Sunday, December 2, 2012

Novel Review: Matched (Matched, #1) by Ally Condie

Genre: YA Dystopian Romance
Rating (Out of 5): ~3 (maybe a tiny bit higher)
Publisher: Penguin (Dutton)
Spoilers?: Minor-ish

Goodreads Synopsis:

 Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Available on Amazon.


When this book first came out (and when I got it), I was expecting to really like it, but after some time passed, I was expecting to dislike it a lot more. Now, I’m kind of in between. I didn’t really dislike it nor did I really enjoy it all that much, but I think that it may be just a tiny bit above average. Which means the rating is a three, because I don’t really feel it quite deserves that extra half star.
Matched is about Cassia, a pretty average girl, going about her life normally like everyone else in her Province; going to work and school like them, eating the same meals picked out for her every day, and going to her Matched banquet once she turns sixteen. After finding out that her chosen Match is her best friend Xander, a very odd thing given it’s usually someone you’ve never met before, she’s excited. But then when she looks at her techy card with his information on it and it changes from Xander’s face to a different boy she knows, Ky’s, and finds out that it was a mistake an Official made, she starts actually thinking about things.
This is a dystopian, and I have not read very many of those, as the idea is interesting, but my genre is more in romance. Also, I’ve heard a lot of people talking about how this is too much like the Giver. I’ve read the Giver, and I noticed some similarities, but I didn’t think it was that bad. Not as bad as other people seem to think, at least.
The Provinces and the world that Condie built were interesting to me, but I didn’t think it was amazing. The Officials and their world anger me quite a bit at times, as they should have.
As a reader, a thing that just hurt me deep inside because of the cruelty, was how they only have a select hundred songs and stories etc., and there’s a scene in the book where Cassia watched her father oversee a crew sucking books, page by page after cutting them apart, into this incinerator, and picturing that in my head made me want to cry or something. That’s just so cruel.
My biggest problem with this book, was that not a lot happened. It wasn’t as bad to get through as I thought it’d be, but it didn’t really keep me attached to the pages. The first two hundred pages were spent with Cassia angsting over her feelings for Ky and trying to stay with Xander, while also noticing the ways that the government have been keeping everyone under their control. I liked that she was noticing these things and thinking about them, but it bothered me that she never tried to do anything about it. I mean, I understand doing things secretly and keeping track of things without the Officials noticing, and making them think you’re not as smart as you are, and I liked that aspect of this book a lot, but she never made a decisive thought toward doing that, toward not telling anyone or staying quiet for now. She would just think about it and then the chapter would end and we wouldn’t hear anything about it until she noticed something else. And that frustrated me a little bit.
Also, I didn’t really care for her angst over the boys. For the first half of the book, I didn’t care much at all about Ky and did not understand her attraction to him. I realized immediately that she was going to be with Ky, because, while I think Xander is better, he’s the only one she really had any romantic feelings toward.
The second half of the book is what got me enjoying the book a little bit more. There still wasn’t all that much exciting stuff happening, but she was growing closer to Ky and doing secret things with him, and more actively noticing things. I think the characters, or at least Ky, got a boost in personality in that half.
Because, in the first half I did not care for Ky. He was kind of ignoring Cassia, which now I can see is because he didn’t want anyone to know about their feelings toward the other, but it was more done in a way that showed the reader he actually wasn’t all that interested; Cassia never really had any big interactions with him, and her kinda-insta-love toward him just did not make sense. I did not understand it. But then she started hanging out with him more, we saw some actual conversations, and while I still didn’t think there was enough for her to be in love with him, I understood it a bit more.
Another thing I did actually like in this book, was the fact that Cassia didn’t spend that much time trying to decide who she actually loved. At first, she was trying to love Xander, but then she just felt bad toward Xander because she was supposed to love him but she didn’t. And she even told him about the thing between her and Ky, before it got too far (although she perhaps should have told him earlier), which I was happy about. It sounds like, in the next book, there might be more drama between her and Xander, and I really hope they don’t try to make this a love triangle where both guys are fighting over her and she can’t decide, because I like that she decided so early on.
Also, I kind of really like Xander. He is, quite possibly, my favorite character in this book, and I really hope that he doesn’t change into a jerk or something. Because I like him, and I like his personality, and his interactions with Cassia, and I don’t want that to change.
I liked Cassia's family and how close to them she was. I found it frustratingly well done how everyone thinks that the Officials know everything and are doing what's right; in that aspect, Cassia was the perfect narrator for this story, because of how much she thought they were doing the right thing and that freedom would be chaos, at first. I found it interesting how she was questioning her parents, and how she was noticing ways that other people were breaking the rules. The little rule breaking gave me hope that she would talk to them, that there is actually a riot in the making. I'm still hoping for that.
Near the end, there was a kind of revelation for Cassia when talking to an Official, which I did kind of like. It was interesting and a little bit exciting, and I like that she actively took the silent approach right then. That’s usually a rather smart move, and not a lot of characters even try it. That was actually, probably, my favorite scene in the whole book.
The writing was alright. It wasn't overly pretty, even a little plain at times, but there were several points where Cassia would look at something and it would be described in a rather pretty way. The writing, like most other things in the book, didn't really keep me sucked in, but it didn't bother me, either.
I’m not all that sure where this book is going. I think there should be some big revolution, with the people fighting for their freedom, but it sounds like the next book focuses on Cassia leaving her Province and sneaking out to find Ky. And I’m kind of guessing that it is going to take a while before she leaves and then before they actually meet up. And I just… I want more than that to happen. I want something more exciting, some serious stuff to be happening. Not more angsty romance to be the main focus (which, I know, can’t believe I’m saying I don’t want romance to be the focal point). Although, perhaps the characters will be more defined in the next book and I will like Ky, and CassiaandKy, more. Hopefully. And, seeing as there are alternate points of view in the next book, it might even be better, since I really enjoy that.
I don’t even know if I would have read the next book since this one was rather mediocre, and at the least it would probably take me a while to get it, but I already have the second book, so I plan on getting to it soon, while I’m still kind of in the mood for it.

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