Saturday, 17 May 2014

Matched (Matched #1) by Ally Condie

Book: Matched
Author: Ally Condie
Published: Penguin, June 2011
Rating: 2/5

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.


I have really gone back and forth about whether or not it's OK to post a bad review but it is nothing against the author, the general concept of the book has a lot of potential but I personally just found this book so hard to get along with and I'll do my best to try to explain why.

Let me set the scene as best I can. It's some time in the future and the Society has decided it's much better if they devoid everyone of any choice and limit the use of technology. Your job, spouse (your Match - hence the title) and even time of death is pre-planned by the Society. According to the Society too much choice is dangerous so they've established the Hundreds Database of the top Hundred Songs, Poems, Stories and Paintings. Enter our protagonist Cassia on the eve of her seventeenth birthday ready to be Matched and from there everything goes wrong.

What I will give author Ally Condie is that the writing is actually quite good and she's obviously actually put a lot of thought into her dystopian world. I'd say it works a lot better in terms of providing the reader with a background than, say, Suzanne Collins' Panem. The issue is the premise of the book and the interminably dull nature of her central characters.

Like many YA dystopian novels that are aimed at girls Matched uses the trusted love triangle formula that worked (ish) for Twilight and The Hunger Games. The issue with Matched is that there is no other plot-line. The fact that the decisions she's making affect the entire structure of the Society, that most are, seemingly, OK with, takes a backseat to the fact that Cassia really must decide which boy she loves. The other issue is that to devoid her characters of choice she effectively makes them incapable of any intense emotion. There's barely any grief at the death of Cassia's grandfather because, you know, the Society had decided it was best for him to go. Xander becomes almost entirely insignificant to the story. Never have I ever felt less for or cared less about the characters of a book than I did with this one. In part due to the storyline (or lack thereof) I found the characters equally lacking. Ky is supposed to be this mysterious unknown but I found I didn't really want to learn more. There is no depth to his character, he's just, for the most part, a bit of an ass. Xander. Poor Xander. Without the attempted mystery Condie put into Ky's character, Xander becomes unfortunately one-dimensional and dull.

Never have I come to the end of a book and felt so indifferent and, I mean, good on Ally Condie for selling the movie rights but I really do wonder if this film will see any of the success that Twilight or The Hunger Games has seen. I'll probably still see it anyway. I'm not interested in reading any future books in the series and I probably wouldn't recommend unfortunately. However I'm well aware that this is a minority opinion for this series.

Thanks for your time and feel free to comment ;)

Naomi Joy x

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