Smackdown Books 2018

Wolf Hollow
Salt to the Sea
The Serpent King
Optimists Die First
The Hate U Give
Orphan Island
Dan vs. Nature
The Female of the Species
Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere
Paper Girls, Vol. 1
The Passion of Dolssa
The Distance Between Us
When We Collided
Louis parmi les spectres
Girl in the Blue Coat
Defy the Stars

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Matched vs. The Great Wide Sea

I'm one of those people who often chooses books by their covers, and so I chose a favorite before reading.On its cover, Matched has a girl in a frothy green dress trapped in a glass ball -- there's lots of potential there, and so it's my favourite. The Great Wide Sea, however, has a cover that belongs on a book written in the 18th century -- a sailboat in a storm -- big whoop. But I signed on to the Smackdown with the belief that all of the books would be good reads, so I did actually read both...

Matched by Ally Condie

I loved the premise of Matched, because it's definitely something timely. What happens when we're over-wired? Will there be a point when we decide that being connected all the time with unlimited choice is just too much? In the Matched world, they've eliminated all of that. They've reduced everything down to the "best" 100: 100 books, 100 poems, 100 songs, 100 movies, etc. Each meal is delivered by the government in a form perfectly matched to the nutritional requirements of the person who will eat it. Each person "dies" at the age of 80. Each person, provided he/she wants to be married and is acceptable, is matched with the perfect spouse in a matching ceremony at the age of 17. This story begins with the matching ceremony for Cassia, who is matched to her childhood friend Xander. This in itself highly unusual; normally matches are not known to each other beforehand. Although she is thrilled to be matched with Xander, Cassia feels somewhat cheated, because she doesn't get the opportunity to meet someone new and experience that thrill of learning all about him. However, when she loads her match information chip into her computer, it doesn't show Xander; it shows another friend, Ky. Although Ky's picture shows up only for a second, it makes Cassia question her match. She starts to seek out Ky at various events in the community and develops a forbidden relationship with him. In a society where the government knows all, the turn of events is not really surprising.

This book smacks of the Giver and other similar stories. Normally I would say that kids really go for these types of books, but I'm not so sure in this case. I would have really liked to know more about how and why the Matched world got to its current state. I also found that the middle of the book was slow -- definitely not a page turner. And the end...well, I won't give it away, but I found it somewhat unsatisfying.

The Great Wide Sea by M. H. Herlong

Now the Great Wide Sea is an entirely different story; and as I mentioned at the start, I didn't expect to like it at all. It's kind of a "boy" book; the main characters are three brothers and their dad. The father is consumed with grief over the recent death of his wife and consequently quits his job, sells his house, and buys a creaky sailboat on which he intends to live and sail the Bahamas for a year with his sons. The boys, main character Ben, 15, Dylan, 12, and Gerry, 5, think their father's plan is insane. The story is told through the eyes of Ben, and he is a true-to-life 15/16 year old boy. He wants to focus on his friends, hobbies, and the car he'll buy when he turns 16. He misses his mother terribly, is irritated by his brothers constantly, and blames his father for everything. He alternates between brooding and annoying teenager to caring and competent caregiver in an instant -- as most teenagers do. Together this family faces a multitude of trials, far beyond what most of us could imagine, yet perfectly believable on a sailboat in the 'great wide sea'. Sailors will probably appreciate all of the realistic detail, which I'm assuming is accurate. Readers will appreciate the shocking turn of events with the father in the middle of the book.

I think this book would be very appealing to young adults -- boys and girls alike. It was especially appealing to the mother of three sons. The main character is very well-written; the details are very realistic, and the whole story is very fast-paced and exciting. I also found the conclusion satisfying. If only it came with a better cover!

Thankfully, Jaylene and I agreed on our choice to move on. The winner is....... The Great Wide Sea.


  1. Hi Angela, The cover of The Great Wide Sea reminds me of Iain Lawrences trilogy with similar book covers. I wonder if there are any similarities. The plot also reminds me of a non-fiction book about a teenager, I think 16, who travels alone on a boat. I think the title is Dove but can't seem to find any internet reference to it. Sounds like my kind of read. Look forward to reading it at some point. Arlene

  2. Lame! The Lawrence trilogy was lame I hope Great Wide Sea is 400 times better because I'm a sucker for great covers and a cool hook....oh how can Matched be out?

  3. Hey, I never said I didn't like the cover of Matched. Based on cover alone, I would have picked Matched over The Great Wide See, too! I also never said that I read the Lawrence trilogy, only that they had the same covers.