Review : Matched

Matched by Ally Condie
Pages : 366
Genre : YA, Dystopia, Science-Fiction
Series : Matched, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about :

This could be a beautiful love story – two friends falling in love! – except that Cassia isn’t promised to the one she loves.

In her futuristic society, Officials decide of everything, from the work you’ll do to the one you’ll marry. When surprising circumstances match Cassia to her childhood best friend, Xander, she is thrilled. That is until she takes a look at the card accompanying her match, only to see someone else’s face flash across her screen; someone she also knows. Even though she’s told it is nothing but a glitch, Cassia can’t shake the feeling that she and Ky belong together. For Cassia, this presents the occasion to question the very force that has been forever directing her life.

My Thoughts :

Being one of the most hyped and waited-for book of 2011, Matched almost doesn’t need a presentation – or yet another review! Hype or no hype, I was incredibly intrigued by its setting, a dystopian love story that seemed to carry in an interesting way the topic of free will. While the book was certainly entertaining, I think it’s fair to say that Matched didn’t match (ha!) my expectations.

I wouldn’t characterize the novel as a bad one, nor would I place it on my “best of 2011” shelf. It fell somewhere in the middle for me. Entertaining, but with a few slow moments that didn’t made it an “un-put-downable” book.

I have to say the world building intrigued me from the start. The idea of a society controlling everything in such a way is a bit scary : work and love have been mentioned in my little summary, but it goes farther in every single detail : the clothes, the food, the hobbies… nothing is left to chance. I was fascinated by it and thought the author did an okay job of describing it all. It was detailed, while giving place to your imagination, which is something I truly enjoy when reading this kind of futuristic dystopian novels. In some parts though, I wish the author could have given us a little more meat : I’m still uncertain about what Cassia’s job of “sorting” is, for instance.

Things went downhill as the book progressed though. I just couldn’t warm up to Cassia. I found her to be self-righteous, but also a bit boring. Not only she had no appeal to me, I couldn’t see why she was attracted to Ky either. This seemed a bit sudden and unjustified to me. Maybe it was the writing, but I didn’t even see it as a love at first sight thing (since they had known each other for a while anyway). I liked Xander though.

I was also surprised by how little consideration Cassia showed for her family, when it came to her actions. She knew the consequences it could have on the ones she loves, but it didn’t seem to weight much in the balance. Meh. I think her mother’s story illustrated the difficulties of individual decisions in a much better way.

Also, and maybe it’s a question for the next novel, but… what about the non-heterosexual people? There are no mention in the book about this; there is no same-sex match, nor is there a mention that same sex couples are forbidden by law (which could have opened some very interesting, and actual, story lines). Are homosexuals against law? Has the society found a “gay gene” and eliminated it (however disturbing that idea is)? There’s no answer at all. Considering that the book’s jacket describes Matched as “a story for right now”, I found this surprising. I couldn’t stop thinking that, if I was a non-heterosexual teen reading this book, I would kept wondering : where would I fit in such a society? While some people may refuse to be “matched”, they seem destined to live a single’s life. I’m hoping the next book, Crossed – which I plan on reading – will answer this in some way.

Series reading order :

  1. Matched
  2. Crossed (coming November 2011)

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12 responses to “Review : Matched”

  1. Ceri says :

    Shame that it wasn’t a fantastic read (because it sounds like it has potential) but at least you kinda sorta liked it. 🙂 There seems to be so many YA dystopian books released this year – I haven’t read any yet. Will have to get on that. 😛

    • kay says :

      It feels like Dystopias are the new Vampires, doesn’t it? I’m enjoying the trend and I think this is an okay one, although not the best. The Hunger Games still feels like a more complete story to me.

  2. Amanda says :

    I would love to have you read my book MatchMakers Incorporated, which has similar world-building to Matched! It does address homosexuality (outlawed, but occurs on the Reservation, where those who rebel against society go), and it’s far more character-driven and ambigious morally.

    • kay says :

      Amanda, I would be more than happy to read Matchmakers if you ever feel like sharing it with me, although I know what the book means to you and wouldn’t pressure you for it 🙂 But I am happy (and not surprised, coming from you!) to hear that you do address homosexuality. In this day and age, the omission was really surprising to me. And not in a good way.

  3. Vasilly says :

    I think you’ve brought up a lot of great questions! Without the mention of homosexuality, now I’m wondering about interracial couples or those with huge age differences. I hope your next read is much better.

    • kay says :

      I think a simpler way to represent the Matches would be to say : plain white bread. There is no homosexuality; the kids are all matched at the same age; they live healthy and die only when really old. As for race, it’s a bit vague, but there’s no clear mention of “darker skin” or anything along this way, which made me think that race had been “standardized”, if you will, as the rest of their life is. I was curious about that too, but I can imagine how the author might have decided to skip the subject to avoid controversy. Or maybe everyone is just white. Hmmm…

  4. Jennifer says :

    Although I have seen this book on many blogger’s sights, nothing about it is really calling out to me. I do enjoy the dystopian genre but nothing about this particular topic really gets me excited. I’ll probably end up skipping this one. Great review though: you brought up a lot of really valid concerns about the book.

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