The Hunger Games Guide to Dystopian Fiction: Matched by Ally Condie

In case you missed last week’s post, I’m writing a series recommending other books in the realm of dystopian fiction, hoping to introduce you to new authors. My hilarious and amazingly talented friend Lauren from The Housework Can Wait is proving herself to be an all out overachiever to prepare a guest post for me soon with this same topic. (Just check out what she’s reading this week. Sheesh.)

Along with offering new books to read (yippee), I also want to explore why not only teenagers but also women around my age devour these books.

What’s the appeal to thirty-something women to relive your teenage years through the eyes of some girl (who always considers herself plain but is by all definitions a knee-buckling knockout to all of her contemporaries) and all of her angst, butterfly twitter-pations, and stick-it-to-the-man mentalities?

Time surfaces as a huge initial factor to me. Moms don’t have a ton of time for themselves – not only to read but also to pick out a book. So, honestly, it’s easier to find a decent YA novel at the bookstore because there is a smaller selection. I’m developing some other ideas as well, but I want to hear what you guys think.

Don’t be shy. Give me your thoughts in the comments section and let’s explore this together.

For now, here’s what I thought about Matched by Ally Condie.

Matched (Matched, #1)

Summary:

Matched begins on the most special night of Cassia Maria Reyes’s young life as she’s taking a train to City Hall to attend her Matching banquet. Cassia lives in a modern utopian society. No one wants for anything. No one suffers. No one needs to feel anxious. Every need is met and decided by the Officials of The Society: food, education, shelter, career, leisure time.

The Society even matches each citizen with their ideal mate, based on probability and compatibility testing. The citizens of Cassia’s world willingly sacrifice freedom for the ease and comfort of safety, stability, predictability. They even know they will die on their 80th birthday, exactly. So when a glitch in the system causes Cassia to see Ky Markham rather than her lifelong friend, Xander, as her match, Cassia starts on a journey of new discovery – a world where the possibility of choice exists.

Analysis:

Matched offers a more introspective version of dystopian fiction. If we were to compare this to a book like The Hunger Games, Cassia would be a child of the Capitol. She has everything she needs, and she finds comfort in stability, ultimately believing in the mission of The Society. The book is an unraveling of her beliefs, setting her up for self discovery in the other two parts of the trilogy. Cassia allows herself to start questioning The Society and wonders if life would be more meaningful if allowed to choose. She also starts to see the dark side of The Society, one that resorts to anything to keep the peace.

If you are not a fan of fast-paced action or can’t stomach violence (i.e. children creating a bloodbath over a cornucopia of weaponry), then Matched may be more in line for you. Don’t get me wrong, the plot moves quickly and has plenty of action, interesting imagery, and the inclusion of one of my favorite Dylan Thomas poems. It just doesn’t have that “kill or be killed, even if it’s an eleven year old” feel to it.

There’s a bit more swoon. OK. A lot more swoon.

The hair, the eyes, the mystery, the dark and troubled back story. The artistic heart. The day-dreaming. The rash decisions. The stomach flutterings.

Recipe for Swoony. 

Two parts boy. One part girl. Fold in conflicted feelings, mysterious soulful eyes, a dash of physical chemistry. Just add water. Stir.

You really get what you pay for though. I mean it’s not like the title doesn’t warn you.

Overall, Ally Condie provides good writing with a decent plot, and even though there was too much typical love story from YA fiction for me, I think she provided age-appropriate swoonage. The author is also a former English teacher, and she has a good handle on how teenagers think and process (English Teachers Unite! Solidarity!)

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  1. #1 by Lauren@The Housework Can Wait on May 23, 2012 - 8:34 am

    I’ve been interested in this one, but haven’t picked it up yet. And right now it’s being pushed way down the list by all the other dystopians I’m reading. SO MANY DYSTOPIANS. I’d heard mixed reviews (I keep hearing it’s like Delirium Light), but I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it for the most part.

    I have many thoughts on why moms — or specifically, this mom right here — like YA dystopians. But I’m saving them for MY post. BWAHAHAHA!

    Um, also, I’m already behind on my schedule. And it’s only Day 3 of Week 1. I wanted to have finished Under the Never Sky yesterday, and I still have 100 pages to go. MUST GO READ TO STAY KIND OF ON SCHEDULE.

  2. #2 by kellywiggains on May 23, 2012 - 8:48 am

    Delirium Light is an apt description. Again, it’s well-written, just not too focused on anything other than the love story and contemplating the ideas of freedom and choice. All good things to think about, but you know, a good bomb threat or chase scene with The Society wouldn’t hurt.

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