Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Matched (Matched #1) by Ally Condie

  • Title: Matched
  • Classification: Young Adult (Ages 12 and up)
  • Genre: Dystopia
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (September 20, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 014241977X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142419779
  • Author's Website:
  • Notes: This was my second time reading this one and I expanded upon my original review. I reread this one with my online book club on Goodreads. It was one of our Books of the Month. 

'The goal of matching is twofold: to provide the healthiest possible future citizens for our Society and to provide the best chances for interested citizens to experience successful Family Life. It is of the utmost importance to the Society that the Matches be as optimal as possible.'

Somewhere in the future the Society now dictates who you will marry and what job you will hold. When Cassia is matched with her best friend, Xander, she thinks she's the luckiest girl in the world. Her happiness, however, is soon cluttered with confusion when the microcard containing information about her match changes from Xander's photo to Ky's. Even though she's told there was an error with her card and Xander is her true match, it sets off a whole lot of questions about how perfect the matching program is. When Ky and Cassia are paired together for an extra curricular activity she finds herself wondering if maybe Ky truly is her perfect match. She has been told he will never be paired with anyone because he's a Aberration - a person who has committed or is related to someone who has committed some infraction of the law and has been deemed unmatchable, essentially insuring the killing off of the offending party's line. The question now forming in Cassia's mind is, if they could be wrong about her match what else could they be wrong about?

This one had The Giver (by Lois Lowry) type feel to it. The Society attempts to predict and control every aspect a person's life such as who they marry, what they'll do, when they'll die. They even try to predict the smallest aspects of a person's life right down to which dress and what color they'll chose for their match banquet with scary accuracy. It's to the point where most people trust the Society so thoroughly that they accept whatever decisions it makes for them without question. People aren't encouraged to think for themselves and have no outlet for any creative energy. Art, music, stories, etc have been reduced to only 100 paintings, 100 poems, 100 stories and 100 songs of the Society's choosing.

In the beginning, Cassia thinks the Society can make no mistakes and is perfect. She doesn't question authority or its decisions. I kind of see Cassia as someone awakening from a fog. The people who live in the Society are like robots who've been programmed throughout their lives. As the story progresses, Cassia slowly starts to grow and think for herself, although she does appear to be easily influenced. She's naive to the extreme, but I think that kind of fits with this story. She's had her whole life plotted out from little on. There were no surprises and now she's being thrown one surprise after another. I look at it from the view point that she has room to grow. A lot of room. I can't wait to see what she's like in Crossed, the second book of the series. She needs to be deprogrammed. 

Ky, is under no delusions. He was born in the Outer Provinces. He understands what the Society is doing and knows what they can do to a person and therefore keeps quiet. To do otherwise would be to face their punishment and for him, being that he's an aberration, it's best to keep under the radar and go unnoticed. His one weakness which could prove his ultimate downfall is Cassia. A girl he's admired and loved from afar for years. For aberrations are not allowed to be in a relationship and when Cassia finally seems to notice him after her match banquet, how can he resist? 

One of the things I loved about the book was the imagery Ms. Condie used. She subtly introduces symbolism through her descriptions of ordinary, yet not so ordinary as we look at them, items. For example, her description of new roses symbolizes what's been done to the people within the Society:
     "Newroses," I tell Xander." You probably have some growing in your yard. We have them in ours."
      I don't tell him that they're not my mother's favorite. She thinks the ones we have in the City in all the gardens and public spaces art too hybridized, too far from their original selves. The oldroses took a lot of care to grow; each blossom was a triumph. But these are hardy, showy, bred for durability.

Additionally, I felt the cottonwood seeds described at the beginning of the book represented the seeds of  doubt being planted. Later, toward the end, I felt they represented Cassia and Ky and others like them who will fight and survive despite the Society's best efforts to stamp them out. A tiny symbol of hope that they will persevere despite the odds:
     'You can't use cottonwood tress for fruit or fuel. And their seeds are a nuisance. They fly far, catch on anything, try to grow everywhere. Weed trees my mother says. Still, she harbors a particular affinity for them because of the seeds, which are small and brown but cloaked in beauty, in these thin white tendrils of cotton. Little cloudy parachutes to slow their fall, to help them fly, to catch the wind and glide them somewhere they might grow.'

Why did the illustrator choose to show Cassia in a glass globe on the cover? Well, I believe it has to do with this verse: 
     'I want to tell her everything but I can't. Not now. I am too fragile. I am trapped in glass and I want to break out and breathe deep but I'm afraid that it will hurt.'

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 Roses. I liked the characters, writing style, and symbolism used. I would have liked to have learned more about the Society and it's workings, but as this is the first book of a series I'm hopeful one of the next books in the series will contain a more in depth look into its inner workings.


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