Monday, January 7, 2013

[Book Review] Matched by Ally Condie

Summary (from Amazon):
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 should start off by saying that I almost didn’t read this book. Just a couple of months ago at Austin Teen Book Festival, I sat down in a panel where Ally Condie was speaking. When I hear that her book was dystopia, I immediately didn’t want to read it. Due to my past history with dystopia books, I was sure that the genre wasn’t for me. However, I have to admit the plot of the story, arranged marriage in the prom night format definitely had me second guessing my decision. Due to the long signing line, I didn’t end up getting the books. Fast forward a couple of months, I find out she’s coming to Houston where I live to my favorite book store (Blue Willow Bookshop). I took a further look into the books and researched a little. Barnes and Nobel had the first couple of chapters online. I read them and well, let’s just I ordered the three books just minutes afterward.

I almost made the mistake of dismissing an entire genre because just a few books I read previously. Never judge a book by the cover? Never judge a genre just cause some other books sucks. Just reading this first book in this series, I’ve decided to give dystopian books a second chance.

Plot: The plot of this story is unique. While the arranged marriage piece is not something unfamiliar to the reading crowd, it’s the prom like dress up ritual & its publication that is pretty drawing. They go to this, let’s call it a party, and find out who they will be matched with. As always, things go wrong. Mistakes are committed. New relationships are made. Being apart of a series, it ends with unsettled things.     

Characters: A big part of what makes the characters who they are, is the environment they are in. Many times while reading a book, I’ll feel like there’s something off with the character. Then I have to remind myself that these are characters that have gone through different circumstances than I am used to. The same happened while I was reading Matched. These characters are living in a whole different world than the world we know. So, when Cassia makes one decision that I don’t exactly agree with, I’d get angry. But anger, frustration, happiness, jealousy, etc. all of these are signs to let a reader know that what they’d reading is good. 

Relationships: Although there wasn’t a lot of Cassia & Em moments, I liked where their friendship was. Yes, there are secrets between the friendship, but overall I could see how much they really cared for each other. I would love to see some flashbacks between Cassia and Xander as friends before they were matched. I feel like it’s only fair considering readers got to read about Cassia and Ky friendship growth.    

Romance: Like I said, I wasn’t always on board with the decisions Cassia was making. Heck, I’m not even sure if I’m Team Xander or Team Ky at this point. Ally Condie has written both romances in their own unique way. One being familiar. The other mysterious. Cassia could end up with either of the guys at the end of the series and I could see myself being happy with it.  

Writing: I loved Ally Condie’s way of breaking up the chapters. Being that I spend a lot of my reading time at night, I’m always looking for a good stopping point. The end of a chapter or the end of this section. I couldn’t do that with this series because every place that I stopped at, left me wanting more.   

Overall it was a good book. I give Matched by Ally Condie 4 out of 5 stars. 

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