Friday, August 20, 2010

Book Review and Giveaway: Matched by Ally Condie

Cassia lives in a society that decides everything for its citizens for the greatest good of them all – even who you marry. When Cassia is matched with her best friend Xander, she is thrilled. But when viewing her matching card, another face flashes on the screen – that of mysterious classmate Ky. This seeming glitch awakens an awareness of forbidden desires within Cassia, and for the first time she begins to question a society where the individual has no right to choose.


MATCHED is without a doubt a well constructed novel, hitting all the expected beats of a YA dystopian novel. And while there may be few surprises for avid readers of the genre, there are some genuine discussion-worthy developments.

The society is set up to look to its citizens like a utopia. Strict regulations nearly guarantee you’ll live the prescribed number of years until your “final banquet”. Everyone is given the exact number of calories needed to maintain a perfect, healthy weight. The culture has been pared down to the hundred “best” of everything (poems, songs, stories, paintings, etc) so that everyone can appreciate them to their fullest instead of being overwhelmed with too much. It’s a society that rewards perfect order, but that also banishes any sort of individuality or aberration.

Cassia has always been a dutiful citizen, but she also likes to be a little different. She’s proud that she was the only one who chose the green dress for her match banquet. She thrills to the fact that her grandfather entrusts her with a forbidden poem (Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night”) before his own “good night”. And when she learns she could never marry Ky because he’s not in the match pool, that makes her more determined to find moments to spend alone with him. But could it be that even Cassia’s small rebellions are orchestrated by her society? Is there a more sinister purpose behind their interest in Cassia?

I loved the world building here (which is why I just spent two paragraphs of my review on it). It’s logical, well-thought out, chilling and thought provoking. However, the rigid society setup does have its’ downside in that I never got to fully connect to Cassia emotionally, and I was never convinced she had genuine feelings for either Xander or Ky. I felt very much like I was being TOLD how to feel, instead of actually feeling it (which, you might argue, based on the ending, is exactly what Condie was going for…but I digress).

I enjoyed this installment, but really hope that the emotional impact quotient is raised in book two.

My rating? My head gives this 4 Zombie Chickens, but my heart gives it only 3. And in that battle, when it comes to reading, my heart always wins.


Still, I can highly recommend it as kind of a must-read. I know that doesn’t make much sense, but there you go! And because I want you to read it, and because it doesn’t come out until November 30, 2010, I am giving away my extra ARC to one lucky reader anywhere in the world. Just leave a comment telling me what poem you’d make sure got into the Hundred Poems if you were a creator of this society (or if you can’t think of a poem, you can also suggest a painting or a song). This contest will remain open until August 31st at 11:59 CST and is open internationally.

Find out more about the book on the author’s website.

See index of all dystopian reviews on Presenting Lenore.

90 comments:

Badass Bookie said...

I really can't think of a poem but a song I think would be one of the 'hundred "best"' would be Smile by Uncle Kracker. Honestly the song is so cleverly written and just so sweet, the use of similes is just amazing !!! :P I love the song to death!

callmeghostgirl@yahoo.com.au

Liyana said...

I'd recommend Trouble is a Friend by Lenka. Sorta like a warning. :)

Jordyn said...

If it counts as a poem, I'd go with the 23rd Psalm.

And if it doesn't I'd choose "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry. It's so beautiful and amazing and perfectly written.

sRy_ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Abhishek Duggal said...

Shakespeare's "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"

forsurveysonly at gmail dot com

Obsidian Ink said...

I would have to say, because I like to say,
Edgar Allan Poes 'Alone'
Its one of my favorites :)

JKB said...

I have to agree with IF. Rudyard Kipling rocks

Laurel said...

Without a doubt, it would be W.B. Yeats "He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven".

cories said...

Who doesn't love "Jabberwocky"? At least, what kid doesn't love "Jabberwocky"? Other favorites from when I was a kid are "The Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert W. Service and Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven". I must have been a very strange child, or had elementary school teachers with a very strange sense of humor...

cories119[at]yahoo.com

Ladytink_534 said...

W.B. Yeat's Stolen Child or Fire and Ice by Robert Frost. I really want to read this one :)

Ladytink_534(at)yahoo(dot)com

Png said...

I think the poem 'And They Obey' by Carl Sandburg would be what I would put if I were the creator of such a society. However, just to add, if I were to pick a poem somewhat voicing out Cassia it would be 'BOX' by Aisha Sherazi.

Regards : maidenhealer@hotmail.com

misha1989 said...

The Road not taken by Robert frost.
I think its message is beautiful. Its about daring take a path less traveled, to be different from what everyone else does.

Misha
mishamary@gmail.com

Brooke said...

"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost has been my favorite poem for years, so I would definitely have to go with it.

Rebecca said...

I would say How do I love thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It's just really memorable.

everythingtodowithbooks@gmail.com

Sandy Nawrot said...

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou! Stiff character or not, I think my daughter and I would both love to read this one!

rnawrot at cfl dot rr dot com

Kaya said...

Poem: 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud'

Song: 'With or Without You'

k_anon[at]hotmail[dot]co[dot]uk

Snazel said...

Hmmmmm, I don't read much in terms of poetry, but one poem that has stuck with me is e e cummings, i carry your heart with me. That is, aside from The Road Not Taken which probably wouldn't make it onto the list in a society where everything is chosen for you. :D

bermudaonion said...

The perfect order would be nice, the lack of individuality, not so much. No need to enter me.

GBU Book Reviews said...

I would go with "The Road Less Traveled" by Robert Frost. It is such a good philosophy to live by.

gbubookreviews(at)gmail(dot)com

Orchid said...

I would hope that The Dance by Garth Brooks (my all-time favorite song) would be included in the 100 best songs. Thanks for the awesome review and contes, Matched sounds like a great read. ^_^

hauntingorchid (at) aol (dot) com

Zibilee said...

I can't imagine a world where there are only 100 books! That would be so depressing!

If I had to pick one of the 100 songs, it would definitely be Rusted Wheel by The Silversun Pickups, but since I am sure no one else has ever heard of them, or the song, I am not sure if it would make it!

Mrs. DeRaps said...

I love the poem "i carry your heart with me" by e e cummings. Here's a link: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/i-carry-your-heart-with-me-2/

Great contest!

mrsderaps @ hotmail . com

My 5 Monkeys(Julie) said...

i would soundtrack from Last of the Mochicans to be included in it. Its so beautiful and so many emotions through out the movie.

aprilmom00 at gmail dot com

Amanda said...

So it's a really long poem but I'd have to say "Paradise Lost." It's just so beautiful and a nice record of older English.

opinionsofawolf (at) gmail (dot) com

Amanda said...

I enjoyed this more than you, I think, but it might just be because of the personal connection with it & my own book. No need to enter me in the contest. :)

Karen Akins said...

Song for a Fifth Child by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton. It's not a complicated or impressive poem structurally (I think it was first published in Good Housekeeping), but it always makes me cry. Talk about heart over head. :)

I'd also have to third (or fourth? fifth?) If by Kipling. I love that poem.

karen.d.akins (at) gmail (dot) com

Hawkeyegirl said...

"Hope is a thing with feathers" by Emily Dickinson.

hawkeyegirl at gmail dot com

Alysa said...

A favorite of mine recently: The Orange by Wendy Cope.

Sarah said...

Shel Silverstein poems! Particularly Where the Sidewalk Ends. His poems are funny and true and perfect for the kids in the society!

ChalcedonyEyes said...

While not a poem *exactly*, I feel that the children's book Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is poetic enough to qualify here and it is more meaningful and memorable to me than any other poem I've encountered in my life.

Intern Anonymous said...

You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you. You will walk
the same streets, grow old in the same neighborhoods,
will turn gray in these same houses.
You will always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
there is no ship for you, there is no road.
As you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you’ve destroyed it everywhere else in the world.
by Constantine Cavafy

It seems so depressing, but at the same time, it reminds me (a chronic nomad) that no matter where I go I will always be myself and my home will come with me.

S. Krishna said...

No need to enter me, but I'm glad I read this review. I definitely want to read this one.

Ekta said...

I think the poem I would choose is Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. That man is a genius! Thanks for the giveaway :D

ekta.p7 [at] gmail [dot] com

Alexander Bennett said...

This one rocked my socks off!

ikkinlala said...

I like too many poems and songs to choose, but for artwork I'd definitely hope something of Escher's was included - maybe Drawing Hands.

Shallee said...

Ooh, sounds like an interesting read. I'd have Alfred Lord Tennyson's In Memoriam, canto 54 in the top hundred poems.

Shelley said...

Like the idea of a forbidden poem.

Otherwise, I don't get it.

bunkercomplex said...

Must-include-song: Peter Gabriel's Blood of Eden

Pokadots1121 said...

A poem I would pick is The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. It's kind of dark, but the words fit together like a puzzle. It's one of my favorite poems.
Thanks for the giveaway!
Pokadots1121@yahoo.com

sarahem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darlene said...

No need to enter me Lenore. I just wanted to say that this novel sounds really good. It's interesting to think about a society controlled down to the smallest thing but very scary. It seems like it might be a good series to follow just to see what's in store for Cassia.

Sandy Shin said...

Great review! I whole-heartedly agree that the world-building in MATCHED is really well-done. I think Condie reveals information at a perfect pace -- and the world she created is subtly chilling.

"i carry your heart with me" by e.e. cummings is definitely on my list of 100 poems. :)

Staci said...

I am a bit intrigued by this one for some reason!!

Anna said...

The Chariot by Emily Dickinson

It sounds like the author takes a lot of time offering details about the world the characters live in. I love that in dystopian novels.

diaryofaneccentric at hotmail dot com

Melissa @ Mel's Books and Info said...

I already read and loved Matched especially the world building. In many ways it reminded me of The Giver by Lowry. I will say you hit the nail on the head about not knowing if she has real feelings for either Ky or Xander and the emotional disconnect can sometimes put off readers. Thank you for the review!

Nikki-ann said...

I heard of this one recently. It sounds like a good read and one I'd be interested in.

Kaitlyn (Kaitlyn in Bookland) said...

I'm not much of a poem person, but the song I would pick is 'Folding Chair' by Regina Spektor. It's brilliant.

kaitlynkline[at]gmail[dot]com

Thanks so much!

Okie said...

Thanks for a great review. I'm really intrigued by this book and would love to be included in the contest (though I'm sure I'll pick the book up eventually anyway).

As for a poem...I think there would be some cool irony by having something melancholy by Poe...maybe Annabel Lee.

Emily said...

I'm pretty excited for this series. Thanks for reviewing it.

I love the lyrics from Stolen by Dashboard Confessional.

PeechieKeen said...

I'd say the song Life is Wonderful by Jason Mraz. =)

kittenlover03@sbcglobal.net

Liviania said...

"Ode to a Nightingale" by John Keats. That or "This Be the Verse" by Philip Larkin.

Deborah said...

not really a poem but I'm going to go with "Imagine" by John Lennon

Tia said...

For some reason Frost's "Fire and Ice" has always stuck with me, though perhaps, if I had to choose, I'd pick something from Shakespeare.

Beth S. said...

Oh man, I love poetry so much that choosing one is a difficult task.

I don't think the poems I like, however, would be approved of in the society of this book.

Since the school year is getting ready to start, and I'm a teacher, I'd have to choose "What Teachers Make" by Taylor Mali

Elizabeth Briggs said...

I can't wait to read this! I'd vote for Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven. Thanks!

ebriggs23 at gmail.com

Jenna said...

Well my poem was already mentioned ("i carry your heart with me" by e.e. cummings), so I'll suggest the song "The Gambler" by the band fun. It's simply beautiful, and I am in love with it.

Thanks for the contest. This is one I've really been looking forward to checking out.

jennapomme[at]yahoo[dot]com

Serena said...

Prize-Giving by Gwen Harwood because I have always loved the final line "peered into a trophy which suspended his image upside down: a sage fool trapped by music in a copper net of hair.’

Teresa said...

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. But I doubt the society would allow it since it is about taking the road less traveled or "doing your own thing."

Bookworm1858 said...

Fire and Ice by Robert Frost is my very favorite poem (it was unfortunately butchered by Kristen Stewart in Eclipse) so I would certainly include it in the very best!

bookworm1858 AT hotmail DOT com

Okapi said...

Just like your blog name, I would insist for the haunting poem 'Lenore', written by Edgar Allen Poe, to be included in the top 100.

Thanks!
xicecreamsjx@aol.com

Okapi said...

Just like your blog name, I would insist for the haunting poem 'Lenore', written by Edgar Allen Poe, to be included in the top 100.

Thanks!
xicecreamsjx@aol.com

Okapi said...

Just like your blog name, I would insist for the haunting poem 'Lenore', written by Edgar Allen Poe, to be included in the top 100.

Thanks!
xicecreamsjx@aol.com

Michelle said...

Wonderful review as always Lenore!

I'd chose "Dream Variations" by Langston Hughes. Love his stuff and this one in particular because it is so joyful.

mmillet at gmail dot com

elizabeth said...

I would choose "Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost.

swordsforfighting at yahoo dot com

Jenn said...

I dont really know many poems but the one poem I actually really like is Fire and Ice.

jenniferduttle@hotmail.com

linz said...

I would choose any poem by Shel Silverstein, most likely The Little Boy and the Old Man or Where the Sidewalk Ends. He inspires imagination and creativity, and those kids of the future could really use some individuality, which seeps from Shel's work.

AHS said...

Edgar Allan Poe's "Alone" would be my choice for the poem. Definitely.

Thanks for the giveaway!

ahsturgis[at]mindspring[dot]com

Lisa B. said...

I'm not big on poems, but I'd suggest Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night for the hundred paintings/works of art. It's filled with so much wonder. Every time I look at it I see something different.

Kailia Sage said...

"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost is one of my all time favorites!

Kemendraugh said...

Definitely the Charge of the Light Brigade. "Half a league, half a league, half a league onward..."

kemendraugh at gmail dot com

Theresa said...

I'd have to choose "The New Collossus" by Emma Lazarus. Always loved that poem.

theresamashura@gmail.com

teamouse said...

I love T. S. Eliot's 'The Hollow Men', so I'd definitely have to choose that one. But then I remembered 'Enter Without So Much As Knocking' by Bruce Dawe and just couldn't choose - so I guess I'd end up smuggling one of them so that it didn't get destroyed!

sugarcubequeen (at) gmail (dot) com

Thanks for the awesome contest Lenore!!

Llehn said...

Robert Frosts's Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening.

lesly7ch(at)yahoo(dot)com

Grace said...

The poem "Hope is the thing with feathers" by Emily Dickinson would be in my top 100 poems. If I were also to choose a song, it would be "Brick by Boring Brick" by Paramore.

pandaluff(at)gmail(dot)com

christina said...

Alone by Poe for sure!

Lily Child said...

Wow, this sounds really interesting! I'll definitely have to check it out, thanks! :)

kmgraha2 said...

I would recommend "After Great Pain, A Formal Feeling Comes" by Emily Dickinson. It is my all-time favorite poem and deals with how a person feels/acts after a great tragedy.

kmgraha2 (at) mail (dot) usf (dot) edu

Ashley said...

I'd say Jabberwocky because I have some very fond memories tied to that poem, and who doesn't love/need a little bit of nonsense now and then?!

basicallyamazingbooks [at] gmail [dot] com

pepsivanilla said...

I'm gonna say "Bear In There" by Shel Silverstein. It's not profound, but it's fun :)

pepsivanilla14(at)hotmail(dot)com

Daisy said...

There are too many poems that I like to pick a favorate.. BUT the poem that most reminds me of this book is:
My Love's A Match
by Alfred P. Graves

My Love's a match in beauty
For every flower that blows,
Her little ear's a lilly,
Her velvet cheek a rose;
Her locks are gilly gowans
Hang golden to her knee.
If I were King of Ireland,
My Queen she'd surely be.

Her eyes are fond forget-me-nots,
And no such snow is seen
Upon the heaving hawthorn bush
As crests her bodice green.
The thrushes when she's talking
Sit listening on the tree.
If I were King of Ireland,
My Queen she'd surely be.

Thanks for the contest! flower_child101@yahoo.com

jillcy said...

For poems I would include E.E. Cummings "I Carry Your
Heart" because it is a classic and eternally relevant.

Melissa said...

I would have to pick Fire and Ice by Robert Frost

~The Book Pixie said...

I would have to say Fireflies in the Garden or Canis Major by Robert Frost! Definitely. :D I love his poetry!

~Briana
thebookpixie[at]yahoo[dot]com

Has said...

I think for me it has to be WH Auden's Stop all the clocks. It was featured in Four Weddings and a Funeral but I read it at school and its very haunting and memorable.

Hasnasaadani32 (at) aol (dot) com

Meredith said...

I would enter something by Shel Silverstein. I loved his books as a kid, and his poems are cute and sweet.

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Sam @ Parenthetical said...

anyone lived in a pretty how town by e. e. cummings. It's been my favorite poem forever, and sounds like it might actually fit very well with this book, to boot!

Luna_Divine said...

Anything from Howl by Allen Ginsberg that is one of my all time fave books, a must read for any book lover.

Luna_Divine_89@hotmail.com

Sharli said...

Sounds like an amazing book! ^^
The poem I'd choose is Fire and Ice by Robert Frost.

entrelibros_blog at hotmail.com

donnas said...

Lady of Shallot would be my pick

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Krispy said...

I'd get the Odyssey in there if that counts. It's an epic poem, right? There are so many themes and layers to the story. I love it. Not sure it would mesh with the Society of MATCHED though.

Thanks for the contest!

nudging.along[at]gmail.com