Friday, January 21, 2011

Matched - Ally Condie

Summary: In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices.  It's hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate.  So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one...until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.  Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path no one else has ever dared follow--between perfection and passion.  Matched is a story for right now and story-telling with the resonance of a classic.   (Summary from book - Image from www.allysoncondie.com )

My Review:  There used to be more than one hundred songs, one hundred works of art, and one hundred poems. That was before the Society destroyed the rest -- burned them all -- in an attempt to create a simple and egalitarian civilization. Cassia’s life is simple, perfect in fact, until a technological glitch in the Matching program, and the consequences that follow, cause her to doubt the government that keeps her safe. Soon she is forced to choose between the life she has always known and a life without guarantees…with someone she loves.

Matched probably won’t go down in history as an epic work of fiction, but it reminded me of a lighter version of some of my favorite (mostly YA) dystopian novels: The Hunger Games, The House of the Scorpion, The City of Ember, Uglies, and most especially 1984, The Giver, and Fahrenheit 451. While these books vary in their particulars, they all follow the journey of a character, content (or at least resigned) to conform until something happens that causes them to question their designated place and the power of the government that holds the reins. Most include mildly dark subject matter or controversial themes that speak to our fears for the future. In these areas, Matched is no different. The shared structure with all these novels led to a certain amount of predictability, but the details are what set this novel apart. Ally Condie’s spin on a standard plot was different enough to retain my interest and the addition of one of my favorite poems was icing on an already tasty cake.

Matched fit well into the young adult category (12+) and could slip easily into children’s fiction if it weren’t for a romantic element that isn’t usually found in that genre. The writing style was incredibly easy to read, perhaps a little too easy, but I was impressed with Condie’s ability to write a squeaky clean romance that was actually interesting*. If I had a glass box to sit in so that my children wouldn’t climb on me, I could easily have finished this book in an afternoon. Alas, I am fresh out of glass boxes, and it took me a week to read. Once I got some quiet time, I finished in one sitting.

I understand that Matched was created for the younger set of young adults, and is fairly perfect for them, but I wish it had been designed and written for an older audience. As a YYA novel, it lacked the richness of language and description that would have put it over the top (for me). I also had a horrible time with the name Xander and could not stop picturing Xander Harris from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (in his less attractive years). It killed the mood on so many occasions, which now that I think about it might have been the point.

Overall, I had fun with this book. It isn’t anywhere near the level of Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, or 1984, but those who like the Uglies Series or City of Ember, might find something to entertain. Personally, I am not happy that I have to wait until November 2011 to read its sequel, Crossed, and November 2012 for book three.

*Let’s admit it. Pride and Prejudice aside, sometimes they are just boooooring.

My Rating: 4 Stars

For even the most sensitive reader: Have at it.  There is some very mild thematic material that comes across much worse when I type it (e.g. euthenasia, genetic engineering, governmental tyranny) than it actually is in the book. 

Sum it up:  A futuristic tale of love, sacrifice, and a young girl who would not go gently into that good night.

Also reviewed by Kari.

3 comments:

Kara and Chant said...

I loved this book, but I agree with you. I wish her writing had been just a little deeper. I am really excited for the next book!

Ally said...

I am with you. After finishing The hunger games and salivating for another good dystopia novel, this fell short. It was good and if the other 2 were out I would probably read them, but to wait yrs for it?? Blah :(

allanbard said...

It's always great to find a good blog with great info about books! thanks for sharing! It seems this is one of the books which could be read by both adults and youngsters? The best books for young readers are amongst those like Matched I guess? Will be glad to read it too!
BTW do you use sites like zazzle.com, cafepress. com, fiverr? They could be a good way to promote your blog/works and to help "remove" stupidity in the streets like headlines on t-shirts, fridge-magnets, cups, etc: My Boyfriend kisses Better Than Yours, FBI - female body inspector, etc. Not everything we see and think of should be about sex, right? It would be much better if there were more nice pictures of mythical creatures, good thoughts, poems from fantasy genre, etc? I'm allanbard there, I use some of my illustrations, thoughts, poems from my books (like: One can fight money only with money, Even in the hotest fire there's a bit of water, etc). Best wishes! Let the wonderful noise of the sea always sounds in your ears! (a greeting of the water dragons'hunters - my Tale Of The Rock Pieces).

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