Friday, February 7, 2014

Review Me Twice: Matched by Ally Condie

We selected this book at the request of our friend Beth, but to be honest, I probably would have chosen it at some point anyway. The covers are eye-catching. Here are the other two in the series:

So they look pretty cool all in a row on the featured table at Barnes & Noble.

Anyway, when I first picked up the book and read the back cover, I literally said out loud: "This is Divergent. This is a Divergent knock-off, with more focus on the love story." Now that I've read it, I would neither agree nor disagree with my first impression based on the summary.

Yes, there's a Society that places people (in school, in jobs, in marriages) and that's the Divergent-y part. Also, the love triangle is sort of Hunger-Games-y if you see Xander as Peeta (the one the government is telling Cassia to love) and Ky as Gale (the one she likely would have been with if the government weren't involved).

One thing I noticed - and I think I really liked - was that this isn't nearly as epic as some books get. At some point, most YA books - especially those with sci-fi elements - break out of a narrow focus (home, the city, whatever) and get really grand. For the most part, Matched takes place in Cassia's geographic/physical comfort zone: her home, her school, her work, her neighborhood... places she knows. There isn't an enormous setting shift like Divergent (to a new faction), Ashes (don't even get me started), Uglies (out of the city and into the Smoke), Starters (into someone else's body)... etc. It's unusual and not every book could pull it off (it could get really boring) but based on the ending, the next book promises to get "out there" and explore new places and be a little more... grand.

Long story short... I liked it. It was a really quick read (every time I set it aside I was surprised at how far I had gotten) and it has good (not great) characters. It's a little redundant (yes, Cassia, we know you're conflicted about that particular thing... do something about it already) but not horribly so.

A few notes on the trilogy as a whole: When I wrote my review above, I had only read the first book. Now I have read all three, and I wanted to mention that it is a consistent trilogy. Sometimes you get a series that makes each book feel like a totally different book. (I think Uglies is like this, personally. Doesn't mean I don't like each book, they're just very different books.) This series feels like each book is an extension of the others. It's like one long book that had to be broken up to avoid the inconvenience of holding an extremely thick book. Some people like that, some people don't... I think it worked, for this story.

Matched is your typical "utopia" (which is secretly a dystopia) about to implode on itself because of course, no society can be a utopia.  The book was enjoyable.  It was a quick read and, for reasons I'm not totally sure about, I wanted to keep reading the book.  Why was I not sure?

Well, to be honest, there's really almost nothing original about this book.  From the second that I cracked it's pages, it was almost a carbon copy of The Giver, if The Giver had a little more Hunger Games type government control about it.  It's all that "no color, not differences, nothing that's not exactly the same and equal" kind of environment, with "if you try and buck the system, we'll kill you" undertones.

The love interest, while predictable, was interesting.  I liked Ky and I liked that he was a little different from everything and he was your person who could potentially change things but didn't.  I felt AWFUL for Xander.  He did nothing but love Cassia and protected her every second of every moment without question and he seemed to get the short end of the stick.

The odd thing about this book (maybe not odd, I don't really know) is that everything was predictable.  I mean, maybe I've just been reading too long, but I saw everything coming from a mile away.  And maybe that was the point (their whole society is based on the idea that people are predictable and will have one probable outcome based on the data previously collected on them.)  It kind of made it... less enjoyable.

Either way, it wasn't a BAD book, but it wasn't one that especially stood out to me either.

1 comment:

  1. I liked this book way more than I expected to. A friend gave it to me to check out, mainly because she had read it, thought I would like it, and wanted to get it off her bookshelf, and it kind of sat around for a while until I got around to feeling like I wanted a light, quick read. Which is exactly what it was, a light, quick read, but I really enjoyed it. I completely agree, Cassy, that when I was reading it I was thinking, "This is like The Giver... and THIS is like The Giver..." but I still found it enjoyable in its own right. Way better than I expected. I plan on picking up the next book, but it didn't grab me in the sense that I couldn't wait to go grab it immediately and see what happened.