March 22, 2012

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Matched by Ally Condie

Release Date: November 2010
Publisher: Penguin | Dutton Juvenile
Pages: 366 pages
Source & Format: Library; Kindle ebook
Series: Matched #1
Amazon | Goodreads

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.

Thoughts on Matched
In Matched, the Society is organized down to the smallest details. You're assigned the job that best matches your skill set. Your food is designed to meet your dietary and nutritional needs. If you choose to marry, you are matched to your ideal mate. Once you turn eighteen, you'll finally get to see the person you'll spend the rest of your life with at your matching banquet.

Cassia, our heroine, has looked forward to being Matched for years. She's allowed to choose her own dress from a pre-determined selection (no surprise, she chooses the one the computer predicted). Everything seems to be going perfectly when she's matched wit her best friend, Xander. She knows him personally, a rarity in Matching, and everyone is just a little bit jealous that she gets such a good Match. Trouble arises, however, when she goes to review Xander's Match information on the microchip she's given. She doesn't see Xander's face. Instead, the face of Ky Markham appears on the screen. It's this one moment that causes Cassia to second guess everything she's taught and believed to be true about the Society.

One of the things that really distinguished this book from other dystopians I've read recently is the pacing. Things progress a little more slowly, and there is a more relaxed feeling to the novel as a whole. The Society doesn't seem to be entirely evil. Although you can begin to see why Cassia questions it, it's also easy to see why she would have had absolute faith in it for so long. For some people, her parents included, it really does work. It isn't until her own Matching mistake, as well as the death of her grandfather, that she begins to have her doubts.

The book spends a lot of time on world building. And while I enjoyed reading about this world, I would have liked it better if it didn't spent quite so much time describing this world. The action really starts to happen towards the end, requiring you to pick up the second in the series to find out what happens next.

Love triangles keep popping up in the YA books I've been reading recently, and it certainly isn't my favorite literary trope. There are aspects of Cassia's relationships with both guys (Ky and Xander) that were believable and other aspects that need some more development. I did think the story favored Ky and didn't really give the reader a chance to know Xander as well. It left the "triangle" feeling a little lopsided, in my opinion.

I have slightly mixed feelings about it. If you really love dystopians, this is probably not the best one out there. But you might still enjoy it because I really did! If you don't like them, start out with something else (like Delirium) for a better introduction to this genre.

So Quotable
"Every minute you spend with someone gives them a part of your life and takes part of theirs."

"Is falling in love with someone's story the same thing as falling in love with the person himself?"

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