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Matched by Ally Condie; Review

October 14, 2010

Title: Matched

Author: Ally Condie

Published: November 30th, 2010

Number of Pages: 384

Rating: 5/5

Quote:

Lying in bed, my body and soul bruised and tired, I realize that the Officials are right. Once you want something, everything changes. Now I want everything. More and more and more. I want to pick my work position. Marry who I choose. Eat pie for breakfast and run down a real street instead of on a tracker. Go fast when I want and slow when I want. Decide which poems I want to read and what words I want to write. There is so much that I want. I feel it so much that I am water, a river of want, pooled in the shape of a girl named Cassia.”

Synopsis:

In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

Matched is a story for right now and storytelling with the resonance of a classic. [From Goodreads]

Review:

If you’re a book blogger or are in any way part of the online bookish community (and haven’t been hiding under a mossy rock for months), then you are aware of this book. Not only are you aware of this book, you are aware of the mountains of praise for it and excitement around its upcoming release. You also have high expectations. Like I did.

Do you sense the “but” coming? Well, then your Spidey-Senses are malfunctioning, because there is no “but” in sight. Matched is undoubtedly a phenomenal dystopian novel destined to wow YA readers. Right from the get-go, the reader is aware that this book is something special. Ally Condie takes dystopian to a whole new, disturbing level.

Matched is full of characters that are remarkably round and so full of personality and individuality that it made me so sorry to watch them live in a world where they couldn’t put those unique characteristics to work. In a world where there are no choices and everything is decided logically, these people are full of vigor and passion and love. Making you wonder: How can that be? In the end, it’s all about the things that the Officials cannot change – the bit of us that isn’t really anatomical or physical – love, in it’s shiny omnipotence, and the pieces inside us that make us us.

As you can probably tell from the direction my review is heading, this book focuses a lot on people. Above all that are the evident problems and injustices of the society Cassia lives in, which is interesting in and of itself, but fundamentally, it was that sorriness I mentioned earlier – the regret you feel that the amazing characters cannot rise about the society because it is so oppressing – that kept me reading. I was eager to see them rise above.

The “amazing characters” that I’d like to focus on in this review are Cassia, Ky, and Xander. Yes, oh, yes: A love triangle. The fantastic thing about this particular triangular prism is that it’s evident (at least to me), which of the two boys will win out from very early in the story. On the other hand, I was almost more torn because I felt pity for the boy who didn’t win the prize: Cassia.

Cassia is a great main character. Great’s a terrible adjective when describing people, but I’m running out of others. Anyway, she’s quite enjoyable to read about. Her voice is unique from the start, but familiar in some way. I think that readers will have an easy time relating to her because her voice is so open to interpretation. Her growth in this story is astounding as her mind exercises, her imagination stretches its limits, and she takes a chance that will change the course of her life. And her country. I loved watching her branch out, and I’m sure that all readers will grip their books tightly as the suspense and excitement mounts – as it becomes clear that a monumental change is on the horizon.

Xander is the sort of boy that you love from the very beginning. It’s instinctive. He’s kind, considerate, daring, funny, boy-ish… he’s adorable. Cassia’s friendship with him is entirely believable, as is the admiration other people have for him. He’s kind of the teenage Gilbert Blythe of Matched. I knew from the start that I wanted him to come out on top, that I wanted him to be happy, and that he deserved to be. Ky, on the other hand, is more thoughtful and quiet. He almost seems insignificant. It’s not until Cassia gets to know him better that you realize how much of him is below the surface. He’s unremarkable and uninteresting on the outside, but beneath that is a boy who has gone through more than he should have had to, has stood back up every time he has fallen down, is every bit as intelligent as Xander, and has his own kind of brilliance.

As all good dystopians must, this book has a spotlight on atmosphere, philosophy, and politics. The world in which Matched takes place is incredible. Everything is “predicted” logically, and a majority of the time, people prove to fulfill the predicted outcome. This only reinforces the power the Officials have over the general public. People unquestioningly follow the Officials’ guidance/commands because they’re proven. The likelihood that the Officials will make the people happy is high. And yet, this happiness is faulty in an odd sort of way. It’s only half of what it could ultimately be. As an onlooker, it’s obvious how frighteningly dependent these people are on their dictators. They don’t control their food, they don’t control their transportation, and they don’t know how to do anything they aren’t assigned to do. The way in which these people have succumbed to their rulers is disturbing on so many levels.

Overall, Matched is a thought-provoking, emotionally tense, and suspenseful book. It’s about loving others, loving who you want, and loving yourself. The end is perfect, dribbling off slowly but still managing to leave the faucet dripping. I cannot wait for the next book in the series. I also recommend this book to book clubs because it certainly would make for a great discussion (and is blissfully clean).

I predict that you will be reading late into the night on November 30th, 2010. The likelihood is very high.

Thanks to the Penguin rep at PNBA for getting me beautiful, finished copy for review!

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 24, 2010 4:33 PM

    I just finished reading this book myself, and it was absolutely wonderful. I agree with you… I saw where things were going pretty soon with her love triangle, and did feel a little sorry for the guy who wouldn’t win her. The interesting thing is that, truly, she would have and could have had a happy life with either of them, I believe.

    The cover is so enticing and this book really delivered the awesome story that I hoped it would.

  2. October 18, 2010 3:33 PM

    This sounds fantastic!

  3. October 18, 2010 1:58 PM

    Great review! I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about this book. I’m going to have to check this out.

  4. October 16, 2010 9:18 AM

    fantastic review madeleine! now im even more excited for this book! (hopefully the love triangle will be fun-times)

  5. October 14, 2010 7:06 PM

    You are a fantastic reviewer! Thanks for such a great, in-depth look into the world of Ally Condie. I canNOT wait to get my hands on this book. I practically salivating already!
    Put it on Paper

  6. Dominique permalink
    October 14, 2010 4:43 PM

    What I don’t get is how you know all those big words!?! hehe:) Great post by the way.
    It’ s Xander isn’t? Too, late I already fell in love

  7. October 14, 2010 10:42 AM

    Great review! You’ve enticed me to read this.

Trackbacks

  1. Matched by Ally Condie; Giveaway « Wordbird

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