4 Rated Books Book Reviews DNF Books Joint Review

Joint Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Title: Matched

Author: Ally Condie

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Speculative Fiction

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication Date: November 2010
Hardcover: 384 Pages

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Stand alone or series: Book one in a planned series

How did we get this book: ARCs from the publisher, picked up at BookExpo America 2010

Why did we read this book: We both had Matched on our radars for a while, and when we got the chance to listen to author Ally Condie talk about her book at BEA this year, we knew we had to get ARCs. And, when November finally rolled around, it was time for a good ol’ fashioned Smuggler Joint Review.


Ana’s Take:

Matched proved to be a veritable rollercoaster, even before I started the book. I first saw the cover months ago and really liked it. Then I read the blurb and thought it sounded too focused on the love triangle (and I do not like those) and decided it wasn’t for me. Then, I saw the author on a panel at Book Expo America and enjoyed what she had to say and it seemed that the focus of the book was actually the dystopian society that the characters live in and I ended up pursuing an ARC. Because of all that, when the time came for this joint, I will admit to having mixed expectations. Another thing to take into consideration when reading this review: I haven’t read a lot of Dystopian fiction and out of the few I did, The Giver by Lois Lowry is definitely my favourite and the one that is most fresh in my mind.

The premise for Matched is thus: at some undisclosed point in the future people live in what they perceive to be a Utopia. Based on their expertise at statistics, The Society runs and controls everything: from what songs you can hear, what movies you can watch to what artefacts from the old days you can have; from what job you will do to deciding how many hours of free time you have; from setting a curfew to sending pre-cooked food everyday to your house; from deciding when a person will die (at 80) , to deciding who you will marry. It is the latter that the protagonist is about to experience when the story starts: she has turned 17 and is about to be Matched to the person who she will eventually marry to. To her surprise, in a rare occurrence, she is Matched to her best friend Xander. This is a surprise because usually a person is Matched to someone they don’t know. Cassia is delighted because after all she has known and loved Xander for a long time and trusting that the Society has made no mistakes , she knows she will love him as a Match too. However, later on, when she opens the file that contains more information about Xander, the photo inside is not his: it is that of another boy, another boy she KNOWS: Ky. After that happens, Officials explain to her that errors occur, that was a mistake, Ky is not eligible to be a Match to no one and that Xander IS her real match, she can just relax. But then the seed has been sown and Cassia experiences mixed feelings which include a certain regret that she knows her Match already and won’t live through that exciting period of getting to know each other and the unsettling feeling that the Society may not be perfect after all. Then, her grandfather gives her a Poem and it is not one of the 100 allowed – it is an old poem, one that she should not have and then she is uneasy, because she likes those words and she wants to keep them but she can’t.

The premise is certainly an interesting one and I liked that the main focus is not the romantic elements of the novel but Cassia’s slow realisation that the Utopia is actually a Dystopia.

But. Even though the idea of a society controlling everything is obviously not new, it all depends on the particular storyline and its execution as well as the characterisation and specific elements of that particular dystopia. Unfortunately I don’t think Matched succeeds when it comes to any of those parameters. I read 200 pages out of its 366 pages and had to stop.

Where did it go wrong for me? Well, for starters, I was reminded at every turn of The Giver. The story starts the same way (with a public ceremony where the main character is going through an official Sorting or some sort) and it progresses the same way. In The Giver an older character passes on details of the past via memories to the main character and that sparks what happens next. Here, an older character passes on details of the past via a poem to the main character and that sparks what happens next. I realise that those two events are probably not exclusive to these two novels but since they both deal with Dystopias, it felt too close for me.

The world building is not very clear and I was confused with regards to the logic of certain situations. For example: we know several characters from Cassia’s point of view. Her parents, her grandfather, Xander, Ky and a few friends. I am now going to play statistics games because statistics are so important to the maintenance of the Society: 90% of these characters at some point break a rule and are on the verge of suffering consequences for it. If in a very small sample of inhabitants of this world, there is so much rule breaking how does that transcribe to the entire Society? How can this work at all? If a lot of people are breaking the rules, then a lot of people are in fact, AWARE that this Utopia is not an Utopia at all, thus rendering it effectively an autocratic government and so then how can it even sustain itself, how could it have started.

Another thing that didn’t make a lot of sense to me and that is with regards to the very premise of the novel. At one point, Cassia says that kids and teenagers are allowed to play kissing games with each other and fool around before being Matched. BUT that does not make any sense whatsoever. The Society pride themselves in their coolness and in their almost mathematical decisions. Surely a Society that know everything, that control everything should know how difficult it is to control teenage hormones, so why such leniency here when everything else is monitored?

But none of these things were actual deal breakers. The deal breaker for me was in the lacklustre writing. Even though it is certainly competent writing and at some points it has even beautiful turn of phrases, the majority of the book felt clinical, detached, repetitive and with more telling and exposition than anything else. For example, I am told, over and again by Cassia how much she loves Xander and how he is her best friend but I hardly ever saw any actual examples of that.

An example of repetitiveness comes from Cassia’s description of how she must empty of her mind to do her work as a sorter. She tells how her mind works when she is sorting in a long paragraph, by listing all the things she won’t be thinking of because she needs a clear mind to sort. This explanation is repeated three times in the space of 200 pages. I get what the author is trying to do but I don’t need to be told more than once. And THAT is exactly my main point of contention: the explanation of things that the Society or Cassia does or does not do, read more like an encyclopaedia than a novel and this sort of monotonous speech is all through the book, it is all spelled to me as though I wouldn’t be capable of understanding what is happening and “get” the horror of it all. A great example comes when Cassia talks about her grandfather’s approaching death ceremony:

“All the studies show that the best age to die is eighty. It’s long enough that we can have a complete life experience, but not so long that we feel useless. That’s one of the worst feelings the elderly can have. In societies before ours, they could get terrible diseases, like depression, because they didn’t feel needed anymore. And there is a limit to what rte Society can do, too. We can’t hold off the indignities of aging much past eighty. Matching for healthy genes can only take us so far.”

So this is why the book did not work for me. I reached page 200 and didn’t care one way or the other and I think the reason is the sense of detachment I had due to the clinical writing. I decided that I had given it a fair chance and put it aside. A DNF from me.

Thea’s Take:

Although I did finish the book, I have to concur with Ana’s assessment. I too was excited to dive into Matched, and I too felt similarly disappointed and underwhelmed with the book in its totality, in terms of actual concepts, dystopian world building, writing style, and in general believability. Needless to say, I had sizable issues with Matched.

Like Ana, the most glaring and immediate problem with Matched is how eerily similar the book is to Lois Lowry’s classic novel, The Giver – which happens to be one of my favorite books, period. The family unit, the scenes in school, the selection night of being Matched, the omnipotent and ever-present officers, the regulation of color, clothing, emotion, vocabulary, and thought, the treatment of the elderly…the list goes on. The more I read, the more uncomfortable I felt with the entire book – because the best parts of Matched were cribbed directly from Lowry’s The Giver, and the portions where Ms. Condie attempts to strike out on new ground (sort of) fall very, very flat. Which brings me to my biggest problem with the text: overall, my biggest problem with Matched was in its lack of cohesion and believability.

Let’s take a step back and think about Cassia’s society. In her world people can: read poetry, draw (in primary school), read and write on their tablet/computer devices. There are references to concepts such as angels, songs, and even God(s). Ergo, people in Cassia’s society know about these creative and challenging concepts, right?

Someplace deep within me – Is it my heart? Or perhaps my soul, the mythical part of humans that the angels cared about? – tells me that I can

WHY then does Cassia find it impossible to write? Or inconceivable to draw? WHY DOES NO ONE CREATE? The concept of mimicking letters that every child in this society have learned is…what? Inconceivable? Apologies, dear readers, but I am not buying it. This society, supposedly having been in place for at least five generations has people that know who Sisyphus is, have access to poetry (government approved, but still poetry) and yet not a single member of society has ever considered to write anything down? At one point in the book, Cassia cuts and pastes together a freaking handmade card for her Grandpa. And yet, Cassia’s dilemma?

If only we still knew how to write instead of just type things into our scribes. Then I could write them down again someday. Then I might be able to have them when I am old.

It does not compute, and Cassia’s excuses for not writing hold no water. In comparison to The Giver – a society with absolutely no color or concept of music – Cassia’s world seems a bit ludicrous. On that note, the enforcement of rules in Cassia’s world seems incredibly lax for an evil overarching dystopia. Also, with the concept of God and angels and souls and all that, I find it hard to believe that everyone seems all hunky-dory with enforced euthanasia (whereas in The Giver, people believe their elderly are being sent “outside” and onward to a better place). There’s also some ado about tissue samples needed for…cloning in the future? It’s never explained (like so many other things in this society). Ms. Condie never really sets any definite parameters for her world – for example, what is the difference between Matching versus being a Single? How does one choose that life? And what does it mean for the people that choose these lifestyles? I finished the book none the wiser.

Ana’s touched on this next gripe above, so I’ll be brief, but I do have to agree that the book suffers a severe legitimacy problem concerning human emotion. The romance is strictly G-rated, with Cassia’s greatest thrills coming from the touching of hands (oh my!) or fluttering of hearts with each embrace or chaste kiss. The conservative romance angle would have been perfectly fine had it not been for the complete sanitation of any emotion or sexuality from the actual society at large. I can believe that Cassia’s world is rocked by some hand-touching. I can’t believe that in Cassia’s world overall not one pre-Matched child has never felt/acted on any kind of attachment, love, attraction, whatever. Once matched, that attraction is “allowed” and only then do thoughts of attraction step into the picture. This is ridiculous for a couple of reasons: it is human nature to form emotional attachments and attractions – to claim that prior to being shown her match, Cassia had never even subconsciously dreamed of being with another boy is as disingenuous as it gets (this is only exacerbated when Cassia sees a flash of ANOTHER boy’s face on her Matched screen and immediately falls for him – are human emotions really so malleable? Again, I don’t buy it).

And finally, I must mention the writing style – which drove me bananas. As Ana points out, there’s a TON of repetition, but more distracting was the forced attempt at poeticism throughout. Each chapter ends on an attempt to sound poetic and deep…but instead came out corny and bizarre. For example:

I decide to keep the envelope, to put Ky’s artifact inside before Iput both in the pocket of my extra plainclothes for safekeeping. But before I do, I open the case and watch the spinning arrow. It settles on a point, but I still spin, wondering where to go.


My heart is on fire and I have to keep my mouth shut tight so that I don’t try to burn these Officials with the flames.


I didn’t put the book down as a DNF as Ana did, but instead read the book through to the end, where the plot collapses in a pile of ludicrousness (in which EEEEEVIL manipulating officials have been playing puppet master all along, in a kind of incompetent, generic version of the maestros from Scott Westerfelds Uglies series). I did like the idea of Matched and the character of Cassia (meh, well, kind of), but ultimately the flaws of the book far outweigh any of the meager positives. Unfortunately, Matched simply did not work for me.

Notable Quotes/Parts: From the official excerpt:

Now that I’ve found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night? My wings aren’t white or feathery; they’re green, made of green silk, which shudders in the wind and bends when I move—first in a circle, then in a line, finally in a shape of my own invention. The black behind me doesn’t worry me; neither do the stars ahead.

I smile at myself, at the foolishness of my imagination. People cannot fly, though before the Society, there were myths about those who could. I saw a painting of them once. White wings, blue sky, gold circles above their heads, eyes turned up in surprise as though they couldn’t believe what the artist had painted them doing, couldn’t believe that their feet didn’t touch the ground.

Those stories weren’t true. I know that. But tonight, it’s easy to forget. The air train glides through the starry night so smoothly and my heart pounds so quickly that it feels as though I could soar into the sky at any moment.

“What are you smiling about?” Xander wonders as I smooth the folds of my green silk dress down neat.

“Everything,” I tell him, and it’s true. I’ve waited so long for this: for my Match Banquet where I’ll see for the first time, the face of the boy who will be my Match. It will be the first time I hear his name. I can’t wait. As quickly as the air train moves, it still isn’t fast enough. It hushes through the night, its sound a background for the low rain of our parents’ voices, the lightning-quick beats of my heart.

Perhaps Xander can hear my heart pounding, too, because he asks, “Are you nervous?” In the seat next to him, Xander’s older brother begins to tell my mother the story of his Match Banquet. It won’t be long now until Xander and I have our own stories to tell.

“No,” I say. But Xander’s my best friend. He knows me too well.

“You lie,” he says, teasing. “You are nervous.”

“Aren’t you?”

“Not me. I’m ready.” He says it without hesitation, and I believe him. Xander is the kind of person who is sure about what he wants.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re nervous, Cassia,” he says gently. “Almost ninety-three percent of those attending their Match Banquet exhibit some signs of nervousness.”

I have to laugh. “Did you memorize all of the official Matching material?”

“Almost,” Xander says, grinning. He holds his hands out as if to say, What did you expect?

You can read the full excerpt online HERE.

Additional Thoughts: You can see the official book trailer, as well as a bit from author Ally Condie talking about her book, online HERE.


Ana: DNF – Did Not Finish

Thea: 4 – Bad, but not without some merit

Reading Next: Broken Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin

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  • Steph Su
    November 5, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Well, I agree with you. I was loving it up until the point when I realized that it was almost exactly like The Giver, except more focused on a love triangle, which, unfortunately, was not impressive enough to capture my attention. Showing not telling of the emotions was a real turnoff for me. Glad I wasn’t the only one who felt this way!

  • Renay
    November 5, 2010 at 11:55 am

    I have been pretty much waiting for this review from either of you since some stuff went down about the plot of this book elsewhere. And….somehow I am not surprised! Why does this seem to be happening with all these hyped up books lately? Hmm.

    Enjoy Broken Kingdoms! Eventually I will rediscover books again and read that series. <3

  • Nayuleska
    November 5, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    This is really interesting – I haven’t read the Giver, and I loved Matched. There are a few other books which are popular but I’m not keen on them.

    (and I love Uglies series 🙂 )

  • Lenore
    November 5, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    I felt the same detachment, though I still overall enjoyed my reading experience. It’s definitely worthy of discussion, even if it is, as you do here, to discuss how similiar it is to The Giver.

  • melissa @ 1lbr
    November 5, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Huh, I had the totally opposite reaction. And thought the writing was excellent. Guess people really do have different taste in books. I definitely need to reread The Giver…

  • Ceilidh
    November 5, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    The similarities with The Giver (as well as the way the publicity seems to be pushing this as yet another love triangle story) were what put me off this, even with the massive hype (a 7 figure deal for a trilogy? Wow.) I love dystopia but this one just seems too derivative to me.

  • katiebabs
    November 5, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    “because the best parts of Matched were cribbed directly from Lowry’s The Giver” O.o really?

    Darn, I have this one and from what I heard, it is a most anticpated YA of the Fall season.

    I haven’t read The Giver. Must change this… perhaps another Smuggler dare? 😉

  • katiebabs
    November 5, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    And it irks me like you wouldn’t believe that ho-hum YA books are getting such big advances when the normal advance is under $30K.

    7 figures for what? Seriously?

  • Parajunkee
    November 5, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Such a shame. I really have high expectations of this book because I am a big dystopian fan. The problem with the world building in these novels is they have to be impeccable or it just turns into a mish mash of nonsense. It has to be believable. I might still give this one a try – but my expectations have dropped a notch.

  • Angie
    November 5, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Ugh. I’m relieved to read this joint review and know I’m not alone. I was completely underwhelmed by this book and do not understand the love it’s getting for the world and the writing and the romance–all three of which felt particularly lackluster and stilted to me.

    The stuff taken straight from THE GIVER still mystifies me. How does that idea get out the door?

  • Lynsey Newton
    November 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I have to say that I totally disagree with you and absolutely LOVED the book. Like another commentor said, reading is subjective and what works for one person doesn’t work for another. Thank you for introducing me to The Giver though which is a book I hadn’t heard of before and I will be looking it up!

  • Carla
    November 5, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    WORD. I get mad thinking about this book because even though the world building did make me a little bit wondrous in the first chapter, it kind of dwindled then crashed and burned afterwards. I didn’t finish either. Got to over 100 pages, threw it at the wall and decided i didn’t want to waste my time on a book that only frustrated me. Marvellous review and I agree on all counts. Sincerely!

  • GreenBeanTeenQueen
    November 5, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    YES YES YES!!! It’s taken me a month to get through this one and I’m still not done. I put it down and really have no desire to get back to it-there’s nothing there that’s interesting me. I too keep thinking of The Giver and how similar the society is to the society Lois Lowry created-and I LOVE The Giver, so that is really bugging me as I read. I’m not impressed with the writing and while I’ll say there are moments I’m like “hey, that was pretty decent” for the most part I just DO NOT CARE about anyone! Cassia is boring, her life is boring, her society is boring, and the romance is boring. Why should I care at all? I’m trying to finish it so I can review it fully on my blog-we’ll see if I actually can get that.

  • Christie
    November 5, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Bummer 🙁 I was really looking forward to this one.

  • La Coccinelle
    November 5, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Thanks for the review. I generally don’t like books that use the first person, present tense POV… so now I know to avoid this one. The telling (rather than showing) seems like it would annoy me, too. I think I’ll be skipping Matched.

  • Amy C
    November 5, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Great review. I’m still interested in picking up this book (in no small part due to the cover), but the fact that a large portion of this is derived from The Giver is an absolute turn-off. Since this book was bought with a million dollar advance, it should be original, or at the very least intriguing and exciting in its similarities, but since it doesn’t…well…that just makes me mad.

    Oh and this:

    My heart is on fire and I have to keep my mouth shut tight so that I don’t try to burn these Officials with the flames.

    This makes me laugh because Thea is right, it is worded awkwardly. I can totes imagine Cassia belching fire from her mouth at the Officials. Fun.

  • Madigan
    November 5, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    This is the first negative review I’ve read for Matched. I too, was intrigued by the cover, and hustled to get the ARC and recently reviewed the book. I really, really enjoyed it, though! I did feel like it was a lot like The Giver, but with a love triangle added in. And, for me at least, there’s nothing better than a good love triangle, so I really enjoyed it.

    You do bring up a couple of great points in your review. Re: everyone in the society being rule-breakers. Yes. I think that’s true, and I think Cassia is a bit of a goody-goody who doesn’t realize how easy it would be to break a ton of rules and get away with it.

    Also: in 5 generations, why aren’t there more illicit teen love affairs before folks are “matched”? That is another great point. I could buy that Cassia hasn’t personally known of any, as she seems pretty sheltered. I’d bet you anything that somewhere in the world there are more examples like you’re talking about. But, I think you are underestimating the power of brainwashing, too. If Cassia and all of her peers have been raised in a certain way and taught not to question anything (and so have their parents, and their grandparents) then it might be pretty difficult for them to dissent (despite what their hormones are telling them.)

  • Adrienne
    November 5, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Thank you for saving me another 20 bucks…. I will go buy another book and take this off the list

  • bram
    November 5, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    So bored with love triangles. So bored. And this one doesn’t seem worth even the curiosity. Remember, the ‘most anticipated book of the fall season’ is only that because it was the most paid for book – of course their publishers would hype it to get their $ back. Big advances probably have very little to do with the actual writing in the book. lol Such is the state of YA today…

  • readergirl
    November 5, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    I read Matched in just over a day and couldn’t disagree more. Yes, there are elements that are similar to The Giver…which in turn built heavily upon the dystopian world of 1984. Saying that Matched ripped off The Giver reveals how little dystopian you’ve read. It’s like saying that Harry Potter ripped off Lord of the Rings because there were elves and trolls. If you’ve only read two books in a given genre, of course the similarities jump out at you.

    By the way, I’m not the only one that loved Matched! For the other side of this coin (and a little more professional approach by those who are actually familiar with the dystopian genre), check out positive (and starred!) reviews this book has received from pretty much everybody else. And then read Matched and decide for yourself!

  • Beth smith
    November 6, 2010 at 1:46 am

    Readergirl your comment sounds quite ignorant, I am sorry to say.
    Built heavily upon, is very different from ripping. I have been a sci fi and dystopia addict even before they started getting all this buzz.
    If you are as well read as you claim, then you will know 1984 built heavily from WE. However, it did not rip it off.
    Matched here, ripped of The Giver, period. The only difference is the love triangle. I mean even down to the pills, its the same story. How would you like it if I said, all the people who gave the book positive reviews have so much publishing wool (i.e one million dollar advance so it has to be great) over their eyes to write an objective review?
    I bet you wouldnt.

  • Beth smith
    November 6, 2010 at 1:55 am

    Now to my opinion. Thanks so much guys for your review. As usual you guys are detailed and precise.
    I am not sure how to state my problem with this book but I suppose the most puzzling thing is this:
    Did the author write this in this detached and clinical tone with a bunch of repetition because she wanted to show how things are done in the society, or is this just how she writes?
    I might have forgiving the blatant ripping off, if the writing was stellar. Case in point, just finished Nightshade by Andrea Cremer, and while I had some problems with her protag, her writing, (ohh, so clear and concise, really like book porn to me 😆 ) made me forgive the shortcomings.
    If it is the first, then I think that was a risky endeavor because any editor could have seen the risk of alienating people. Why? Condie is not that great of a writer neither does her character provoke enough deep emotions to get her readers so involved, they miss the language.

    That’s the most confusing part to me.

    Now to The Giver thing and the false poetic nature of the book, and the romance that even Twihards wont get all shivery about (considering their innocence) all I can say is two words: Jodi Reamer.

    I think the book will be successful, but it sure wont be any Twilight or Hunger Games.

  • katiebabs
    November 6, 2010 at 2:51 am

    It seems so many books, especially the YA ones have a major lack of originality going on, much like what happens in Hollywood.

    This maybe sad to say, but I can’t help but see the Twilight book heavily influencing YA Paranormals and Fantasies.

    I’m surprised that no one, not an agent or an editor would seem the considerable comparisons to The Giver and Matched. Book Smugglers noticed right away. So, why no one else?

  • Rana
    November 6, 2010 at 3:53 am

    I didn’t like this book from only reading the blurb…The society chooses your match? What are you a robot? I liked the cover though
    Thanks for the review I’m avoiding this book compltely

  • Ceilidh
    November 6, 2010 at 4:14 am

    I don’t know if it’s worth noting or not but I find it interesting that this is billed as Condie’s first book when she’s already written several before Matched, albeit for a Mormon specific audience. Got to give her agent Jodie Reamer credit, she knows how to make a damn good publishing deal, no matter how awful the books are (cases in point – Twilight, Aprilynne Pike’s Wings series – the first book is complete and utter bilge and it’s generally accepted that Pike only got her deal because Meyer passed her onto Reamer. *cough YA clique cough*)

  • Jess (The Cozy Reader)
    November 6, 2010 at 7:41 am

    I really loved this book. I noted the similarity to The Giver in my review as well but I didn’t discredit it for being similar because there are a ton of other elements original to just Matched.

  • April X
    November 6, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Thank you! I thought I was crazy for disliking the book after I read all the great reviews.

  • bram
    November 6, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Yeah, I read Wings. Crap. It’s funny because so many people out there are working hard to write something worth while and others just waltz through because they either a)know Stephanie Meyer or b) are copying what Smeyer did in Twilight. So you have a bunch of Twilight clones being given million dollar advances and it’s like, where are the editors in this? When reading this book, are you really judging it by its actual literal quality, or are you just seeing dollar signs?

    I vote the dollar signs.

    Because honestly, I can’t understand why so many of these Twilight-knock offs with a twist ( ooh, angels instead of vampires! dystopian instead of paranormal!) are being shoved down are freaking throats. I mean does no one care about originality? If you’re an editor/publisher, shouldn’t you care more about just getting that pay check? I know we all have to eat, but as YA becomes more popular, it’s also getting dumber and less original. So you have Cassandra Clare as the YA authority on the Victorian Era (a vast knowledge which she gained through her mighty wikipedia copypasta skills). We’ve got books coming out with the same tag: “She thought she was in control – but then she met HIM.” or “She can control ____, but not her HEART.” or “She thought she had everything figured out – but then HE came into her life” ETC ETC and it’s like….STOP.

    Can’t we aim a little higher?

    Anyway, I’m not even going to borrow this book out of curiosity. I’m so bored with YA now I might just leave it altogether. When MTV starts writing hysterical reviews of “lyke, new totally hawt books coming out!!!” You know something’s gone wrong.

  • alana
    November 6, 2010 at 9:26 am

    You miss the point readergirl. Most people will not dislike a book just because there are similar, even extremely similar, plot lines or world building as other books (even books that are considered classics in certian genres). It is usually a mark against the author, but as long as they bring something new or interesting to the table their book will hold up. When their writing is mediocre at best though, then of course their unoriginality is going to be more noticed. Because why read a second rate book when you can read an exemplary book that has basically the same story. Criticizing someone’s genre knowledge is ridiculous. Otherwise you’re telling us that the author wrote this book only for YA readers who have read the dystopias from the 80s. That’s even more silly.

    Not all people have the same reactions to books. This is obvious. I think The Forest of Hands and Teeth is completely overrated and yet everyone seems to have loved it. Neither opinion invalidates the other and just because you like a book doesn’t mean it’s a good book.

  • readergirl
    November 6, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Why is everybody wasting so many words and so much venom? Especially those of you who haven’t read and/or finished it? You don’t have to like Matched, but why invest yourself so heavily in hating it? It just seems petty and weird. I hope you can all find happiness, but I doubt that being pissy about somebody else’s big advance will do it.

    readergirl is done with this conversation, but feel free to continue to trash me (and/or Matched) if you think it will help you with your insecurities! I’ve got a life to live and books to read. Peace, booksmuggler world.

  • Thea
    November 7, 2010 at 5:41 am

    readergirl – I’m sorry you feel personally attacked and want to withdraw from the conversation; I don’t think anyone crossed any lines and so far the discussion has been respectful (with some different perspectives)!

    I would like to say, however, that if you look around our site for a bit, you’ll see that I am a *huge* dystopian and SF fan and have been for a very, very long time. The Giver and Matched are not the only two dystopian books I’ve read, nor are they the only two dystopian books I’ve reviewed here (seriously, check our dystopia tag – which doesn’t include post/apocalyptic titles because we are so anal about dystopia/apocalypse classification that we needed two tags to get it right!). In any case, regardless of expertise in a subgenre, I don’t think it’s fair to discount someone’s opinion about a book just because they aren’t well versed in that subgenre (in fact, I believe the opposite holds true more often: people that aren’t as well-versed in the genre are less jaded and less familiar with common tropes, therefore are more likely to like what they read because it is so fresh and new to them).

    The review above and the comments here reflect personal opinions – which everyone is entitled to! I’m glad that you enjoyed this book far more than Ana and I did, but perhaps some readers – especially readers that have looked at the excerpt, have read that our complaints with Matched are not isolated incidents – have found the book unattractive, and do not wish to spend their money or time on a book they have lost interest in. I don’t think that’s venomous or a waste of time.

  • Julie
    November 11, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Terrific and honest review. I recently read Delirium by Lauren Oliver. I liked the book but it sounds very similiar to Matched and I didn’t feel the dystopian world rang true. I’ve never read The Giver. A lot of writers seem to be on the dysptopian bandwagon like vampires, werewolves and fairies. I agree, if you’re going to create a world you need to really own it and make it believable, rich and imagined.

  • The Book Smugglers » Blog Archive » Smugglivus 2010: Airing of Grievances
    January 4, 2011 at 12:55 am

    […] perfect example is last year’s Matched by Ally Condie. We saw it everywhere as early as 6 months prior to publication because of its […]

  • Brianna
    March 19, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Really though thanx guys for saving me 20$ I waz very intruiged by the cover I waz just about too buy thee book but not now 😮

  • Brianna
    March 19, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Really though thanx guys for saving me 20$ I waz very intruiged by the cover I waz just about too buy thee book but not now 😮

  • Angie
    May 30, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    This book was such a stinker!!! YUCK!! Your reviews said everything I felt! Thank You!


    XOXO Angela’s Anxious Life 😡

  • Anna
    July 12, 2011 at 2:13 am

    this book looks great I want to read it but I can’t find it in my local libary or book store 😯

  • Twizzlers
    August 10, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    I really want to read this book! Lots of people say it is really good!

  • David
    August 31, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    I am older and read a lot of SF. I saw the book recommended on a list and found it at my library. After I started reading it, I was reminded of Ira Levin’s This Perfect Day. I never read the Giver. My take on the book is the author is recreating some of her Mormon background in the book. I don’t know what that society is like but the book quickly became uninteresting to me and I started to skim ahead. I can’t recommend it and don’t plan on reading the sequels.

  • Anonymous
    November 15, 2011 at 10:00 am

    THIS IS JUST PERFECT!!! I have to write a book review about Matched…and I had the EXACT SAME ideas as you. however i didn’t put that much hate into it though i didn’t love the book and neither hated it i found it average with too much overexageration…-.- repetition and so on…well at least i’ll have to steal some ideas of yours for my book review they’re just great! 😉

  • Anonymous
    November 15, 2011 at 10:03 am

    THIS IS JUST PERFECT!!! I have to write a book review about Matched…and I had the EXACT SAME opinions as you. however i didn’t hate it that much that i stoped reading it. i didn’t love the book and neither hated it i found it average with too much overexageration…-.- repetition and so on…well at least i’ll have to steal some opinions of yours for my book review they’re just great! 😉

  • Janet
    November 25, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    This is my first book on this genre,I honestly had no idea such a genre even existed but I have to say,I’m dissappointed.Its so clinical and detached it makes the it difficult to follow or to feel anything about the book!I feel it would fare better as a movie(a comic movie anyway) than a book,dont ask me why.First twilight,then 50shades,now this,all hype,no show!The only good thing I can say about this book is that the cover is pretty.

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