A girl in a green dress stands waiting, her heart pounding. Me.
The screen is dark, and it stays dark.
That can only mean one thing…
“Your match his here this evening,” the hostess says, smiling… “Xander Thomas Carrow.”
Cassia Reyes is 17. It’s time for her to be Matched.
Her Match will be perfect, completing her personality in every way. They will have a wonderful life in optimum health and they’ll always be happy. That’s how the Society works. Everything is perfect.
At the banquet she’s Matched to her childhood friend, Xander. But, later, the system makes a mistake and shows Cassia the face of Ky Markham. The Officials tell her it was just a mistake. Forget it. Xander is her Match. But Cassia can’t forget it.
What if Society isn’t perfect? What if Cassia wants to choose who she loves…not have it chosen for her?
“Cassia Reyes, the Society is pleased to present you with your match.”
My heart stops, and I can’t believe what I see. A face comes back into view on the port in front of me.
It is not Xander.
In My Opinion…
Author: Ally Condie
Reccomended Ages: 14 and over
This was my next pick from the list “Series-to-read-if-you-loved-the-Hunger-Games”. I had a sneak peak before I borrowed it from the library. And…first-person. Present tense. Dystopian world. Oh delicious, I thought. But I did know it was a romance (it is called Matched after all), so I was a little cautious and ready to be sceptical. Maybe I was too sceptical. Maybe I expected too much. But Matched fell short. Very short.
The book is typical. Everything about it screams run-of-the-mill-dystopian and it doesn’t have that “one” special twist that makes the world special and unique. While I read, I kept thinking…The Giver, The Hunger Games, a bit of Divergent here. Maybe I’ve just read too many dystopian novels. But I felt, in all the other books I’ve read in this genre, that they each had that “special twist” that marked and defined them and set the whole feel and scene for rest of the series. Matched missed that.
The world, while it doesn’t have the startling or contrasting element, is well crafted and written. The detail is definite, but not over-done (something I highly applaud). The author doesn’t spend pages and pages describing or explaining anything—she just presents it to us. That I love. I hate being bogged down by explanations when, with a little detail and lots of showing (not telling), we can see the world perfectly. The Society is well presented. Very tight. Very sure exact. But I was a little disappointed that our view of the world was so limited. I wanted to see more! But our protagonist’s neighbourhood and work place was about as much as we explored. The “world” doesn’t seem big enough to me.
I have to admit, when I read I do have high expectations for characters. But, no matter what we like to think, a book balances on the back of its characters. If the characters are flat…the book is flat. Unfortunately, Matched didn’t have a strong protagonist. As is the current trend, we have a female main character. Cassia Reyes. As is another current trend, she’s very weak, unsure and has no definite opinions or thoughts. Until suddenly—BAM!—in the middle of everything she finds a voice and an unbendable will and goes out to defy the world. To me, that’s not catchy at all.
The other two sides to our “love triangle” are Xander Carrow and Ky Markham. Xander is the “correct Match” for Cassia, and, if there hadn’t been a “glitch” in the system, she would never have seen Ky Markham’s face. Cassia wouldn’t even care about Ky. But there was a glitch. Cassia did see Ky. And now she’s curious about him. Xander and Ky are well-written characters. Xander is strong and dashing and wonderful. Ky is mysterious and cut-off and quiet. Xander is Cassia’s childhood friend and no one knows much about Ky. I liked Xander’s character, though he was presented almost too good and fulfilling and caring. Ky, of course, is the natural favourite because we, as the readers, don’t know anything about him and he’s obviously bursting with secrets. We get his story in tantalizing scraps. Unfortunately, during the middle of the book Xander fades for a while (which I find totally unrealistic) and Ky suddenly becomes intently keen on loving Cassia. I thought the changeover was a bit rough and sudden. But maybe Ky’s more of an instantaneous person than I gave him credit for. I felt both the boys could have had stronger and more believable and relatable characters. In the end I didn’t feel particularly for either of them. Or for Cassia.
The other characters (including Cassia’s little brother, Bram, her parents, her grandfather, the Officials and various friends) are fine, though a little predictable. I really liked her grandfather. I thought the author presented him perfectly. We only had a limited time with him, but we loved him, was intrigued by him, and were sad when he dies. The Officials weren’t scary. Or cold. Pity. Cassia’s parents were strangely unconnected to her life and feelings, though she didn’t seem to be hiding anything from them. Only Bram (Cassia’s little brother) stood out. Excellently portrayed character!
The romance wasn’t over-done (the peak of the “mushiness” being a few kisses without much detail) and I was relieved about that. Everything came across tastefully, well-written and planned, without excess spoiling. There’s no violence in this book. There are no “scary” moments. Again, being dystopian, there are corrupt government themes, no freedom, an intended “perfect world”, and the need to fight for what is right. I wouldn’t recommend the book for young teens, just because they’d miss the depth of the themes. This book, like the others in its genre, is intended to make you think, and that’s one of the reasons I like this genre so much. Books that make you think are good books to have around.
The plot, while I felt it had a few holes, didn’t drag. But there were no high-adrenaline action scenes or nail-biting cliff-hangers. We spend a lot of time in Cassia’s head with her thoughts. That’s not boring. But a few faster scenes would have improved everything immensely. The ending didn’t hook me or leave me wishing for the next one or crying because of the unfairness of it all. It left me feeling “Well, we saw that coming”. I was interested to know there’s more in this series, but I can’t honestly say I’m dying for the next book. I’m not. It didn’t capture my fancy.
Matched is well written in a clearly portrayed world, but it lacks the kick that books in its genre should have.