its joys, in all its manifestations in life. And let me just say that Day 6015 is true love in word form. Really. You’ll understand when you read for yourself. I don’t even mind you not finishing this review. Go on and buy yourself a copy of this book already!

"“It's as if when you love someone, 
they become your reason.”

Love truly is a powerful thing. Look how it got A his ideals and dreams back. Love brought hope back into A’s life, into A’s existence. Because of love, he started breaking the rules he had established for his life. Because of love, he truly began hoping for a chance at every day, not just one day. Because of A, love was also able to show its magic to Rhiannon – what existing force in this earth could possibly have you believe such a far-fetched tale, had you not given love a chance and found love yourself? 

“The past and future are what's complicated. 
It's the present that's simple.”

Throughout the novel, A’s personal realizations over each life he has to live show us just how fragile a moment is. We often take life for granted, thinking, Ah. There’s always tomorrow. Forget about it. Let’s just bum around all day and waste time. But, like A, what if there is no tomorrow? Would we choose to make walls around ourselves even more? Would we think that there would be no use living out a life that would last a single day? A gradually found substance in the kind of life he was living – sure, there was no continuity, but he was still able to gain so much experiences. Just goes to show how so much could happen in a single day.

Yet, here we are, blessed with so much more. In our life, we are granted multiple days. In our life, we are granted continuity and constancy (a sense of it, anyway). In our life, we don’t have to worry about suddenly finding ourselves in the body of different person, having to worry about playing yet another kind of life. In our life, we can decide for ourselves how we want it to go, not having to depend on what we can “access”, what memories we can find built-in in the bodies we possess. What we have at the present is a true result of our past, and how we go about during this present is what will manifest in our future.

David Levithan has truly come up with a masterpiece. It is a novel and at the same time, it is a collection of short stories. Centering on life and love, Every Day is a story, I believe, every one should get to know. Though it is a certainty

There is just so much more I’ve learned from the novel and this review certainly doesn’t encapsulate even half of all my feelings. At the end of the day, I just want to say: Read it. Read it and live your every day to the fullest. Never let a single moment go to waste. Why? Because that moment is real, and that moment is yours. And it could be so much more than a moment if only you live it and give it a chance to grow.

“And it doesn’t even matter if it’s true or not. 
What matters is that I feel it, and believe it.”

The Delirium Trilogy: Lovesick

“This is the strange way of the world, that people who 
simply want to love are instead forced to become warriors.”
                               - "Requiem", Lauren Oliver

The first of the books of my summer reading list – done! Yes, it’s been exactly 30 minutes since I read the last page of Lauren Oliver’s Requiem, the conclusion to her best-selling Delirium trilogy. And let me just say that I haven’t completely gotten over it yet…

And of course, dear reader, I warn you of possible spoilers as I rant about my thoughts on this awesome trilogy. :) 

Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy

Back when I was reading Delirium, I was already completely hooked on the concept of the book series. Love as a disease. Amor deliria nervosa. I, being the medical student that I am, could only nod and agree. It was definitely true! I get where the idea came from. Many signs of love – the tachycardia, the palpitations, the cyanosis, the euphoria, the aphasia – are indeed true symptoms of disease. In fact, even in our world today, a lot of people already become sick and crazy over this little thing called love.

But anyway, going back to the trilogy… I absolutely commend Lauren Oliver for her fantastic writing style. I am personally envious of the way she could make her descriptions so vivid and how, in Requiem, she was able to alternate between different character narrations without losing consistency.

Character-wise, I feel a bit so-so about Lena. She didn’t particularly stand out as a heroine to me. Maybe it’s just because I’ve seen her type already. Ah, typical normal girl, living according to the decrees of the society she lived in, looking forward to having things put into place with the cure, but suddenly changing completely come the presence of this guy.  In truth, I felt more for the two male protagonists – Alex and Julian. Wow. I think it’s the first time I wasn’t rooting for any one of them to end up with the heroine. I just thought that – after everything –  neither of them deserved to get their heart so brutally hurt by this girl who was so confused and hurt herself.

Come the end of the 2nd book, I’ve decided to favor Julian over Alex. I’ve always had a soft spot for Julian as I went through Pandemonium. It was definitely something about his innocence and fragility, how he (more so than all of the people living in Zombieland) was kept in the dark for so long and had reality smack him directly in the face. My heart ached for him when it became absolutely clear that he was going to become Lena’s rebound. Gah. And I was practically in tears throughout Requiem, witnessing how Julian – so kind, so patient, so loving – gave way, did everything he could to make space for Lena and her inner demons. I wanted to erase Alex from the scene completely. Why did he even have to appear again at the end of Pandemonium and destroy the “happy” ending?

But, everything changed come Requiem. Especially since my copy, a first edition, comes with a special short story about him. That was so heart-shattering, knowing what had happened to Alex. At some point, I wished that Lauren Oliver really did have him die. It would be mercy on his part – dying and being free in the after life was a lot better than surviving with only the girl you loved in mind, going through hell trying to see her again, and then finally finding her but seeing her in the arms of another guy, realizing that while you were suffering, she had already found happiness with another. Now that is sick.

So, yeah – hugs to both Alex and Julian. As for the other characters, I really enjoyed Hana’s view of things in Requiem. Raven and Tack are pretty memorable, too. (Lauren, is there any chance we get a short story of one of their “midnight trappings”? :)) ) The rest of the characters had me really confused at one point or another. Too many names. Not enough personality building for them, so I tended to forget who was who from time to time.

The ending of Requiem leaves a lot hanging – yes, including the one we probably all wanted to know the answer to: who on earth does Lena end up with? who does she choose?! But, it is enough to provide closure – it shows that the journey was worth it; you can’t regret wanting to choose. You can’t regret wanting to love.

Is love a sickness? Maybe. Maybe not. I guess it’s all up to the person. If you choose to go crazy about it, then it is a crazy thing. If you choose to go sick over it, then it is a sickness. At the end of the day, what’s important is that choice – making it and sticking with it. It’s about living with emotions and feelings, and choosing to stay true to them, to stay through to you, to yourself. It’s about breaking whatever boundaries threaten to keep us in place, to bring us to submission, to get us to do what is thought to be right. It’s about taking down the walls.

“Who knows? Maybe they’re right. Maybe we are driven crazy 
by our feelings. Maybe love is a disease, and we would be 
better off without it. 
But we have chosen a different road. And in the end that 
is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.
We are even free to choose the wrong thing.”

                                - "Requiem", Lauren Oliver

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer: What is Real?

Thanks to the benign HD 201 days, I currently have so much time for reading non-academic books. And soooo, here comes another review. :)

As with all other book reviews, there might be spoilers every now and then, so beware, reader! Wouldn’t want to spoil the book for you~

First of all, the cover is gorgeous. It effectively captures and projects the darkness and mystery that the novel takes its roots from. Second, the book successfully features a hot, all-perfect, conceited, charming heartthrob in Noah Shaw and delivers so much freaking sexual tension WHILE not going overboard with the fan service and straying away from the real plot. And third, the premise is so original, dark romance at its best. Definitely.

Mara Dyer is a great standout among all the other YA heroines of today’s literary generation. We are never given an exact description as to how she looks, but her personality is so strong and well-developed that it practically bursts out the page. Gosh, somewhere in the middle of it all, I felt like I was just as confused as Mara, not knowing which parts were ‘real’, a ‘flashback’, a ‘nightmare’, a ‘memory returning’. I think Michelle Hodkin did a pretty good job of writing out PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). It wasn’t just that you were crazy – or think that you’re crazy. It was utter chaos in the sense that you lose yourself completely as your inner workings try to repair the situation an unfortunate circumstance has brought you in. The mystical happenings have yet to be explained, but they only succeed in deepening the mystery clouding over Mara, Noah and their families.

Going back to my second main point, Mara and Noah make an unusual pair, but its their differences that actually serve to compliment one another (Yep, I kinda agree with you, Noah, when you said that maybe the two of you were truly meant to find each other). Physical contact is limited to light kisses and hugs (Meh. Are those really enough for you already, Mr. Shaw?) simply because dear Mara is terrified of her own abilities that might cost Noah his own life. I wonder how they’ll figure this one out since we all know (oh come on, this is the YA genre!) that light kisses and hugs will never be enough!

Let me just say that I have a thing for awesome siblings, so Daniel and Joseph both get mentions in this review. Joseph for being the cute, intelligent, curious, and obedient little brother, I huuuuug you. And Daniel for being the caring, protective-but-not-overprotective, kind, and trust-worthy older brother, I claaaap-claaaap you.

Overall, it’s a great read, especially if you want something new. :) No vampires, no werewolves, no overly kissy-kissy scenes (not yet, anyway… let’s see what happens), no conceited bast- oh wait, there is! =))

Must get hands on the second and third book of the trilogy…

Reached: When Enough is Enough

Ah, finally~! A post after so long! And I revive this blog beginning with a review of my most recent read, Ally Condie’s Reached, Book 3 and the most awaited conclusion to the Matched series. 

As with every review, there may be unintentional spoilers every now and then driven simply by the impulse of writing pure and unedited thoughts. :) Read at your own discretion. 

How do I start? Well, here’s yet another dystopian YA novel – the end of a trilogy. BUT – here’s the big BUT – even after going through Panem, surviving as an initiate, getting Amor Deliria Nervosa and all that, the Matched series is certainly worth picking up. Putting aside all the other good reasons – the beautiful covers, the excellent writing, the nicely planned dystopian world, the dream-worthy Xander (forgive my bias), it’s this book – Reached – that really makes the series. A good conclusion to book series is so rare these days – even I, as a writer myself, admit to writing ugly endings; and yes, I am pertaining to you, Mockingjay ! – and that makes me praise this series all the more.

Let’s be frank, shall we? While reading Matched, I initially had the impression that it was going to be one of those sappy love-triangle-centered novels that just happened to be set in a post-apocalyptic world. Thank God for the cliffhanger ending that made me pick up the second book, Crossed, where I believe the real story had Risen (the Rising, get it? ok, enough puns…).

But Reached was certainly the star of this trilogy. With everything finally falling into place – the identity of the Pilot, the real Pilot, Xander, the mystery behind Cassia’s grandparents, Xander, the fall of the Society, the Rising and its true intentions, the true rebellion, Xander – I just found myself enjoying the whole flight.

Okay, I know it’s been showing up in the previous paragraphs. Why do I keep saying XANDER?! Well, first and foremost, we finally get a view of Xander’s side of the story here in Reached. AT LAST. He didn’t get much readtime in Crossed, so I was really wondering what happened to this fine young fellow. While I was so frustrated at Cassia for going for the predictable choice – as seems always the trend in today’s YA reads (the boy clad in mystery always wins the girl) and was grieving for the perfect Xander, I applaud Ally Condie for allowing Xander his happy ending. All throughout Reached, my heart kept on breaking over and over for Xander, his kindness, his martyrdom, his dedication. ESPECIALLY during the trial scene. I was practically in tears for him, seeing as how he wasn’t going to get the girl he loves (so obvious) and now, he was going to die in exile. Thank you, Ally Condie, for giving him his well-deserved happy ending. Thank you for showing that nice guys don’t always finish last.

Speaking of nice guys, Ky’s a good guy too. Just because I prefer the Physic (that’s Xander) doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the Pilot. One more aspect of the Matched series that I really like is that it doesn’t focus on the love triangle. Nope. Ky and Xander are friends! And though they both have feelings for the same girl, that doesn’t change the fact that they respect each other. Reached shows that and more. Again, claps for characters who don’t put love in the way of friendship.

At the end of the day, the Matched series shows us the tragedy too much power can bring. It shows us just how important the right to choose is. Without Choice, we’d be stuck doing the things the higher-ups – Society – tell us to do. We don’t get a say in anything. We won’t be able to properly express ourselves. We won’t be able to chase after the things we really want, just the things Society tells us to want. 

Everyone gets driven by what they think is right, but that isn’t necessarily the same with what is right. Both the Society and the Rising, I believe, had good intentions for the people, but they both went about those intentions the wrong way. They ended up causing more harm than good. Their dictations cost the people a lot of things, including their lives. In fact, it was their existence that was the true Plague. Their own existence was the cause of their own inevitable demise.

Government isn’t bad, but it can be, especially when the Officials and Society can’t recognize when enough is enough. When they abuse power and keep on fooling the citizens. The convenient red tablet designed to make everyone forget  doesn’t solve problems; it just hides them away, only to have them resurface when the time is right. Just as Cassia chose to fight, chose to walk through the killer blue tablet, chose love above all, chose to choose, we need only decide when to face our own problems. We cannot keep on trying to forget. We must stand up and fight sooner or later.

Just as the whole Matched series included poetry – another aspect I loved about it – I end this review with The Poem. Thank you, Matched series, for being an excellent read!

Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night by Dylan Thomas 

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.