Two Down, One To Go
Happy 2013! It’s a week in, and I’ve finished reading my first book of the year. Siddown, I’ma tell you about it.
So last summer I read Ally Condie’s Matched, and I never said a word about it, because I’m a lazy blogger. (I did gift it to a few people though, so that’s something.) It was sold to me as a dystopian romance, and the cover was a very pretty green, so I was all “Okay, sure!” Some well-deserved light post-masters summer reading.
And it was very good! The gist is, most people live in the Society. It’s your typical futuristic post-disaster supposed utopia wherein your every needs are monitored and catered to by the Society – who of course has your best interests in mind. Of course. Your education, your food, your job – everything is tailored to your abilities and potential, as calculated by the Society.
But the culture is deeply limited, due to The Hundred. At a point in our (future) history, all cultural output was pruned to The Hundred. One hundred approved paintings, poems, songs, and so on. That’s what you get, and no one in the Society really knows how to create anything more. They can’t even write. But technology is quite advanced and they still possess many skills.
Things get fishy when our protagonist, Cassia, turns seventeen and is going to be Matched. Like many a dystopia, this Society chooses your mate for you (if you’ve opted to receive one), and does their best to match you with the person who, according to their meticulous records, would be most compatible with you. And they’re not really wrong. Anyway, they make a big fancy occasion of Matching every month, and dole out microcards of your Match’s information. Cassia, in a rare move, gets matched to her best friend (Matches are usually from different towns), but when she views her microcard, another peer’s face shows up.
So, there we’ve got a love triangle. Groan groan groan, yes? Well, yeah, a little. I’m not enthused by a girl’s motivation being ninety percent oh no which boy, but luckily there are other mysteries unfolding that keep you hooked. We find out that this other fellow, Ky, isn’t just your normal Society member, and he may have skills and knowledge that are new and exciting.
Also, we learn a little more about those outside the Society, and the scraps of history they’ve managed to preserve and trade. (There’s a poetry black market, kind of!) There’s a war of some kind going on outside the Society’s borders, and Cassia’s grandfather imparts some distressing information to her as well. It’s definitely a very exciting read, love triangle aside.
And then Crossed! I have expressed my frustration with trilogies before now, and I’ll do it again. I can’t help but feel like Crossed was stretched. It’s very much the slow middle, or as I griped to others while reading it, it’s the Two Towers‘ long walk to Mordor. It’s literally the walking book. Here’s the walking part of the story, you guys. All in one book for you.
By the end I felt I’d gotten some choice bits of information – though maybe not worth the dragging internal angsty teenage monologues about love. But I guess most of us put up with some amount of pretentious emo bullshit from our first SO, and probably doled it out too. I still wanted to punch several of them at points, or call them a wahmbulance.
And the excitement of unraveling the Society wears off quickly when you’re too far from it to do much of that. The action all took place in the Outer Provinces and beyond this time, so there’s only so much intrigue in the wastes. I guess they figured they’d better make their own drama. Teenagers.
I’m excited for the third book, despite my gripes. There was one pretty big reveal that has me interested, at least. And if you’re into dystopias, this is a good series for it. I feel like there are some intriguing idiosyncracies to this Society, and I personally don’t know who I’d call the bad guy yet. A lot of the Society’s evolution and reactions feel plausible, and like they were born of good intentions. I expect the third novel, Reached, to take us back to there, and really show how far it goes.
Title: Matched; Crossed
Author: Ally Condie
Pages: 366; 367
Rating: 4.5/5; 3.5/5