I read Matched by Ally Condie as part of the Dystopia Challenge I’m participating in. I have to admit, I am really enjoying the new YA dystopian trend. Will I get sick of this trend? So far, I don’t see that happening. I think that there are a few reasons I like these novels so much:
- They provide engaging social commentary about our present world. In The Hunger Games, Incarceron and Matched, the authors take current social realities and exaggerate them to provide criticism. In Hunger Games we see reality TV and plastic surgery taken to extremes. In Incarceron, neo-conservatism leads to a new Victorian age that focuses on appearances and subjugate women. In Matched, utilitarianism leads to a homogenized population.
- Authors seem less hindered by conventions when creating their fictional worlds. I believe there is so much room for imagination in the Dystopian novel. Maybe some would argue with me on this point.
Back to Matched: First, a brief summary. In this novel, Cassia is Matched, assigned her future marriage partner. To her surprise, she is assigned Xander, her best friend, a rare occurrence because he is someone she knows. She is further confused when another face later appears on the portscreen when she intends to review the Courtship Guidelines. She sees Ky Markham, another boy she knows. Ky is an attractive and quiet guy originally from the Outer Provinces. Cassia starts paying attention to him and finds herself falling in love. Additionally, her realization that the Society can make mistakes leads her to question her place and her future.
I really liked the characters in this novel and look forward to getting to know them better in the sequel. I cared about Cassia’s entire family and found her relationship with her little brother Bram to be very touching. I expect to see more rebellion from Bram in the future.
I did feel that Cassia transitioned a little too quickly from being naive and trusting to insurgent. On the other hand, new ideas and realizations are embraced more readily at that age. The most powerful theme in this novel is that words empower, and I liked that Cassia grew stronger when she learned to write and discover her own language.
Of course, the romance was really engaging. I can’t write too much about it without putting a spoiler alert here. I will comment that there are all these lucky girls in novels lately, with not one but two amazing guys in love with them!
I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel, Crossed.