Thursday, 13 January 2011
Matched by Ally Condie
Published in 2010 by the Penguin Group.
I keep my fingers locked in his as we walk toward the games center. Maybe if I don't let go,it will prove that we are meant to be Matched. That the other face on the screen means nothing; that it was simply a momentary malfunction of the microcard.
Except. The face I saw, the face that was not Xander: I knew him too.
Cassia lives in what appears to be at first a utopian society but you soon realise it is more dystopian as you venture through the chapters. Every decision and detail within Cassia's life is sorted and decided by others. She has no control of anything from what she wears, what she does with her time to whom she falls in love with.
The book begins with Cassia's attending her Match ceremony on her seventeenth birthday. At the ceremony, she gets to see who she will be Matched to; who will be her future husband. The screen shows her a picture of her best friend Xander and Cassia is over the moon to be matched with a boy she has known all her life. After the Match ceremony, she plays her microcard at home, which gives her details of her match. The only trouble is the face on the screen is not Xander's, it belongs to another boy she knows: Ky, an Aberration to society and one destined never to be Matched. This one moment in time changes Cassia's life forever.
This book has been highly anticipated within the blogging world, due to Ally Condie receiving a seven figure amount for the publishing rights. There has been great controversy over the view that the story has been lifted from a book by Lois Lowry called 'The Giver'. Personally I haven't read this book, so I am unable to comment, but I know now I am going to have to order it from the library, just to curb my curiosity.
I found this book to a certain extent an enjoyable read. The characters were believable and well written and the storyline did capture me from page one. What bothered me though was the way this book made me feel. Claustrophobic. The characters have absolutely no control of their lives and as I sat there reading it, I felt like vines were slowly wrapping themselves around my arms and legs to keep me pinned to the sofa. I felt like I needed to escape from the book every so far as I could not cope with the way the characters lived in such controlled environments and seemed happy to exist in them. The society only had one hundred songs that they could listen to, one hundred poems to read and one hundred paintings to look at. No one had the ability to write and no one owned any possessions apart from the uniform they wore. It just seemed like prison to me. Yet everyone just carried on as normal, not really reacting to the situation until the end and then it appeared to me to be a quiet reaction. For Condie's book to make me feel like that, I do have to applaud her writing skills.
This book is written like so many YA lately in the present tense, which for some books I know it does create an immediate sense of tension. Within this book, I could see no reason why it was used, other than to fit the latest trends as this book is far from fast paced and dramatic. This book is definitely a slow burner, but it suits the story completely as the society depicted within the book would never lash out or pick up speed.
The whole world built by Condie was realistic, yet suffocating. She has created a world that is believable enough to be frightening. I will follow the rest of the series with trepidation.