Matched follows Cassia, a girl living in a Utopian/Dystopian society where everything is predicted and controlled by the government including who they will be mated with for life. Cassia's government mandated match is a lifelong friend of hers but when she plugs her data card in to see his information another face pops up on her screen. Cassia falls for Ky and starts to question the rules of her society.
Cassia's dystopian world is more like The Giver than other horrifying dystopian societies that have been popular in recent dystopias such as the Hunger Games. Her society is seemingly perfect but also heavily regimented and controlling. To make things more frustrating everytime Cassia does something that she feels is out of the ordinary one of the officials tells her that she was predicted to act in that way. She's never overtly threatened and there is no risk of bodily harm but there is always a risk of being watched. The romance and love triangle which is heavily featured in the story is sweet. There is a large focus on poetry and art which could encourage younger readers to seek out the poem that Cassia treasures.
Age Appropriateness: This is a story that will be enjoyed by the entire YA audience. The story is complicated enough for older readers, yet the romance is set at a distance enough that younger readers will not be put off. The romance is the focus of the story (making this a girly book) along with the importance of poetry and creating things that are original. There is nothing in this novel that would disturb parents. The romance is G rated and there is no substance abuse or violence. The society is disturbing but in a thought provoking way as opposed to one that would give an easily influenced child nightmares. The lexile is 680 putting the reading level of the text around a fourth grade reading level making it a good book for reluctant readers.
The premise to this story is very interesting, and I really liked the way everything was set up. The Society controlling everything, making the citizens dependent on it, making changes and interfering as it sees fit, etc. I loved the way the story unfolded as well as the direction it took. The pacing was spot on, the characters were interesting, and I thought the voice was just perfect.
In fact, there was only one thing that gave me pause...but it was a big thing, and bothered me throughout the story. And that was why Cassia went in the direction she did. I wanted to see more of her thought process here. I wanted to feel her curiosity in a palpable way, because I'm sure she was feeling it. But I didn't feel it, and so subsequent actions felt...off. I think that with just a tiny bit more, this could have been a story that blew me out of the water. Instead, it was just good. :)
Since it was still quite good, I give it two thumbs up. Also, this is good for younger and older teens since the content is PG and still compelling enough to keep an older teen interested.
Some vague spoilers, nothing huge, but be warned.
So it was okay. I wanted to read this book because I'm a sucker for dystopian novels, but the few clear dystopian details were really the only things I enjoyed in this book.
The setting: I like that there are tablets that people carry, particularly the green one, because I find it interesting that they would end up creating a society that can't really handle pressure naturally since they're accustomed to "handling" it by taking the calming green pill. To me, it reflects a little on the way our society handles medication for things like anxiety, and at the same time it would be interesting to analyze a society that took calming pills over even simple nerves. But the novel doesn't get that deep into the pills, not as much as I'd like it to.
The world, quite frankly, isn't all that clear to me. At some point, I thought the author was going to leave us in the dark on a lot of details, as is often the way with dystopian novels, but it's like she couldn't fully decide on a clear setting. I'm probably being nitpicky, as I often am, but I'm used to authors being very clear on what they want you to know and what they don't want you to know in order for you to fully grasp the world they've made. The author also unfortunately did not seem to know how to pace the information she *did* give us, because early on I felt overwhelmed with information that I didn't even understand.
The characters: Cassia is an annoying- sometimes infuriating- protagonist. The girl sees the wrong guy on her screen and then obsesses over him like crazy. She decides she's in love with him at a point that doesn't make sense. For a good while her obsession with him is over his ~mysterious~ background. In other words, she doesn't actually know what this kid is like (something she sort of acknowledges) but she's pretty much already chosen to throw everything away for him. The girl also jumps into a streak of rebellion pretty easily for someone who was so content with following the rules to begin with. It just wasn't convincing for me, and too much of Cassia's story was centered around obsessing over Ky so there came a point early on where I stopped caring about her. I love me some romance in any novel, but when it starts to feel like that's the only thing that matters then I get a little annoyed.
And we don't really get a well-fleshed out character for Xander either, but with the way Cassia was obsessing, and with how cheesy Ky was at times, I was starting to really hope she'd just go back to him in the end. Since that doesn't seem likely, I at least hope that someday he finds a girl that isn't as irritating as Cassia was.
The writing: This was just... bad. This was one of those books that often makes you want to say, "I don't think that word means what you think it means." It was also obvious that too often the author was trying to sound poetic, thoughtful, and deep, but instead came off as awkward and nonsensical. She often had "deep" thoughts that didn't fit well whenever she threw them in. It would be like, "I didn't tell dad about the (insert secret) and I felt wrong keeping a secret from him for the first time. But maybe we all keep secrets from each other?" or "It felt strange to be rebelling this way against rules I was previously accustomed to. But maybe we all rebel in some ways?" She kept tacking on some universal thought to her personal experiences and I couldn't help but laugh at how hard the author was trying to make her protagonist sound enlightened or thoughtful.
It isn't mind-meltingly horrible, but I'm not really interested in the sequel. I'd really rather not read any more situations in which Cassia obsesses over Ky for reasons I can't really comprehend. Try reading it if you must, but you're way better off going for The Hunger Games. Now *that* is a good dystopian novel/trilogy.
on January 7, 2011
Eh, it was ok. Not anything like what I thought it was going to be like. There was no action, no suspense. I kept waiting for something to happen and nothing ever did. It was just a love story set it the future. And not a very good one at that. Perhaps if it had been a compelling love story I might have felt differently. And the "Society" wasn't drawn out very well. Was I supposed to be shaking in my bunny slippers about them? Because I surely wasn't very concerned. I didn't feel any danger. I didn't feel the rebellion. It was all a shade of gray and blah.
In a snapshot, the thing about this story that was so disappointing was that this "futuristic" setting and this "society" Condie explained has been done plenty of times before. (The Giver, Uglies, Hunger Games... I can go on...) And so, in my opinion, if you're going to go with something that's been done, then you should at least strive to meet that high standard that's been set and on top of that, put your own unique spin on it. If you can't give me something amazing, then at least give me something unique. She was almost getting there with the matching...but the storyline just killed it for me.
The characters were just "ok" too. I mean, I liked her grandfather. I liked Xander from the beginning, so I never got what was really so special about Ky. I mean, I liked him, he wasn't terrible, but those drawings were kinda cheesy and stupid and the poems I never really understood what that was all about. And she was incredibly obsessed with him the first quarter of the book and it was getting kind of annoying. And I never fell for him. It seemed like Condie wanted us to fall for him "just because." Well, that doesn't really work. So all the cheesy lines and corny metaphors for things about their love and all that... it was just awkward and laughable.
I could go on about all the things that bothered me, but there's no point. Everything bothered me. I skim read and skipped sentences and even paragraphs for about the last ten chapters or so of the book just to finish it because I wanted to see if anything WOULD happen. Something kind of did, but not really. I felt bad for what happened but... it wasn't enough soon enough. And I don't trust the author enough that the next book would be any better. Maybe I was just wanted a Tally from Uglies or Katniss from Hunger Games. Someone with actual fire, not someone who just talked about it. Maybe I was expecting too much. But I didn't get anything out of the story that was new or moving or inspirational.
I think the people below on the posted reviews that gave it 1-2 stars say it all, and better than me. But who know, maybe you'll read it and like it better than me.
on October 14, 2010
The Society is good. It offers residents a long life free from illness and woe. Citizens are matched with a job suited to their individual aptitudes and a spouse who is compatible in every way.
On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia Reyes is pleased to be matched with her childhood friend Xander. But as she views the microcard containing information about her match, she sees an image of Ky, a reserved boy from the Outer Provinces. Although she is assured it was just a mistake, Cassia secretly begins to question the wisdom and methods of the Society.
I enjoy a good dystopian story - and this book certainly qualifies. I was hooked from the very first page.
Ally Condie tells her story with an understated elegance. There is a simple eloquence to her writing, a sparse, almost poetic quality that speaks to deeper parts of the soul. As I was reading, I often paused to ponder one of the many philosophical questions the book raised in my mind.
Don't get me wrong. This isn't just a theoretical exercise; there is plenty of story here -- a bit of romance, a bit of mystery, a bit of suspense. Our heroine might not be running about or brandishing a weapon, but she does fight an internal battle as she tries to reconcile the Society's image of perfection with the cracks she sees all around her.
Although this book is touted as a love story, it is mercifully free from the hyper-emotionalism of many young adult romances. Instead, the characters interact through a dance of subtle nuances.
Ultimately, Matched is far more than just a teenage romance. It's about freedom and making choices and the power of words.
I can't wait for the next book in the trilogy.
on January 7, 2011
I'm twelve years old and my mom told me about this book on the first day it came out. I read some reviews online and people praised Matched over and over. This book sounded really good and I loved the cover, too. Also it was a best seller! I went online to some book websites and they rated it 4 in a half stars for "thrilling!" This book was extremely slow paced and I was very disappointed. I'm so mad that I went out and bought it for the hard cover price. Now I'm thinking about donating it to my local library. I get what the author was trying to do with the way she was writing but to be honest I thought it would be more you know...heart racing? This book is not at all. I would reccomend that you borrow this from someone or check it out at your library before you decide to get your own copy. I hope this review was helpful.
on December 1, 2010
***mild spoilers ahead***
I really wanted to like this novel. Really. I had it on my wish list for a while and pre-ordered it to download on my Kindle yesterday. I read all the buzz and the recent positive review in EW. The problem is that I just didn't really like it for a couple of reasons. But first, what is good about it:
Cassia: Cassia is very well developed character and I did believe her struggles and confusion. I found her to be a very real and believable heroine
The Matching Banquet: I loved reading about this and it was a great start to the novel. I love dystopian fiction and I thought the description of the matching banquet was great.
The poetry: I'm a fan of Dylan Thomas
Unfortunately, not much else jumps out at me as being particularly good. First off, I felt like I had read this before. The society seems to be pulled straight from Lois Lowry's The Giver. There are a lot of similarities, almost too many: the killing of the elderly, the assignment of jobs, the medication to suppress emotion to name a few. The differences seemed to be pulled from other stories. The officials reminded me of official type characters from any number of books, including The Hunger Games, The Uglies etc. Worst of all, the ending was so similar to George Orwell's 1984 that it was completely predictable. It did not surprise me in the least. There were other things that I think were supposed to be reveals that were easily figured out. For example, it was painfully obvious to me what the function of the red pill was.
I think the most egregious fault of the story, and the reason I can't give it more than 3 stars, is that it was boring. It really, really dragged in the middle and there was not a sufficient payoff at the end for the pace of the middle. I finished the book not really caring about the sequel. I may read it, but I won't eagerly be anticipating it.
Overall I was disappointed - maybe all the hype led me to expect a better book. I'm glad I read it and it is worth reading if you read as much as I do, but it isn't at the top of any of my lists and I'm not eager to reread it as I am with many novels.
on January 31, 2011
Cassia lives in a perfect world- there is no fear of criminals, all are equal, and people have the perfect job and a perfect family. Every small detail of a person's life is decided by the Society so that nothing is left to chance or luck. But is the Society really that perfect? Cassia never questioned the society; she didn't have a reason to question it. But that was until Cassia starts to fall in love with a boy who is not the "Match" the society has set for her. Cassia has always loved her "Match", Xander, who is her childhood best friend. However when she sees Ky's picture for the first time, she can't help thinking more and more about him. When Cassia starts questioning the Society's matching system, she discovers the imperfections hidden behind the perfect exterior of her world.
From my rating of the book, it is clear what my review is going to be like. I am in the minority and most reviews have been positive. However, this is my perspective and if you are fan of this book, I would advise you not to read the review.
There are plenty of reasons I did not like Matched but the foremost reason I can't mark this book as one of my favourites or even close to it is because of its resemblance to "The Giver" which happens to be a favourite of mine. This book is supposed to be a romantic dystopian novel. But the dystopian world is very similar to the world of The Giver. The Society sounded exactly like the "Community" of the Giver with a few modifications. Like in the Community, the Society too decides `where you work, how many children you have and when you die'. Though I tried reading Matched without keeping the Giver in mind, the resemblance with The Giver was too strong to be ignored. In this book too, the main character starts to question the world she lives in. But the spirit for change in Cassia lacks passion and urgency. It seemsthat she is just too scared to go against the system even if it meanslosing someone she loves. She lets others take the risks for her. The few changes that are added are nothing great or imaginative.
There are many things that I failed to understand in the book. What I still can't how is that how can the people not create their own poems, music or art? Yes, it is not encouraged but there isn't anything to stop them from doing so. The reason given in the novel for their inability to create any thing of their own is that they are not allowed to write. But then they can type on their scribes and they also could draw in their First School, so not being able to write or create their own stuff seems above my understanding. How can not being able to write hinder a person's imagination in any way? It is not even that they are completely unaware of the concepts of poems, music and art like it was in The Giver. Maybe it's just me....
The description of the Society is a bit vague for me. To me, it just seemed like the world of today, except it is a bit more controlled and manageable. Also, the people seem aware of the imperfections in their Society. They follow the rules not because they think it is for their best but because they fear the authority. So how can such a society even exist so stably for such a long time? The rebellion that is mentioned was somewhere at the borders of some vague Southern Provinces. That too is coming from outside the Society and not from within it. So what is the book trying to tell us by this? That the `Society' is the better option than the outside world, but isn't the book supposed to tell us the contrary. Even after completing the book I'm confused on that point. Another thing that I am unclear about was that why was Ky classified as an `Abberation' (something like an outcast), if his parents had died in an attack by the enemy planes. What wrong had his parents done, that he is classified an `Abberation'.
The writing style did not appeal to me and the character development was lacking. For me connecting to the characters is a very important aspect of a book, especially the ones which are written in first person.If the book fails to create the bond between the readers and the characters, the rest of the story fails to capture the reader's attention. The description of the characters is vague. I understood that Cassia is very beautiful and that both the boys are handsome but that's all I knew about them - that's not enough for me to care about them! By the way the story is told I think Cassia is pretty self obsessed who thinks that she is the one who understands everyone. The book was attempted to be written in a lyrical and poetic form but it ends up as an awkward and clumsy effort.
The first part of Matched left me dissatisfied and with a sense of incompleteness. Admittedly, the writing does get a bit better at the latter part of the book and the underlying concept remains interesting. So, maybe the next book in the series truly beautiful and mesmerising, something that I was looking for in its first part.
"Every minute you spend with someone gives them a part of your life and takes part of theirs."
"Growing apart doesn't change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I'm glad for that."
"....For what is the point of having something lovely if you never share it?
It would be like having a poem, a beautiful wild poem that no
one else has, and burning it."
Bland; evokes no feeling towards the characters or the story.
No, though it may be liked by some who like any type of romance and have not read any other dystopian novels. I don't think this book is truly worth reading. There are much better novels dealing with the same idea but are better written than Matched. However, like I already said before this is just one person's opinion and most other reviews differ from my view
on November 30, 2010
First thing first. I think Ally Condie owes at least half of her seven-figures paycheck to Lois Lowry. The entire dystopian world is lifted directly from Lowry's "The Giver." Almost everything interesting in "Matched" is very familiar - the idea of highly controlled Society (the Community in "The Giver"), the prearranged Matches, uniform clothing, the pills suppressing emotions, predetermination of everyone's life course, euthanized elderly, regulated personal possessions, the precision of the language, the family structure. The list goes on and on... What Condie adds of her own is too often doesn't make much sense - people are not allowed/can't write, but they know how to read and operate computers; Matches and procreation are controlled but teens can still snog around a bit; and what is the sorting job all about, I still have no idea. I am not the biggest fan of "The Giver" our there, but that novel had a horrifying, structured, world hiding behind its simplistic language. What hides behind the words of "Matched" is sheer emptiness. And boredom and unoriginality.
If all "borrowed" dystopian ideas are stripped away, what is left is a tepid, G-rated teen romance affair with an obligatory love triangle and magical love connections. Even the male love interests are the same old tired cliches - a sweet and loyal best friend type and a mysterious, hurt, emo type quoting poetry. Yawn! Yawn! Yawn!
Ally Condie's writing is serviceable enough. So are the characters. No male character requires a restraining order against him, no female - a head check for putting up with abusive crap. But is this (and a pretty cover) really a recipe for success these days? There is nothing in this novel to get excited over. There is no urgency to Condie's writing, no passion. Just dull characters, dull relationships, dull conflicts, dull conversations...
I can't whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone, it simply doesn't offer anything new or noteworthy. But some fans of lukewarm-romance-driven stories like "Birthmarked" or "Beautiful Creatures" might enjoy it I suppose.
Do I really need to say I am not coming back for more?
Matched opens with the main character, Cassia, preparing for one of the biggest days of her life - the day she will be matched with her lifelong mate. As everything else in Cassia's life, this choice is made for her by the Society Officials. The Officials use probabilities and pre-determined optimal outcomes to make choices for their citizens. Since Cassia's birth, the Officials controlled how much and what she ate, what music she listened to and where she worked, so it only makes sense that they choose whom she marries as well.
At the Match banquet, Cassia is elated to learn that she is to be matched with the handsome Xander, who also happens to be her best friend. However, events take a turn when another boy's face momentarily flashes on Cassia's Match microchip. Suddenly, Cassia is questioning everything she took for granted and risking her own, and her family's, wellbeing to find her true match.
I had very high expectations for Matched, and perhaps that is why I was left disappointed. I found the dystopian world created by Allie Condie fascinating and I only wish that she spent more time explaining the various aspects of the Society - that is where Matched really shined.
Instead, much of the novel was spent dragging out the longing stares between Cassia and Ky (the boy whose face she saw on her microchip). The romance between the two was not all that compelling; if anything, I found Cassia's actions selfish since she was willing to sacrifice her family's position in the Society for a boy she barely even noticed before.
I kept reading hoping that the end of Matched would somehow redeem the novel and set the ground for future installments, but it was just as slow and unsatisfying as the rest of the book. I gave in to the hype surrounding Matched and was initially eager to give it a try, but I am not sure I care enough about either Cassia or Ky to follow their future endeavors.