Matched by Ally Condie
publisher: Dutton Juvenile
release date: November 30th, 2010
hardcover, 384 pages
intended audience: Young adult
source: Book It Forward ARC Tours
description from goodreads:
In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.
Review: This was a fascinating idea. Fascinating, thought-provoking...and terrifying all at once. The dystopian society that Ally Condie has imagined here is amazing, she fleshed out every detail. The voice is which its told conveys an eerie robotic feeling of people who are living under the complete control of this Society that is out for perfection at all cost. They all seem to be brainwashed into thinking that all this has been done for their greater good and fully accept that the Officials decide what they eat, what they read and watch, what they listen to, even the fact that they are all killed off at the age of 80 to prevent anyone from deteriorating and suffering from old age. Everything from the past had been destroyed (poems, works of art, movies, artifacts) except for those few things that Officials deemed acceptable. They have basically been stripped of all forms of self-expression, including writing. Everyone is constantly watched for compliance, even in their sleep. They live in fear of being caught doing something wrong---they may as well be robots run by remote control. Like I said, terrifying to imagine.
The love story is absorbing. The protagonist, Cassia gets matched with her best friend, Xander, and they are both happy and excited. They are given a microcard with all the other person's information on it and she looks at it (mostly for fun, since she's already known Xander her whole life) and another boy's face that they both know appears on the screen for a second. At first she feels relieved when she's is assured by an official that it was just a mistake, but then her curiosity get the best of her and she pursues her interest in Ky. Through him, she learns that there is more to the society that meets the eye and she begins to question whether the way things are run are really for the greater good. You wonder, as does Cassia, about whether her interest in Ky would even exist if his face hadn't been planted in her mind by the "mistake" on the microcard. I did feel a little sorry for Xander, who is so good to Cassia and loved her so much, only to be basically ignored once her fascination with Ky begins.
There were a few slow moments in this story. Honestly, I can't give you examples because I don't remember them! I just recall thinking to myself as I was reading that this part or that was dragging a bit. Understandable, considering the amount of background and groundwork that has to be laid in a story like this to make the society wholly believable. I did like the use of poetry and the fact the an "outlawed" poem (namely, Dylan Thomas' Do Not Go Gentle) is used to inspire Cassia's curiosity and temptation to question the Society. Also, there are still things that are yet to be explained---I would have liked to hear in a little more detail about the Outlands and the war going on there, but I am sure the second book is going flesh that out a little more. But as a whole, this book is definitely worth a read and gets you thinking.
Visit Ally Condie's website HERE.
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