The Daily Monocle

Critical book reviews from a literary skeptic.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Matched by Ally Condie + Giveaway!

Posted by J. P. Wickwire

On Cassia's seventeenth birthday, she goes to her Matching ceremony. This is the moment she's waited for—to see her perfect Match for life. Of course, when she's Matched with Xander—her childhood best friend—it feels like a dream come true. But when another boy's face flashes across the screen for just a second, it plants the seed of doubt in Cassia's mind. After all, can anyone truly be perfectly matched?

Set in a true dystopic society, Ally Condie's Matched is undoubtedly one of this year's hottest reads, sure to gather comparisons to the work of Lois Lowry (The Giver; Gathering Blue) and Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games).

While some readers will be tempted to group Matched with one of the aforementioned titles, discerning readers will hesitate to do so. Simply put, Matched isn't like other dystopias on teen shelves today. Where most dystopic fictions emphasize the differences from the elusive time before and the jarringly perfected now, Condie's debut novel instead offers a story that is eerily similar to the world we already know; a hallmark of a complete dystopia.

The plot is simple enough. In fact, 50 pages into the book, one may still wonder where the story is going. What casual readers won't realize is the fact that Matched is a subtle story; a hidden story. One with different emotions, and gentle characters that carry the reader from page to page, not with their mind-blowing actions and larger-than-life personalities, but with their sheer humanity. The characters are not extremes of each other; every attitude and action is measured and temperate. And yet, they are distinct; each acting in their own way. Each element of the story is built on a previous—or future—element. Everything falls neatly into place.

It's a bit eerie. The writer, clearly in control of her characters, allows herself to play God to the highest level. She allows herself to know and think and feel with her characters, and successfully translates this onto the page. In a way, it's almost too easy to fall into the writing; the prose could've been more enjoyable, had it been more complicated. But for this particular story, the simplicity works.

And here is where this book strays from the norm of dystopic fiction. It's only been about 70 years since the world of Matched became a dystopia. Old habits die hard, and clearly, the discontent, the cruelty—the desire and the real human emotions—have not yet been bred out of the people. The world of Matched is a world still teetering on the edge of what was, and what could be.

While dystopias threaten to become the next super genre fad like quest-style fantasy, paranormal romance, and zombies, there of course, will still be books that stand out from the crowd. Matched isn't a colorful book. This isn't a book that will make you smile, or ache, or really evoke any extreme emotion. Instead it settles into you; lingers with you. It requires you to think.

And sometimes, those are the best books of all.

Make sure you mark your calendars for November 30th when Matched hits the shelves!

Author's website
Buy it on Amazon

The Daily Monocle is offering Matched as our November giveaway! To enter, just fill out the form below. Open to residents of USA and Canada only. Contest ends on November 30th


Bethie said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

titania86 said...

Thanks for the great giveaway! This books looks really awesome. I'm a sucker for a good dystopia. :)

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