Saturday, January 1, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

Matched by Ally Condie
For Cassia, nothing is left to chance--not what she will eat, the job she will have, or the man she will marry. In Matched, the Society Officials have determined optimal outcomes for all aspects of daily life, thereby removing the "burden" of choice. When Cassia's best friend is identified as her ideal marriage Match it confirms her belief that Society knows best, until she plugs in her Match microchip and a different boy’s face flashes on the screen. This improbable mistake sets Cassia on a dangerous path to the unthinkable--rebelling against the predetermined life Society has in store for her. As author Ally Condie’s unique dystopian Society takes chilling measures to maintain the status quo, Matched reminds readers that freedom of choice is precious, and not without sacrifice. -- Sera Wilson-
So, I've been chasing and praising this book for around 5 months. My hands have ached to hold this book for so long, that finally getting it in the mail nearly qualified as a religious experience.  Now having devoured the book in 2 sittings, I have to say that the book was less and so much more than I expected.

If comparing it to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (like everyone and their dog has done.) You can almost instantly figure out what separates Katniss and Cassia. In Collin's Hunger Games Katniss, the main character, is aware of the problems and injustices which go on in her society. However is not willing to fight, because she doesn't want to get her family in trouble. Yet in Matched, Cassia is blissfully oblivious to the problems with Society, she fully believes, almost until the end that the Society is doing the best it can for everyone. It's the difference in watching a rebellion spread through a country and watching it spark in a single girl. Both sights are grand and awe-inspiring, but one is simply more moving than the other. This was the only "less" part for me. I kept expecting there to be some great awakening for everyone in Matched, not just in Cassia.

It was extremely interesting to watch Cassia's transformation from the person society needed her to be to the person she wanted to be. Her entire way of thinking, her belief system was almost forcibly taken from her, yet Cassia still manages to come up fighting. Even if the rebellion must go on quietly, behind her eyes.  Cassia's feelings can be a little hard to follow in the book, unless it's a very passionate or emotion-charged scene. Most of the time she is a bit apathetic to what is happening around her. It could be attributed to the "displays of emotion are not encouraged" aspects of the society, but I still think she could have given us a bit more in certain situations.

And now we move to the two love interests, Xander and Ky. I guess it's best to think of them in terms of candle-light versus open flame. (No, not saying which is which) However it's pretty clear who Cassia starts to love and when. Xander is a sort of straight-laced strategist. He's perfectly capable of rebelling when necessary, indisputably brilliant, but he likes having a system and a set of  rules to follow. He's also been in love with his best friend Cassia for years. Ky is...Ky is layers. He blends into the society seamlessly in spite of his status as an "abberation". Preferring to  hide his intelligence and skill from others, no one has ever really tried to know him, including Cassia. Yet he has a whole past, a whole well of emotions that one has ever tried to access before. In short, both love interests are compelling, both are completely loveable, but in so many different ways. I think I fell a little bit in love with both of them by the end of the book. :)

The writing... I'm not entirely sure there is any proper way to address Ally Condie's writing. Well, not any way that would do it justice. There's something about her writing that's akin to reading poetry. All of the words and phrases simply fit perfectly together in order to make the most beautiful language. It's a little bit like reading Maggie Stiefvater's books. Stiefvater focuses more on lyrical sounds and the rhythm of words, but Condie writes like she just breathed the words onto the page, like she created this amazing book in one effortless flow from her fingertips. It's a little bit inspiring.

By the way, I'm taking a moment to fangirl over this cover, because it is beautiful! Even more so in real life. Plus, it is very relevant to the book. The color green has a special significance, along with 2 poems. (Do Not Go Gentle In to That Good Night by Dylan Thomas and Crossing the Bar by Lord Alfred Tennyson)
Overall the book is an absolutely wonderful read. I'll be recommending it to more than a few of my friends later. lol I'm even giving it as a Christmas present. You'll laugh, you'll shake your head, and you may even start asking a few questions of your own.

Teaser line: "-I will whisper the words I have written in his ear, against his lips. And they will change from ash and nothing into flesh and blood."

Happy reading,
-My Summer Girl

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