Matched by Ally Condie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When my book club picked this book, I admit I rolled my eyes. "A Hunger Games copycat" I thought. And reading the first page, my skeptisim grew. It is set in a world where everything is controlled by the Society, it is narrated by a female in first-person present-tense, and there was a preoccupation of what she was wearing to a banquet to find out who her statstically ideal Match will be. But I quickly fell in love with Cassia. Unlike Kat, she feels her life is perfect in the ultra-controlled world and it is only when there is a glitch with her Match, when she begins to question the infallibility of the Society, and some gentle prods from her grandfather, scheduled to pass away later that week, that she begins to wake up and dream of something more.
There are no red-eyed mutants or wilderness survival skills on display here, but perhaps more poignantly, Matched describes the survival of the human will, of the desire to create,of the beauty of the unpredictableness of nature. Is it bad that I cried as much at the loss of a poem or a tree in this book as I did for the death of Rue in Hunger Games? And Condie is a beautiful writer. Yes, Cassia can be naive, but her thoughts run deep and clear and she describes things like a poet would. It was a joy to read. I am only mad that it is another trilogy and I got in early enough I will have to wait to find out what happens to these characters.
On another note, I am curious about the trend of these YA books I've read over the years. It seems as if the boys in YA fantasy novels are always in a reality they don't like--being bullied, not smart, etc. --and then they find out they are wizards, demigods, the Chosen One. While girls tend to be in a hard world and they simply learn to cope with it. It doesn't hurt that usually more than one boy likes them. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with this. I simply wonder if boys tend to dream of being suddenly saved by circumstances that then makes them braver, stronger, smarter than they feel they are. And, alternatively, do girls feel they are already brave, strong, beautiful, only no one recognizes it because of their unfair circumstances? Or would they not believe that they are heros in disguise? And is this a reflection of society or do these tales shape our images of ourselves?
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