Thursday, October 21, 2010

[Review] Matched by Ally Condie *****

So, I promised reviews, and therefore, here we go.

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to get my hands on an advanced reader copy of Matched by Allie Condie. The story is set in the future where everything from the food people eat to who they will marry and what they wear is controlled by the Society. The book takes the idea of "for the better of the whole" to the extreme, and each person fits into their own little space in the wheels of the greater world.

The Story
The story centers around Cassia, a young girl who begins the novel attending her Match Banquet, the moment in which she will find out with whom she will be Matched with (ie. eventually marry). Instead of seeing one face, she sees two, and is torn between the young man she is supposed to be with, and one whom she can not get out of her mind.

What's so Great about It?
Perhaps the best part of Matched is the existence of a dystopian world in the center of a "perfect" one. As the book progresses, not only does Cassia begin to see the threads unraveling, but the reader as well.  The topic of feeling different, or like an outcast, is one that many young adults struggle with, and seeing Cassia's inner thoughts and how her thoughts progress is an interesting ride. The thing that I like most about Cassia is that she isn't a rebel. For much of the book she follows the life that she is supposed to lead. We see her rebellion, not in her actions, but in her thoughts, and there is a quiet, but driven fight that she carries out below the level that can be detected by those around her. This is something that I haven't seen much in these types of novels and gives it a much needed refresher. I think that novels where the characters are gung-ho about their beliefs and "sticking it to the man" are great, but this is a side of rebellion that I believe is much more realistic and a very interesting view. What about those that fight quietly? Of course, as the events of the novel rise in action and Cassia needs to come to a decision, she does break out and show the courage and determination that she has held within her throughout the novel. But I think it's her quiet fight and her thoughtfulness is really where she shines.

Why This Book?
I found a lot of topics and thought processes in Matched that I think a lot of students from 7-12 could identify with. The idea of feeling like an outcast, that there is more out there than meets the eye and even making tough decisions are ones that every student will come up against during their entire lives. Cassia's choice of whether to follow the path set out before her or to take her own road is also one that I think many students can identify with in a time of their lives where they're told they need to pick a path. The setting of the Society and the world Cassia lives in is also a great comment on modern society today. Could we one day become like the Society? Controlling everything in order to create a "perfect world" where everyone lives to be 80 and no one has any diseases? Is that even a "perfect world"? Matched brings up a lot of topics about society and people that would be fantastic spring boards for other subjects, not just English. Not only can Cassia's fight for her freedom to choose light a fire in the students that read about her, but HOW Cassia chooses her freedom and how she goes about it bring to students a new idea of what it means to rebel.

I give Matched by Ally Condie  a 5 stars out of 5 (*****) for readability in the classroom. I highly suggest picking this book up for your own classes or just for a great read. I am definitely looking forward to the next two books in the series.

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