Monday, January 10, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie: Review

Matched
By: Ally Condie
ARC received from publisher for review

Summary (from Goodreads): 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.

My Review: I've had this book sitting on my shelf for quite some time.  I started it back in July. I had just finished re-reading The Hunger Games and Catching Fire in preparation for Mockingjay.  About a quarter of the way through the book I stopped reading.  I realized that I was reading it with a violent-out-to-get-you-government filter. And Matched just wasn't doing it for me. So, I put it away for awhile to get in the mood. (I think also some of the hype was getting to me, and there was no way it was going to live up to it).

So, during the Christmas/New Years break that I had from work, I picked it up again. And I absolutely loved it.

It was different than The Hunger Games series in that it isn't nearly as brutal or bloody. As with most dystopian novels, Cassia's Society is all about control. However, The Society has created an illusion that through their control everyone is living at their highest potential.  There is never a need for fear or sadness because everything is so strictly monitored.  Their world is not cluttered with information because their books, movies, and songs are carefully selected.  Citizen's food is given in specific portions and with nutritional value to optimize the health of every person.  And, of course, matches are selected based on the compatibility of each party for maximized happiness.

Is Cassia's Society so different from our own? In our efforts to create a healthy society have we overstepped our bounds? I'm thinking of recent lawsuits against McDonalds for causing obesity. Or the laws passed in recent years to ban trans fats from restaurants in California and New York.  While I obviously feel that eating healthy is important, at what point do we take away individual freedom and responsibility because "we know better"?

One of my favorite parts of the book comes when Cassia realizes that the world in which she lives no longer values creation. Quoting from my uncorrected proof copy:

"Standing there looking at my work, however, I realize that all my family has ever done is sort.  Never create.  My father sorts old artifacts like my grandfather did; my great-grandmother sorted poems.  My farmlander grandparents plant seeds and tend crops, but everything they grow has been assigned by the Officials.  Just like the things my mother grows at the Aboretum."
Now, I've never been one for poetry. I don't know that I have the type of mind that can truly appreciate it.  However, I do love music, and books, and the ability that I have to speak my mind however I wish.

Without belaboring the point, this book gave me quite a bit to think about.  I know many people will like the book for the romance. Frankly, both boys are a great fit for Cassia in different ways, so the love triangle really isn't about pitting one against the other (a la Twilight). Cassia's parents are pretty flat, as are her friends. We don't really get much into the heads of other characters besides Cassia and Xander. I am not entirely sure if that was intentional to show that over time people have really become devoid of original thought.

Therefore, count me among the many that will be eagerly awaiting Crossed when it comes out in November.

My Rating:



Profanity: None
Sexuality: None
Violence: None
Drugs and Alcohol: None

Reading Challenges: Dystopia Challenge

14 comments:

  1. I really liked this book to once I got past the fact that is is similar in basis to The Giver. It's a 'softer' dystopian read, so I think it will disappoint people looking for something akin to The Hunger Games. I liked it, too, although I think Lois Lowry should get some acknowledgment for it similarities to her book. I really loved Cassia at the end, didn't you?

    -Linds, bibliophile brouhaha

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  2. great review glad I started it :) I agree with some of your impressions of society now and what it is becoming.

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  3. Nope. You are indeed one for poetry!

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  4. I hope this book doesn't repeat the old individual vs. society meme. The alternative to corporate control is not individuality, but genuine community.

    People need each other, and they need more than boyfriends and girlfriends.

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  5. I've read mixed reviews on this one, but I still want to read it. I'm glad you liked it, great review :)

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  6. I liked both guys also and if not compared to hunger games or other dystopia than the book can do well. Great review!

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  7. I really really liked this book a lot. One of my favs of 2010 for sure.

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  8. Is there anyone who HASN'T loved this book? I even saw it mentioned in Entertainment Weekly last week. I can't wait to get a chance to read it myself!

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  9. I was wondering about this one, so thanks for the review!

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  10. I enjoyed this book mostly--it felt a bit like "Dystopian Lite"! It seemed like the looming threat of danger for Cassia wasn't as scary as it could have been. BUT, that's my only gripe! I will be passing it on to my daughter and I know she'll love it.

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  11. So far I've only read 145 pages of this book and i have realized that Matched is the girl version of The Giver but instead of the Elders it is the Society. Also there are more similarities;food comes to you in the house, almost nobody ever gets hurt,and there is a ceremony for everything. Ally Condie has stolen her ideas from The Giver. You will know when you read both books.

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  12. what is an example of man vs nature in this book?

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  13. I love this book it is so cool

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  14. i did not enjoy this book. i enjoyed the plotline but the general writing style i found sloppy. at some points i wanted more details and yet at others i was practically skimming the entire page editing out all the details. It was just a wishy-washy first novel feel.

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