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Bending the Spine

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

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
Audio CD, Unabridged, 8 discs
Published November 30th 2010 by Penguin Audio
ISBN: 0142428639 (ISBN13: 9780142428634)
series: Matched #1
literary awards: YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011), Publishers Weekly's Best Children's Books of the Year for Fiction (2010)
We have here a post-dystopia utopia, ruled by the ever-watchful, all-knowing Society.  Citizens live mindlessly, accepting whatever it is the Society deems as best.  All rules, regulations, and marriages are based on statistics, probabilities, and predictions.  You have to prove your mindlessness to get the best work positions, don’t rock the boat, and live a quiet rule-bound life.  Meals are portion controlled for optimum nutrition, exercise is mandated, leisure time scheduled with Society approved events or outings.  What I pictured was a very stark, yet gleaming white society, with nearly zombie-like residents never questioning, always adhering.  (Zombies would have made this much more interesting!).  But just reading about daily life, that would just be a boring book!
Enter Cassia.  Our heroine of sorts.  Or maybe, the anti-heroine, because she doesn’t really do more than bend the rules, let her emotions guide her, and try to do what’s best for her family and friends.  Somehow, she gets on the Society’s list.  Not the good list, but THE list.  They seem to have it in for her.  And Cassia can feel it.  Something about the way there’s always an official nearby, or the way certain things happen.  Which becomes…predictable.  We’re building toward revolution here, people! …at a slow pace.  Condie is very good at story telling.  She makes it interesting, so that you feel the necessity to give your time to Cassia, Xander, and Ky.
Um, well, I have to be critical here.  Matched struck me as very The Hunger Games without the Hunger Games, if you lived in the Capital.  Now, I LOVE The Hunger Games (except for Mockingjay) and sing it’s praises often.  I do not, however love Matched.  It was very preconceived and outlined and felt like any other book of the same genre just different places and different people.  I liked it, it was easy to read, but hear what I’m saying: there are no new ideas in this.  I am going to read (or listen, whatever) Crossed (book two in the series) because I want to see if Cassia has any growth, any depth to her at all.  There was some slight hints and growth toward the end of the book.  It was good enough to want to continue the story.
My wife warned me that I might not like this since I’m not a teenage girl.  But it looked very interesting and had gotten good marks from reviewers.  I did enjoy it, I just didn’t love it like I wanted to.
3 Star: This is no match made in heaven, but it’s worth the read.
Get to reading,

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