14 August 2011

Recent Reading

Oops. I've failed to keep up with blogging about what I'm reading. Is it OK if I say I spent the time reading?

I've mostly been reading teenage books, so I'll have plenty to say at the reading group meeting next week.

Matched by Ally Condie
This book tells a familiar story of a highly controlled future society that paints itself as a utopia, but is actually dystopian in its methods. Cassia lives in the Society, a place where all citizens are happy because they are carefully looked after until the age of 80, when they die. People are assigned their work, their food, and their spouses, all to make them as happy, healthy and productive as possible. Cassia starts to fall for a boy who is not her state-chosen Match, and she starts to see that perhaps the Society isn't always right.

The ideas presented were very familiar to me, although most dystopias masquerading as utopias aren't told through the eyes of a teenage girl.  In fact this book would make a good introduction for teens to this genre of SF. Condie has made a credible world with methods of control, and the tech required to implement them, clear to see. There is a romance plot (I'm beginning to suspect that YA authors cannot sell books without them) and it is pretty well done, emotional without being too sentimental.
An enjoyable read, even if it was rather familiar.

Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
In this sequel to Raised by Wolves we return to Bryn -the human girl raised in a werewolf pack. Now alpha of her own pack Bryn is facing more complications and threats from outside. An abused young werewolf arrives in her territory seeking asylum, but Bryn cannot take a wolf from another alpha.

Building on the world created in the first book, Barnes increases her supernatural repertoire from werewolves and those with knacks, to psychics who have a variety of mental powers. Full of tough decisions, schemes and werewolf politics the plot is engaging and intriguing.
Once again the romantic side of things is fairly undefined. Bryn is the one who moves the plot forward, Chase is mostly just there for her, although at least this book explains why he's so devoted to a girl who knows so little about him. Even so I found that Chase continued to be less developed than most of the other characters. The supporting cast continued to be well rounded and interesting, and the antagonists are more complex and human than the sinister figure from the first book.

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