I picked up Matched by Ally Condie at the library based on a stranger's review--this guy (yes, he was MALE!) was a junior high teacher and he was really impressed with the book. So, out of curiosity (and this was back in the days when I was still living under a rock), I pulled out Matched from the bookshelf and took it home with me. I finished the book in one day.
So when Jenny Phresh of The Party Pony hosted a contest with YA ARCs, and among them Crossed, the sequel to Matched, I knew I had to go crazy and try to win it. By the miracles of the universe and possibly good karma, I won the book, along with The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (see my review here). You can't believe how much squealing and happy dancing took place in my humble abode. I believe the neighbors got together to plot my eviction...oh wait, they can't evict me, I own my house. Mwahaha!
Ally Condie is a former high school English teacher turned bestselling author. She lives just outside Salt Lake City, Utah with her family. (Yay, a fellow Utahn!) Her website can be found at http://www.allysoncondie.com/.
Here are the blurbs for her books, courtesy of Goodreads:
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.
The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.**********
Why I Recommend:
Though it's a typical dystopian, disguised as a utopia at first, I still enjoyed the elements of this dystopian society--a world where everything is controlled, from the amount of food one eats to what they dream at night. Think Big Brother of George Orwell's 1984. Anytime we have a government, fictional or not, that tries to suppress their people's right to choose and think for themselves, you know you want them to fail so bad you're willing to root for any sign of rebellion, however small. Needless to say, the novel's setting definitely set the tone for the entire book and made me immediately sympathize with the protagonists (I love me a rebel, you see.)
Cassia's excited to discover her match, as all the other girls are. Having lived within the Society's grip all her life, she didn't know any better...until an error in her Match card shows her an alternative life. A possible match with Ky, an Aberration, instead of the upstanding citizen and best friend, Xander, whom Society had intended for her all along. This "glitch" made Cassia take a better look at herself, her life, her family, and why did her Grandfather, who was dying, left her with a forbidden poem?
As Cassia tries to unravel the Society's secrets, as well as get to know Ky and his dreadful past, the Society keeps a closer watch on her and her family. Soon she begins to feel smothered, as her feelings for both Ky and Xander become complicated.
The writing is pretty solid, and the pace nicely done. I also liked the poem references in the book. There are so many dystopian novels out there right now, so as far as settings and politics go, this wasn't exceptionally original. Neither was the love triangle angle, which almost every YA book has anyway, BUT I still enjoyed this story. I liked Cassia and her determination. She isn't afraid to search for truth even when it meant risking her life and the people she loves. She's not afraid to pursue her heart either, which is always commendable. In a world that is tightly controlled, it takes courage to rise above the norm and stick out like a nail, even when Society tries to hammer it down. The romance angle is also sweet and not overly done. Plus Ky is an intriguing character.
Book 2 follows with Cassia looking for Ky, when Ky gets sent out to the Outer Provinces. So we get alternate POVs between Cassia and Ky with each chapter. There may or may not be a rebellion, but nevertheless, the idea of one gives Cassia hope that someday the world will be right once again. I won't say anything else to avoid dishing out spoilers by accident. But I just want to say that book 2 follows in the same vein with book 1 (pacing, writing, etc.), and the focus on Cassia's personal life is stretched out to include the bigger picture of the world around her. All in all an enjoyable read, and already, I am waiting for book 3. =)
If you want to check out other books I've read and reviewed, go here. As I've mentioned last week, I'm planning a future book giveaway so stay tuned for details.