>Matched by Ally Conde is the story of one 17-year-old, Cassia Reyes, living in a society that makes all major decisions for everyone, including where to live, your profession, and who you will marry. Cassia is finally told her Match on her 17th birthday, Xander, her childhood friend and confidante. But when she goes to look at the microchip containing his information after the ceremony, another boy’s face appears. An Official arrives to tell Cassia there has been a mistake and Xander is her Match, but her curiosity about Ky, the other boy whose face she saw, is piqued. She finds herself wondering about Ky and trying to spend more time with him and learn his story.
Cassia’s family is also going through tough times as Cassia deals with her feelings for the two men in her life. Cassia’s grandfather reaches the age of 80 and dies right on schedule an hour before midnight on his birthday. Cassia’s father loses the sample of her grandfather’s DNA and with it the possibility of his being cloned in the future. Cassia’s mother is sent on multiple trips to other areas of the Society as part of her work as an employee at an Arboretum. All this rule bending and breaking means increased scrutiny for Cassia and her family.
Cassia is an intelligent, likable main character and the two men in her life are both sympathetic and interesting. Matched is the first book in a planned trilogy and I look forward to reading more about Cassia, Ky and Xander and learning about how they confront the Society. This dystopian young adult novel is not full of action like The Hunger Games. It is more psychological and introspective. It should appeal to fans of The Hunger Games, though, as well as to people who enjoyed The Giver by Lois Lowry.
Told in the poignant voice of five year old Jack, Room is a story of unconquerable love and harrowing circumstances.
> Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares is so much more than an exercise in witty dialogue and amusing secondary characters. It is a trip around New York City in the bustling period around Christmas and the New Year and a glimpse back in time (for adults) to what it was like to be a teenager embarking on an adventure that leads to self-discovery and romance.
For Dash, the adventure begins in his favorite bookstore when he finds a red moleskin notebook next to Franny and Zooey that contains a set of instructions he must follow in order to get in touch with Lily, the owner of the notebook. Dash is intrigued but decides two can play that game and leaves his own set of instructions for Lily. The pair embark on a dance composed of correspondences and trips around the city to typical tourist destinations (at the height of the pre-Christmas shopping frenzy) as well as to places mostly known only to residents.
The intriguing secondary characters, many plot twists and choice use of words keep this novel moving and make it a quick, fun and timely read as we head into the holidays.
> In 2005, Sean Aiken graduated from college. He spent the next year and a half traveling and avoiding making a decision about finding a job. In 2007, he decided it was time to find a job about which he could be passionate, so he started The One-Week Job Project. He built a website, sent an email to all his friends and family then started taking jobs that lasted for one week doing a wide variety of things for an entire year (his first job was as a jump master for bungee jumpers). He didn’t ask for any wages, just that whoever employed him for the week donate some money to a campaign called ONE that fights extreme poverty.
Aiken garnered media attention and started doing guest spots on radio programs and being featured in segments on local television stations. He landed a sponsor who donated $1000 a month to help with travel expenses after week 5. The job offers rolled in and over the course of the year, Aiken tried jobs ranging from florist to computer-software sales to aquarium host, preschool teacher, and finally mayor of his home town.
It was interesting to read about the variety of jobs Aiken tried. His journey led to a number of discoveries about himself and a wide variety of insights from the people who employed him along the way (most of the people who offered him jobs were individuals who love what they do).
As one of Aiken’s employers pointed out, the project gained as much attention as it did because so many people settle for careers they don’t love. It was refreshing to read about someone with the drive (and willingness to live with uncertainty) to find his passion.
Aiken’s website is still up and can be viewed at http://www.oneweekjob.com/.
>The holiday season is upon us and what better way to get ready then to read a Christmas novel. One of my favorites is Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. The Krank’s have always been all about Christmas. They have the neighborhood Christmas Eve party every year at their house. They put frosty on top of their roof just like all the other neighbors. But when their daughter is spending Christmas out of the country, what better time to leave the hustle and bustle of Christmas behind and spend the holiday on tropical beaches catering to themselves. The one catch is that they can’t celebrate Christmas in any way. Nora finds it hard not to do the little Christmas things that have meant so much over years. On the other hand, Luther is loving being Mr. Scrooge. Neighbors think they are crazy, but they made a deal—No Christmas in exchange for the beaches. You’ll find other great Christmas novels on display at the Library this month.
>There are a ridiculous number of books being published right now featuring vampires (and werewolves and zombies). The Passage by Justin Cronin happens to feature vampires. But if you’re not a Twilight fan, don’t let the vampires put you off of The Passage. These vampires don’t sparkle and don’t get involved in melodramatic love triangles. These vampires are out of the Stoker tradition, although in this wonderfully captivating novel the vampire condition is caused by a virus harvested and modified by the government to create super soldiers.
One hundred years after “virals” escape a government testing facility in Colorado, there live a group of people in a place known as “The Colony” in what was California. On a maintenance trip to the power station powering the lights that keep their settlement from being overrun by the virals, they find a girl on her own. She has a chip implanted in her neck recording her vitals that has been recording for approximately the past hundred years. They have also discovered a radio transmission repeating the message “if you found her, bring her here.” The obvious conclusion is that the transmission refers to this mystery girl.
A small group sets out to discover the source of the transmission and find out if the reason this girl is still alive after one hundred years is information that can save the rest of humanity. The lights at The Colony are failing, and there isn’t much time to find an answer.