It all happened so fast.
I was reading these critically acclaimed books – The Dinner by Herman Koch and Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun – and next thing I knew, my reading brain was swirling with romance triangles, dystopian near-futures, and slightly whiny female narrative.*
There are those VERY SERIOUS READERS out there who want to make other VERY SERIOUS READERS feel ashamed when they succumb to the inexplicable draw of YA Fiction. Well guess what? Those of you with upturned noses and derisive snorts of disapproval, THIS librarian is incapable of [reading] shame**. Which is why I read the entire Matched trilogy in 4 days.
Basic Plot: Dystopian near-ish future. The Society is entirely based on statistical calculations culled through data mined daily from citizens. There is only limited, pre-selected culture and an appearance of content sameness. The first glitch appears when 17-year-old protagonist Cassia is Matched with her statistically determined perfect mate (cue Xander: totally handsome, all-Society boy-next-door best friend) AND a second, seemingly imperfect mate (cue Ky: the loner, mysterious neighbor with eye-windows of his soul…or whatever).
And cue the story. When Cassia experiences this glitch in an otherwise perfect Society, her utopian life begins to unravel as she is exposed to the hidden realities of her world. There’s a wise all-knowing grandfather in Matched, who first introduces Cassia to words written on paper and the glimmer of a world that exists beneath and between the Society. There’s an epic adventure and introduction to a rebellion in Crossed. And there is an actual rebellion, plague and ending in Reached.
I have to admit, YA fiction is a little heavy on the dystopia and love triangles lately (and manic pixie girls, but I digress). This trilogy was predictable – even the part when the rebellion (the Rising) is not as upstanding as it appears (sound familiar?). And let’s be serious – who has a hunky neighbor in high school? Who is secretly in love with you? Psh. There was also a noticeable deterioration in plot structure and narrative in Crossed and Reached. So why? Why did I, an often VERY SERIOUS READER, persist?
Because why not? Because Cassia is not helpless, and she does not even come close to the levels of whininess achieved by Katniss Everdeen in Mockingjay. Because I like the gramps, a lot. Because it was vacation. Because the premise is solid. Because the characters are engaging. Because Condie put forth a respectable effort in the world of YA trilogies.
I may not feel [reading] shame, but I do harbor [reading] pity. I feel genuinely sorry for those VERY SERIOUS READERS who feel the pressure to maintain a VERY SERIOUS REPUTATION every day of their reading lives. That must be exhausting. I would need a green pill.
Inside joke. My apologies, VERY SERIOUS READERS.
-Signing off, Jenny Barrows (who is now reading Junot Díaz, because the pendulum is meant to swing)
*No, not my own.
**KG: Which is why we still haven’t seen a review of Great Expectations.