Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Allie Condie
Matched, Book 1

Over the past four generations, the Society has perfected life.  They can figure out all the details of a person's future, from what career they would excel at to where they should live to whom they should marry--even when they should die.  At Cassia's Match ceremony, when the Society tells her that Xander is her ideal mate, she's thrilled.  He's been her best friend her entire life, and she never dreamed she could be so lucky.  Until another face pops up on her info chip--that of Ky Markham, Aberration.  As Cassia spends more time with Ky, wondering what could have been, she begins to realize that life in the Society isn't as idyllic as she always thought, and that maybe having someone else make all her choices for her isn't what she really wanted.

Instead of a post-Apocalyptic society like a lot of recent YA dystopian novels, Matched presented one more like The Giver, where the protagonist grows discontented with a heavily regulated "utopia."  It was certainly interesting from a philosophical standpoint, though it didn't delve as much into the issue of freedom v. security as much as it might have.  I also found it a little difficult to believe how compliant people were with the Society's rules--have you ever seen the amount of variation in appearance even in places with uniforms?  Even in the military, for example, where people sign up knowing they'll have to conform to a stringent standard of appearance, you get flashes of individuality like tattoos.  It's hard to picture so many people who didn't volunteer for such a thing follow the Society's rules so diligently.

I did like the characters reasonably well, although they sometimes seemed a bit shallow and naive.  Once again, I couldn't credit the lack of questions regarding the Society from practically everyone.  Even Cassia only starts asking questions when Ky comes up on her chip thingy.

Even so, I enjoyed Matched.  The pacing is decent, if a little slow at times, the story is interesting, and the book ends on enough of a question to make me want to keep reading. 

Characters: 3 cupcakes
Plot: 3 cupcakes
Style: 3 cupcakes
Overall: 3 cupcakes


  1. Great review, Kate. I liked this book alot and am really looking forward to Crossed.

    With your point regarding conformity, did you feel the same way about Hunger Games, where the population at large generally does not question the way of things? Comparing a society that has been evolving in this manner for, potentially hundreds of years, to the conformity dictated by organizations like the U.S. military is an interesting approach, but keep in mind that these volunteers were not raised in a society that values conformity but instead reveres individuality ;)

    At any rate, this is a pretty common theme in classic dystopian stories i.e. Brave New World, Farenheit 451, and 1984, where there is some fringe element of rebellion, but for the most part our protagonist is a horse of a different color from the general populous.

  2. Hi Chris!

    I actually saw Hunger Games as being very different from Matched in that the majority of the population would have changed things. They refrained from acting out of fear, not contentment. Maybe if Katniss had come from the Capitol or one of the wealthy districts it would have been different, but even then I wouldn't say that they have that much in common. The Society in Matched is far more austere than the Capitol in the Hunger Games, where the government uses decadence to distract people from the horror of what's really happening in the rest of Panem.

    What I found less than credible about Matched was that people could be placated without the "bread and circus" distractions. Despite an extremely limited culture and few forms of individual expression, the impression I got was that virtually everyone was content with their lives, at least in the central provinces.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, because it's been a while since I read any of the other books you mentioned, but as far as I remember, the governments in BNW, F451, and 1984 all had fairly scary means of enforcing their will on dissenters. I guess the Aberrations/Anomalies could have been that in Matched, and maybe I just underestimated the scare factor.

    But anyway, I still enjoyed Matched and I'm looking forward to Crossed as well. :)

  3. I would agree with you that all the governments in the books I mentioned were more portrayed in a more oppressive light, but that is more a function of the time period in which they were written AND that authors back then wrote their books as one offs, requiring more extreme approaches so that the stories could be conveyed in less space. Certainly, there is very little discontentment or fear in BNW where society was genetically engineered and the anomolies were essentially exiled.

    Another point about classic dystopian books is that they are generally written in the third person (all of the three I mentioned are) which drastically changes the impressions of the reader. If we were reading Matched third person, the reader could be exposed to a broader view of how the government operates and thus would feel the oppression differently.

    In Matched, we have a first person perspective wherein our protagonist has been brain washed her entirely life about how things "should" be and we see her slowly become aware of the "evils" of the society in which she lives. Basically, it's not nearly as in your face. Even so, throughout Matched, we see the whispers of something very scary. And by the end we see that not all is what our protagonist thought it was as war is being waged on the boarders possibly by the disedents and rebels you would expect to see more of. I believe this is slated to be a trilogy, and in the upcoming books, I think you are going to see more of the discontent that you expected to see in the first.

    You hit the nail on the head when you said "if katniss had come from the capitol or one of the wealthy districts" because then like our protagonist in Matched, she would have been apart of the contented class. The reason I pointed out Hunger Games as a comparison is that prior to Katnis the citizenry was resigned to their lots in life (with the possible exception of District 13). A spark was needed to spur the population into action.

    This is a fantastic subject for live book discussion. It's much more difficult to do in text like this, but it's fun. You have some great thoughts on the subject ;)


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