Thursday, 13 January 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

Pages - 366

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.

14 comments:

  1. Not a book I had heard of, thanks for sharing this with us.

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  2. Claustraphobic is a very good word for it!

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  3. I have been wanting to read this one so long now :) Glad to hear one more awesome review

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  4. I agree about how well-constucted this was, and yes claustrophobic explains it very well. There was a heart that was missing though, for me. I could just as easily read the sequel as not.

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  5. Still very intrigued about this book - thanks for the honest review!

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  6. The fact that it caused such strong emotions in you sure means something. My curiosity is piqued.

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  7. Vivienne, this does sound similar to The Giver in some respects. There's a lack of choice--or at least limited choice--in both books. I wonder if the claustrophobia you felt was intended by the author? Well-written review, as usual.

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  8. I loved the book and couldn't wait to finish it so that I could see what was going to happen. I hadn't thought about the similarities with The Giver (there are quite a few), but the similarities don't bother me because they really so different in style.

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  9. The more I read reviews of this book, the more I kind of think if I buy it, it would be solely for the hype and the very pretty cover.

    Also, what IS with the present tense lately? I feel like it's everywhere whereas it was nowhere before...

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  10. Excellent review. I've never read The Giver either so it shouldn't bother me. Will add this to my ebook list. =)

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  11. I must read this soon. I quite like present tense narration, I agree it gives a sense of immediacy and tension.

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  12. Petty Witter - no problem

    Amanda - thankyou.

    Blodeuedd - the hype got to me first - had to read it.

    Nicole - I wonder if that is what I meant by a slow burner. It didn't get to me. Your right something was missing.

    Mommablogsalot - hope you enjoy it.

    Bermudaonion - my favourite type of book. I love it when it really affects my emotions.

    Suko - I have ordered The Giver from the library so that I can see for myself.

    Alyce - glad to hear you enjoyed it too. I am going to read The Giver soon.

    Naida - thanks

    Aarti - it is really beginning to bug me now. I don't feel that every book needs to be written in this way. I do feel it is a trend rather than a necessity to the writing.

    Kathy - thank you.

    Mummazappa - I like it, but I feel that it is being overused now. This book didn't have that sense of immediacy, it really is a slow burner. I felt the author was just following a trend.

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  13. Not sure I'd like the claustrophobic feeling but I do really want to read this book.

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