Friday, August 20, 2010
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.