For today’s entry, I have chosen the book “Matched” by Ally Condie. It’s a Young Adult Dystopian novel and the first book in a trilogy. To keep things simple, I plan on discussing “Matched,” followed by the sequels “Crossed,” and “Reached” in the following posts. After that we’ll switch types of books again. While this series may be written with teenage readers in mind, it has a strong plot and is well enough written to hold an adult reader’s interest as well.
Imagine living in a world where at the age of 17 you are matched with what is considered your “perfect mate”... someone you have most likely never met and know nothing about. There is no choice in the matter, and in only a few years you will find yourself married to that person for the rest of your life.
Everything about your life is planned for you. Your career is chosen for you, your free time is scheduled (with only a limited number of activities from which you can choose), and even your meals are planned and prepared for you based on your nutritional needs rather than tastes.
Now imagine that your best friend was announced at the match banquet to be your “perfect match,” but when you started to read the data card you were given to learn what little you may not already know about him, it is someone else listed on the card as your match... another boy that you also grew up knowing. Would you wonder about it? Or believing that the Officials don’t make mistakes, would you simply accept it when the Official tells you someone must have been playing a prank on you? And if you did begin to question this, what about the rest of the life choices that the Officials have planned for your future?
This was a very thought provoking book that made me think about a lot of things that many may say could never happen, but at least some of which already do seem to be coming to pass.
When one of the characters begins to secretly teach another the lost skill of handwriting (everything is written down by typing it on a datapad. Almost no one in this society knows how to write anything. Handwriting has become a lost skill), I can’t help but think of the fact that cursive writing is no longer taught in most schools. Even barely legible printing is excused in my daughter’s school under the theory that “It doesn’t matter, soon everything will be typed on a computer keyboard anyway.” Handwriting in any form is already starting to become a lost skill in our world.
Overall, this was a well written book with only a few noticeable typos/grammatical errors throughout. While I was able to anticipate the ending fairly early on in the story, I suspect that had I been the Young Adult reader that the author intended as the target audience, I would have been a bit more surprised by it. This did not, however, in any way diminish my enjoyment of the story.
As I said above, this book made me think about how such a society had come to pass, as well as how easily I could see something similar happening in our own future. And isn't the goal of a good book not only to entertain the reader, but to leave them thinking about what they had just read? If so, then this one succeeded.
Next time, I'll discuss book 2 in the series, "Crossed" by Ally Condie.