Matched by Ally Condie

Today’s Kindle Book of the Day for July 15. On sale for $2.99.  I am reposting the full review.

MatchedTakeaway: A romantic cross between Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, Hunger Games without the violence, Wrinkle in Time told from the perspective of the people of Camazotz and the determinism of Asmov’s Foundation series.

All of the recent young adult dystopian novels must be speaking to some cultural current.  It is not just the good writing (although I really have enjoyed Hunger Games and Divergent and Cory Doctorow, etc.).  I think at least part of it is the loss of privacy that comes about with the rise of Facebook and Twitter and computing in general.  Probably the weak economy and general feeling of government unresponsiveness is another part.  But there seems to be something more that I cannot put my finger on.

Matched by Ally Condie is set in a future utopia.  The ‘Society” lives in peace.  Everything is predicted and controlled by the ‘Society’.  The protagonist is Cassia, a 17 year old girl about to be ‘matched’ to her future mate.  The Society is large and controls everything, from the meals you eat, to your free time activities, to the date of your death.

Most choices match what the person would normally chose for themselves, so the tension is lower than in 1984 or Little Brother.  But the very act of choosing for yourself, even when the choice is likely one that you would choose yourself becomes important.  As with any utopian novel, the utopia is not for everyone.  There is an underclass and people outside the Society and that underclass is likely what will lead to the toppling in future novels.  (Matched is the first of a trilogy.)

This is as much a teen girl torn between two good guys romance as a dystopian/utopia novel.  It is much more introspective and there is almost no real action scenes.  But it has no less of a message about the role of the individual and freedom of choice than does Little Brother.  Although Matched is much less oriented toward libertarian propaganda and much more oriented toward the poems of Dylan Thomas as an expression of freedom there is a real message and I am glad that there are books oriented more toward girls that are also politically aware.

I really do appreciate the tendency of recent Young Adult novels to have more female leads even when they are not oriented directly toward teen girls.  But because of the internal tone and overt romance, this is probably a book that is more likely to be read by teen girls than teen boys.  I am looking forward to the next two books.  The second book, Crossed, is currently out and the third will be out in Nov 2012.

Matched by Ally Condie Purchase Links: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook

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