Archive for March, 2012

March 6, 2012

Matched by Ally Condie

Matched  by Ally Condie.

Matched Trilogy, book 1, c2010

Unabridged audio available – Read by Kate Simses.

In Matched, Cassia, our narrator, lives in a highly structured society (imaginatively called The Society) that controls everything.  Those in power have made a formal procedure of the marriage process.  When children are 17 years old, they attend a matching banquet at their City Hall.  (Cassia hasn’t set foot in City Hall until her matching banquet and she’s been looking forward to this night for what seems like forever.)  It is one of the only times in their lives where those being matched are allowed to wear fun, colorful dress clothing and eat rich and extravagant food.  Normally everyone eats bland but nutritionally appropriate foods.  There is such a level of control over their lives, that the government monitors each person’s caloric needs and delivers food to meet those individual needs.  They don’t even cook for themselves.

At the banquet, Cassia finds out she has been matched with her best friend Xander. It seems like the perfect fit and she is very lucky and appreciative.  Most people are not usually matched with someone they know and like.  In fact, most of the time matches take one person or the other far from their homes and families forever. Unique as it is to find her optimal match in her childhood friend, even more strange is the fact that her match disk also “accidentally” contains another match for her.  She can’t help but wonder how and why this could’ve happened and what it means.

When the book opens, we see an idyllic community.  Life is good.  The Society has given them the ultimate gift–time.  People live longer and better than any other people in the history of the world, in large part because of the matching process and the physically and mentally healthy offspring it produces.  Yes, things are a lot more structured than we are used to, in our country full of personal choice. But so what if people are exposed to a very restricted amount of information? (Years before the book begins, The Society appointed commissions to choose the 100 best of everything; songs, paintings, stories, poems, etc. The rest were eliminated.) Is it really such a big deal that you are only allowed to own one artifact from the past?  That there’s a curfew?  That you aren’t allowed to learn handwriting?  That jobs are determined through assessment and assigned by The Society? That your dreams are periodically monitored and you are never truly alone in your homes?   Everyone seems to have what they need to live a comfortable and stress free life. Their basic needs are provided for.  Is lack of choice really all that important when everyone has food, shelter and work? When everyone has enough?

That is a question readers will have to answer for themselves.  “I wish you optimal results.”

I look forward to reading the next book in the trilogy—Crossed.  This book also reminds me of Divergent by Veronica Roth and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Learn more about the Matched trilogy at Ally Condie’s website.