Baxlala’s #CBR5 Reviews #16, #17, and #18: Matched trilogy by Ally Condie

MatchedWARNING: This review contains spoilers!

I’m writing about these books together, because the bleh of each book (particularly the second and third) is already blurring together and I only just finished them. I love dystopias (um, fictional ones, though), YA or not, and so was excited to receive this series as a birthday gift a few months ago. On the surface, the Matched series should have been right up my alley. But, you know, this series never really got past the surface. I never felt any sort of connection to any of the characters. I had a hard time buying any of them as actual people whose actions made any sense at all. The characters were telling me how they felt (like ALL THE TIME) and yet…I never really bought it. There’s a completely convoluted love triangle because I guess that’s a prerequisite for YA fiction and yet I didn’t care about which guy the main character was going to end up with. I really didn’t even care if any of the characters died because I figured the response from the other characters would be something like, “So-and-so is dead. I feel sad. I loved so-and-so. You know I loved him because I’m telling you. Again.”

Matched (Book 1)

The premise of Matched is great. Cassia, a 17-year-old girl, lives in Oria, part of the structured world The Society has created. She’s recently been Matched to the boy she will marry who, in a surprising turn of events, just happens to be the boy next door, her best friend, Xander. And yet, a glitch in her Match means she was also Matched with an Aberration named Ky. The problem here is that, because of The Society’s rules, an Aberration cannot be Matched with anyone, meaning (I guess?) they’re destined to die cold and alone, never having known the joy of their Match’s touch.

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MATCH.

The Society, you see, controls everything. They control who gets married, when people have children, and even which songs, poems, and paintings citizens are allowed to view. No one writes anymore, they all type, no one creates, and everyone is sorted into job just as they’re sorted into relationships.

Matched follows Cassia’s struggle with Society’s rules, finding herself drawn to Ky even though she was initially thrilled by be Matched with Xander. Cassia is also dealing with the death of her Grandfather, who is killed when he turns 80, as is the norm for The Society.

Actually, remember The Giver? It’s a lot like The Giver.

Crossed (Book 2)

Crossed picks up where Matched left off. Cassia’s family has been relocated and Cassia is in the Outer Provinces, searching for Ky. I don’t remember what Xander is doing because I don’t care. Ky is on the run, having escaped into The Carving with some friends he picked up at one of the camps.

Eventually Cassia (and her friend, Indie) find Ky. They decide to find The Rising, a rebellion grown out of forbidden poetry or something. Well, Cassia wants to find them and Ky only goes along with it because he’s afraid of losing Cassia. BE YOUR OWN MAN, KY.

The big difference with this book is that each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view, but I’m not really sure why that is, other than to confuse the reader, maybe? There were many times when I had to flip back to the beginning of the chapter to see who was speaking because the characters all sort of blended together. Everyone is a cipher, a mold of an actual person that Condie forgot to flesh out. Heroine, Love Interest, Friend, Villain…this is as specific as it gets. But get excited because there’s one more book left!

Reached (Book 3)

I only read this one because A) I wanted to see how the series ended despite not caring about what was going to happen and B) the books are quick reads and I feel like I’ve been reading Game of Thrones for freaking ever with no end in sight and I NEEDED A WIN, YOU GUYS.

Reached is just, I don’t know, there? Like, there’s the rebellion happening, the introduction of The Pilot (who never really seemed like a real person, just some rando who showed up every now and then to throw roadblocks in Cassia’s way), and there’s a Plague, which is released by The Rising to bring down The Society, which soon gets way out of hand (as plagues do) when the virus mutates.

Ky gets sick, of course, because Ky is the story’s whipping boy, spurring Cassia on to find a cure. Xander is there, too, of course, sort of still in love with Cassia but mostly just sad that she’ll never love him back the way she loves Ky. Who cares. Just get polygamy-married, you three, and stop whining.

Anyway. The book ends. Everyone is mostly fine. This series was mostly not fine. I still think the premise is cool but, in the end, wasn’t presented in a unique enough way to be very memorable.

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Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 8: Reached by Ally Condie

UnknownA long, long time ago, during CBR3, I read a book called Matched by Ally Condie. I thought it was pretty good for a dystopian YA book. Not as good as Hunger Games or Divergent, or even Delirium, but not bad. Better than many.

And then I read the sequel, Crossed. Not quite so good, in my opinion.

Which brings me to the final book of the series, Reached, which falls somewhere between the two in terms of quality.

In Reached, our three main characters (Cassia, Ky, and Xander) are all working separately for THE RISING. Not too far into the story, a massive plague epidemic breaks out in SOCIETY, and only THE RISING has the cure. Xander is working as a medical officer and secretly knows that the cure is on its way, so he doesn’t worry too much about what he sees around him. UNTIL…the plague mutates and can no longer be cured by the medicine provided by THE RISING. And uh-oh, that really cute girl that Xander’s been hanging out with has the plague, too. But he still loves Cassia, so whatever.

Meanwhile, Ky and Indie are working as pilots, delivering medicine to all of the hard-hit cities of SOCIETY. Indie loves Ky. But Ky still loves Cassia, so this can never be.

Cassia is still sorting and trading and blah blah blah something about poetry in the capital city. She creates a makeshift art gallery, for all citizens who want to CREATE something. Bring a poem or story or weird sculpture, sing a song, do a dance, whatever. Everyone is grateful to her for creating such an amazing space.

Begin rant: Really, I can’t with this plot. Something about it really drove me crazy. I think my main issue with it is that Cassia is simply not that likable a character. Everyone is in love with her. Everyone thinks that she holds the key to some solution. And she’s so confident about every little thing. Ugh. End rant.

Anyway, THE PILOT (remember, he/she is the chosen one who will lead THE RISING), singles out these three kids (out of 20 million. please.) to save society from the plague. He brings them to the mountains to work with the best doctor ever in the world to find a cure. Cassia sorts facts about all of the immune citizens into lists to help the scientists make new cures. Xander works hard to create a new cure. And Ky? Ooops, he gets the plague. Will Xander and Cassia figure it out in time? And hey, what about that cute girl that Xander used to work with? Will she be ok, too?

Unless you’ve never read a book before, I’m sure you’ll never, ever guess what happens in the end.

Reached isn’t bad, but it didn’t impress me too much. Xander is really the only character in the book who had any redeeming quality (he really wants to help people), and I’m glad he got over his obsession with Cassia before it broke his heart. After three books, I still know nothing about Ky, other than he was an orphan, and he really, really loves Cassia. And Cassia? She must be awesome to be so adored. I just don’t see it.

Also, it really bugged me every time Xander was described as having golden hair. Because:

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You can read more of my reviews (of which I am WAY behind) on my blog.

YesKnopeMaybe’s #CBR5 Review #1: Matched by Ally Condie

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I wasn’t prepared to like this young adult book as much as I did. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with romantic YA literature, it’s simply not my cup of tea. I’d rather not relive my hormone addled teenage years through fiction. However, to classify Matched as a teenage romance is a serious disservice to Ally Condie’s novel. The novel uses the framework of an accidental love triangle to tackle universal themes such as self-determination, authority, and familial relationships.

Matched takes place in a future dystopian civilization governed by The Society and is told from the perspective of Cassia Reyes. At 17, she is “matched” to her best friend Xander, but due to a glitch, she finds out that she was also matched to a boy her age named Ky. Although The Society officials assure her that her real match is Xander, she can’t stop herself from wondering what her life would have been like if she had been matched to Ky. As she gets to know Ky better, she struggles between choosing a safe, comfortable life with Xander and a difficult, unstable one with Ky.

It’s not perfect, but it’s an immensely readable book. Condie’s writing gives voice to the push and pull between choosing our futures and wondering what might have been if we had taken a different path. Along the way, Cassia has to make some tough decisions and goes from being a carefree adolescent who sees the world in black and white to an adult who has to navigate a very shades-of-gray world.