This is a lovely, lyrical YA book that ultimately is a snore.

The repellent dystopia Cassia is born into matches you with everything—the clothes you wear, what you study, what kind of boring work you’ll do, how much you exercise, when you die. When you’re a teen, who you’ll be mated to for life. The Society dispenses food rations, tasteless but carefully controlled for calories (Mayor Bloomberg, are you listening? This is a repellent dystopia.)

The book opens with the big night when Cassia will learn via the Officials’ technology who she is matched to. She sees her childhood best friend and neighbor, a boy like a brother to her. She doesn’t feel the spark of love for him, but he’s tall, blond, smart, and handsome. Things could be worse, right? (Sometimes I wish these kinds of books would force the heroine into a relationship with someone who’s fat, ugly, and creepy. Kind of like the classic “Beauty and the Beast” fairytale.)

Then the Official technology flashes the image of another boy on the screen. Another boy she’s mistakenly matched to. He’s a forbidden boy. It doesn’t hurt that he’s tall, dark, and handsome, too.

The problem I have with all this is that Cassia (why would she be allowed to have such a fancy name in this Society?) and all the other characters are irritatingly passive in the face of the Society’s control. They’re aware of the control, but do nothing but comply.

The notion that people no longer read and poetry of bygone years is forbidden is a nice touch. A bit of excitement happens when the Officials search house-to-house for forbidden personal mementos, including poetry. If the people were also hiding books on how to make an explosive incendiary device, I may have been more engaged.

In the end, after 300 pages, not a whole lot has happened and the book feels a lot like set-up for the next two books in the trilogy. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good set-up. But pages that feel like set-up are—as every writing pundit will tell you–the definition of the pages you the author have to throw away.

If you’ve got limited time to read YA books—or any kind of book—you’re better off spending that precious time reading the vigorous, brutal The Hunger Games. But this is a perfectly acceptable book to give to a teen.

From the author of The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, Summer of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more. And on my Facebook Author Page, on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

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More bargains for your reading enjoyment:

Romantic Suspense! Celestial Girl, Book 1: The Heartland (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily flees Toledo on the Overland train. She must share a seat with Jackson Tremaine and befriends the Celestial Girl, the daughter of a Chinese dignitary. But appearances are not what they seem.

New! Celestial Girl, Book 2: Jewel of the Golden West (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily and Jackson arrive in San Francisco and discover the murder of an immigration official connected with the Celestial Girl. She and Jackson are compelled into a dangerous murder investigation. Meanwhile, as they begin a hot affair, a contract for murder is taken out on Lily’s life.

Coming soon! Celestial Girl, Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, which will include Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, and Book 4: Terminus. The Omnibus Edition will include all three books.

Of The Gilded Age, the New York Times Book Review said, “A winning mixture of intelligence and passion.”

Urban fantasy! The Garden of Abracadabra is available in three affordable installments. Begin with Book 1: Life’s Journey on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

The Bantam classic, Summer of Love is available in seven affordable installments. Begin at the beginning on Nook, Kindle, or UK Kindle

Suspense! Don’t miss SHAKEN, my sexy thriller, an ebook adaptation of “Deus Ex Machina” published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, republished in Transcendental Tales (Donning Press), and translated and republished worldwide, is on Nook, Kindle. and UK Kindle.

Literary science fiction! And don’t miss TOMORROW’S CHILD, The Story That Sold To The Movies. This began as a medical documentary, then got published in Omni Magazine as a lead story, and finally sold to Universal Pictures, where the project is now in development. On Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Thank you for your readership!