Monday, July 11, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

I actually read this book awhile ago, right when it came out last year. There was a lot of hype surrounding its deal (big-time agent and selling price), comparisons to other great dystopians (Hunger Games and The Giver), and general excitement for the author Ally Condie (by all accounts a sweet girl from Utah who deserved the success).

I jumped on the bandwagon and went right out and bought it at B&N the week of its release. And here's what I learned:

I learned that I really adore the use of poetry in fiction. Condie used the Dylan Thomas’ classic poem, “Do Not Go Gentle," as a source of insight and inspiration for the protag Cassia. In a world where poetry is essentially banned, this secret poem she holds hidden, creates a powerful strength to her. And for the reader, a clever theme that keeps us connected to the protag's struggle for freedom.

I learned about tone. Every book has a tone: light and fluffy, deep and literary, comic and snarky, etc. This book's tone is sinister and creepy to me. Condie created a seemingly "perfect" world, where everyone is given exactly what is needed. No extreme luxuries, no extreme pain. A society where the officials "take care" of everyone, which is code for "controlling" everyone. Underneath the happy first scenes where Cassia learns of her new life and being "matched" with her best friend, there is an unsettling feeling that its not true happiness. A feeling of sadness and concern that anyone would have the power to control another's whole life.

I learned that questioning big ideas is a great tool to get the reader involved and invested in the story. In this case: how much control should the government have? How much freedom should the general population have? Can there ever be a "perfect" balance of the two? Though this is a dystopian, an unfamiliar world that we discover as we go, so much feels familiar. Our society grapples with these big ideas every day, and will continue to do so. This book feels like a love story for most of the time, which I love, but it also feels like a philosophical treatise. Its a fun read..but a deep read too. And I really like that.

Condie's second book in her trilogy, CROSSED, will be released November 2011. I can't wait.

12 comments:

  1. I cant wait for Crossed to come out too. What a good book.

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  2. I swear her entire book was poetry! And it made me think how one man's utopia is another man's distopia. ESPECIALLY whenever it is extreme in the total control / no control departments. I can't wait for the next book, either!

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  3. I've seen this at B&N and I've been truly tempted, but now I may just have to splurge for it on my nook. I tried to put it on hold at the library (which I know would take forever but I've got a long list to keep me busy) and found out I'm still banned because of my over-dues. Being a bad girl isn't always fun, is it?

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  4. Laura-I knew you would have already read this. You are a reading phene.
    Pegs-you are right on.
    Kim-Banned??? Naughty. And hilarious.

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  5. Loving the cover as well, and thanks again for another good recommend, shall add to my list!

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  6. Jessie, I really loved your review, and I love the feel of your blog too! I actually have this book in my pile of books to read, but haven't gotten to it yet, but you just helped push it to the top of my list! I really enjoy all the great variety of ya fiction out there right now, don't you??

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  7. Is The Giver similar to Matched? It's been a while since I read The Giver, but the story of it came back to me when you were describing this one. I'll have to check this book out.

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  8. This one has been on my TBR list for a while. I really need to read it.

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  9. I enjoyed Matched- I think the strongest element in that book was the character development. The plot itself was kind of flat but my investment in the characters is what had me wondering about them long after I put it down.

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  10. Great review - I liked Matched too. Can't wait to read Crossed!

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  11. Awesome review, these sounds like good reads, thanks for sharing.

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