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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.
Basically, this review is a bit of a book bash. So if you loved Matched and can't bear to see it criticised, step away slowly now. I also want to mention, in light of the recent Goodreads and author fiascos, that none of the content in this bad review is intended to offend or criticise the author as a person. Yes, I get very snarky towards the end, but Ally Condie seems like an awesome person and all I'm ranting about here is her book, not her.
Matched was...boring, unrealistic, and tired. There's really no other way I can describe it. I have to say that I was vain enough to actually pick up this book because of the absolutely gorgeous and minimalistic cover, and I have to say that we should give the cover designer at least 40% of the credit for this book, because without that amazing cover, my friends, I would never have fallen into the trap of reading this.
Now, first of all (since I know I won't be able to stop ranting once I start) I'm going to list all the positive things about Matched. First of all, the romance wasn't bad at all, and that's pretty much expected considering romance is all this book is basically about.
Secondly, Ally Condie's writing style is fantastic. I was pretty much sucked into the novel from the first chapter onwards, and I didn't stop (except to roll my eyes once. Or twice. Or maybe three times) once I started. I now understand what YA authors mean when they talk about Young Adult Fiction being more of a style than a genre; there's a very distinctive flavour that most of these books take on.
And now the bad. Cue dramatic music.
I might mention here that the entire freaking story hinges on Cassia seeing Ky's face on the computer once. Yep, that's right. She sees his face once and then she's all like 'OMG! I never realised Ky was so awesomely handsome! Maybe I should start dating him!' It irritated the heck out of me. She's been seeing Ky her whole freaking life. He's not going to become more handsome just because he appeared on her screen.
Secondly, I don't know whether it was just me or if nobody felt the suspense when Cassia got really upset since she didn't know who the baddie who put Ky on her Matched thumb drive was. I don't know why, but I just don't find the idea of someone putting a picture of a boy on my computer even remotely threatening.
And the pills, oh, the pills. I didn't even get why they were so jazzed up. They might have been scary and threatening and suspenseful with the right type of narration, but The Red Pill was mentioned so often I found myself repeatedly smacking myself on the head. And although Cassia can write poetry (wait, or was that Ky?) and sort things until her screen goes blank (which is apparently meant to be a measure of intelligence), she doesn't seem to understand that if the Red Pill was deadly, the Society wouldn't allow people--or teenagers, for that matter--to carry them around.
Finally, this book is not a freaking dystopian. Yes, you guys, I can hear you telling me about the totalitarian government and how that makes Matched a dystopian, but shush. Arguably, if Matched qualified as a dystopian (beautiful air-trains and great environment and libraries and all), then urban fantasies and contemporary novels could probably also be classified as dystopians. If you ask me, this society seemed orderly, relatively peaceful, the people seemed content (EXCEPT FOR GIRLS WHO COULDN'T GET THE BOY THEY WANTED HOW SHOCKING), and it was no more dystopian than our current world. I mean, just look at Africa and global warming and infant mortality rates and HIV and poor access to maternal health care in developing nations. Compared to that, Matched is a virtual Utopia.
Overview: I don't get why this book sold for 7 figures when some really awesome books are selling for early 4 figures these days, but I guess there must be something in here that I missed out on. The romance was okay if a little bland, the writing was excellent, but there were enough negatives to make me feel constantly irritated while reading the book. If you want to read a good dystopia, go read The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. Two stars.