Thursday, December 16, 2010

Matched by Ally Condie

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Blurbed by Melina Marchetta: 'Beautifully written with characters that stayed with me long after the final page,' and with it's stunning cover, Matched is the shiny new temptation of the season.

Okay - so I was completely PUMPED about it. I am an unashamed fan of a good love triangle - tension! drama! heart-ache-y choices! swooning! Also - a dystopian, well, it's a fascinating setting to explore all kinds of themes and deliver some twisted showdowns.

So...

Matched begins with the Matching Banquet, on Cassia's 17th birthday, where Cassia is Matched by the Society to her long time best friend, Xander. She's thrilled, but then a glitch causes things to unravel and Cassia starts questioning more than just her match... Oooh - something's going to go down...

Kind of. 

Because the pacing is a slow. It's a deliberate build, more introspective than action. However, I found it compulsively readable. I casually sailed through the first 2/3's and then the final third really comes into it's own. By then it felt like the story was into it's own completely addictive groove and by the time it ended, I was ready to pick up the next installment (Ah, Dec 2011, it's a while away...).

Rather than it being gritty with undertones of foreboding - it is more laying the ground work for a future rebellion and show-down - taking Cassia from a place of acceptance of the Society, to questioning and ultimately finding a strength inside of her that will alter the course of her life. It's very much a coming of age novel set in a manufactured world.

Condie has laid all the groundwork for some thrilling discoveries, impossible choices and deadly stakes. (re: thrilling discoveries, impossible choice and deadly stakes - it was kind of lacking in this title - but I'm thinking they're coming in the next, yeah?)

Xander and Ky are both stand-out characters (although neither had me swooning - what was with that? Two guys and neither one did anything for me?) However, I so appreciated the restraint Condie showed in fashioning the love triangle aspect - it does not tread the well worn path of YA melodrama (although I'm hoping she'll amp it up a bit in the sequels in terms of choices and stakes).

The prose. Some have called it beautiful. It does read effortlessly - and there's a few instances of lovely thoughtful introspection and nice phrases. There's also a lot of prose. As in, occasionally, it feels overwritten - I sometimes felt that urge to skim over redundant paragraphs.

Recommended: This is right in the pocket of the YA market and all my teen readers out there (love you guys!) are sure to enjoy and devour it and maybe even find it earning a starred place on your favourites shelf. It's an entry level novel into dystopian worlds, perfectly suitable for mature middle grade readers. It's a squeaky clean read.

As for adult readers who are still digging the YA scene, it's enjoyable, sure, and perfect for a rainy-day comfort read. As Alexa saidA word of warning though, if you are looking for a book to fill the void left by the end of The Hunger Games, this may not be for you, despite the dystopian tag.  Matched is more reminiscent of the coming of age/romance you might expect from Sarah Dessen. It is quiet, and it is beautiful, and it is well worth reading.  (and I get what she means) - which worked okay for me as I love that Sarah Dessen vibe.

I'm thinking that it will be a stand-out series in popularity - and I'm happily recommending it to a few teens I think will really get into it.

Matched @ goodreads
Official Website
Get Matched (so, I got matched to my bro-in-law. Um, awkward... :)

Casting the Characters. Here's Ally Condie's casting choices (who she thinks would be a good match ;) :
You're welcome :)
Chord Overstreet as Xander

Emma stone as Cassia

Christian Cooke as Ky


Thank you to the lovely people @ Penguin Australia for sending me this review copy

21 comments:

  1. ARGH! I love that you loved it :)
    I can't wait for 'Crossed' in 2011.

    ReplyDelete
  2. While I really like Matched, after reading Delirium, which has some similarities to Matched I would have to day hands down that Delirium is the better of the two. I am looking forward to the next book though as I am wondering what will happen next. Great review as always!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm getting this for Xmas. I've heard some mixed reviews so I'm trying to keep my expectations on the down low. We'll see.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great review! It is nice to know what to expect especially since there is a lot of dystopia novels coming out soon. I think it is finding the right fit for you.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh Nomes, I'm SO glad someone else shared my reaction to Matched! I too felt a little 'meh'-ed out by its approach. It was sort-of marketed as a slap-bang-in-your-face dystopian, but I kept wanting MORE about the dystopian and LESS about Cassia making ga-ga eyes at Ky. WE GET IT. YOU WANT TO HOLD HIS HAND.

    :D

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for the honest review, Nomes! After all the reviews I have read comparing it to The Giver , I don't feel like reading the book anymore. Unfortunately I bought the book and now its just lying on my shelf..

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great review, very through and honest and you quoted me I feel special :)

    Having talked to quite a few people now I think reactions to this book are quite heavily influenced by whether you have read The Giver or not. I now really want to read it. I also MUST read Across the Universe I was desperate for it and now I have bumped it down my list twice. Did you review it yet? Maybe I missed it.

    Great casting too, I like.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm reading similar views of this, it's good but not blow your mind good. I've got a copy and I suppose will go into it not expecting too much and might be pleasantly suprised :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sounds brilliant. I love that you mentioned it can appeal to males too. Great review and I love your new layout :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Really fabulous and well balanced review, I enjoyed reading both the things you liked and didn't like about it. I adored this one, but it's fun to see how we all react to the same book! I'm definitely looking forward to book 2:)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Fab review! I have this one on my list and it's nice to know what to expect from it. I think your likening it to Sarah Dessen will tell me exactly what to think going in. Seven figure deal?? Really? Wow.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I was a bit on the fence about Matched but I might give it a try now. I haven't read anything dystopian(ish)for ages! Thanks for the review.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I just finished this book, and I enjoyed your review.

    I am on the fence about it. I actually enjoyed the world building. I also agree with you that neither of the guys made me swoon.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Agreed. It was a very good read but yes, pacing was off and the grit just wasn't there. I too am looking forward to the sequel and hoping for something more. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Loving this review, especially the in-depthness.

    Overwritten? Not for my tastes, but I see what you mean. I prefer to think of it as poetic. :D I also think I've gorged myself on dystopia this year and it was good to read something set in the future that didn't have that starkness to the writing that a lot of dystopia does. (I like the starkness, don't get me wrong, but you can have too much of a good thing).

    I definitely felt the similarity with The Giver, though, and also 1984 in some ways. That said, I have no idea where the sequel's going to go, which is interesting in itself.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks so much for such a thoughtful review. I do want to read this but sometimes I kind of distrust the hype, I'm an older reader (at 15 days shy of 27) so yeah, sometimes I don't get some stuff or don't find characters as appealing as younger readers might, thanks for addressing that stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Totally lovin your review, I had really, really high hopes for this one so I'm glad you've given me more realistic expectations.

    On a side note I'm halfway through Delirium and it is brilliant, I think you'll find it right up your alley!

    ReplyDelete
  18. i completely agree with absolutely everything you have said here!

    for me: it was totally the last third that had me being like: 'oh my god i think i really like this book'

    i initially put the book down because i just didn't like it. and then my penguin person was like: no no you have to persevere!... and it was totally worth it for me.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is on my shelves so thanks for the heads up on the pacing. Wonderful review!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I just finished Matched.
    LOVED it.
    Oh and I totally love your choices for who should play each character.
    My only feedback on the actors: Ky should be slightly darker.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I just finished Matched and I really liked it; I couldn't put it down.
    Great job with the review. I think it perfectly describes the book.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for the commenty love :)

Stargazing for Beginners by Jenny McLachlan

Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free-spirited mum leaves suddenly to follow up yet anoth...