Review: Matched by Allie Condie

I had heard wonderful things about this one and I was really  looking forward to it, to the point of actually downloading it to my Kindle. However, unlike the other day, when Making History by Stephen Fry (review here) was much, much better than expected, Matched turned out to be a massive disappointment.

On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her Match. Society dictates he is her perfect partner for life. Except he’s not. In Cassia’s society, Officials decide who people love. How many children they have. Where they work. When they die. But, as Cassia finds herself falling in love with another boy, she is determined to make some choices of her own. And that’s when her whole world begins to unravel . . .
As the perfect anthesis to Making History, I loved this when I first started it. The first quarter or so just sets the scene for the story, to explain the world and society that Cassia lives in. It’s a wonderfully crafted world too. A lot of dystopian-society books fail at explaining why society has changed the way it has. Ms Condie genuinely excells in this. Everything is controlled by Officials in Cassia’s world, from who you’ll marry to what you eat to when you’ll die. It’s explained that the reason behind this is to provide a better life for the citizens – Cancer has been eradicated, every citizen lives to be 80 and every single person is Matched with their perfect partner. I can’t remember another YA dystopian book that has such a perfectly created world.

The almost-snow reminds me of a line from a poem we studied this year in Language and Literacy: “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” It is one of my favourites of all the Hundred Poems, the ones our Society chose to keep, back when they decided our culture was too cluttered. They created commissions to choose the hundred best of everything: Hundred Songs, Hundred Paintings, Hundred Stories, Hunded Poems. The rest were eliminated. Gone forever. For the best, the Society said, and everyone believed because it made sense.’

That’s where the explanations end though. I wish the plot and characters were as thoroughly created. My main problem was the whole rebellion concept. At first, Cassia just accepts everything and goes happily about her daily business, as you would if you were brought up in such an environment. But then all of a sudden she just… well, hates everything. So yes, she was a tiny bit screwed over by the government (and yes, a tiny bit. More on that later), but there’s no logical progression to rebellion, her feels just magically change through no rhyme or reason.

Her relationships too. She never notices Ky Markham throughout her seventeen years, and is very happy with her Match, Xander, but all of a sudden “BANG!” and she declares she’s in love with Ky. It’s awfully done. We’re just told that they love each other desperately, although we never see any evidence of it or any reason. It doesn’t make sense – she’s not in the slightest bit bothered until the Officials tell her she can’t have him and then she selfishly hurts everybody around her to get what she wants like a child.

The same applies to all of her other feelings too actually. We might be told that she feels sorry for Xander, angry at her father or hatred towards the Officials, but we never actually see any evidence of it.

I admit, I’m the Queen of Irrational Hatred. It’s true, I am. But I think I’m being more than rational in my dislike of Cassia. She’s selfish, whiny, stubborn and miraculously understands the Officals’ schemes and motives without needing to be told (such as how everybody dies on their 80th birthday).

“That’s right,” Ky says thoughtfully, almost to himself. “People here die on their eightieth birthday.”
“Yes. Isn’t it like that where you came from?” I’m surprised that the words escaped my mouth – not two seconds ago he reminded me not to ask about his past. This time, though, he answers me.
“Eighty is… harder to achieve,” he says.
I hope the surprise doesn’t show on my face. Are there different death ages in different places? 

I had such high expectations for Matched, and it just fails to meet them. It seems like it tries to be deep, but fails as it’s just shallow through and through. In my opinion, a much better storyline would be if the Officals were trying to force Cassia to be with Ky when she knew she was meant to be with Xander, instead of creating a horribly unbelievable romance with her ‘new love.’ Maybe it was my own fault for expecting too much, as everybody and their goldfish seems to love it, but I just don’t get it, I’m afraid.

Comments

  1. Raimy-rawr says:

    I really wasnt impressed with this one either… thankfully I only borrowed it from the library… I will probably read the second but I wont be rushing out for it!

  2. Hanna says:

    I'm really glad to hear you say that! I expected to get stoned by angry Matched-lovers!

  3. I've heard mixed things about this one which has made me hesitant to move it up my TBR pile. I'm starting to enjoy adult books more than YA at the moment because of some of the protagonists. Great review by the way!

  4. I've read a lot of mixed reviews on this one as well, so don't feel bad about putting your honest opinion out there!

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