Matched Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Another greatly hyped YA dystopia series begins with seventeen year-old Cassia Reyes attending her Match Banquet. A Society tradition that will present her with her predetermined, future husband. When she is Matched with her childhood best-friend Xander, she couldn't be happier, but when she later discovers there could have been another Match, one that was fueled by love and passion, she begins to ask questions of The Society.
I had been looking forward to reading this one for awhile. The cover is beautiful and the idea behind it, being paired up with your perfect Match in every way in a dystopian society based on statistical perfection, was so incredibly appealing. However, the execution left a lot to be desired. One of the most difficult things about novel writing can be the world building. The author must precariously balance her character between the world he/she knows and the change that creates the drama and excitement that will fuel the story. Unfortunately, that is the problem here. Condie spends too much time leading readers through Cassia's familiar daily life, and takes too much time getting to the point. It has been said before, not much happens in this book, at least not until the very end. Some authors can pull it off if their world is absolutely enthralling and it just isn't in this case. The entire world feels numb, with numb characters and numb interactions. I get that The Society has created that sort of world for its inhabitants in order to offer them a better quality of life, however the writing reflects this so much, it makes the experience numb for the reader as well. I could not connect with any of the characters and that is the most important part of a story to me.
The thing Matched does right is the bits of emotion that are apparent begin small and build as the story goes on facillitated by Dylan Thomas' Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. This poem really does represent the spirit of dystopian fiction and the characters who fight back. This was a great inclusion into the story and made for a much more meaningful connection between Cassia and her love interest Ky where there was very little before.Without this poem, and how it defines their relationship, I would have called them another couple doomed by insta-love.
Even though I spent the majority of the book bored out of my mind, there was enough hint of potential to make me interested to see what Condie does with the sequel Crossed. Maybe once Cassia is in a new, more frightening environment, the story will be more compelling. It is just sad that Condie could not pull off one of the most terrifying and intriguing parts of dystopian fiction. The most disturbing thing can be discovering the sinister side of what is supposed to be safe and innocent.
Recommendation: Fans of lighter dystopia and YA fiction may find this enjoyable, but those of us looking for something deeper will get bored easily.