Matched by Ally Condie

At seventeen years old, Cassia is ready to attend her long-awaited Matching ceremony -- a special banquet where teens of the same age all throughout the Society finally find out who they have been matched with. Cassia's match is the boy she will one day marry, raise a family with, and ultimately spend the rest of her life with. What Cassia is not expecting from her tightly controlled, orderly Society is to be matched with her childhood friend (and all around good guy) Xander. Cassia is pleased and beyond surprised to be matched to someone she has known and liked her entire life. But Cassia's elation is tempered by a glimpse of the unexpected when she goes to her computer that night to learn upload her match file and sees -- just for a moment -- not Xander, but a different face on her screen. Someone else she has known for years, the distant and unique Ky Markham. Confused by her happiness with Xander yet plagued with a desire to learn more about Ky, Cassia finds herself torn between her duty to her family and Society and the chance to discover something completely different. But of course, the Society doesn't make mistakes and someone is always watching the choices Cassia chooses to make.

Dystopian novels have always been my go-to choice in books and so I've eagerly been awaiting the release of Matched for some time. Of course the cover is astoundingly beautiful and it even corresponds (somewhat) to portions of the novel, which I always love. The premise of the novel itself also had me intrigued from day one to say the least. A young girl rebelling against her controlling 'utopian' society for the first time? Awesome. After reading, I'm happy to say that Cassia indeed has a uniquely compelling voice. Her narrative wasn't without fault -- she would often repeat the same phrases over and over again, but I found her self-discovery refreshing and incredibly readable. Likewise learning about the Society structure were pretty darn interesting too. And can we get three cheers for good-guy Xander who still remains a really, really stand up fellow even when he discovers how Cassia feels? So refreshing. Truth be told, I read Matched in one sitting and immediately wanted the next installment. Praise aside, throughout the entire book I was constantly pulled from Cassia's story due to some glaringly obvious similarities to several other well-known YA dystopian novels.

While I feel like authors will inevitably owe debts to previous ground-breaking books, I felt like Matched lifted too much structure from Lois Lowry's The Giver and even Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. In their excellent review The Book Smugglers gave some fabulous examples of why Matched reminded them so much of The Giver and I too felt like the whole controlled life span and career set-up from Matched were nothing original. Furthermore, everything Cassia learns from Ky about the Outer Provinces and their rebellion reminded me so much of the outer Districts and their uprisings in The Hunger Games. Possibly if I had never picked up (and consequently loved) The Giver, I might have had a completely different reading experience with Matched. But I have read it and loved it. Hopefully Ally Condie will use her imagination a little bit more in the next installment becuase I for one am curious for the rest of Cassia's story. I just hope it's something a little more original.

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Angieville review
The Book Smugglers review
The Compulsive Reader review
Forever Young Adult review
Persnickety Snark review

book source: ARC from the publisher


Chachic said...

Looks like I won't be picking this up anytime soon. It's been getting a lot of lukewarm reviews. Plus, I loved The Giver, it's one of my favorite books growing up. So I think I'll have the same problems that you did if I ever decide to read this.

Nomes said...

I love this review. It's hard to beat The Giver for a flawless dystopian novel. I love that book.

I've pre-ordered this - and am grateful for a lot of recent reviews that have squashed the hype for me - at least I've already lowered my expectations :)


kay - Infinite Shelf said...

Great review. I haven't read The Giver yet so I don't know how that will impact my reading of Matched? It's a bit sad to read a book and be reminded so much of a previous one. I