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Saturday, 20 November 2010

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Author: Ally Condie

Release date: 2nd December 2010 UK
Genre: Dystopia
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Penguin Razorbill

Summary from Amazon:
On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her Match. Society dictates he is her perfect partner for life. Except he’s not. In Cassia’s society, Officials decide who people love. How many children they have. Where they work. When they die. But, as Cassia finds herself falling in love with another boy, she is determined to make some choices of her own. And that’s when her whole world begins to unravel . . .

I’m not sure that I have quite put my thoughts together after reading Matched. It is the sort of story that you become completely consumed by, where the ending really matters to you. It is also the type of novel that makes you ask huge questions about the freedoms we have and often take for granted.

Cassia is seventeen. The novel opens with her travelling to her Matching Banquet. Along with her parents and her best friend Xander, she goes to the ceremony where her future life partner will be revealed. Everything in their society is calculated, measured, weighed, formulated and assessed. It is a society based on measurable and perfected social outcomes. Outcomes are predicted. People are categorised and documented as data. It is a system that ensures quality. People have no more or no less than anyone else. It is system that Cassia believes in and so she is excited at the prospect of learning about her match. She has hopes and dreams for a contented life with her match, she is happy to leave it in the hands of the Society. But there is a glitch in the perfect system and suddenly Cassia finds herself thinking about another boy and torn between two possible futures instead of the single one she has always believed there to be.

If I tell you anymore more than this, I think it would spoil it for you. There are beautiful moments of blossoming love in Matched. You are swept completely along with the snatched moments Cassia chooses to hide from the ever watchful Officials. There are also sinister moments when you see just how far the Officials are willing to go to prevent people from having any choices at all. Food is delivered and prepared individually for each person. They must not share. Everyone carries three tablets: a blue one, a green one and a red one.

The other thing that in infinitely dark is the realisation that the Officials are just ordinary people like Cassia, born into the system, monitored by the system and then selected to do the optimum job for the system, if this is an Official in one way or another then so be it.

I must also mention the musical nature of the writing and the eradication of all creativity from society. The culture of society extends to one hundred poems, one hundred songs. There are no new original words created and shared. Handwriting is part of the old way. No one remembers how anymore. Words are not words but data typed on a pad. It is so sad. It makes me want to write poem after poem, draw and paint, and imagine thousands of scientifically impossible things.

Matched is a dystopia with a love story at its heart. Perhaps it is only love that can give a person the power to rise against the machine, to add 2 + 2 and find out that it equals the whole sky and the sun and the stars. I felt truly captivated by this story. I was immersed in the characters, lost in the words and enthralled by the plot.
Thank you to Penguin Razorbill for sending me the book to review.


Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Great review, Becky! You pointed out some great themes that definitely make me want to read this novel. The idea of pesonal freedom will never get old. I was shocked by eradication of creativity, I can't imagine something like this happening, yet it actually does in some parts of the world. It seems one can draw parallels between our world and the dystopian world of Matched.

Stephanie :) (Books Are A Girl's Best Friend) said...

I've heard a lot about Matched and reading your review has finally made me add it to my wishlist! I've only read one other dystopian novel and I'm looking forward to reading this one. I especially like that it has a love story at its heart :)

Library Mice said...

Great review. As you'll know if you have read my review, my experience of reading the book was really different :0) I thought the whole idea of the society was brilliant and told in amazing detail, but the rest did not really deliver for me. I think I am in the minority however, as most people seem totally in love with this book!

kirsty at the overflowing library said...

loved this book and your fab review - can't wait for book 2!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Ooooooooo I want to be swept along too :)

Jesse Owen said...

Matched sounds so good and interesting. I haven't read any Dystopian story yet (although I have one in my pile to read) But this one needs to go on my wishlist I think.

Thanks for a great review :)

The Book Bug said...

I am once again in awe of one of your reviews, Becky. Thank you so much! :D

I've been hearing a lot of good things about Matched, and boy, do I want to read it now that I've read your review. (My need has become so great that I am willing to go to any length to get a copy.)

(Also, as an added note, thanks for your lovely comment on my blog. It made me feel all special and warm inside. I love your blog too, btw. I hope you're enjoying your evening class. I also really hope that did not sound as stalkerish as I thought it did.)


Caroline said...

What a lovely review Becky!
I had read somewhere about the 100 poems and the no writing and it just made me cringe! What a great idea to put this in a book and show us how it would be. I also like that it makes us think about our freedom. :)

Lauren said...

That's a gorgeous review, Becky. I'm glad you liked this one as much as I did. It's so moving and beautiful, and so much more than I expected.

Loving the new blog look too. :)

brizmus said...

Wow, it's apparently been FAR too long since I've been commenting on people's blogs, as this is the first time I have seen your new look. I love it! Sorry I've been so absent!
Anyhow, fabulous review! Sounds like a great mixture of love and dystopia. I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open for this one! :-)