Matched by Ally Condie | Book Review
Release date: November 30, 2010
Series: Matched Trilogy (Book #1)
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Romance
I'm back to YA dystopian fiction and it almost feels like home after last my year's venture into the genre. A very strange home, but home nonetheless. I almost picked this book up this past summer, but changed my mind and got Delirium instead. Matched was definitely on the peaceful spectrum of the dystopia, although it did build some tension toward the ending. I'm curious where the author has taken it with the next two books and I'm hoping for a little bit more intensity.
Just as expected, the book paints a society of the future where things are not as perfect as they may seem. At first glance, it doesn't look so bad: the Society has found a way to match people to their perfect partners and creating happy families (unless a person decides to stay single), everyone lives in nice houses, children go to school and then get assigned to jobs, diseases are practically non-existant and people get to live until old age. Cassia is a 17 year old, excited for her Matching ceremony, but while she's getting the details about her match she sees a second face on the screen. Is this a glitch? Did the Society make a mistake? Does she remain on a safe and perfect path or does she start to wonder about the other guy? Meanwhile, as more information about the Society comes up, it's clear that the world she lives in is very strict and every minute of her life is controlled by the Officials.
What I liked about this book is that it made me think. A lot of people in our world long for the perfect answers, the simple happiness, a worry-free life and an ideal partner, but the more you read about the world of Matched the clearer it becomes that happiness is not that simple and perfection cannot substitue the freedom of having a choice. What struck me the most was when Cassia realized that all everyone around her does is consume, organize and follow the pattern - nobody actually creates anything. What a scary thought! Ally Condie does a great job creating a perfect society not many people would want to live in.
The story itself is pretty relaxed until about the last 50 pages of the book. Sure, things slowly unfold and eventually build up to a crisis, but compared to other books in the genre it lacked either urgency and action or emotional power. Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to books being different and reading something lighter for a change. However, I had certain expectations based on the description of this book and my previous experiences with dystopia. While the Society definitely had the potential to be explosive, the love triangle stayed on the safer side of development. Another issue I had with this book is that I didn't feel a strong connection to any character other than Cassia. Ky almost got there, but never quite made it. As for the rest - I'm not sure if it was the author's intention, but I was left questioning the characters and feeling that the chemistry between them was a bit forced and superficial.
That being said, I still had fun reading Matched and I think fans of YA dystopian fiction would find it enjoyable. It was an easy read and while it didn't have the most gripping story, I'm interested in finishing the series.