Author: Ally Condie
Publication Date: 11/30/10
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Blurb (GR): 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 with complete certainty that 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.
First thing first. I think Ally Condie owes at least half of her seven-figure paycheck to Lois Lowry. The entire dystopian world is lifted directly from Lowry's The Giver. Almost everything interesting in Matched is very familiar - the idea of highly controlled Society (the Community in The Giver), the prearranged Matches, uniform clothing, the pills suppressing emotions, predetermination of everyone's life course, euthanized elderly, regulated personal possessions, the precision of the language, the family structure. The list goes on and on... What Condie adds of her own is too often doesn't make much sense - people are not allowed/can't write, but they know how to read and operate computers; Matches and procreation are controlled but teens can still snog around a bit; and what is the sorting job all about, I still have no idea. I am not the biggest fan of The Giver our there, but that novel had a horrifying, structured, world hiding behind its simplistic language. What hides behind the words of Matched is sheer emptiness. And boredom and unoriginality.
If all "borrowed" dystopian ideas are stripped away, what is left is a tepid, G-rated teen romance affair with an obligatory love triangle and magical love connections. Even the male love interests are the same old tired cliches - a sweet and loyal best friend type and a mysterious, hurt, emo type quoting poetry. Yawn! Yawn! Yawn!
Ally Condie's writing is serviceable enough. So are the characters. No male character requires a restraining order against him, no female - a head check for putting up with abusive crap. But is this (and a pretty cover) really a recipe for success these days? There is nothing in this novel to get excited over. There is no urgency to Condie's writing, no passion. Just dull characters, dull relationships, dull conflicts, dull conversations...
I can't whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone, it simply doesn't offer anything new or noteworthy. But some fans of lukewarm-romance-driven stories like Birthmarked or Beautiful Creatures might enjoy it I suppose.