Review of Matched, by Ally Condie.
Quickie: A thoughtful, beautifully written new dystopian.
Full: Cassia is beside herself with excitement; her Match Banquet is tonight! She gets to wear a special gown and eat special food and she'll find out who her Match is. The Society has paired her and her peers off with the perfect person for them each, based on data and numbers and statistics. It's an infallible system. Or is it? A fluke on her microcard filled with information about her match causes her to see people -and her world- in an entirely different light.
Cassia is also upset about her grandfather's impending death. He's reached the age limit for the Society; eighty years old. Studies have shown that quality of life declines after your eightieth birthday, so to spare everyone that misery the Society schedules everyone's life to end on that day.
The Society has ultimate say in every aspect of your life. They give you food that is calculated to be exactly what your body needs to live, no more, no less. You cannot share your food, you must eat it when and where they say. You wear the same clothes as everybody else, you partake in activities only with the Society's permission. Literally everything from your birth to your death is planned out to perfection.
Of all the things that saddened and worried me in Matched, the "Hundreds" were the worst. The Society decided a while back that really people only needed a hundred of everything- a hundred songs, a hundred poems, a hundred histories. If something didn't make it into the cut, it was destroyed. Books, music... entire libraries and collections simply incinerated forever. Lost. I just about cried.
Cassia is content with her world. She's safe, she's happy... but that fluke on her microcard still bothers her. Why was it there? It must be a mistake... right? Through the fluke and her grandfather's death, Cassia's eyes are opened and she's no longer sure that her world is what it seems.
I thoroughly enjoyed Matched. There was a lot of build up and hype about it in the blogging world, and I feel that it was justified. It's one of those books that sticks with you and you find yourself reflecting on it at the oddest moments.
I've heard some people say that the felt the story was slow, or they couldn't get into it until the second half. That wasn't the case for me. The writing pulled me in instantly. It was beautiful and fluid and I was happy to be carried along by it. While it's true that the action didn't really pick up until the second half, the world building and emotional aspect of the first half was important and interesting.
Matched is a perfect candidate for a book club or classroom discussion. In my opinion, it's the closest a dystopian YA has come to what our future really might hold for us. No, I don't believe it will actually go that far, but it's fascinating to look at our culture and lives and see how this sort of world could come about. The really scary thing is that I can see the logic behind it all, I can see the allure. But it's absolutely terrifying.
Kudos, Condie. I thought Matched was great.
4 out of 5 stars.
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