Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Book Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Pros: interesting protagonist

Cons: nothing new or special about this dystopian world, best suited for the target YA audience

For Parents: no objectionable content

Reading this book has shown me that I need to take a break from dystopian fiction.  While the story was interesting, it's a teen book that adults won't enjoy as much as the target audience.  I'm not a big fan of love triangles or of societies that have somewhat inexplicable rules, and this book deals heavily with both.

It's Cassia's 17th birthday and the day of her Match Banquet, when she'll learn who the Society believes will be her perfect (and only possible) match.  But after the banquet, when she looks at the data chip that gives her more information about this person, she's surprised to see a second face.  Rather than accept that the second face was a mistake and move on with her match, she becomes obsessed with this second person and starts questioning the way their society is run.

For newcomers to dystopian fiction who enjoy a bit of romance, this will be a fun read.  For people who have read several dystopian worlds already, this one doesn't add anything particularly new or shocking.  People have few choices in their lives, matches are decided for couples and lifespan is controlled.

Cassie is an interesting character, but as an adult there were times when I wondered at her choices.  Her Official with regards to the matching warns her about her obsession with this second man, giving her some really good advice (from an adult point of view).  I can understand that Cassie wouldn't think it's good advice, but as an adult reading the book it was hard to sympathize with Cassie's need to make her life harder.  She risks a happy future with a man who has some amazing qualities and whom she loves and respects in order to get closer to a man whom she barely knows (and while he also has good qualities, it's a choice that will ultimately bring her suffering given their society).

****Spoiler Area****

One thing that annoyed me greatly about the book was that Cassie's Official gives her the glance of a second boy as an experiment.  I couldn't understand what experiment would be so important that she purposely arranged to have Cassie question their world.  Cassie is perfectly happy with the way things are.  Why change that?  It reminds me of 1984 where people are encouraged to break the rules so that they can have the desire to break rules tortured out of them by the state.  But the protagonist of that book didn't start out wanting to break the rules and so shouldn't have needed to be taught to not break them.  Cassie's the same.  The experiment simply caused her to question things about a world she thought was otherwise perfect.  And yes, her grandfather's actions before dying and some other events may have caused her to question things, but that's no excuse for an Official to purposely give her reasons to rebel.

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