Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Matched (Matched #1)
By Ally Condie
Dutton Books

To Sum It Up: The Society strives to make the lives of its citizens as perfect as possible. Cassia Reyes knows this firsthand. She has a loving family and a promising career path ahead of her. When the time comes for Cassia to be Matched to her ideal mate, he turns out to be her best friend, Xander Carrow. Everything seems to be going according to the Society’s plans until Cassia views the data on the microcard that is supposed to contain Xander’s information. His face appears but then is replaced by that of Ky Markham, whom Cassia has also known since childhood. This improbable error leads Cassia to do the unthinkable: she begins to question whether or not the Society always acts in the best interests of its people.

Review: Matched was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I thought that its strongest point was the love story between Cassia and Ky, which dominates the book. In fact, sometimes I felt like Matched could have stood on its own as a romance about two people wondering whether they’re destined to be together, without the dystopian elements.

The dystopian world of Matched was fairly disturbing. Because culture before the Society’s formation was “cluttered,” the Society has taken it upon itself to preserve only the hundred best songs, poems, paintings, etc. Dreams, food intake, and even what’s dumped down the garbage incinerator are all monitored. Then of course, there’s the Matching System. One aspect of this world that didn’t make sense to me was how Matched couples needed to be chaperoned on their dates by one of the Society’s Officials, yet at one point Cassia mentioned that teenagers were allowed to have crushes and flirt before being Matched. That seems odd to me in a society that even schedules its citizens’ recreation hours for them.

I couldn’t help but find myself comparing Cassia with Lena from Lauren Oliver’s Delirium. Like Lena, Cassia initially toes the line because that’s what she’s always been taught to do. Also like Lena, Cassia slowly realizes that there’s much more to life than doing exactly as she’s told. For me, though, the similarities between the two characters end there. I never felt a connection with Cassia. When she discovered the truth about the microcard incident, she was understandably angry, but I didn’t feel outraged on her behalf. I actually felt worse for Ky because his story was already so pass-me-the-entire-box-of-Kleenex-sad. Throughout the book, I felt like I was only skimming the surface of Cassia’s emotions, that there wasn’t enough depth to her feelings to elicit my sympathy or make me worry what would happen if the Officials knew how close she was growing to Ky. I did worry about Ky, though.

I felt a little sorry for Cassia’s Match, Xander. I didn’t think that he ever had a fair chance to win Cassia’s heart because once Ky entered the picture (almost literally), Xander disappeared for pages at a time. The book’s focus shifted mainly to Cassia and Ky.

I thought that Matched worked well as a love story, but its take on dystopia came up a little short for me. With all of its rules, the Society seemed intimidating, but I never got the sense of foreboding that I experienced while reading other dystopian novels. Nevertheless, I’ll be reading the sequel, Crossed, to find out what happens to Ky and to see if Xander plays a bigger role.

All in All: This was worth a library borrow but not the type of book that I’d read over and over again. I like my dystopians on the action-packed side, and this one didn’t quite fit the bill.


  1. I definitely agree with you. Matched for me, was good, but not really the best dystopian book ever. It is a little similar to Delirium & definitely something for fans of Delirium to read while waiting for the last book in the series to be released, but Delirium is so much better. In all honesty, this is probably the first time a book has a love triangle where I don't really care who the girl picks, but I will feel sorry for whoever she doesn't end up with.

    1. To me, there was something about Cassia's narrative voice that just didn't mesh with the book's dystopian setting. Delirium, on the other hand, had a much more ominous tone, which suited it perfectly. The funny thing is, I read Crossed recently, and I liked it much better than Matched. I'll be reading Pandemonium this week, so we'll see how the two middle books in each series compare to each other.

    2. That's funny because I actually liked Crossed more than Matched too! I look forward to reading your review of it when you post it :)

    3. I thought that Crossed had a lot more action than Matched did, which I really liked. I also felt that Cassia had more depth to her character this time. Overall, Crossed was a pleasant surprise!

  2. Well, I just finished reading Delirium and Pandemonium and they were great books! I am about to read Matched and Crossed both (I already have Crossed, but not Matched, and I dont want to read Crossed first).

    Anyways, Im afraid that I will draw the same comparisons, since I just read Delirium, and I really like the character of Lena...
    Also, I dont normally like love triangles!

    Anyways, Great review! Im curious to see if I agree with your opinions.

    1. Love triangles seem to be unavoidable in YA these days, lol. I'm eager to see what you think of Matched and Crossed, especially in comparison to Delirium and Pandemonium.

  3. Nice review. You make a lot of really good points! I read this one a while ago and the details are a bit hazy but from what I recall it was a very subdued compared to other books in this genre.

    1. That's what I thought, as well- to me, Matched didn't have the same intensity as some other dystopian novels. The sequel, Crossed, is a different story, though; there's quite a bit of action in it.


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