Friday, March 18, 2011

Matched - Book Review

It was appropriate that I spent St. Patrick's Day reading Matched by Ally Condie because the cover is just so green. To be honest, it was the cover that initially sparked my desire to read the novel. It's just so interesting and unique and once you read the book, you'll know that the design and colors of the cover are so very appropriate. My kids were also intrigued by the girl in the glass ball and they've been asking me all kinds of questions about the book.

My friend Annika, a die-hard lover of the YA dystopian genre, also read the book, wrote a positive review and had a copy I could borrow. She didn't happen to mention that it's a trilogy and the second book won't be available until November, but I'll forgive her.

I haven't read much in this genre, beyond the Hunger Games trilogy and the first in the Uglies series. However, I've enjoyed what I've read so far. I have to wonder if the surge of popularity for this new genre is a result of a generation of students who studied Orwell's 1984 in high school English. But it is also eerily appropriate as the government has grown and increased it's control over the years with various issues such as the Patriot Act, regulating the toilets we put in our homes and universal health care.

Sorry. I'll cease to be political and move on to a review of Matched.

Keeping to the dystopian formula, Ally Condie creates a "Society" where all decisions are made for the citizens by analyzing the data and giving them what is necessary for each person to live the most optimal life. For example, each person gets a prepared meal with just the right nutrients and calories for them. It arrives in a foil package at your home at the ideal time to eat. I might be willing to sign up for that part. The Society promises a healthy, long life but it also allows for limited individuality and personal choice--things that most of us hold sacred.

However, the Society also chooses, based on all the data and the person's genetic make up, who they will be matched with. At the age of seventeen, the citizens of the Society are told their match at a banquet and for the next three years the couple will have an organized and observed courtship.

Cassia is anxious and excited for her Match Banquet and thrilled when her match turns out to be Xander, her best friend. But once she gets home it is another face that she sees on her datapod. And that makes her wonder. Wondering is not conducive to the success of the society, just so you know.

I liked the novel. It's a quick read intended for young adults, so it's not exceptionally literary but it is well written for the intended audience. (Now days it seems we're all included in the young adult category--I don't know about you per se, but I'm young at heart at least. So, I guess it works.) The plot is well formed and not entirely predictable.

The novel is clean and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to one of my teen aged friends. It's lighter and less violent than some of its counterparts and deals more with the teenage love story. But love is a powerful force, even and especially for teenagers, and the character needs some impetus (other than just being a teenager) to rebel against the Society that she has been taught to revere and obey.

The author, Ally Condie, is from Utah and I loved the few subtle homages to her home state--the smell of sage and the idea that the sego lily bulb is edible and could sustain people (everyone that took 4th grade Utah history knows that).

I enjoyed the book. I really did and I look forward to reading the next one this fall.


mandy said...

I also really enjoyed this book, and am very much looking forward to November!

Suey said...

We came THIS CLOSE to getting her at our blogger gathering the other week! Maybe next time....

I really enjoyed it and look forward to the next one. I'm loving seeing her success with this trilogy. So cool.

Annika said...

I'm glad you liked it! Sorry about the trilogy part. I forgot you prefer to wait until they are ALL out before reading them. ;) I'm sure I can recommend other books to satiate your Dystopian hunger while you wait though.....