Friday, June 5, 2015

Book Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Ally Condie
Scholastic, INC, 2010
Source: Bought
Rating 3 out 5 stars

Cassia lives in a world where everything is determined for you, including who you will marry, and she’s never questioned any of it. At her Matching Ceremony, she’s delighted to find out she and her best friend, Xander, have been matched. Not everyone is so lucky. When she sees another face pop up on her microcard, Cassia is shocked to find out it’s also someone she knows: Ky. Suddenly she doesn’t feel so lucky and begins to question which person she is her true Match. As Cassia continues to find herself in close proximity to Ky, she can’t stop thinking about him. Does she trust the Officials and everything she’s ever been taught? Or does she follow her questioning spirit?

I only gave this book three stars because I thought it had so much more potential than the love triangle Cassia, Ky, and poor Xander who gets a bit lost in the turmoil. That is the story line that didn’t really interest me so much. What did interest me was the idea of how this world was built. No one knows how to write anymore. They can read and they have computers that are scribes, but they do not know how to write on paper themselves. It’s not allowed--true creation is not allowed. In addition to that, years ago, Officials had chosen the top 100 of all these different things: Songs, Poems, Books, Art Work, etc. No one learned about anything other than those 100 items. All the rest were destroyed. Yes, destroyed. I mean imagine that! This whole idea of the top 100 and how they were chosen and why 100? That intrigued me. 

When Cassia’s grandfather leaves her this scrap of paper hidden in a compact she realizes that it is part of a poem that isn’t one of the 100, this is where the story begins for me. She internalizes this poem, Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” and it spurs her on throughout the remainder of the book, challenging her to think outside the Official’s crazy rules. I wanted the story to go there, to settle into this idea of words stolen from an entire future of people. As Cassia thought about those words, I wanted her to seek out more, try and find others out there who also carried forbidden words and ideas in their heads. I only cared about Ky and Xander in how they fit in with Cassia’s understanding of the poem and her sudden desire for writing that was real and beautiful. Unfortunately for me, it stayed pretty much in which character she would choose to love and why. 

Even though this story did not go where I wanted Matched was not a bad book. It was essentially a story about a girl who is given no choice, who is not free to choose or express herself, but wants to do so. Most of the time I was silently willing Cassia to choose the way I wanted her to go (I won’t tell you who I wanted her choose so you can make your own decision). Cassia’s transformation is interesting to watch and I did like her character. You watch her grow. The way she views her family and friends shifts as she transforms and begins to question everything she has ever known--even her own family. Our major characters seemed to have more authentic personalities than the minor ones. Some of the minor characters were flat, and seemed like stereotypes, but I’m not sure if that was done purposely as the Officials wanted everyone to have a certain mindset and follow the rules. Very few character actually act out or purposefully go against Official decrees, but when they do, you suddenly know a lot more about who that character truly is. 

Overall, I don’t think I will be jumping on finishing this trilogy. It’s still on my list because I want to see what happens, but I won’t be moving it to the top anytime soon. When I get to it, I’ll give the second book a chance and hope that maybe the story goes a little deeper, past the love story and into this world that’s waiting to be opened up. However if you enjoy love stories, especially if they involve love triangles, and you enjoy futuristic dystopias, you might want to check this one out.

Image Source: Goodreads

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