Review: Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed

31933102Title: Gather the Daughters

Author: Jennie Melamed

Publishing Information: July 25, 2017

Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia (I guess?)

Series information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 352 pages

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley *all quotes below taken from ARC format and are subject to change

Recommended For: Readers who want something compelling but perhaps rage-inducing. Readers who don’t mind open endings

Note: the first part of this review gives away some details regarding the plot that I don’t consider spoilers as it is pretty clear right away what is happening on the island. Down below, I get into a spoiler-filled review but will clearly note when to look away as to avoid the big spoilers! Also, I had FEELINGS while writing this so please excuse the less formal review!

Gather the Daughters is a hard book for me to review. On one hand, I couldn’t stop thinking about it but on the other hand, I kind of hated it. I’m going to be completely honest. Before I started Gather the Daughters…I almost didn’t. There were some so called “triggers” such as incest and molestation and those are pretty much the two topics that I cannot handle. Finally I realized that I couldn’t stop thinking about the book and maybe that was a reason for me to keep an open mind and give it a try.

First, let me say that Jennie Melamed has a knack for beautiful writing. It was compelling and beautiful and kept me needing more. However, Gather the Daughters is told from four different narrators. Unfortunately, it was incredibly hard to tell them apart. I found myself wondering, “which one is this again?” One of the narrators was pregnant, and that was honestly the only way she stood out to me among the others. Obviously as the story progresses they become somewhat easier to tell apart, but it took a long while to get there. The voices sounded the same and therefore I had a very hard time connecting to any of these girls.

Here is where things get frustrating as a reader. In this community, women exist to breed, basically. Wait., it gets worse. On this island, each family is permitted to have only two children. So, when a husband and wife have conceived two children, guess who becomes the stand-in to take care of the father’s pleasure? Did you guess his prepubescent daughter? If so, you are absolutely correct!

“Who is my little wife?” asks Father in a sugary tone.

“I am,” whispers Vanessa.

So, daughters are now the stand-in wives and some of the mothers often resent their daughters while the daughter becomes responsible for their father’s well-being in many ways. Continue reading

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Review: Matched by Ally Condie

MatchedTitle: Matched

Author: Ally Condie

Publishing Information:  November 30th 2010 by Dutton Juvenile

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Romance

Series information: Book 1 in The Matched Trilogy

Format: Hardcover, 369 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Fans of dystopias and romances such as The Hunger Games

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate… until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

The story begins with Cassia on her way to her Match Banquet. It is a banquet where Cassia will be given the perfect “match” for her to marry, have children and grow old with. The society in which Cassia lives tracks and nearly controls her every move, therefore they are the experts on who she statistically should be matched with. It comes as a surprise when Cassia is matched with her best friend and neighbor, Xander and she couldn’t be happier. However, when Cassia takes the time to view her microcard in order to learn more about Xander it is not his face that appears on the screen but another boy who lives on her street, a boy named Ky Markham. This so called glitch in the system begins to take over Cassia’s thoughts and she becomes obsessed with the idea that The Society made a mistake regarding her match. She soon begins to wonder if it is possible to be matched with two people and decides that she needs to find out more about Ky before deciding whether or not Xander is right for her.

First, the narrative was absolutely gorgeous and I fell in love with Ally Condie’s writing style immediately. It is beautiful and strong and just resonating in a way that a lot of young adult novels are not.

I loved the way in which Cassia starts off as a character who is naïve and young and excited to learn about who her match will be because it is a moment she has been waiting for all her life and then grows into an intelligent and strong individual who takes risks to save those that she loves. I immediately fell in love with Ky and really couldn’t stand Xander almost as soon as he was introduced. Ky had all of the qualities I love in a male character. He was smart (he taught her how to WRITE!!), stubborn and stealthy and brooding and I just loved it. I felt sad for him and elated when his story was told in small ways and really couldn’t help understanding how Cassia fell in love with him. I am going to ignore the fact that she may have never glanced his way had she not seen his face pop up on her screen alluding that he was her match because that would ruin it and make me rather frustrated with the whole novel. Now I know many people have a hard time deciding between Gale and Peeta Ky and Xander but I really didn’t. Xander grew on me as the book went on but in the beginning I didn’t like him much. He seemed perfect but not in a good way, in a way that made me think that the society had molded him to be just what they wanted him to be. Finally near the end he has some acts of bravery where he takes a few risks and I cut him some slack but overall his character was flat and a little annoying. I was impressed at how present Cassia’s parents were since that is an element left out of many YA books and it really made me feel good to see their inner strength and knowledge in light of the society in which they live.

Though this wasn’t my favorite read of the year I have managed to host two teen book clubs on it and the kids absolutely adored the book and couldn’t say enough about it, no seriously we ran out of time before we ran out of topics! I am pretty excited to read Crossed, which I just picked up from the library and will surely be reading the trilogy’s conclusion, Reached, when it hits the shelves on November 13! This book is highly recommended to those who are looking for a dystopian romance.

“…between the only life she’s known and a path no one dares to follow…between perfection and passion…”