Sunday, August 11, 2013

Matched - What Avon Thinks

Official Summary
In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die. 

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly 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.

Short and Sweet
Matched is a dystopian love story with weak characters and an uneventful storyline. But Ms. Condie gives you just enough hope to keep you reading until the end.

So, what's Avon's take on the book?
No wonder Matched is a YA bestseller: it has romance, it's dystopian, and––that's pretty much it. When I first cracked open the spine and decided to see what the hype was all about, I anticipated something that would be so-so. And that's precisely what it was.

The book starts out with Cassia's "Matching Banquet", where her husband-to-be appears on the screen and she excitedly anticipates her soon-to-be perfect life in the Society. Of course, her best friend Xander is her Match. Like any dystopian heroine, Cassia starts out as naïve and accepting of her loving society. And then, like any heroine, she goes on to realize that her society is all wrong and spearheads a revolution that will reawaken the minds of her fellow citizens. And that's it. She has no personality traits that make her unique. As a reader, I'm not endeared to her. I know absolutely nothing about her, because I can't relate to her. She's patient, she's kind, she's a perfect human being. And sometimes perfection gets a bit boring.

That's what the Society has given us: time. We live longer and better than any other citizens in the history of the world. And it's thanks in large part to the Matching System, which produces physically and emotionally healthy offspring. 

However, one element I love about Ms. Condie's writing style is that Cassia always seems to be talking directly to the reader. It's almost as though she's in the room with me. This is a difficult skill to pick up as a writer, and I have never been able to master it.

I always enjoy these few seconds in the theater before a showing, when all is dark and I am waiting. I always feel a drop in my stomach––wondering if, when the lights of the showing come on, I might find myself completely alone.

There is one element that I just can't accept about the book: those cheesy one-liners that pop in here and there and make me red with embarrassment. No one goes around thinking, "Some things are meant to be together" or "We go through a forest that is complicated and full of tangles and there are no stones to guide us except the ones we build ourselves". The only characters who can make such ridiculous statements are ones who have lived a hard life and have felt pain. Cassia is fed, clothed, and cleaned by the Society. She has never felt pain in her life. I feel as though Cassia has no right to act like such a deep character when there really is no depth to her at all. 

"What [color] are [my eyes] now?" he asks. He widens his eyes a little, leans closer, lets me look as long and as deep as I want. 

And there's so much to see. They are blue, and black, and other colors, too, and I know some of what they've seen and what I hope they see now. Me. Cassia. What I feel, who I am.

"Well?" Ky asks.

"Everything," I tell him. "They're everything."

The plot is slow moving and it never really gets to a boiling point. Cassia spends most of the novel trying to choose whom she loves more: Xander, the smart, cute one, or Ky, the dark and mysterious one (of course, what did I expect?). Meanwhile, the plot slips downhill. A bunch of "little incidents" occur that don't lead anywhere. Cassia gradually gets more and more annoyed with her oppressive government, but does absolutely nothing about it. Instead of rebelling, she hides her mutinous thoughts and rants to the reader. She kisses the boy she loves and is let off with a warning. She falls on the treadmill and scrapes her knee. Talk about someone as badass as Katniss Everdeen. By the end, her true love ends up being sent off to war and she moves to the country in hopes of finding him. She's passive and I can't get past that. In fact, almost the entire book is passive.

Overall, Matched is a weak novel. It's typical, and it's near impossible to get past its weak characters. Nevertheless, Ms. Condie's writing style blows me away. I love Cassia's voice and her outlook, and the way I can almost reach into her fictional world. 

So what did you think of the book? Am I right? Did I get everything completely wrong? Do I deserve to go to jail for this review? Tell me your thoughts!

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