Saturday, July 3, 2010

Matched by Ally Condie

Cassia lives in a perfect Society. Her government makes sure that life is lived optimally, pre-planning everything from birth to death so that everyone can have the best life that they can have. Cassia is seventeen and everything is about to change for her. She is being matched to her optimal spouse, she is about to be assigned to her career, and her grandfather is turning eighty and going to die. The happiest night of her life is when the cracks start to show. She is matched to her best friend Xander, but later a different face, an acquaintance named Ky, is shown as her true match. Her grandfather shows her banned poems before his death, poems that make her wish that she could create instead of organize. Cassia's life is crumbling as she has to decide whether freedom of choice is worth the safety of everyone she loves. Her family is being watched, the Society seems to be pushing measures of equality further than are comfortable, and as Cassia starts to fall in love there are whispers of dissent.

When I started reading this I was strongly reminded of The Giver by Lois Lowry: sorting children into proscribed paths, pills to keep the masses calm, and how the the need for choice and independence of mind will eventually buck under a dictatorial government. Unfortunately the similarities ended there. There were good points, I enjoyed Cassia's interactions with her family and the burgeoning realization that she needed more out of life than what she was receiving. But I felt that the romance side was rather weak, which unfortunate as this is essentially a romance in the trappings of a Utopian dystopia.

Cassia is supposed to be in a love-triangle between Xander and Ky, but it was difficult to feel any tension when Xander isn't present for most of the book. Xander is made to be so perfect and good that it makes me question how Cassia can fall in love with anyone else? That and the mystery of Ky wasn't really intriguing enough to keep my attention, in fact I might even go as far as to call him boring. Who wants a perfect non-love interest and a boring love-interest? This wasn't helped that the pacing of the book was also extremely slow for the first three-quarters, I ended up skimming through a good portion of it. But it was almost made kind of worth it the last couple of chapters. Almost. Let's hope that the sequel will ratchet up the action, a lot, and Ms. Condie will make Ky actually worth caring about. I don't know, maybe I'm being too critical. I did read this one after Clockwork Angel so maybe I was just so blinded by that book's awesomeness that I wasn't ready for something else. I'm sure that there'll be some crowd of girls between the ages of 13-16 that will enjoy this book and relate to the oppression that they 'suffer' with their parents with the governmental oppression that Cassia experiences. Ally Condie's debut novelMatched is coming out Nov. 30.

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