Monday, December 6, 2010

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton
Series: Matched #1
Pages: 366
Genre: Dystopian
Release Date: November 30, 2010
How Received: Won

Summary: In the Society, Officials decide.

Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly 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.

My Thoughts:
Matched was such a great read. I love the idea of the Matching system and Society, and the methodical way that Society has perfected its response to disease, cancers, and other imperfections. There were so many great messages in this book: freedom to think, freedom of choice, even the most perfect things have imperfections, and to not give up without a fight, among other things.  

I absolutely adored Cassia. You could see the transformation she makes from beginning to end. She sticks to the societies rules because that’s all she’s been told to do since she was born, but once the seeds of rebellion are planted in her mind, they stay there and take over all of her thoughts. You could see her struggle against going against Society, but you could also see the changes made in her and know that she isn’t going to go back. She’s very level-headed, and tried to look at things logically, and that’s what I liked about her.

The romance was a very untriangular-love-triangle. I didn’t even think Xander stood a chance, really. Half of the book involved Cassia struggling with her growing feelings for Ky, and Xander only got a few scenes in. While I’m adamantly “Team Ky”, I could see and appreciate Xander’s personality/character, because he’s essentially a good guy. Assuming Xander had more scenes and a bigger role than just being Cassia’s Match, I might have easily found myself liking both boys. But as it is, I was totally and completely siding with Ky, even before he was introduced. Yep, that’s right, I loved him before I knew him. The depth to his character, the loneliness and sadness and mystery, just added to my love for him, because his personality spoke to me on several different levels.

Pacing in the novel was so-so. It wasn’t the most action packed plot, but I don’t think it was meant to be. It was more about introducing the characters, watching character development, and planting seeds of rebellion into the main character. So while the pacing was not the most action packed, it was great in that it did what it was supposed to: introduce us slowly to the world and catch a glimpse of the discontent emanating from Cassia and the others. It gave us the time to think about the novel, to question things just as Cassia was questioning them.

The plot was interesting. I haven’t read so many dystopians to say with utmost certainty that it was a unique plot, but it was definitely interesting. The world Ally creates is based primarily on the Matching system, so that humans may be conceived with optimal results. There were so many fascinating elements to Society, and I wish we had more time to explore the intricacies of Society.

Which leads me up to my few dislikes of the novel, the first being: everything about the Society was implied. All the rules, all of the customs, all of the terms – none of them were given exact precision. When I read about dystopian books, I like being blatantly told what terms and objects and structures mean what. I enjoy having definitions. I didn’t have that for this book – you basically pick things up along the way, and while it isn’t hard to pick up and understand, it just wasn’t as concrete as being told outright.

One huge issue for me was time. There was virtually no element of time in the book. I wasn’t sure if that was on purpose (because no one in Society knows what time it is – Society keeps time for them – so perhaps Ally was creating that feeling for us, as readers), or if it just wasn’t thought of, or what. I have a very time-oriented mind, so when a book has no timeline, I get... spazzy, actually. I still can’t tell how much time transpired. In some ways, it felt like only a few months (that would make sense, from Spring to Summer), and in others, it felt much, much longer. It didn't take away from the book itself, but it was just a pet peeve of mine.

Cover Musings: It isn’t stunning, but I do love it! I loved the recurring mentions of green in the book, and this cover is no exception. It’s simple, but so complex at the same time. The intrigue factor of this cover is high up there: a girl trapped within the confines of a green bubble. How can you resist picking that up? I know I wouldn’t have been able to! (Also, on my copy, the letters of Matched aren't in white - they're in green. I prefer my copy better).

Memorable Quotes:
I will be somewhere at the end of the middle. The beginning of the end. (pg. 12)
 Still, she harbors a particular affinity for them because of the seeds, which are small and brown but cloaked in beauty, in these thin white tendrils of cotton. Little cloudy parachutes to slow their fall, to help them fly, to catch the wind and glide them somewhere they might grow. (pg. 28)
 Although, if you think about it, I am marking time for my own life, too. Every minute you spend with someone gives them a part of your life and takes a part of theirs. (pg. 65)
 I stop trying to hold onto so many other things—the memory of Xander’s kiss, what my father has done, curiosity about Ky, worry about Em in the music hall, confusion about myself and how I am meant to be and who I am meant to love. I let it all go like a child with a handful of balloons on her First Day at First School. They float away from me, bright and dancing on the breeze, but I don’t look up and I don’t try to grab them back. Only when I hold onto nothing can I be the best, only then can I be what they expect me to be. (pg. 154)
 I’ll tell her and everyone else that I know: they are giving us pieces of a real life instead of the whole thing. And I’ll tell her that I don’t want my life to be samples and scraps. A taste of everything but a meal of nothing.
They have perfected the art of giving us just enough freedom; just enough that when we are ready to snap, a little bone is offered and we roll over, belly up, comfortable and placated like a dog. (pg. 249)
 Everything I dream is something simple and plain and everyday.
That’s how I know they are dreams. Because the simple and plain and everyday things are the ones that we can never have. (pg. 260)

Overall Thoughts/Final Comments: Matched was an absolutely lovely novel. The idea of Society and the Matching system were interesting. I found myself being more and more curious about Society and its customs. The gradual development of this book – mostly with characters’ interrelations with each other – was very enjoyable to read about. I liked that everything wasn’t so action-packed, but still a lot of stuff was happening at the same time. It, like the cover, was both simple and complex at the same time. I loved Cassia, Ky, and Xander, and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book! (It’s almost cruel that we have to wait a year for it!)

Rating: 5/5

**This review was submitted in the 2010 Debut Author Challenge


Jenny said...

Yay Kristina! So glad you enjoyed this one as well, I just thought it was brilliant. And I completely agree about the uncharacteristic love triangle, I was instantly in love with Ky even though Xander was fabulous. Ky just had an added depth that I was drawn to, and I can't wait to read more about them both in book 2. Beautiful review, you made me want to read this one again:)

Brenda said...

I've got this one on my TBR list. I really want to get to it soon.

K said...

I've got this coming in the mail. Can't wait to read it! :)

Kristy @ Dreaming By Day

LunaMoth said...

you do such great and thought out reviews!
im sad i cant get this book yet, i have to go to NC this month and any money i have is spokem for >.<
i love how you put quotes, gives a sence of the story and how its written.

Danna (Bananas For Books) said...

I just bought this one! I'm gonna start it soon and I'm seeing such great reviews on it (like yours).

Anna said...

5/5! Oooh! Haven't seen a bad review yet. Which means it's going to be a must-read for me.

Aylee said...

Wow, loved this review and loved the quotes, too!

Jenny said...

I'm so glad you liked Matched! I thought it was so beautiful. I'm very excited about the potential for the next two. :)

Amelia said...

awesome review, Kristina! And I'm just like you - I like dystopians to be really specific about the societies/governments, it's good to have a "heads up" about the implied nature of stuff in this book. Glad you enjoyed it, but thank you for giving an honest review :D

Emi said...

Graaaaaah, I still haven't finished this book yet. D: Tomorrow, for sure! Then I can tell you which team I'm officially on. :3 As always, great review!

Unknown said...

Stopping by for a tease... Instead I come by to see this. *sigh* it is still a tease. I would love to get my hands on this book.

Great wonderful splendid amazing and lovely review today.

Thanks for that... Stop by and check out my new Igor helping with Steampunkery and Book Reviews now. *grin*

Mad Scientist.

Sniffly Kitty said...

Dystopians are a lot of fun, and this one definitely deserves some of the hype it's gotten ^.^ The elaborateness of the Matching system is pretty unique.

I'm glad you like my reviews haha. Also, hope your finals are going well!

Sniffly Kitty
Sniffly Kitty's Mostly Books

Jen (@ Jens Book Closet) said...

I've been really wondering about this book. I've had it on my TBR and I really want to read it, but it's been so crazy lately. Still, I think the futuristic society with matching is what has me so interested. Reminds me of that movie, Equilibrium with Christian Bale *yum* and how they try to take away everyone's emotions. Not the same thing, of course, but same idea. Like forcing that upon people is the answer to perfection. I'm excited now, excellent review.

In the Closet With a Bibliophile

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