Y’all, I’ve been struggling.
See, I’ve read several YA books in the past couple weeks, but none of them were worthy of sharing with you. One started out good, then took this weird turn into… I dunno… Oz? With fairies and unicorns? Blech. Gah. Poorly done, trite fantasy? No, thank you. Another was actually a pretty good story (The 100 Lies of Lizzie Lovett), but it had teen drinking and teen smoking and teen sex in it, and I just didn’t feel it was appropriate as a recommendation for my lovely readers. The others? Not worth mentioning, my dears.
I considered not doing a book review this week, but it’s been a while, and I can just imagine you out there, tapping your chin, going, “KT, I count on you to give me brilliant book suggestions and you are letting me down.”
Everybody has a dry spell. But I’m just sayin’, how many books can a girl pick up and put back down in a two-week span?
I decided to fall back on an old favorite. Chances are if you read YA at all, you’ve read this one. But if you haven’t… Oh, if you haven’t, then you are in for a swoon. Because this book has the stuff.
You probably know by now that dystopia is my favorite genre.
I could read dystopia 24/7 and probably be a very happy girl. But some books stick out from the hundreds I’ve read, and Matched by Ally Condie is one of them.
What sticks with me about this particular dystopian story? It. is. beautiful.
I really don’t know how else to put it. See, Cassia lives in a world that is strictly controlled by the government. The government tells you who you will marry, when you will get married, what you will eat, what job you will do For Your Entire Life, and even when you will die. They make sure of this by poisoning everyone slowly to death until their 80th birthday. Turn 80? Dead. Turn 17? Matched with a partner, usually one you’ve never seen before. Turn 21? Married to said partner.
The government even issues three little pills that you keep on your person in case you need them. You know, to keep yourself in line and following the rules. Most historical artifacts have been weeded out, leaving only 100 poems, 100 paintings, 100 songs. Cassia doesn’t even know how to write. Shades of Fahrenheit 451, y’all.
Words are dangerous.
On her 17th birthday, Cassia is pleasantly surprised to find out she has been matched with her childhood friend, Xander, an unusual circumstance. Usually, matches have never seen each other before, let alone been best friends. But when she views the microcard with her match’s information on it, a different face flashes up on the screen. Just a glitch, but Cassia gets curious.
Enter Ky Markham. I am in love with Ky Markham. He is, of course, kinda the bad boy of the book. ( If you’ve ever seen pics of my beautiful husband, you know I love me a bad boy.) Ky is what’s known as an Aberration. He doesn’t have citizen status because of certain acts against society his father committed. Adopted by his aunt and uncle, he has been a quiet, broody, part of the outskirts of Cassia’s life for nearly as long as Xander has been at the center. Because Aberrations can’t be matched, Cassia is floored when Ky’s face appears on her microcard. Just a glitch.
But we all know glitches can change everything.
My very favorite part of this story is when Ky secretly teaches Cassia to write. It gives me the goosebumps and tingles, y’all. Because it’s like he gives her the gift of words and, if you know me, you know I believe that is the greatest gift a person can have. Ally Condie has that gift. She takes this simple dystopian story and makes it a lyrical, poetic homage to words.
It doesn’t get any better than that. You will be entranced.
My only complaint about this book is that it has the requisite love triangle. And although this particular triangle is, at least, believable, I just think there are better ways to provide tension. When a girl falls in love, it shouldn’t take her 3 books to stick to the emotion. That’s all I’m saying. It pisses me off when we’re portrayed as flighty and fickle and unable to master our own feelings. But that’s just me. And it really doesn’t take away from this beautiful story.
Read this one. I promise, you’ll love it. Then get the rest of the trilogy. Because it lives up to its promise.