Terri (Reading By Starlight)'s Reviews > Matched

Matched by Ally Condie
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Dec 09, 10

bookshelves: dystopian, young-adult
Read in December, 2010

I’ve been looking forward to reading Matched for several months, because Amazon and many YA blogs have been pumping it up all over the net, and I love me some dystopian YA literature!

In the Society, everything is decided for you: what you’ll eat, what you learn, what job you’ll do, who you’ll marry. On Cassia’s seventeeth birthday, she goes to her Matching banquet to learn who her perfect Match is. Instead of a stranger far away in a distant district, who she’ll communicate with via video screens, Cassia is matched with her best friend, Xander. Both are delighted at this uncommon occurence, and their relationship is sweet. A few days later, when she’s viewing her Match’s profile, a different face flashes on her screen. and the wierd thing is, she knows this boy too: Ky Markham. The Officials tell Cassia it was all a big mistake, a cruel joke someone was playing because Ky can never be entered into the Match pool. Predictably, Cassia finds herself drawn to off-limits Ky. Then, her grandfather turns 80, the age when the Society decides that old people should die. Juggling her grief over the loss of her confidant and the secret feelings she has for Ky isn’t easy in the Society, where they watch your dreams and know where you are at all times. Through Ky, Cassia learns that the Society isn’t as perfect as they want everyone to believe, and it’s easy to see that these books are headed for rebellion, uprising, etc, etc.

Things I liked: 1) The premise hooked me immediately, and the author has done some reasonably good world-building. The book is more about how the characters react to their world than about anything concrete actually happenning, so it’s a little difficult to say whether she’s fleshed it out enough to be interesting in the next two books. Condie takes care to mention the details, like Cassia’s green dress on the night of her Matching banquet, and carry those details through to the last chapter. 2) The pacing of the book was good too: even though there wasn’t any action, I was still interested in the book, and wanted to finish it, just to see where the characters were going. No one traveled, no one hacked into the computer system, no one staged a rebellion. But they thought about things the Society said not to think about, and somehow that was enough to keep my attention. 3) Look at the cover. So preeeeeetty. Green is my favorite color, and I love the minimalist design of this cover. It’s eye-catching, it’s intriguing, surely this book is great! Why is she in that bubble? I think. She kinda looks like she has wings. Oh no, wait, trick of the light. I wonder if the bubble can fly, like in “Meet the Robinsons” (which is my favorite movie) because that would be awesome. A simple cover can take my mind so far…

Things that could improve (spoiler alert!!!): 1) The characters were a little flat for a book that spends the entire plot developing them. Once Cassia sees Ky on her screen, it’s like she forgets how excited she was about being matched with Xander, and she’s constantly thinking about Ky and his mysterious past. He’s a nice character, but most of Cassia’s attraction to him is born out of his “otherness,” his knowledge of things the Society has forbidden and his traumatic past. Xander doesn’t put up a fight at all, even though he claims that he’s loved Cassia all his life, and they spend remarkably little time together for people who are supposed to be in love. Xander suspects it, accepts it, and then just walks away like it’s inevitable that the love of his life has fallen for someone else. Cassia has feelings of “I love Xander, but not like I love Ky” throughout the book, but it’s pretty obvious who she’s going to pick, meaning that she does the classic thing I hate where the girl totally abandons the childhood best friend for the flashy new guy. DEAR AUTHORS, PLEASE STOP THIS. IT BUGS ME. 2) The author tried very hard to sound pensive, and have Cassia thinking deep thoughts about poetry and life and interpersonal interactions, but even at the end of the book, Cassia’s mind was a pretty shallow pool. She started to question the Society, but in minor ways. Never once did she think, “I wonder if the Society really has my best intentions at heart,” which is a pretty basic revelation for dystopian lit. At the end of the novel, I got the impression that she still thought the Society was trying to do good, but they just had gotten off track about what “good” was. 3) There’s a trend in YA right now to write in the present tense. For The Hunger Games, this worked, and worked well. For Matched, it did not. The Hunger Games was a book that gripped me, had me on the edge of my seat: in the next paragraph, our heroine might DIE and that made the use of the present tense very appropriate. There’s no action in Matched, and the tense was just unnecessary. It would’ve read much better in past tense.

All in all, I enjoyed the book, but it didn’t live up to the hype. I still recommend it: the book was light, enjoyable, and the writing was fair although nothing special. Get it from your local library and save your $12 for other literary finds.

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