The Matched series, parts one and two (Matched and Crossed) by Ally Condie.
Eurgh. This is a review I really didn’t want to write purely because I hate giving things bad reviews and that is literally the only thing I can give this series. In fact, I am only writing this because of this:
I kind of feel like I need to explain myself. But, I don’t like doing it (bad reviews that is) because Ally Condie is a person, she has feelings and I’m sure she put her all into creating this series and the fact that I didn’t like it is nothing to do with her and probably everything to do with me. We just didn’t gel. But, I’m going to tell you all about it in the object of fairness.
So, Matched, Crossed and the recently released Reached are a series of dystopian novels set in a futuristic world. I know. I love dystopia, I should have been all over this and in fact, the dystopian nature was the reason I hired these from the library in the first place, but I just… I…. My reaction whilst reading these books looked a little like this:
The premise is REALLY GOOD. The writing is not.
Ok, so here’s the low down:
The series is set in a futuristic world where the government (or society I think it’s called here) basically dictate every moment of your waking life. They decide where you live, what career you have, what you eat, when you eat it, who you marry… You get the idea.
Matched starts off on the eve of Cassia’s seventeenth birthday where she and a group of other recently turned seventeen year olds in her town/city/district are going to their matching ceremony which is where they will find out who their future spouse is. Most of her friends get paired with people in other districts/towns/cities and then when it’s Cassia’s turn there is no face on the big screen and she gets panicky because OH MY GOD WHAT IF I HAVEN’T BEEN MATCHED WITH ANYONE?! Only then she gets matched with her BFF Xander and all is well. Even though she and Xander already know each other, they get given micro cards with each other’s personal info on to read at their own discretion. When Cassia goes to do this she see’s the face of another boy she goes to school with (Ky) instead of Xander and from that moment on just becomes obsessed with Ky. She and Ky get buddy during recreation time where they go on runs together and fall in love. BUT! There is still the issue that she is matched to Xander, who’s her best friend and who she loves dearly! Whatever will she do?!
Sounds ace right?
That’s what I thought too. Then I started reading it. See, the thing is, I know that Ally Condie must have a lot of fans, she has a three book publishing deal, I don’t, and like I said, she must have put her all into this, but whilst reading this I just kept finding myself thinking “so?” Not a single one of Cassia’s monologues about how much she loved Ky and how confused she was over Xander was believable. I didn’t get any sense of passion or feeling, I didn’t feel any of the danger I was supposed to. It just sort of bored me to be honest. And, even though Xander was described as being her best friend, I think I can only recall a handful of moments when Cassia even had a conversation with him. It just seemed a little bit like he was an added thought, that the love triangle was added in later. That and there’s this whole thing about how Ky is the only person who can read actual letters and write because everyone else just types stuff on their computers and no one can actually write any more. I just find that a bit of a strange concept, that they can work a computer but they can’t hold a pen and make words with it. Maybe that’s just me, but it niggled at me every time it was bought up. Another thing that just didn’t gel with me was how little things were explained. It’s mentioned early on after Cassia sees Ky’s face instead of Xander’s that an official from the government comes to see her and tells her it was a mistake and that Ky can’t be matched because he’s an Aberration. There are mentions of Anomaly’s too, but what these are, how they are made and how they are classified isn’t really explained in great detail.
Accurate visual representation of how I felt when trying to work out what an Anomaly and an Aberration were in context of this story below:
The first book just left me feeling a little disappointed because of the lack of passion that I felt between Cassia and Ky, because I couldn’t even seem to believe that Xander and Cassia knew each other let alone that they were best friends. There just wasn’t enough emotive language in the descriptions for me to really grasp any of that and that was frustrating to me.
Anyway, for whatever reason, I decided that I’d read the second one in the trilogy too, this time, Cassia and Ky have been separated and are both travelling across the country looking for the site of a Rising (which is capitalised in the book and yet again isn’t explained well enough for me to truly understand what it is, what happened, who was involved and why I should care). Through various twists of luck they end up reunited at the site of the Rising and go forth to try and gain the right of choice to fall in love with who they want. Well, with a climax of almost Breaking Dawn proportions (ie, there wasn’t one). Again, there was so little interaction between Cassia and Xander that I practically forgot his existence, although, to be fair, they aren’t in the same area any more come this book. The narration also flipped between Cassia and Ky, which was nice because you got to see Ky’s perspective and what was happening to him, but the two voices were so similar it might as well have been just one narration through out the entire thing. The same sort of thing happened in this one, where Ky and Cassia would say that they loved each other but I just didn’t feel it.
I can’t bring myself to care enough to read the final instalment of this series, which is really saying something because I never let a book beat me. I just didn’t find that I related to any of the characters, I didn’t care enough to root for them, I had no idea why I should care either and that upsets me because it must be all down to me that I feel this way about these books. There are scenes in both of them that should be really action packed and genuinely creepy and they just weren’t. It was just a lot of teenagers sat around reading poetry to each other and talking about how much they loved each other. There were moments when the writing style was really poetic and I genuinely enjoyed the “Do Not Go Gently” theme of the first book. But, there was just too much that was hinted at and never properly explained, plus the use of all the capitals for things that indicates they are important, and yet…. WHY NO EXPLANATION.
AND THIS UPSETS ME. Because I hate writing bad reviews. Because I hate dissing things that other people like and that the creators worked hard on but I just can’t give this a good review because I disliked it so much. I’m not going to bother reading the last book in the series, although I would be interested to know if stuff does actually get explained.
If you do want to read some good dystopia, I thoroughly recommend The Giver by Lois Lowry which is remarkably similar in its premise but infinitely better. Of course everyone needs to read The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Scott Westerfield’s Uglies series is great too. A couple of classic dystopia’s that I also really enjoy and think everyone should check out are 1984 – George Orwell (that’s the one that started off the dystopia trend for me) and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margret Atwood, I read that for my A Level English Lit/Lang lessons and was kind of blown away by how much I loved it.