Friday, January 21, 2011
Matched - Ally Condie
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.