Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Review: Matched

by Ally Condie

Synopsis: (From Powells)
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.

Why I picked up this book: For one, the cover is beautiful.  Simple, eye-catching, and (which seems to be even more rare) white.  I love staring at it.  The synopsis grabbed me next.  You know me: I am a sucker for dystopia!

My thoughts:

The idea of your life companion being chosen via Society and announced to you at a grand banquet is just so... awesome.  I would hate that being done to me.  So, of course, I loved the idea of it happening to fictional characters.  Luckily, from the synopsis, I knew that this would be one of those YA love triangle books, so I didn't find myself smacking my head halfway through.

To clarify:  I do not hate love triangles.  They can make a story very dynamic and add many subplots and twists that otherwise would never be there.  The problem?  Almost every book in the YA genre coming out now has a triangle.  And they are almost always the same:  Girl likes boy one.  Ga-ga for him and all is perfect in the world.  In comes boy two.  Girl feels sparks, and immediately questions boy one.  Cue epic love battle within girl's head while the two boys, in one way or another, strut their feathers.  In the end, one boy is chosen, the other is moody and broken but promises to always be there... See what I mean?

Matched... followed this.  Cassia at the very beginning finds she is matched to her childhood friend Xander.  It is just so perfect.  Matches within your own city are pretty much unheard of and everyone is in awe of her luck.  As she is.  Then when she is viewing a chip that is supposed to tell her everything about Xander (most of which she already knows...), Ky's face suddenly appears.  Instantly Cassia is confused and questioning her match with Xander while she begins to obsess over Ky, though she tries to hide it and stay perfect in this almost suffucating perfect society they live in.

By the way, the Society... it is just so perfect.  So well timed and clean and everyone in it is that mindless drone who lives only to serve and never questions anything.  I have read reviews of people complaining that the story is a rip off of The Giver.  Ok, yes, you do see similarities.  But nothing compares to The Giver.  We all need to remember: There is no new idea.  Every story idea out there is sparked off of another.  While I did note the similarities, Matched did feel like its own story.

What did I love?  The idea of the Society. The shady Official who keeps appearing where Cassia is to warn her that Xander is her match, not Ky.  The hints about the outer cities where a war is raging, yet no one even knows what exactly the war is... except Ky.  

So, why my rating?  I did not like Cassia.  When you find you don't like the MC, something is wrong.  She was so wishy-washy, and I never connected to her on any level.  In a way, I resented her as she led on both boys, as she never shared the truth, snuck around, grumbled and whined, then at the end of the day still acted like a perfect citizen.  She disregards her childhood friends, even when they obviously are needing her, but no one seems to hold a grudge.  They love Cassia.  It felt like the ending of the story just... happened.  Though Cassia did go through a change, I don't personally feel like I experienced that change, as the reader.  I never got that "ah... there it is" moment.  Which was a bummer.  Because Matched had so much to offer.

The writing style seemed a bit off as well.  Ally Condie is very gifted, and does have other published works out there that are well loved. From what I understand, and please do correct me if I am wrong, this was her first YA novel outside of her usuall genre.  For that, she did well.  I just feel like she could have done better.

The book was far from horrible.  I will be reading book two, Crossed, once I have the chance to purchase it.  I have spoken to other younger readers, who adored Matched.  Many have compared it to the Hunger Games, saying if you love that trilogy, you will love Matched.  I can't exactly say that, but if you love this genre and are craving another reading to add to your dystopian stack, picking this book up will not hurt.

My rating:

3 out of 5 stars


Michael Offutt said...

I love your reviews because they resonate with honesty. Usually authors only rave about books and say they are the most awesomest thing that has ever happened to them period! Only when you follow them for a while, they say that about every book. Here, you actually say what you think of "Matched" and because of that, I respect the review.

Jenni Merritt said...

Michael - Thank you! I would love to just hand out the 5 stars like candy... in hidden hopes that someday others do that for me. But, I know people out there will both love my upcoming book, and hate it. And I want their honesty. So... I just have to give mine too.

Christine Tyler said...

I agree with Michael. Great, even-handed tone. I felt like you pointed out a lot of my impressions while reading the book, and explained them well--the good and the not-as-good.

Sarah Allen said...

Great review. Yes, I have heard that this book is Twilight and Hunger Games in a Giver setting, and it sounds like thats probably true. And I think you're totally right, nothing compares with The Giver.

(my creative writing blog)


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