Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Title: Matched

Author: Ally Condie

Series: Matched #1

Genre: YA Future Dystopia, Romance

Publisher: Puffin

Summary (from Goodreads)

In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

What’s Good About It

Continuing with my dystopia kick (which I’m calling, as I used to in my Uni days, ‘research for my novel’) I picked up both Matched and Pretties (by Scott Westerfeld) for a bit of ‘time off’ reading. I opened Matched yesterday evening and had finished it by ten this morning. Finishing reading it came with a double wave of exhilaration – one, it was fantastic and two – I was finally ahead of the game!

After the Hunger Games, Uglies, Wolves of Mercy Falls etc catching up I’ve been doing on the blog of late, it is nice to at last talk about a book that perhaps a few of you out there haven’t actually read yet. And what a great book to start with. Condie has created a masterpiece with Matched that will have hundreds of readers hanging on to the edges of their chairs waiting for future installments.

First, let’s talk about the world building. A key ingredient in dystopian novels that Condie gets absolutely right.

At first her rather soft world seems fairly harmless. The Society controls everything you do – who you marry, how many children you have, even when you die. But Condie has a way of writing about it, drawing you in to the idea of Matching, the main premise of the story, that gets you feeling that it’s not such a bad thing. The sinister nature of the world creeps up on you, through subtle hints about a war and a mysterious red pill that the Society can order you to take, but no one knows what it does.

The idea that the Society picked the hundred best of every element of culture was a nice one – the Hundred Poems, Paintings etc. A world where creativity is stifled, where culture is limited, and any new words discovered in the ruins of the old civilisations are destroyed is far more creepy than any world where violence is predominant and obvious.

The characters are great too, the love story believable and slowly developed. Condie takes her time to build the relationships – something rare in YA fiction these days – and the love triangle worked well, with both relationships ringing completely true, even in their duality. So often I find love triangles annoying because there is one relationship in it that doesn’t make sense, but I was totally convinced by Cassia’s sense of loss in finding Xander wasn’t her only Match, and her confusion at her feelings for Ky.

What’s Not So Good

Xander was occasionally just a bit too nice, too willing to help Cassia in her troubles with Ky. A little more jealousy from him wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Rating: 5/5

Watch the book trailer here:

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