Okay, up first in the Senior Division: Matched by Allie Condie. This book was good. Not amazing but good. I approached this book with mixed feelings. One part of me thought the plot sounded interesting but, because the whole dystopia thing has gotten so trendy, part of me was afraid that it would be mediocre or, even worse, terrible. I have the same problem with paranormal romances. It used to be that you could pick up any book in that sub-genre and it would be good because it part of a small, tight group. And then it became popular. Everyone started dabbling in it and results varied and it became more difficult to find new authors that were good and the authors that were around before started putting out books way more often and the quality some of their books varied as well. Anyway, I kind of feel like this has started happening with dystopian teen lit. So, I was pleasantly surprised byMatched.
This book reminded me of The Giver. A lot. It’s about a society that long ago decided that the best way to optimize life is to take away everyone’s choices in every aspect of their lives and then totally indoctrinate them and keep them in the dark about the outside world. Different from The Giver is the disturbing rule that everyone has to carry a pill box with a blue, a green, and a red pill. The blue pill is to keep them alive if they ever get stranded somewhere without food or water. The green pill is a sedative that they are allowed to use up to once a day. Which says something about the society. Why is it common that so many of its people need to take sedatives on a regular basis? And then there’s the red pill. No one actually knows what the red pill does because they are only allowed to take it when they are told to. Yes, we do find out what the red pill does late in the book.
So the story starts with the main character, Cassia, going to her matching banquet where she learns that her optimal (potential) husband is her best friend, Xander. This is unusual because apparently most people are matched with someone in another city. I say potential because there are several parts of the story where Cassia is talking about the matching process and there is an implication that a matched pair doesn’t actually have to get married but she doesn’t say what happens if they choose not to. From the banquet, Cassia gets to bring home a box with a computer chip with information about her match. On this chip is info on Xander but then at the end a picture flashes on the screen of Ky. She’s known Ky since she was little but they aren’t particularly close because he was the kid who didn’t really stand out despite the fact that his background is different than everyone else. So this confuses but intrigues her and you can pretty much figure out where it goes from there. The plot isn’t really super original but I like how it played out with the two gradually getting to know each other. I like that she knew Ky before the banquet so it made sense that they had some connection right away and it felt more natural. It was interesting how normal the characters seem. They aren’t perfect and they aren’t all exactly the same. There is a disturbing dichotomy in that have individual personalities and seem to think for themselves but then Cassia will think or say something that proves how indoctrinated they are into not really questioning anything. I also liked how the world was slowly expanded as the book went on. The reader got to discover the world and speculate about certain aspects. And not everything was explained, leaving some mystery and leaving me wanting more.
This book is the first in a series (aren’t they all?) so of course things don’t resolve nicely at the end but I was happy with how it ended and I’m looking forward to the next book, Crossed. It should deal with the fringes of the society where everything is not so perfect. I won’t say more than that because it would spoil the plot.
So will Matched win the Senior Division? As this is the only book in this division that I’ve read so far, I’m going to reserve judgement.
Next: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda or Heist Society or possibly The Red Pyramid. We shall see.
What I’m reading now: Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Fair Game by Patricia Briggs, The Cardturner (audiobook) by Louis Sacher, and Snuff (audiobook) by Terry Pratchett.