Wednesday, January 12, 2011

MATCHED by Ally Condie lives up to the hype

I don't know why I'm always surprised when I fall in love with the latest hyped-up, buzzed-about YA novel.  I guess all you bookish people on the interwebs are pretty awesome and I should really learn to trust you.  And because y'all are so awesome, one of my goals for the new year is to spend more time with you and blog more.  I really feel like the guy at work who calls in sick EVERY Monday and then on Tuesday in the lunch room, everyone asks if he's feeling ok and he just looks away, nods, and changes the subject.

Soooo anyways....Matched!  It's awesome!  You should read it.

Ally Condie creates a dystopian world reminiscent of the classics.  The Society incinerates history, art, and literature a la Fahrenheit 451.  Similar to A Brave New World, citizens are controlled through extreme division of labor, regimented recreation, and mandated drugs.  The pervasive technology, misinformation, a mysterious and far away war, and the ever-present sense of being watched reminded me of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

But Matched leaves the classics in the dust and gives us what they don't: a strong heroine, passionate romance, and hope.

We meet Cassia on the eve of her Match banquet, where she'll find out who the society has matched her with for marriage.  The other 17-year-olds meet their matches from other cities and provinces via video phone.  But Cassia's screen is black because her match is in the same room.  It's her best friend, Xander.  She's thrilled, but when she takes her microcard home to learn more about her match, another face flashes on the screen.  Cassia confides in the only person she can, her grandfather, and he asks if she ever wonders...

Cassia's rebellion starts small and is thrilling to watch as it grows.  In the beginning, she honestly believes the Society knows best, but slowly she pulls back the curtain to catch a glimpse of the man behind the wizard.    

The Society differs from other dystopian governments in that it seems to actually believe it's acting in its citizens best interests.  For me, a good-intentioned but misguided fascist government is way more terrifying than a malicious one.  Cassia is savvy, intelligent, and tough enough to outsmart the oppressive Society.  And it's so much fun watching her do it.

Cassia experiences her first real choice and gets a small taste for freedom, which leaves her willing to risk everything for more.  Classic dystopian novels present characters with a life in which happiness and fulfillment are impossible.  Matched is wonderfully brave in that contentment is easily attainable for Cassia within The Society's walls.  Cassia knows she could have a loving marriage, a job she likes and is good at, and a happy healthy family if only she shuts up and goes along with The Society's plan for her.

But she's courageous enough to not settle and want more: true love.  And isn't that what all the best stories are about?  The battle for true love?

I read Matched during my ski vacation and I found myself on a chair lift, anxious to get back to see how Cassia will get herself out of trouble.  Matched is hard to put down and I recommend it to any fans of YA and/or Dystopia.


  1. I am looking forward to reading this. I was intrigued by the descriptions so I'm glad it's getting so many good reviews!

  2. Hi Alyson,

    I came over here from Absolute Write--we're both waiting on Twitter Pitch session queries with Caren Johnson Agency. Thought I'd say hi and become your latest follower :)

    PS--I've heard so much about MATCHED, and your post just gave me the push I need to go buy it now!

  3. Thanks Jess! But, I'm not waiting on any queries anymore... ;)
    I'll share more next week....

  4. I adored Matched!! It was breathtakingly beautiful!!!! I can't wait for the second installment!