Friday, August 9, 2013

Matched by Ally Condie

Summary:   Cassia Reyes' life is completely regulated.  She is told what she will eat, who she will marry and when she will die.  In the past, Cassia has found the certainties of her life comforting in their predictability.  When an error in the system presents Cassia with two matches instead of one, the uncertainty and the possibility of choice throws her well-ordered life into disarray.  As events highlighting cracks in the Society's power structure start to pile up, Cassia begins to question the way things are with support from Ky, the match who was never meant to be.

Dystopian Issues:  Lack of Self-Determination, Restricted Access to Humanity's History, Totalitarian Government
Part of a Series: The first book in the Matched series
Next in Series:  Crossed
Age of Main Character: 17
Number of Pages:  366
Year of Publication: 2010
Publisher:  Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group Inc.

Review:  If you thought the only thing missing from Lois Lowry's The Giver was romance, then Matched is pretty much the book for you.
     Condie's cast of mild characters are the product of the totalitarian society they grew up in.  This results in a book that is the story of a gentle romance in the face of a classic dystopia.  While an interesting and enjoyable read, this first book of the Matched trilogy lacks depth and profoundness that quality dystopian fiction should exhibit.
     Despite my reservations, I did like Condie's concept of the collections of the hundred best songs, paintings, poems, etc.  I wasn't always engaged by the characters, but I was engaged by the complete and detailed totalitarian system Condie set up.  Dystopias often have a clear villain in the government, but Matched presents us with a government that appears to only have its citizens' best interests at heart.  As the book develops however, we begin to see how much of a façade that idea actually is.
     There is enough here to keep me reading the trilogy.

Real Life Dystopias:  The Match system bears some resemblance to the system of arranged marriages.

Memorable Quotes: "'Cassia," he whispers.  "I am giving you something you won't understand, yet.  But I think you will someday.  You, more than the rest.  And, remember.  It's all right to wonder.'"
     -  Matched by Ally Condie, pg 83

     " least I have the words to describe what I feel is happening inside of me: the dying of the light.
     If I couldn't name it, would I even know what it is?  Would I even feel at all?"
     -  Matched by Ally Condie, pg 158

     "All this time it's taken me to understand what Grandfather meant.  Why he didn't want to have the sample stored, why he didn't want a chance to live forever on someone else's terms.  'Because it's about making our own choices,' I tell him."
     -  Matched by Ally Condie, pg 356

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