Review: Matched by Ally Condie

In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly 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

Borderline. This is the word I use to sum up, not the novel itself, but my feeling towards it. Right on the edge, lukewarm. I picked up Matched by Ally Condie because I love Dystopia and because I had seen such rave reviews or at least rave ratings all over the blogosphere, but I admit that when I found out it was classified as a romance I was a little uneasy yet still curious.

The thing is with anticipation and hype is it can go one of three ways, either fantastic (for me that would be Harry Potter), horrible (I am in denial. Denial!), or somewhere in the middle. The grey area. Matched for me is in the grey area and I’m mildly disappointed, but not completely surprised.

I’m not completely surprised because I can’t quite accept full blown romance with Dystopia, but I will say in the book’s defence that it is not all romance. When it says on the cover (my copy at least) ‘Freed by Love?’ some of that love isn’t necessarily romantic love and yes I realise there is a lot of Dystopia with elements of romance, if not a love story in there, but in my experience with Dystopia it hasn’t been what has mostly driven the story as I feel it has done with Matched.

Of course that would make sense. I mean what was I expecting when it alludes to romantic qualities? When just a cursory look at the front cover of the book lets you know it’s in that direction? Yes I know, I really shouldn’t complain about that and I’m not, it’s more that I’m not used to a romantically driven dystopia. This leads me to wonder if the reason it has gotten such high ratings is maybe because the majority aren’t dystopia lovers or readers? Dystopia is getting quite popular lately, especially in young adult fiction, and I see a lot of romance driven young adult novels as well so putting them together – has that helped decide these people on what is an awesome book? Or is there something else I’m missing? I’m wondering if my love for dystopia has ruined this book for me because I see dystopia as something far more intellectual, from my reading, not so much emotional.

Matched is more emotional and there is another problem right there, this is the part where borderline comes in. Even though this is an emotional book, I felt hardly any emotion. There were a few times there where I felt a hint of something, a slight spark that didn’t lead to full ignition, but for the most part I got nothing. I couldn’t connect however much I wanted to, I couldn’t delve into the emotions of the character, or completely into the story. There was no immersion for me and I think part of that was because the character, Cassia, was questioning right from the word go even before things started to make her question. And I mean right from the word go. For a society that has come so far that they don’t need the visual threat of punishment, but only the idea, she seems to not be confident in what there is around her even when she says she is.

I also wonder if Cassie knowing her match beforehand is on purpose to make the reading easier for the demographic that it is aimed at? Granted that a lot of 17 year olds are reading what is older than their age group (I know I did and I’m not speculating on this to insult anyone), but I can’t help but wonder how much of something is changed or influenced by what the demographic it is aimed at. Especially because Cassie not knowing her match, there not being any sign of love or fondness to begin with, may make readers uncomfortable.

Anyway, that’s probably more the writer in me speculating in the motives behind the author so I’ll leave that there and finish this up. Basically I had trouble getting into it and connecting to the character (or any character really), but I am intrigued enough by the world (as I usually am with alternative or dystopian societies) to want to read the next book and the reading itself is pleasant enough, just not capturing enough for me. I could put it down and not feel the overwhelming need to pick it up again, more’s the pity.

  • Genre: Dystopia, Young Adult
  • Demographic: Definitely YA hetero girls
  • Reminds Me Of: Lots of other Young Adult Romance and Logan’s Run even though I’ve only seen five minutes of the movie (more the aesthetic and the death part, not the story)
  • Rating Out of Five: 3 1/2
  • Challenges: Off The Shelf andDystopia

3 thoughts on “Review: Matched by Ally Condie

  1. I completely agree with your review. I, too, was disappointed in Matched. I couldn’t connect with anyone. I probably won’t even read the second one, because at the end of Matched, I honestly didn’t even care what happened, which is really rare for me. I hate it when books accomplish that. =/

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    • Hi Sheena. I was worried I was one of the only ones there for awhile! I don’t like it either, it feels a little cruel, but I guess we can’t love every book we read. Mores the pity. I was actually thinking about it yesterday when I added another book to my reading journal for the year and saw the title. My first reaction was, ‘Oh that’s right, I read that.’ and it’s only been a few weeks. That’s not a happy feeling, but at least it doesn’t happen often and it’s good that it is a rarity for you too. Here’s to finding far more pleasantly surprising and enjoyable books to read 🙂

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