Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: Matched

Ally Condie
Paranormal Young Adult
366 pages
Available November 30
Received from Publisher

Life in the Society is perfect. Genetics have been successfully conquered. People are living longer lives, are matched with their ideal reproductive mate, and provide individual services that benefit the Society as a whole. There's no depression, no ambition, nothing beyond toting a predestined line.

Cassia is one such member of Society, and it's the night she's been waiting for her entire seventeen years. Her Match Banquet. Tonight she will see the boy meant for her, and her life can truly begin. It turns out even better than she could have hoped, as her Match is none other than childhood best friend Xander. Beautiful, intelligent, perfect-in-every-way Xander. Things couldn't be better.

Only when she goes to review Xander's data on a microcard after the banquet, it's not his face that pops up on screen as her Match. It's another neighborhood boy named Ky whose face she sees for the briefest of moments. That fleeting image changes everything. Which Match is her true Match? Should she follow her heart, or follow the rules of a Society that has never lead her astray? Is her destiny the one already planned out to the last detail, or the one she makes it? Never before has Cassia questioned anything, but the time for sitting idly by has passed, and a new time has come where questions become vital to survival.

Every once in a while a story comes along that electrifies you into having a deep, visceral reaction of which you didn't know you were capable and certainly weren't expecting. Matched starts out so simple, a perfect society full of perfect people living perfect lives so spectacularly detailed there's not the slightest opportunity or inclination for change. The story moves very slowly, like a watched pot waiting to boil. There's insubordination and discontent simmering just beneath the surface, promising complex interactions and intricate emotional conflicts, but that first defiant bubble refuses to break the smooth surface and come to a full boil until midway through the book. Though it begins slowly, this story is not boring. Never boring. Rather, the plot progresses at a pace that allows the reader to think, to question, to relate, and ultimately to savor. It doesn't necessarily inspire late-night, frenetic-pace reading, but it does creep into our consciousness at every available opportunity, leaving its permanent brand on our psyche as we find ourselves reflecting on everything we've experienced.

There's something overwhelmingly intimate about Cassia's story, a quiet but potent camaraderie existing between character and reader, allowing us feel that no matter how many other people share this same story, we will always have an individual relationship and our own unique, unbreakable bond to hold tight and treasure. The stolen moments between Cassia and Ky are beautifully portrayed, the simplest of actions taking on a heartbreaking significance. Plain alphabet letters morph into unspoken declarations of love, the briefest of touches becomes more potent than the most passionate of embraces, and hushed exchanges transform into life-altering events.

The writing itself seems to reflect the rigid parameters established by Society. There are no unnecessary, flowery descriptions of characters or places, just matter of fact details illustrating an unquestioning acceptance of day to day life. At first, this sterile approach keeps the reader at a distance, never letting us fully into Cassia's heart and mind so we may connect to her as we follow on her journey, but as soon as Cassia begins to question and to feel, we start to feel with her. The writing then provides yet another type of unity, creating a bond between us that strengthens as each new emotion she feels adds a strand of fiber to the steel cable now holding us together. Real affection, true sorrow, and a brand new anger begin to replace the Society-preferred contentment and complacency, and though it doesn't show on Cassia's exterior, we have the privilege of seeing the maelstrom of rebellious emotions swirling through her veins.

Both gloriously simple and deliciously complex, this story is a joy to read. To bear witness as Cassia discovers the point at which the level of control over her life is no longer acceptable is incredibly powerful, and there's a haunting satisfaction in watching as complexities begin to infect the pristine monotony the Society has worked so hard to perfect. Life is effortless when everything is decided for us, but infinitely more intricate when we are gifted with the ability to choose. Following dictation is easy. Making decisions and facing the repercussions of those choices is far more difficult. More life-affirming. More courageous. And, at the end of the day, what makes life worth living.

Rating: 5/5


  1. I also thought this one was a very worthwhile read, although I think maybe the reason I didn't fall in love with it as others have was all my own doing. I read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro right after this one, and that book left me in tears. It packs a really powerful emotional punch, that I thought Matched was lacking a little. As a YA dystopian work though, Matched is very good.

    Today we are review twins, Jenny. I just posted my review of Matched too! :)

  2. Amazing review. I like how you said it was both simple and deliciously complex. I don't know why I haven't pre-ordered this yet.

  3. I'm so excited to read this. I'm really glad you liked it. Your review was so informative and well written. Thank you. Have a great week :)
    Caroline @ Bon Bons and Reveries

  4. Awesome review!! Simple and deliciously complex is such a great way to explain this book!!

  5. Oh, awesome review, Jenny! I've been dying to read this one, and I'm so glad to hear the world is fun, complex, and imaginative! I can't wait to read this now :)

  6. AMAZING REVIEW, JENNY! Gah! I wish this book was out right now so I could pick it up. I want to read it asap. D:

  7. I loved this book too. I thought the prose and story were beautiful and fantastic. I loved how it makes you think. I can't wait to read the other two in the series.

  8. Ah. I'm so conflicted! I've heard such rave reviews about this one from bloggers I trust and then I've heard some "this book was meh" reviews from bloggers I trust. I'm thinking I need to just pick it up because I can't figure out whether or not I'd like it!

  9. I loved Matched! This is such a great book and one I look forward to having on my shelf. In fact I order it so it should be in soon. Glad you enjoyed it :)

  10. Leanna - I've read a couple books where my reaction wasn't quite as strong due to the book I read before or after it. I enjoyed your thoughts on it though, I like seeing what everyone else thinks!

    Nic - Hope you like it, it was one that really got to me:)

    Caroline - Thank you!

    Lori - Thanks! I just adored this one:)

    Melissa - I can't wait to see what you think of it. I know it's going to be one some people love and others don't care for.

    Emi - Thank you so much! Hope you like it, only one more week to wait:)

    Jenni - I absolutely agree. I thought about this one long after I finished.

    Jamie - I think there's going to be a pretty even split on this book. I definitely see how some might find it slow and boring, but I loved it.

    Savy - Me too, it's definitely one I could read again:)

  11. Hey I am going to have to agree with the others and say that this is a great review! Very concise and I like how you explain things. Me? I kind of just go with my emotions after reading the book... hahaha.

    I think it's funny that we are on opposite sides of the ratings scale. I thought it was just OK and ended up giving it 2 stars. But I'm glad you loved it!

    Did you know that on the hardcover, the blue part will lift up to show the girls picture underneath? Doesn't that sound good? I don't think I've seen lift up covers on anything except for romance novels :P

    Here's my review if you want to compare: And it's totally ok if you delete the link!

  12. Wow! Your review is so beautifully written. I'm looking forward to reading Matched even more now. I should be getting it sometime this week. I hope I love it as much as you did.

  13. Jenny- So glad to read your review. I've gone back and forth about this one. I'm not a big dystopian fan, but I haven't thought of this as one.

    I do love perfect societies that begin to unravel or the people start to think for themselves. I thought this was a book about a princess. Shows how much I read descriptions. Another to add to my list!

    (I had no idean Sisters Red was going to have a sequel! Looking forward to that!)

    Buried in Books]
    Love your Reviews

  14. Whoops! Just realized I posted the wrong link. *Totally embarrassed*

  15. Peep - Thanks! We all react differently to books, it's what I love most about book blogging - reading everyone else's opinion and seeing how mine compares:)

    Adriana - Thank you:) I hope you like it too! It's definitely not going to be for everyone.

    Heather - So glad you're going to give it a try, I think it's got a great story. And yes the Sisters Red sequel is called Sweetly, I'm really looking forward to it!

  16. Awesome, awesome review, Jenny! I've heard such wonderful things about Matched, but your words solidified my intentions to actually read Matched. I'm a fan of dystopia's, so I think I'll probably like this one. I love novels, especially in YA lit, that give you time to think and form your thoughts on what you're reading.

    I'm not sure I can wait a week until I get to read this! :P

  17. Great review, Jenny. I completely agree. I found myself thinking at first that the Society wasn't so bad, but as you get deeper like Cassia you realize that something is really wrong. Looking forward to the sequels!

  18. Wonderful review. I didn't think I'd like this book, but after seeing your and a few others, I may have to read it now. You really brought out reasons to read it! Thanks.

  19. How the heck do you do that? Reading your reviews is like reading poetry! Seriously!

    Oh, I'm so pleased you like this one because it is one of my favorites of the year, and I have read mixed reviews for it. It seems people either love it or hate it. I loved it!

    Yes to the stolen moments and plain alphabet. What a beautiful way to fall in love, no?

    Stellar review! I hope the author reads it. One of my favorites so far.

  20. Kristina - If you like dystopia stories, I think you'll like it. I just adored Cassia and Ky:)

    Rummanah - Oh good! I'm looking forward to the sequels as well:)

    Melissa - I hope you enjoy it:)

    Missie - Stop it, I'm blushing;) I've read a lot of mixed reviews as well, but this one was definitely for me, I could have written so much more about every little thing I loved.

  21. This sounds quite interesting even though I don't like dystopias. I like that the writing doesn't waste words. I'm reading Anna Godberson right now, and as fun as her books are, she manages to use 100 words to describe a scene when 10 would suffice. Spare writing sounds refreshing.

  22. amazing review!! Im really looking forward to this one! =D

  23. Loved reading this review! Can't wait to read this myself.

  24. Alison - I thought the writing was nice and concise in this story, but if you normally don't like dystopias, you might find this one a bit slow. It's definitely a love it or hate it type of book.

    Larissa - Can't wait to see what you think!

    Aylee - Thank you, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:)

  25. Wow! This is a beautifully written review. I love that you used the word "electrifies." This is how I want to feel when I'm reading a really, truly great book. Which means I need to read Matched STAT!

  26. Hmm. My opinion of Matched wasn't the same as yours. It didn't really resonate with me and I didn't really connect to the characters, either. But it might have been that I read Matched just after reading the dead and the gone. In comparison, Matched was light and fluffy and didn't really work as a dystopian novel. I found myself comparing the two and thinking how different they were despite being in the same subgenre. I wanted to like it but I ended up not hating it instead.

  27. Anna - Thank you very much. I hope you enjoy it!

    Ruby - We don't all like the same books, and the general consensus with this one seems to be you either really like it or really don't, there's not a huge gray area:)

  28. Hey Jenny, I just finished Delirium (Lauren Oliver), and I'm set to read this one next. I was just wondering if you've read Delirium yet, and if so, how they compare to each other. From the reviews I've seen so far, most people seem to love one and hate the other.

  29. Lorelei - I haven't read Delirium yet, it's on my list:) I know a lot of people didn't like this one, but I loved it:) I'll be interested to see what you think!

  30. Fantastic review! I've been looking forward to reading this one for a while now. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

  31. Your review is amazing. You really hit the nail on the head in terms of Cassia's tiniest of stolen moments with Ky taking on the hugest importance to her. I just finished reviewed this book myself and I loved it. I can't wait for the sequel.

  32. This was a great book, but I felt that it focused on the romance more so than the dystopian side to it. I can't wait to read the sequel!!

  33. I just finished Matched, can't stop thinking about it, and came by to read and relish in your perfect review. Bravo!