My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
I put off reading this book for a little while because of the massive amounts of conflicting views I was seeing everywhere. On the one hand, I know that this book sold for a lot of money and is expected to do very well. On the other hand, just because something is expected to do well, doesn’t mean it will.
The book, for me, starts off incredibly slow. I’m not sure whether this new society breeds teenagers that act a few years younger than they should, but Cassia read to act more like fourteen than seventeen. She was incredibly naive, to start, and actually pretty boring. She had no real substance and I wondered how long I could possibly last reading a big book about someone do incredibly dull.
Luckily, that began to change (though not as soon as I’d have liked). I understood why all the grandfather scenes were in there, but I didn’t enjoy reading them and I found myself begging for something, anything to happen instead. It was kind of morose and I felt depressed just reading the story. But then, as Cassia starts to grow conflicting feelings for Ky – a character who, much like Cassia, wasn’t developed enough for me to have a real feel for, I became interested.
The problem I found with this novel was pacing issues – there would be quick scenes on some chapters and long, boring ones in others – and the fact that though this novel was pretty long, I didn’t feel like we got to know any of the characters very well at all. I didn’t dislike Cassia towards the end. In fact, I began to appreciate her and the hard choices she had to make, but I still thought she was boring. Though whether this was because it was set in a very boring world, I’m not sure.
The supporting characters were all very one dimensional too. I wanted to know more about Em, for instance. But all she was there for was to make Cassia seem like she had friends other than Xander and Ky, and to provide an example of what the tablets were for. She felt very…unnecessary. Not to mention Lea, who I assumed when mentioned at the beginning was one of Cassia’s friends, but is then never mentioned again.
The scenes between Ky and Cassia were all very sweet, but usually I like a little more chemistry between love interests than what I got. The build up to the kiss was a little awkward and when they finally did kiss, I almost missed it, the description was that brief. Knowing how forbidden it was, I was expecting a lot more out of something made such a huge deal out of. We didn’t get that.
On a positive note, I did enjoy Cassia’s home life. The normality there with loving parents, who can also make mistakes, and the stress of the choices they all need to make too. Though the little brother was annoying, it was sweet to see how the family interacted with him.
The second half of the book was a lot more interesting than the first half. And now I am very intrigued on what will happen in the next book. Which I guess is good, because I will go out and buy it. The officials were a nice touch, and the rules were very well explained and thought out. The society as a whole was actually very nicely done. I liked that there was minimal technology except what they needed to live their daily lives. I liked that the rules were strict, but done in a way that seemed fair. I liked how Cassia came to realise exactly how warped things had become.
I give this 3.5 stars out of 5, purely because I didn’t think it lived up to the expectations it created and because a lot of it was very bland. Like it needed some salt or pepper to spicen it up a little bit. Considering we spent so much time just reading about interactions, I still feel like I know hardly anything about the characters in Condie’s world. Hopefully the next book will resolve this.