Christina Franke must really love me, because just as I was looking at this next book thinking, “When am I going to have time to read this between puppet shows and slaying dragons!?” She texts me with a “I’ve just read this book, want a review?” I am officially in her debt and am willing to offer her my first born child, as is standard procedure (in fairy tales at least.) So my lovely blog readers, here is a review of Matched by Ally Condie from the practically perfect in every way Christina Franke (who I may or may not be flattering in an attempt to keep the guest reviews coming.)
Life is perfect in the Society. Cassia Reyes is looking forward to the best day of her life so far: her matching day and birthday all in one. In the Society, everyone, except the singles, receives their match at the matching banquet. They all get dressed up, choosing suits and dresses (a far cry from their everyday uniform plainclothes) and going with their family to the fancy banquet hall. Cassia selected a light green dress and was the only girl in her district to do so. Most people are paired with people from one of the many other districts. Cassia is surprised and thrilled to find herself matched to her best friend, the handsome Xander. She loves the Society, Xander and her parents; life really is perfect here. Until she goes home and puts the microcard on Xander (one is given to every matched person, since most people do not know their match) into a viewer and sees a face that is not Xander’s. This face is familiar too. What does it mean?
Matched definitely shares commonalities with Lois Lowry’s The Giver. The Society organizes people into tight-knit family groups, has hazy borders and guarantees long life to a certain point. Within the Society, everyone lives to their 80th birthday, at which point they die, having had a final meal and said goodbye to their closest friends and family. The people are matched up for compatibility, which has led to the elimination of almost all diseases. Food intake is controlled, as is exercise and behavior. Everyone is kept safe from harm.
Also as in The Giver, everyone in the Society has pills they have to take. In Lowry’s story, they had pills to prevent The Stirrings; in Condie’s, everyone has three pills: red, green and blue. The green pill has a calming affect, the blue heals and the red is a mystery to be used only in crisis situations. In Matched too, everyone’s jobs are given to individuals based upon their talents. Here though, they remain in school until the age of seventeen, not twelve as in The Giver. I think Condie actually through in an allusion to The Giver, because Cassia at one point thinks about what it must have been like to be colorblind (the Society bred that out of them long ago); in Lowry’s book, everyone was colorblind.
Condie’s book is not all the same though. The Society feels more realistic than that of The Giver. The most interesting and powerful element of the story is that the society no longer teaches writing, so people are unable to really create and speak for themselves. While I was not entirely blown away Matched, I definitely enjoyed it and hope to see more from Condie in general and this series specifically. Cassia very much feels like a real teen in an odd situation, working through something difficult to contemplate.
Dystopia fans, this one is worth checking out!
See more from Ms. Franke at her site: http://readeroffictions.blogspot.com/