Matched by Ally Condie
Again, my librarian gave this book to me. She is normally a wonderful source for all things good and new in Young Adult fiction. She hadn't read this one, but it had been recommended by several students. Now, as those of you who are regular readers of this blog know (what like 5 of you? ;)), I read a lot of YA fiction. I try to keep on on new books so I always have something to recommend when my students whine at me that there's nothing good to read. That being said, I guess I can see why kids would like this book, but I really didn't feel it.
Cassia lives in a utopian world where the society is in charge of everything. You get specially prepackaged meals designed to maintain your ideal health and body weight. You only have two sets of clothes, very utilitarian, and at the age of 17 you are matched with your ideal mate in terms of genetics, personality, preferences, everything. After a few years of dating, you can chose to marry that person, or stay single for the rest of your life. The book opens with Cassia being matched with her best friend from childhood, Xander. Great right? She thinks so, until she goes to open Xander's info the next morning and sees a brief flash of another boy she knows, Ky. Now there are lots of questions and she's doesn't trust the answers she's being given.
Here's the rub. I get why teens would like this book. Kids of this age are always wanting to push against the status quo, test their limits and see where they can break or bend rules. So, of course they're going to feel for Cassia's plight against the oppressive regime. Me? I couldn't get into it. The world sounded sort of awesome. Prepackage meals specially designed for me? A job picked especially for my preferences and strengths? A mate who is perfect for me in every way? Sounds fine. Now, maybe I feel this way because I was reading this book at a particularly tumultuous time when everything around me was up in the air, but I just couldn't garner any sympathy for Cassia. She felt unnecessarily whiny and I just wasn't having it. Granted, we do start to see the dark side of all of this perfection, but I feel like it comes too late in the novel for me to care.
So, overall, I didn't like it. That bums me out because Condie used to be an high school English teacher and I felt like I should lend a fellow teacher some support, but I just didn't like it. Teenagers may well love it, especially the angst-y teens if your life, but I wouldn't recommend it for adults.