Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bookanistas Book Review: Matched

Matched, by Ally Condie, came out in November, so this review is maybe not the most timely. The book, the first in a dystopian YA trilogy, had been on my 'yeah, I want to get around to reading that' list, but not a priority. Then my friend Jenny the Librarian put a copy in my hands and said: Read this.
MatchedCover-2011-01-27-09-49.jpg
So I open the book on Sunday afternoon, just to read a few pages while I wait for my tea to steep. Two a.m., I'm closing the cover on the book, my head stuffed with imagery and beautiful snatches of language, and really worried for these kids...

The writing in Matched is so smooth and beautiful that I was 30 pages in before I realized it was in present tense. (I am really hard to win over to present tense, for reasons that are... arbitrary and not important here.) It reminded me a little of The Adoration of Jenna Fox, even though the stories were nothing alike, except for the theme of technology and the secrets the adults keep from the youth. Thematically, it's a little bit The Giver, a little bit Brave New World... but there's a delicious dose of Twilight's romanticism that may bring readers who wouldn't ordinarily pick up a dystopian novel.

The narrator, Cassia, is intelligent and likable, an interesting mix of sense and sensibility. She's a little dreamy and undefined in this novel, but she's a product of her Society, which plans every moment of a citizen's life based on probability and parameters. Everyone is sorted, compartmentalized, and optimized, based on statistical models of an individual's personality--the Society knows what will make you happy. Everyone is matched with their life/child-rearing partners when they are seventeen, and everyone dies when they are eighty.

But then Cassia falls in love with someone with whom she is not matched--someone, in fact, completely ineligible. Like Twilight the love story was intense and consuming and in a lot of ways, the engine that drove the story. Well, that applies to a lot of paranormal YA: girl on the inside of convention, falling in love with the boy who is an Outsider, who opens her eyes to a different world.

Cassia has the seeds of rebellion inside her. They take root when her Grandfather, on his deathbed, gives her a secret, forbidden poem. But she's not brave enough to keep it until she falls in love--a rebellion in itself. I hope that we get to see that blossom in the next book.

As the falseness of Society's utopia unfolds, the revelations kept me reading. What's the red pill for? What's beyond the Provinces, what happened to Ky's family? What secrets do the Officials keep?

The ending is not an ending, it's the beginning of the next book, and that's okay. Is it action packed? No. This is a leisurely unfolding of story, not a rocket-fueled plot. (It's not Uglies--no hoverboards here. Society is sedate, and so is the pace of this plot.) But that's okay. This is a journey with time to take in all the well crafted details.


But wait! New to this blog! I’ve networks with the Bookanistas, a bunch of fabulous YA authors/bloggers, who post YA book reviews on Thursdays. Today’s awesome?
Thanks to the Bookanistas for welcoming me. And I know you guys are going to enjoy their reviews, so click away!

7 comments:

  1. This is the next thing I'm reading once I've finished the library books I've got. And then probably Across the Universe...

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  2. Across the Universe is next on my list. Cannot wait to read that one.

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  3. The minute I saw that cover, I HAD TO HAVE THIS BOOK.

    Great review, and welcome to the Bookanistas!

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  4. It IS a gorgeous cover. I love people on covers.

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  5. great review. I see this book in the library all the time but never really felt like picking it up. But based on your review I think that I should. It sounds really interesting

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  6. Welcome to Bookanistas! Terrific review of Matched. I hadn't connected it with THE GIVER, but I think I can see what you mean. And such beautiful prose, too. So lyrical and well done. I was hooked as well.

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