‘Matched’ by Ally Condie

September 22, 2015 at 12:56 am 7 comments

41-NcdNDtQL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Let’s start at the beginning. Matched is the story of a 17-year-old girl named…crap. What is her name?

Okay. Matched is the story of a teenaged girl named Cassia Reyes, who lives in a dystopian future nation called The Society. We are, apparently, meant to believe that this is as a result of some kind of war, that The Society was created as a place where people can live peacefully and contentedly, without violence, doubt or really any unhappiness or injury until the age of 80, when they die. Yes, it is ripped off from The Giver (a far superior work, but I digress).

The story starts on the night of Cassia’s Matching Banquet, a night sort of like a prom where she’ll find out who she is going to marry. Oddly, teenagers have to decide at this age whether or not they want to spend their lives with someone at all. But the point is, Cassia’s personal information has been run through some sort of database along with the personal information for a bunch of other people her exact age and she’s been matched with — oh boy! — her childhood best friend.

But wait. When she goes to insert a MicroCard into her Port to reveal more information about her Match, a different face appears. Could The Society have made a mistake?

Yes. They could have. But not one bigger than the mistake I made in trying to listen to this book. Cassia sees the face of Ky Markham, one of her neighbors who actually never could have been in the matching pool at all, for reasons too boring to explain. There’s a lot of daydreaming, a lot of florid language about young love and romance and Before. There’s a lot of why and never and swearing. There’s a lot of hormonal swooning.

And somehow, we’re expected to believe that this 17-year-old boy is apparently an expert in forbidden poetry. And that any of these people seem at all realistic. Or human. Or that people would be super-complacent about letting the government take over everything from garbage collection (via incinerators), collection of personal property, and food (really? Government cheese?) but still be so passive-aggressively rebellious. I can’t believe that Cassia, Ky and Cassia’s parents are special, really — so why hasn’t the Society fallen apart by now?

I’m also sort of underwhelmed by the fact that this passes the Bechdel test in a way that I find insipid and boring. Cassia talks to her mom; she talks to her friend M. Em? I listened to the audiobook, sorry. Anyway, they talk. And when Cassia talks to her mom, they only briefly talk about boys. But all of the conversations eventually turn back to boys or Matching or something, at the end of the day. And at one crucial moment when Cassia can help her friend, the boys swoop in and save the day. I can’t help but find it a little sweet, honestly, that the boys are so concerned for this other girl, but it does make me mad that Cassia just freezes and watches. Katniss would have kicked some butt.

I have a number of other questions, but they can be summed up in the following manner:

  • How did Ky learn to write?
  • What kind of name is Ky?
  • How does he do all of this writing with his adoptive parents in the house?
  • There not security cameras installed in all of the houses? Because if I was running an oppressive society, you had better believe I would put security cameras in these houses.
  • Why is Ally Condie so against antidepressants? This is seriously disturbing, side note.
  • Why does Ky act like he’s 30? Or 35? Do teenage boys caress girls’ faces? Do girls let this happen? Do they find it sexy?
  • Why does the Society allow treadmills at all?
  • Why is Ky so obsessed with Cassia when she has no distinguishing traits?
  • How does anyone manage to finish this book?
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Entry filed under: Children and Young Adult. Tags: , , , .

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Corey  |  September 22, 2015 at 10:17 am

    Uggghhhh. This sounds like my book-nightmare.

    Reply
    • 2. Kate  |  September 22, 2015 at 11:37 am

      It was like reading a book-length version of the @DystopianYA Twitter feed.

      Reply
      • 3. Corey  |  September 22, 2015 at 12:04 pm

        Oh my gosh, I’d never seen that before. Amazing! (And perhaps inspirational for Ally Condie.)

        Reply
        • 4. Kate  |  September 22, 2015 at 12:50 pm

          Probably. There’s always a boy with dark hair and a boy with light hair; have you noticed this? The “right” one for the heroine varies, but geez.

        • 5. Corey  |  September 23, 2015 at 11:27 am

          Well, that’s the only meaningful way to differentiate between any two people, so I’m not sure what else you expect an author to do. :P

        • 6. Kate  |  September 23, 2015 at 1:39 pm

          OMG, you are so right. I did forget about that. I was totally being unfair.

          You can also usually guess which one the heroine will end up with based on whether or not the young man’s eye color is mentioned or not. Ky has blue eyes. Xander…not sure.

  • […] should not be news at this point that I am open to reading YA fiction. Twilight, Matched, Uglies, The Selection, The Hunger Games, etc., all YA fiction with sort of interesting premises […]

    Reply

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