Friday, December 31, 2010
In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.
Matched is a story for right now and storytelling with the resonance of a classic.
I wish I could review this book without all the hype that's surrounded it, but I can't. Doing so would be impossible and I can't accomplish the impossible. I always try to give books an appropriate review based upon what I've read and what I've thought, but, because of the hype surrounding Matched, that will be hard to do.
I picked up this book before it was even out, through an ARC from a Penguin Representative, picking it up simply because of all the Waiting on Wednesday posts surrounding it. Dystopian, totally my thing. Romance, yes, also my thing. So I decided, what the heck, might as well pick it up.
I mentioned it would be hard to avoid the hype because here it is. Because of the hype surrounding the book, I expected the book to be great and, well, it's wasn't. Don't get me wrong, Matched is a good book, but not a great one.
Let me begin with the plot. The set up starts all Romeo and Juliet where she can't be with him yet they pine endlessly for each other. Yes, flashbacks were a new twist I enjoyed, but there wasn't much more other than this. Some books are driven by their characters but, to me, Matched seemed driven by the need for romance which didn't appeal to me.
Another thing. The plot, revolving around the romance, though it starts strong and plunges the reader directly into the novel, a great thing, slows down. I found myself wondering where the breathless feeling accomplished in the beginning was going to show up again. It did, several times, but in order for a book to be great, that feeling needs to last throughout the entire book, not just during important scenes.
Second, the world. Okay, I have to admit, the world was really cool, resounding like Orwell's 1984 with the feeling of Big Brother watching your every move. Condie sets the place up nicely, hinting at deeper things, such as the mysterious red pill everyone carries around, but not fully explaining them until the time is needed, though the reader forms their own opinions and ideas about what these things mean. I can't point any bad fingers at the world Condie forms because, to put it simply, the world is different from others I've read and interesting to read.
But here's an important thing. Because Condie crafts her own world and drops the reader into it by slowly feeding them information, you really need to see and feel and taste the world around you, which I did. So many authors create their own worlds and don't divulge enough detail for these worlds to become fully formed, but Condie isn't one of them. Her world takes on a life of it's own that seems tangible.
On the other hand, the characters. To be honest, I read Matched a while ago and none of the characters stand out to me still. I wasn't left with a lasting impression of any of them. They remained on the page for me.
Overall, Matched was a fun read that probably would have been better enjoyed had it not been for the hype surrounding it. Expectations are a harmful thing. My expectations for Matched were high and they came folding around me as I read, despite the fact that the book was good.