Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Matched by Ally Condie

4 stars

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 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.

I came into this book not having very high expectations. Since I frequent Goodreads, I read up on this book quite a bit in deciding which of my 3 new books to read first. When a lot of different reviews say the same thing, I worry.

However, Matched was not as horrible as I had worried it would be. It certainly wasn’t the next Hunger Games, as it was boasted to be on the back of the book, but it was a fairly solid novel all the same.

After I had read the book, I went back to the reviews again, and I found myself amused. Many of them had to do with how unbelievable Cassia’s world is. While it is true that Condie’s word building could have been better—much better in places—I don’t believe she deserves entirely all the flak. Matched is a dystopian book. To me, the entire idea of a dystopian book is to shock the reader with how unreal it seems. We are supposed to wonder how the citizens can put up with the conditions and lies that the usually totalitarian government is forcing on the citizens. That’s the whole point of these books: the system needs to change. Sometimes it seems that the more outrageous the scenario, the better the book goes along. After all, how believable is a world in which kids as young as 12 need to be trained to play a game to the death? Not very, but don’t tell Hunger Games fans that. Condie’s fault lies not in creating an unbelievable world, but not explaining her world well.

I will give Condie props for handling her romance pretty well. The book is described to have a love triangle, which I think is rather false, because Cassia was never really in love with Xander though he was in love with her. It was always very clear that she was going to choose Ky. The romance between Ky and Cassia was very real, and didn’t happen in an instance, which gives Condie instant points from me. The romance is the definite center of this book.

All in all, I did enjoy Matched. To enjoy the book yourself, however, you have to be prepared to let go. If you are a reader who needs to understand every facet of the world around the characters, this probably isn’t for you because you will focus on all the holes, not the story. However, if you can let yourself just sink into the story and go along for the ride, I think you’ll enjoy it—especially if romance heavy books are something you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy teen romance, I’ll admit you’ll want to stay far away. As I said, romance is such the center of this book that perhaps the world building wasn’t even as focused on as that. After I stopped caring about the world and the lack thereof or ineffective description of why the world is the way it is, I certainly did enjoy it myself. Despite the reviews of the second book, Crossed, I am eager to pick it up. Condie has a chance to do some great things with the world that she’s created, and Matched was good enough that I’m willing to give her the chance to win me over again.

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