by Ally Condie
I snagged a copy of this at ALA Annual. It's a book that I've been looking forward to for a while. The only bad thing about it is that it doesn't come out until November, so if you haven't gotten an advance copy yet, then you still have a little while to wait.
The inhabitants of this world would probably tell you that they are living in a utopia, but if so, it's certainly not a place where I would want to live. There is no hunger, no disease, no uncertainty. Citizens live in perfect comfort, they are matched with their ideal mates, receive work assignments, start their families and live happily until their eightieth birthday.
As much as everyone seems comfortable with this arrangement, there are little clues that all is not perfect in paradise. Families are fearful of how any little action (stopping to talk to someone on the train, being a few minutes late to work, having to deal with a child's temper tantrum) might look to officials. People talk about how there used to be more "free hours" assigned. Even now, some of the recreational activities are thinly disguised efforts at getting more work out of the citizenry. Everyone carries three tablets with them at all times: a blue nutritional supplement, a green tablet to relieve stress if necessary, and a red tablet only to be taken at the direction of an Official. Sounds ominous, no?
Cassia is pleased beyond measure when she is matched for an arranged marriage with her childhood friend, Xander. She is dumbfounded when for a brief moment, her screen flashes to another possibility -- Ky Markham, a bit of an outsider at her school. The officials assure her that it was just a mistake, but now that the seed of doubt has been planted, she can't help but wonder... might Ky be a better match for her?
I was a little surprised at how slow Cassia is on the uptake with certain things. It takes her a long, long while to cotton on to the fact that the elders are being poisoned. It's not just a coincidence that everyone passes away exactly on their eightieth birthday.
There is a bit of twist at the ending that I didn't quite expect. Although it doesn't have a head-scratcher of an ending, there are a few important questions unanswered and unresolved. Easier to read, with more romance, this is an approachable, enjoyable alternative to Lois Lowry's The Giver.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.