Lean Reviews

A review site for conservative, libertarian, center-right readers. We'll tell you what's good, what's bad, what's so-so, and what you'll like even if you have to stumble past liberal tropes to get to a good story

Young Adult Fiction: Matched

By Allie Duzett

Matched by Ally Condie (2010) is a New York Times bestselling young adult dystopian novel Entertainment Weekly called “the hottest YA title to hit bookstores since The Hunger Games.”

The story takes place in a future United States where the Society rules everything—what you can read, what you can watch, where you can work, who you can marry. Protagonist Cassia Reyes has been fine with this, and has even looked forward to her Matching, a ceremony pairing off future spouses the Society has scientifically predetermined to be compatible. Things change, however, when an apparent glitch shows her two potential Matches—the Society doesn’t make mistakes. For the first time, Cassia has to question her government and her heart to discover which Match she truly belongs with.

Overall, I would give the book four out of five stars. The characters could stand more development; I’m not a huge fan of the sudden obsession-“love” that seems to strike many YA characters at random (this happens in Matched); and the entire book is narrated in the present tense, which I find obnoxious. On the other hand, the story kept me reading, despite it all.

The novel introduces younger readers to several classic poems, most notably “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas, which is a crucial part of the story.

This is definitely a novel I would feel comfortable lending to my teenage sister: romance plays a large role in the novel, but there’s no objectionable content. As mentioned above, classic poetry, literature, and art are referenced and important to the story. The dystopian nature of the Society is disturbing, but not in a gross way: the tyranny of Condie’s Society comes from its unending nannying for the good of its citizenry, not from blatant brutality, as is the case in many other dystopian novels.

The Society’s nature as a tyrannical nanny state is exactly what makes this story such an interesting read. Throughout the tale, Cassia is forced to wonder—is it possible that a regular person like her could know herself better than her government does? And further, is it possible for a regular citizen to make better choices for herself than a seemingly omnipotent and caring nanny state?

These are questions we are facing today in Real Life America, as more and more of our society gets taken over by an allegedly beneficent nanny state that claims to have our best interests at heart (Obamacare, anyone?). Is it possible that the average person could make better decisions for him- or herself than the government could? This is the question Condie’s Matched seeks to explore.

If you like dystopians with clean romance, this could be a good book for you–or for your teen.

Allie Duzett writes articles for magazines that you probably haven’t heard of; teaches voice, piano, organ, and composition lessons; and reads and writes way more YA literature than any adult should probably be allowed to. Oh well. She is also incredibly good-looking.

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This entry was posted on July 19, 2012 by in Fiction, Young Adult and tagged , , , , , , , .

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