Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton, 2010
Page count: 366
Source: my library
Star rating: 5 out of 5
Wow, there’s so much to say about this book! First, a brief synopsis. Cassia and her family are part of the Society, a far-in-the-future country made up of various provinces. The Society is all about conformity. People’s jobs, where they live, even how many calories they consume in each meal, are all chosen for them. Spouses are chosen, too, in a Matching Banquet. Cassia is turning 17, and her time has come to be Matched with the boy who will become her husband at 21. She is surprised but pleased to see the face that appears on the giant view screen at her Banquet. But the next day, when she looks at the Society’s information about her Match, she sees another face flash on the screen for a brief moment. What follows is a slow, boiling desire for change, for beauty, and for following one’s one wishes for life. Cassia is caught between loving two boys and living in terror of what will happen if the Society finds out.
In general I’m not a fan of dystopian fiction, because I’m not a fan of violence, which most of the genre seems full of. But Matched is different. There’s no “seen” violence, only some implied. I found myself greatly enjoying the world and the story because I wasn’t cringing from all the gore, as I was throughout this book’s most notable comparison, the Hunger Games trilogy. And while I never once believed the love story in those books, I believe it fully in this one and can’t wait to find out what happens next. I was, after all, a total sucker for the Twilight saga. There’s plenty of angsty teenage love there, and here. I can’t get enough.
The classic Dylan Thomas poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night,” features prominently in the book, in a beautiful and heartbreaking way. Condie treats the word “gentle” as “gently,” which is, I suppose, how most people read it. But I was taught in my excellent literary criticism class in college that “gentle” is short for “gentleman,” and was addressed to Thomas’ dying father. That reading makes more sense to me, and I can’t really wrap my head around reading “gentle” as “gently.” I had to set aside my own thoughts about the poem and let myself read it Condie’s way.
I do have a quibble which I find in almost every YA book I read. It doesn’t usually bother me, but it did in this book, probably because of the first person present narrative (which I love): the author, and apparently her editor and copy editors, have a serious problem with subject/verb agreement. A singular subject requires a singular verb! That little problem aside – which was big enough for this grammar nerd to notice it – this is a fantastic book. I’m eager for more.