Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

Matched by Ally Condie
2010; Dutton Juvenile


Summary

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. (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

I read the first two pages of Matched, smiled, and said "I'm going to like this." Ally Condie is a fabulous writer. She created a Utopian dystopian love story with strong, likeable main characters.

Cassia is a normal Society girl. She has a rebellious streak, but doesn't really act on her desire to be different. She sticks to the rules, because why wouldn't you? The Society is perfect. Their lives are perfect - thoughtless, easy. Her family is perfect. Her friends are perfect. Things are even more perfect when she is Matched to Xander, her best friend since childhood. The Society always chooses couples who are mentally and genetically perfect for each other - how lucky that Xander is deigned to be her lifelong partner.

This changes when she briefly sees a photo of Ky, another acquaintance pop up as her match. Why would this be? Xander was her match. No one ever has two matches. And the Society never makes mistakes. Curiosity leads Cassia to get to know Ky better. Their friendship blossoms into something more - passionate, desperate love for one another. Meanwhile, Cassia's feelings toward Xander stay the same - he is a beloved childhood friend, but she is not in love with him.

Couples cannot break the match. They cannot choose their own partners. What will happen if Cassia dares to be different?

Cassia is a likeable girl. As I said above, she's a good girl - very smart, friendly, athletic. The girl next door basically. She's very brave and willing to defy convention to do what she knows to be right.

Matched features a pretty normal love triangle. While it may not break any new ground, it still manages to suck in the reader. The choice between Xander and Ky really is difficult. Xander is a fabulous guy. I'm sure Cassia realizes that a life with him would be satisfying and happy. They would have the perfect Society family. But it would be without passion. Ky inspires that passion. He is labeled as an outcast by the Society. Unworthy. He understandably has a chip on his shoulder toward authority figures, but he keeps quiet. What I like best about him and what really distinguishes him from Xander is that he pushes Cassia to be better - to learn, to think. With Xander, Cassia would stagnate. With Ky, Cassia would grow.

Matched is a very user-friendly book. The writing is effortless. It felt like I wasn't even reading - I was just watching the book take place. While I appreciate the talent of authors whose prose is so beautiful that you savor each word just as much as you enjoy the plot, there is something to be said for a book that sucks you in so completely that you don't have to work at all.

I did feel like Ally Condie read The Giver one too many times. I thought it heavily influenced Matched. That's not to say it's a carbon copy of The Giver - the plot is completely different, but there were a lot of similarities between the worlds. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. I thought Stephenie Meyer's The Host was inspired in part by the philosophy in Orson Scott Card's Ender series and was a better book for it. In this case, I liked the world Ally created. I love how she created a world that was so happy and idyllic yet you could clearly see terror and horror creeping in from the edges. Still, I got a little irritated seeing so much of The Giver in Matched. It wasn't something that should have bothered me, but it still did.

The action also lagged in a few places. The book never was a page turner, which was fine since so much background material was necessary to establish the plot. I felt like the book was always moving forward, just not as fast as I would have liked.

Regardless of its flaws, Matched was a thoroughly enjoyable book. By the end, I really cared for Cassia, her family, Ky, and Xander. I lived in their world for 366 pages and I didn't want to leave them behind. I cannot wait for the next book.

Rating: 4 / 5

24 comments:

  1. When we had Ally at our party, someone mentioned that a lot of people were saying Matched was a lot like Giver. She said Giver had no influence on the book and she was surprised at how many people said Matched was like Giver.

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  2. I really liked this book, but I too thought that it was too similar to The Giver.

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  3. I'm totally on the fence with this one ... on the one hand I really liked the world building Allie did, and I thought Cassia was great. But the pace of the book was a little too slow for me to really enjoy it. I also kept comparing it to 'Delirium' (which I lovvvved!), so that totally didn't help.

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  4. I've heard some really mixed reviews on this one, it seems you either love it or you hate it. I'm not sure where i'll fall...but i'm exited to read this one :)

    Thank you for the fantastic review!

    http://blackfingernailedreviews.blogspot.com/

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  5. I loved what you said about watching the book take place rather than reading - I totally agree. I really liked this book as well. Great review!

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  6. I thought the book didn't get to the good stuff until about halfway through but...what an enjoyable second half it was ;)

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  7. This book did take a while to get started, but it seemed to tread lightly being first in a series and being a debut novel, but I can't wait for the second book.

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  8. I'm glad you liked it !! I look forward to read book 2 in the series even if I didn't love Matched .. =)

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  9. Hey! That was an awesome review! I'm going to be reading it soon, and this is really the 1st detailed review I've read about it! Thanks!!
    XO, Al

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  10. I didn't like it as much as you did, but I thought it was a good start. I'm hoping the pace picks up in book 2.

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  11. Brilliant review Alison, I really enjoyed this one as well. I haven't read The Giver, so the similarities between that one and Matched didn't bother me, but I can see how it would be frustrating to see so many elements repeated. I loved Cassia and Ky and Xander, can't wait to read more with them!

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  12. I am also on the fence with this one, I thought Cassia was weak. Sure, she "wanted" to rebel and question the system but I felt like the first 100+ pages was all about "what if" instead of acting on it. Great review tho, I know most people liked it :)

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  13. Don't you love when just after a few pages you *know* you will love a book! Those are the kinds of books I get really excited about.

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  14. Yeah, your complaints of similarities to The Giver and the lack of action seem to be common ones from what I've read. Still, I can't wait to read this (I can't believe I haven't gotten around to it yet!) and I just know I'm going to love it. Really great review!

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  15. I completely agree, Alison. I really enjoyed "Matched" and loved Condie's writing. While I normally don't read first person pov, it worked really well in this book. You witness as Cassia's eyes open to her "real world". I have so many questions after reading this book and hope to learn more about the characters. Glad you enjoyed it!

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  16. Alison, your reviews are lovely. "Ky inspires passion." I felt that way about him too! I loved the simple writing and the 'user-friendly' approach in Matched.

    I'm probably lame for admitting this, but I haven't read The Giver, so I'm not familiar with it, but I have heard many people complain about the same thing.

    Interesting tidbit on your observations on The Host.

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  17. I'm so glad you liked this book, I really want to get it read soon!

    I read a book last week that after the first page I KNEW I'd love it, those kind just make me all fuzzy inside! :)

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  18. Oh, I was def drawn into this one too. I liked her world and the characters.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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  19. I just loved the premise of this one, and I think Aly was a brilliant writer, but Matched fell a bit flat for me. I like to be riveted throughout, and I was sad when I felt I could easily put down the book and not miss a thing. I'm glad you enjoyed it though! Fab review, Alison :)

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  20. Great review! I must say that there is alot about this society that intrigues me. I am hoping to learn more in the second book. Super excited!!

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  21. l agree, it isn't a book with a fast paced story line but l do think the second one will be so good now the story line is in place!

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  22. I agree that the writing here is effortless. Some books just pick you up and carry you away, and I think was definitely one of those. I also really liked how Condie makes you care about both boys equally. Love this book!

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  23. I just finished Matched and felt pretty underwhelmed. I thought it started out strong, but just became very predictable. I love The Giver, but at the same time I wonder what kind of story Matched would be if The Giver had never been written. Regardless... I still can't wait to read Crossed :)

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  24. I think that Condie did a fantastic job with the start of this book and the ending. Great love triangle, action and intrigue.


    Kitchen Benchtops

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