As part of our city's Big Read event, we've been having several local authors come visit at the library. This past Thursday it was Ally Condie's turn! Well, so when I realized that she would be coming on a third Thursday, which is my book club night, at first I was sad and thinking, oh dear how will I work that? And then I realized, hello, book club! We can all go to hear her!
After that we realized that between us we had three ARCs of Matched, so we spent the month making sure everyone in the book club got a chance at reading it. And I was very impressed that even though several members live in neighboring towns, we manged to make it work.
That night, nine of us were able to make it to the big event. We first listened as Ally told her "road to publication" story and what inspired her to write Matched, and a little bit on her background. Then, she passed around a notepad and those that wanted to wrote down a question. She spent the remainder of her time answering those questions. Afterwards, those of us who had a copy of Matched, or one of her other books, had her sign them, and then we posed for this lovely picture:
Not pictured are my sister Bethany (who was taking the picture,)
Karen, (who wouldn't get in the picture,)
and Kim (Good Clean Reads, who walked in just as the picture was taken!)
We then found our way to the a small discussion room where we talked about Matched, looked at all the book club sets housed in the room and started planning years down the road, talked about other stuff we've been reading this month, and passed out next month's book, The Count of Monte Cristo.
About 20 minutes or so into our discussion, Ally (along with author friend Becca Wilhite) walked in! (I had sent her an email letting her know we would be there discussing her book and told her she was more than welcome to pop in us, but I didn't really expect her to!) So that was more than cool and we quickly tried to ask her everything we been wondering about her and her book. It was very fun and made for quite the memorable book club.
Warning: spoilers ahead as I report on our questions and discussions!
Some questions we asked Ally (and I'm sure I'm forgetting a ton, I should have been writing stuff down):
**Will we find out who is responsible for flickering the picture of Ky on the computer? (Probably not until the third book)
**How do you feel about all the buzz and hype surrounding Matched? (It's exciting, but there's lots of pressure.)
**What are your tour plans? (When the book comes out, she's going to a ton of big cities to promote)
**Do you find yourself thinking and worrying about your book and characters while you are supposed to be doing mom stuff? (Pretty much able to separate the two)
General comments and observations we had about Matched:
- we loved the world this is set in
- we would miss ice cream!
- we thought it was interesting to try and make life totally fair, even down to how big your neighbor's trees are
- we enjoyed seeing the growth of the main character Cassia, over the course of the story
- we loved the key phrase "don't go gently" and discussed its meaning for quite awhile
- we were all fascinated with the idea of only 100 "best things" (books, poems, songs, etc.) and wondered what all the 100 are (forgot to ask Ally that one)
- we wondered if the next installments will be more violent
- most of us sympathized with boy character Xander
- we thought it was interesting to get the point of view of someone raised inside the controlling government city, as opposed to one who was living outside it (as in The Hunger Games)
- we made other comparisons to The Hunger Games, and many book club members said they liked Matched better!
Yes, it was a wonderful book club experience!