published by Scholastic, 2010
I picked this book up a few months ago, but was wary to read it because of the mixed reviews I had been reading. Of course, my curiosity wouldn’t allow me to let this one sit on my bookshelf, and I’m glad for it.
Condie’s writing style made for a very easy read. I seriously breezed through this book. The sentences were often short and direct. At first, this bothered me, but I think the writing was appropriate for the setting of the novel, in which everything is controlled and predictable. Speaking of controlled and predictable let me talk about the plot of this novel a second. Yes, the life of Cassia Reyes was quite predictable. Even the big shock that Cassia discovers, really didn’t surprise me. And for that, I would not say this book had a driving plot. Actually, as far as plot goes, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. It’s just too dull.
Now, I could probably go on for a while on all the dullness of this book, but well, that would be just as dull. Let’s just say that Cassia is completely unrelatable, and that her little love triangle is pointless and frustrating. Cassia, who is supposed to be our rebellious teenager, is too terrified to even cause trouble. Sure, she does little things (like kissing a boy who is not her Match) when she thinks no one is looking, but big deal. When it finally comes time for her to do something drastic, like leave her Borough and search for her true love, Condie places conveniences in her path, so Cassia can disappear without a fuss. I found this most disturbing since Cassia’s favorite poem, her little artifact of the old world, states “Do not go gentle.” Except, that’s exactly what Cassia does. Someone please explain this to me because I really thought our heroine would put up more of a fight.
However, despite all of my issues with the characters and plot of this novel, there is something that made me really glad I read this book. Condie’s novel is driven by thought. There are many abstract ideas that I just loved thinking about in new ways. Condie toys with the ideas freedom, rebellion, and creation. The greatest thing that changed Cassia (and myself in reading it) was the idea of freedom, and the knowledge that man’s greatest freedom is the freedom to create. Isn’t that beautiful? I know these aren’t exactly new ideas, but I’d say Ally Condie is one smart cookie. At least, Matched engaged my philosophy side, which, trust me, doesn’t engage in too much. Seriously, philosophy can make my head spin. I think this is a challenge for all YA authors, to express ideas beyond the story. Condie would have nailed this too had her story been, well, better.
Lastly, Condie wrote something that spoke right to me. On page 236 (if you wanted to look it up) Condie wrote,
“Ky pauses for a moment before he answers, his eyes wide and deep like the oceans in other tales or like the sky in his own. “Even if he didn’t live his story, enough of us have lived lives just like it. So it’s true anyway” (spoken by Ky after Cassia asks if the story of Sisyphus is true).Ky couldn't have said it better. This is the reason I read stories at all, and I suspect that is true for most of you too. No matter if a book is a work of fiction, I'll cry at the sad part and laugh at the funny parts because, to me, it's always real. (Why do you read?)
I give Matched a three out of five foxes. The plot was slow and dull and the characters really didn’t have any spark. It lacked action and the romance could have been spiced up. Condie’s writing style was attractive and even very beautiful at times. Also, the ideas behind the writing were capturing and thought-provoking.