YA Friday: Matched by Ally Condie

Friday, March 04, 2011

Before you read my review, you should go to Ally Condie's website and get Matched. Pretty funny. Unfortunately, I was not Matched to my husband... dang it.

To back up - Matched by Ally Condie is set in Society, a perfectly organized world where you are assured a stable life with a job you are well-equipped to perform, meals that are perfectly proportioned to sustain a healthy body type, and, if you want to be married, a genetic match so perfect for you that you are practically guaranteed to fall in love with them. Cassia has been looking forward to the day of being Matched ever since she was a little girl. She has the perfect dress, the perfect accessories, and it turns out, the perfect Match - her best friend, Xander. However, when she goes to review her Match information, another face appears on the microchip she has been given - the face of Cassia and Xander's soft-spoken, somewhat mysterious friend, Ky Markham. Cassia begins to question whether the perfectly orchestrated Society is fatally flawed as she questions who her Match really should have been.

Matched falls into the currently very popular genre of dystopian literature, but it had a slightly different feel to it. In books like Delirium and The Hunger Games, there was a fast-paced, white-knuckled feeling of stress due to the constraints and control of Society. While that feeling surfaced occasionally in Matched, the overall feel of the book was a bit more peaceful and relaxed. The main character, Cassia, has absolute faith in Society at the beginning of the book - her parents were Matched and have a blissful, romantic relationship. She is good at her vocation and has the potential to be a high-ranking individual in society. She has been Matched with her best friend. However, when she sees Ky's face flash across the screen, and as she gets to know him better throughout the summer, she starts to wonder about Society's true purpose and whether or not it really does make life better.

I enjoyed getting to know the Society as Ally Condie slowly revealed Cassia's world. The beginning of the novel was a little slow, but I think that was necessary to describe the way Society worked. I also really liked the way it allowed the relationship between Ky and Cassia to develop in a realistic way. So often (especially in movies) characters meet and have this instant connection, and from that moment on it is taken for granted that they are in love and meant to be together. Cassia and Ky discover each other slowly and naturally, and for that reason their relationship seemed more powerful.

One aspect of the novel that was a little weaker to me was Cassia's relationship with Xander. I felt like it could have been described in more detail - generally we were just told that Xander was her "best friend" from childhood. Because Xander is not as present in the story, I felt like I didn't know his character as well, and it made the story feel a little unbalanced.

I really liked Cassia's parents' relationship and the contrast it showed to the Matching process. The Society isn't shown to be this absolutely evil entity - the system really does work for some people. Cassia's parents were genetically matched and predicted, and they fell head over heels for each other in love. I think this dichotomy between too much power and trying to provide for the well-being of the individuals was well illustrated by this contrasting relationship.

I was also struck with the beauty of the writing. Cassia's world is pretty stark and colorless. They are given food for nutritional reasons only (except on special occasions). Everyone wears the same color of plainclothes (except on special occasions). Only certain flowers are permitted in certain areas, and everyone must be the same and equal. Despite this barren world, Condie's descriptions are beautiful, and her observations about emotions are poignant. I loved the way Cassia analyzed poetry -
I only meant to tell him a few more lines, but once I start telling him it's hard to hold back, and I say the whole thing. The words go together. Some things are created to be together. [...] "I think it's because when we hear it we know we're not the only ones who ever felt this way."
Overall, I thought Matched was an interesting, enjoyable read. If you're not a fan of dystopian lit, I would maybe skip it. It definitely has some similarities to other dystopian novels such as Delirium by Lauren Oliver and The Giver by Lois Lowry. However, if you are a fan of YA dystopian lit, Matched is beautifully written and a compelling story.

Readability - Story flowed well, although at times there were plot transitions that jarred me a bit.
Plot - 4
Characters - 3
Aesthetics - 4
Personal Response - 4
Overall: 3.75


  1. I liked this one as well and did feel like it was different from some of the others.

  2. Lorren,
    I miss you teaching me a new word every day :) Today it is dystopian- what a great word- one I feel like I already should have known. And it's true, I too have been sucked into the popular dystopian books lately. I think it all started for me with Fahrenheit 451 in middle school... Love ya-- Kels

  3. I definitely enjoy dystopian lit, if it's well done, which it sounds like this one is. It's on my TBR list...though who knows when I'll actually get to it!

  4. Helen - I'm glad to hear you liked it too. I read a lot of negative or lukewarm reviews for this one but it really stood out to me.

    Kels - Haha yay for big words! Fahrenheit is definitely one of the best ones. And just so ya know, one of my next dystopian reads is definitely Uglies since you brought it to my attention. :)

    @Erin - I know what you mean... my list just gets longer and longer.

  5. I downloaded this one on my Nook Color and can't wait to read it! I'm excited to hear that the writing is also beautiful, which is obviously a win-win! A lot of dystopian YA novels miss the flourish of the language as scenes unfold, but sounds like this one is all over it.

  6. I liked this one, but was ultimately disappointed in it. I am still eager for the sequels, but I ended this book feeling like the only reason Cassia was unhappy with the Society was because they were trying to keep her from Ky. And honestly- if you are going to try and fight the power, you need to believe that it is inherently and deeply wrong. I never felt like she got that, so everything... flattened for me a bit. But overall, it was good. There were lots of areas with super stellar writing, especially around that poem. Sigh. ;)

  7. I was somewhat dissatisfied with Cassia's response to the Society, but it was more for the reason that I thought she never would have been interested in Ky if his face wasn't on that card. However, I was mostly pleasantly surprised by this book because I was expecting to find it boring and repetitive (initially I just read it because I won a copy). I was so surprised by how invested I was in the story! And you're right, the poem really made the writing stand out. Loved it.


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