Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Cassia is happy and content with her life in the Society... and she's ready to be Matched to the man she will marry... and when her best friend Xander shows up as her match, she thinks everything has fallen into place... but really, that's just when everything starts to fall apart. Everyone who is Matched gets a media card with information about their match to take home... but when Cassia tries to read hers, another face appears, one that isn't Xander's... one of another boy she knows... and then, on top of that, Cassia's Grandfather leaves her with more questions than she's ever had before when he passes... and he leaves her with another gift too... a forbidden one. Now Cassia needs to figure out what she wants from life... does she want to let the Society dictate everything, or will she listen to her Grandfather and her heart?
Cassia: She's a strong, willful, intelligent girl who knows what she wants. I enjoyed her character because following her was akin to watching someone wake up from a deep sleep... there were things around her that she'd turned a blind eye to without thinking about it... because that's what everyone did... but when her eyes are opened by her Grandfather... she realizes how strong she is, and how much there is to be done.
Xander: Cassia's best friend and official Match, Xander seems like he would be a very one-dimensional character, but he's not. The boy has secrets and strong feelings, he knows things and as the story progresses, you get more and more of a sense of that. I feel like as this story continues in the other two books, we will see Xander become quite complex.
Ky: A quiet, guarded boy... Ky offers the most telling, interesting bits about himself while still remaining silent, through drawings. He's obviously brilliant... but I still want to hear more of Ky... I felt like he was the love interest... but for the time being, not much else was expected of him. He was there to reveal to Cassia a world she didn't know existed... but as for him on his own, he hasn't existed much outside of supporting Cassia's discoveries. I'm very interested in seeing more of his story, and learning more about his motives.
Grandfather: Pretty much the catalyst for everything else that happens, he makes Cassia start to question.
Cassia's Parents: Interesting characters in themselves, it seems Cassia's entire family is prone to sticking out in one way or another... I can see her parents playing a bigger role in future books as well... and there is great potential in them for deeper, well constructed characters.
Quality of Writing:
I had two problems with the writing in this book. One was the repetition of the word "I"... they jumped out at you, assaulting you from almost every sentence. The repeated over-use of the word "I" actually began pulling me out of the story it appeared so often. My second problem was with sentence structure. I know that Cassia comes from a society where they were supposed to cut out the frillery and stick to what was needed... and with that concept the short sentences would have worked well, had that been what they actually did. They didn't though, instead you just ended up with all that frillery broken down into really short little sentences. It too pulled me out of the story, as I sat there wondering why it was necessary. Other than those two things, the story was well paced and the plot flowed easily, making this a quick read.
Nothing really shocking or unexpected happened at the end of this book. It was still dramatic and made me want to read the next book, but it wasn't mind blowing. That's not at all a bad thing... especially since this is a trilogy and I suspect that the biggest punch will come in the last book in the series.
While this book was fun and interesting to read, it was a plot any avid reader will have seen before. If you've read The Giver by Lois Lowry or 1984 by George Orwell or Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, then you've read Matched. It is the story of a world where decisions are made for the people, and the people are encouraged not to think about them. It is a world of mindless following and strict control.
Now, while the prose aren't quite as skillful as the books I compared it to, I think that another telling of this type of story, in this format, is a wonderful idea.
Putting such powerful concepts in the hands of today's youth, making them think about the world around them, and hopefully getting them interested in books like 1984... and why those books were written, I think is a really important thing, and Matched may be able to generate such a spark.
Now, I've heard this book also compared, a lot, to another recently released series, The Hunger Games... which I have not yet read... but now hearing that it is, in fact, a dystopian series much like Matched, I think it's time to pick The Hunger Games up... and then I can make a more informed comparison between those and Matched.
Believability of World:
It's not just a believable world, it's a world that, to a degree has already happened over and over here on this planet... and it's the sort of story that warns "This could be happening to you right now"
Overall Grade: B