June 21, 2013

Matched by Ally Condie

All of the things that were shown in early studies to be good for longevity- happy marriages, healthy bodies- are ours to have. We live long, good lives. We die on our eightieth birthdays, surrounded by our families, before dementia sets in. Cancer, heart disease, and most debilitating illnesses are almost entirely eradicated. This is as close to perfect as any society has ever managed to get.
-from Matched by Ally Condie

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In Cassia Reyes' world, The Society plans out everything to give Citizens optimal lives. With spouses and careers matched precisely to give each Citizen fulfillment, lack of disease and a known death date, most members of The Society are content, including Cassia. In fact, after she is Matched with her childhood best friend, Xander, and shows potential for a good permanent job, it looks like things can't get much better for Cassia. But when The Society mistakenly matches her with a second boy, Ki, giving Cassia fresh eyes for him and for the lifestyle in which she is living. Cassia soon recognizes that every choice in her life has been decided for her by The Society. As she falls deeper and deeper in love with Ki, Cassia must decide if she's brave enough to fight for her freedom, if she's able to fight at all.

Some my think, "Another young adult dystopian trilogy?" when they read the premise for Ally Condie's Matched series. Personally, I thought, "YAY! Another young adult dystopian trilogy!!" But I must admit that after reading The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Selection, dystopian stories have begun to feel somewhat predictable. I tried to make sure this didn't get in the way of my feelings for Matched, and, despite a few criticisms, I don't think it did. I really enjoyed this story and I'm excited to continue reading the series. Hopefully you will feel the same way!

My greatest problem with this story is that I didn't feel connected with Cassia's feelings for Ky, at least not right away. When Cassia is very unexpectedly Matched with Xander, her childhood best friend, she laments about how all the other girls get the mystique of not knowing their matches and are able to slowly unveil the mystery by getting to know them. As a girl, I can completely identify with this and recognize that this is a hugely typical feeling for teenage girls. So when Cassia instantly falls for Ki just because of the mystery of him being matched with her accidentally, I automatically did not trust her feelings. I felt she was just being a silly teenage girl and should be happy with Xander. I didn't like that Xander was pushed aside and didn't have a fighting chance. This is just one love triangle I can't get behind, as much as I love all of the characters.

There were other actions made by Cassia that frustrated me, like the way she handles the poem her grandfather gives her (no spoilers here!). In the end, I chalk it up to the author courageously writing a flawed heroine of which I shouldn't be so critical. Similarly, this book may be better suited for teenagers and, that said, they might not be so frustrated with Cassia's actions. Overall, I did end up loving Cassia (along with all the other characters), but I didn't always agree with her choices.

Despite my frustrations with Cassia's actions and feelings, I really loved this story and especially love Ally Condie's writing style. The sentences are so simple and stripped down that I feel like it presents the story with clear precision. At the same time, Condie presents these double meanings that I noticed more and more as the book progressed. For example, when Cassia and Ki are hiking, Cassia says that they "have come so far but never made it to the top", she is literally talking about their hike up The Hill; however, I think she is also talking about the state of their relationship because they are unable to choose each other as mates. There are so many statements like this which are absolutely beautiful. I love that Condie tells us how to feel implicitly, making the book read like poetry.

Speaking of poetry, this book contains a lot of external works, most prominently Dylan Thomas' poem, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. Often it annoys me when authors do this because it feels condescending, like they are trying to hard to sound more educated (*cough* Gabriel's Inferno *cough*). That is not the case with Ally Condie's usage of external poetry in Matched. I feel that she weaved poems into the story perfectly and they had a solid purpose. I also felt like I was better able to appreciate the works she used, recognizing them from college but not thinking of them again until now. She pulls out their power and uses them to drive her story forward.

Bottom Line: This is a must-read for anyone who loves The Hunger Games and dystopian fiction. I know I was a little critical, but I can assure you that I only write reviews this long for books I love and want to talk about! 4/5, but only because the love triangle was so weak.

By the way, what's with love triangles and this new wave of dystopian fiction? Maybe in the future there will be 2 males for every 1 female, someone should address this!

Next week's book is Crossed by Ally Condie

1 comment:

  1. 2 males for every female, hahah! I loved Matched and can't wait to read the next two books! I've read quite a few reviews, saying that Matched was slow, but I didn't really think so. Ally Condie created a whole new world, with a different set of rules, and to convey that to a reader takes time.

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