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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Review: Matched (Matched #1) by Ally Condie

Publisher: Penguin
Published: November 30, 2010
Pages: 366
Source: Won from Ally Condie (Thank you!)
Rating: 5 STARS

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.

In short: Matched by Ally Condie is a captivating dystopian read due to its impeccable writing and perfectly developed world building.
It seems like everyone was initially in love with Matched before it was released, hyping it up and raving about it, and then at some point people were let down from that high and started to find fault with it. They seemed to be legitimate problems, too, from what I read. However, after having read Matched myself (finally!), I have to say that these faults didn't bother me. The following are, to my eyes, the most common problems that people found with Matched and my reasoning behind why I didn't see them as weaknesses (please allow me this unusual review format):

The pacing is very slow. This is very true. Matched is a quiet novel, one without any intense action or earth-shaking events, that people more inclined towards fast paced novels may find boring. Fortunately for me, I seem to have a very high tolerance for slower paced novels as long as the writing is impeccably done (which is why I also adored Beautiful Creatures and Delirium). I was completely swept away in Ally Condie's writing, always held captivated and interested. The flawless incorporation of poetry and symbolism into the text was genius. Consequently, I wasn't bothered the least bit by the lack of action.

The world building wasn't original. The dystopian world in Matched was derivative of other dystopian novels, particularly The Giver. Lucky for me, I've never read The Giver (The shame! I know, I know. I will read it eventually.). I can't say with complete confidence that Matched had a never-before-seen literary world, but among the sea of dystopians I've read this year, it definitely stands out as being the best described and most intriguing (along with Divergent). I loved reading about Matched's perfect-on-the-surface dystopian world that was slowly revealed to be anything but as Cassia discovers disturbing truths about the Society that she has felt safe in her entire life.

So, there you have it: the reasoning why I loved Matched but can understand why other people didn't. I would love to know in the comments how you felt about Matched and if you had similar thoughts regarding the above common issues.

Other Reviews:
Books: A True Story
She Known As Jess

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  1. I was one of those people that couldn't get into, but like you said, I enjoy fast-paced books (I loved Beautiful Creatures though) and I read The Giver so I didn't real feel wowed by the world.

    I'm glad you enjoyed it though. :)

  2. I still need to read this *flails.
    I love the way you describe the writing style though, I'm all for the descriptive world, all the better for me to imagine!

  3. After I read it I knew I loved it. I mean yeah the pace was slow... but for me the romance is what kept it going. As for the world building, I read The Giver (for school) and I didn't see too much connection. I loved the authors writing style and it really kept me entranced. Great review, I like how you showed how the 'weaknesses' (for some people) are actually, I think, more personal preference :) Thanks for your thoughts, glad to hear you're one of the ones that loved it!

  4. I love Condie's writing style too, but like what you said, the plot is too slow for me.

  5. *GASP* Aylee. Read The Giver. Seriously.

    Anyway, I liked Matched, too! I thought it was written well and the world building was great. The slow pacing was noticeable, but it didn't bother me. :) I've heard terrible things about Crossed, though, so I haven't yet cracked the spine. Hopefully we'll hear your thoughts on the sequel soon!

  6. I haven't read Matched and I keep debating whether I want to read it or not. I'm not a huge dystopian fan to begin with, and when the pacing is slow that makes it even worse for me. On the other hand, I've heard good things about the writing style. I might just give this a try when I have some time to see if I can get into it.

    The Giver is usually assigned in elementary school. I'm surprised you got away with not reading it, Aylee.

  7. Great review. I'm one of those that didn't love it as much as I hoped. It wasn't much the pacing but that I couldn't connect to the main character at all, I found her flat and monotone, her emotions didn't really feel true for me and I had a hard time connecting with her and her decisions. =/

  8. I read and loved Matched. And I didn't find it too similar to The Giver. Great review. Glad to hear you enjoyed it :)

  9. I love the way you set up this review...it makes me reconsider some of the more negative reviews I've read.
    I really need to start this series!

  10. I liked Matched but I didn't love it.
    I think it started a lot more solid than it ended and I sort of started to get distracted mid-way through. I began to wonder more about Cassia's parents and the other guy.

    About the people around her in general, she didn't hold my attention all that much.

    I might still read Crossed but I don't know for sure.

  11. "The flawless incorporation of poetry and symbolism into the text was genius."

    YES! Exactly. I was completely swept away with Matched too! Though, based on some reviews I've read, I'm not in a rush to read Crossed.

    And I'm glad I'm not the only shameface person who has yet to read The Giver.

  12. I really liked Matched although I understand the bad reviews. I didn't think the pacing was slow, but that was because the writing was so easy to read. The funny thing is that apparently Ally had never read The Giver. I never would have guessed that given the similarity.

  13. My favorite thing about Matched was the world building. I haven't read every dystopian novel out there either, but I think the world was unique. Ally Condie said in a lecture that she gave that she wanted some things about the world to be nice, otherwise why would people give in to it? A lot of dystopians focus on dictatorship, but Matched focused on trying to achieve a perfect world and at first glance, it seems like they did. Great review! I'm glad you liked it :)

    Jessica @ Books: A true story

  14. P.E.: Yeah, I can totally get why other people might not like this book, which is why I wrote my review in this fashion. To each his own, I guess!

    Laura: Oh good. I thought I was the last one to read this! Matched is one of the best written books I've read all year.

    Lulu: I really liked the romance too. That, the writing, and the world is what kept me reading despite the slow pace. Some people have said that it's similar to The Giver, others say not so much, it seems. And thanks, I really felt this type of review was the best way to showcase my thoughts, my personal preference for the novel :) Thanks for reading!

    Chel: Yes, I am quite thankful slow pacing has never bothered me too much.

    Lauren: *is ashamed* Glad you agree that the slow pacing didn't hold me back from liking the book because of all the good things Matched had going for it. I've heard not so great things about Crossed either, which makes me sad. I'll still read it, of course, but I'm disappointed because things ended off in a promising and intriguing way at the end of Matched.

    Zahida: Hmm, I think I would still recommend Matched anyway, even if you dislike dystopians and slow pacing. Only if you can find the time though (I wouldn't want you to go out of your way to read it when you have other books that you actually really want to read or need to read). As for The Giver, it was assigned reading in other grade 7 classes but not my own for whatever reason.

    Molly: haha, I'm happy I wasn't the last one to read Matched like I thought I was! I highly recommend Matched if you don't mind slow pacing!

    Cynthia: Yeah, "not finding Cassia relatable/interesting" was another common flaw that I came across while reading reviews for Matched. I guess I assumed the reason she was a bit on the boring side was because that was the way everyone in the Society was, everyone the same, no one really standing out. I'm hoping she'll come into her own as a character in Crossed now that she has more freedom... though I'm worried because the reviews for Crossed haven't been so great.

    Juju: It's interesting that some people seem to think it's very similar to The Giver and others disagree. I guess I'll have to read it for myself to find out!

    Christa: Aw, thanks! I think it's always important to take into account people's personal preferences. What works for one person isn't necessarily going to work for another person. Anyways, I recommend giving Matched a go. You may find it's not for you, but at least you tried!

    Alex: Hmm, I can definitely see why it might not hold someone's attention. I credit me not getting distracted to my high tolerance of books with slow pacing, like I said. I'm interested in learning more about other people besides Cassia, too. And I'm hoping Cassia will become a bit more interesting in Crossed.

    Missie: I'm in no rush to read Crossed either. Such a shame to read so many negative reviews after loving this one so very much. At least I know The Giver has never received a negative review.

    Alison: Aha! So you're one of the people who think The Giver is similar to Matched. Well, I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt if she claims she's never read it before. People always accuse Jo of stealing ideas from others, which I find unfair.

    Jessica: Fascinating! I think Ally did such a good job with her world and I think she absolutely approached it in the proper way. It's not as interesting to me when the dystopian world is clearly bad. The slow reveal as Cassia came to realize that her world wasn't so perfect after all was so well done and amazing to read. Thanks for sharing!

  15. This book has been on my tbr shelf since it came out. I've been debating on reading it. Cause I've read so many mixed reviews - loved it or hated it. I'm glad to hear you liked it. I just finished Divergent. WOW! I've waiting for a dystopian as exciting as The Hunger Games. Don't feel embarrassed...I haven't read The Giver either. But NOW I can't wait to read Matched!

  16. Yay! I absolutely adored this one too:) I haven't read The Giver either, so I couldn't really compare Matched to it at all, so this one felt plenty original to me. I'm usually not overly patient when it comes to slow books, but in this case it worked really well for me and I can't imagine having the same reaction to it if everything happened quickly and there was tons of action. Awesome review Aylee!

  17. Julie: I would encourage you to give it a try for yourself, despite the mixed reviews. Divergent is incredible, I know! And it brings me relief that I am not the last person ever not to have read The Giver.

    Jenny: You know, you're probably right: I wouldn't have liked this one as much if it had been action-packed and fast paced. I think it worked really well as a slower read. A quiet, ordered Society, everyone seemingly happy with life. If anything, I would expect Crossed to have much more action because there appears to be some sort of Revolution forming.

  18. I read this a couple weeks ago. I don't know how I felt about this. I have an ARC of Crossed and I need to read it, but I need to be in the mood. There is something about people not having a choice that doesn't work for me. We'll see.

  19. I like this review format. I still don't think Matched is for me (slow pacing!) but I enjoyed reading about why you liked it.

  20. So glad you loved this one, Aylee! I agree, it was definitely impeccably written :)

  21. I've been on the fence about reading this one, tbh, but mostly because of the characters. I can handle slow pacing so long as I feel it's going somewhere, but I've read from others that the characters weren't strong enough to pull the reader through those slow scenes. What's your take on that?


  22. Sara: I liked the fact that people didn't have a choice (this is why I love dystopians). I love the slow reveal as the MC realizes that life isn't what they seemed and they're missing their freedom. I'm hoping Cassia will truly take advantage of any freedom she gets in Crossed... reviews haven't been too good though which is worrisome.

    Small: Yup, I wouldn't think it would be for you. It's too bad, but I think the pacing is sure to turn off a lot of people from reading it.

    Lea: Glad you liked it too! It wasn't the best written thing I've read this year, but close to it!

    Lori: My feeling was the characters were supposed to be sort of flat and similar because there are limited choices and no freedom of expression in the Matched world. My hope would be that the characters would come into their own more in Crossed... though unfortunately, Crossed has not been getting very good reviews, which is worrisome :S

  23. Hi, I just wanted to let you know that I linked back to your review in my review of Matched. Let me know if that is a problem and I'll take it down! You can see it here.

    PS. I love the title of your blog.

  24. Nope, no problem. Thanks for reposting my link! :)