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Friday, January 21, 2011

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

(so much for posting Tues & Thurs! Oh well. Figuring things out as I go!)

I've been looking forward to this book for a long while. The premise is fantastic:

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.


I just wish it had been executed better. The thing about writing things in another universe or in the future, or the past, is that we, as the reader in the here and now, get to play anthropologist. If it's written well, we have to sort of muddle around and figure things out. It's part of the fun. Think of A Clockwork Orange. There's lots of strange and new vocabulary but through Burgess' clever use of words, we're able to figure it out.

With Matched, I felt like we were constantly being told, 'this is different than what you know' by the characters who shouldn't know that it's different. It should be normal to them.

For instance, one character says to another something like, 'I hope the train is on time!' and the other character laughs because the train is always on time. Then why even mention it? If it's totally normal, why bring it up? It would be like me going into a movie theatre and saying the same thing even though movies are programmed to start on time. It would be odd. There were other little things too that pulled me out of the story - the characters complain about not having much to do in their leisure time but they've never known anything more. I wouldn't complain about only having 5 movie theatres in my town - unless I used to have ten.

I also find it hard to believe that everyone in this world goes along with the weird restrictions. In Across the Universe by Beth Revis, the people have a good reason for going along with it (which I won't tell you about - read the book) and in Delirium by Lauren Oliver, there IS rebellion but society is trying to cover it up. Maybe there is rebellion that we're not seeing? I don't really buy the whole complacency of the people.

If you can get past the odd world building (another thing - they still use paper for some things even though it's all super futuristic), you might enjoy this book. I genuinely did enjoy the characters and Cassia and Ky's growing friendship, and then romance. I wish Xander had had more screen time. His character fell a bit flat for me. We're constantly being told that all the girls want him but I had a hard time seeing why. I felt that if I had more dialog with him, I might have been Team Xander. As it is, I'm definitely Team Ky.

I don't know if I'll read the next one in this series or not. I like the premise - of being matched with someone but falling for someone else but I feel that this could have easily been written as an arranged marriage novel and skipped on the futuristic premise altogether. I think the strength of the book is in the relationships between the characters.

So in conclusion: Sort of recommended. I imagine that if you're into the dystopian genre, you're going to pick this one up. If you only want to read one dystopian book this year, however, make it Delirium by Lauren Oliver.

(but seriously, how pretty is that cover? Cover love!)

reviewed from library copy

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