I am so very behind on my “What I’m Reading” posts. I really despise doing bulk reviews, but these three just seem to fit together so well, it was hard to resist.
I’ve been on a bit of a dystopian kick lately, and based on the above three reads, I guess I’m intrigued by worlds that regulate (or attempt to regulate) love. Love plays a vital role in each story, shaping, defining and challenging the characters. In MATCHED, love is decided for you, with the Society picking your marriage partner. In DELIRIUM, love is a disease where citizens anxiously line up to be cured. And in WITHER, love is almost nonexistent, as girls are sold into a polygamous marriage in an attempt to keep a genetically malfunctioning population from dying out.
I enjoyed the dynamic between Rhine and her sister wives far more than I thought I would. The polygamous marriage felt instantly wrong, and yet, the slow bond that developed and blossomed between the girls, did not. Each girl is well developed and has a unique personality, with ticks and traits that make them feel real — like a girlfriend any girl could have. I think this aspect made the word infinitely more unsettling.
I had a little trouble believing that our society, a world obsessed with love – heck, we have reality television shows like The Bachelor – would somehow be convinced that love was a disease, but Oliver writes with enough beauty and power for me to suspend belief. Maybe that’s why this worked. Because I didn’t believe we’d ever want this sort of cure, it made the stakes that much higher, and had me rooting for Lena from the second she falls for Alex.
This book reminded me of THE GIVER. A lot. But written from an older and female perspective. Much like Jonas in THE GIVER, Cassia lives in a highly regulated and controlled world, and much like Jonas, it takes her a very long time to see the flaws that so blatantly surround her. There is something so engaging about reading a world where you, the reader, know that things are wrong. You can’t help rooting for main character to open their eyes and start breaking down walls.
Some final thoughts
The writing in all three of these novels is absolutely exquisite. They all have a slow, eerie build, with steady but almost melancholy pacing. In my opinion, these were more romances set in dystopian worlds than they were dystopian tales with a hint of romance. Don’t get me wrong – I was certainly not bored and never had a problem turning the pages, but these books were softer, quieter, than I expected. Perhaps I just like a lot of action in my dystopias. Then again, I adore THE GIVER, and that is as slow and steady a build as any.
So when it comes to dystopias, if you love emotional and eerie tales, I say jump on any of these three. If you love heart-pounding-in-your-ears action, the recently released DIVERGENT may be more up your ally.