Thursday, January 6, 2011

Matched--Ally Condie

So, I've become a total freak about dystopian novels. The more I read them, the more I like them.  I'm picky, however.  I'm not as much into the ones that have a heavy sci-fi side, which is why I loved Ally Condie's Matched.

When I was in high school (Come on, it wasn't THAT long ago!),  we had to read 1984.  I don't think  many kids have to read this for English class these days, though I hope I'm wrong in that assumption. I didn't realize it then, but I think that's what started my love for the dystopian novel. It's all about the hope that even when the odds are against you, you still fight. No matter how big the problem is, no matter how insurmountable it may seem, you still have to try. I love to see a character, who at first seems passive and weak, find strength and passion within him or herself.


As the book opens, Cassia Reyes is 17 and headed to her matching ceremony.  It's the time when she'll find out who she is to marry.  In her world, society has figured out how to perfectly match young people so they will have successful marriages and healthy children.  Disease and malformations are rare.  What's even more rare is when she's matched to Xander, her best friend. They grew up together and know each other, unlike the others her age who are matched with people from around the country.

Her life seems absolutely perfect until she's looking through the microchip that gives information about Xander and sees another boy's face.  Another boy she knows.

The problem is Ky Markham isn't allowed to be matched.  He's an Aberration.  Now, in a society where everything is chosen for her, Cassia has to decide if she will choose the life created for her or create one of her own.

If this book, as seen in others like it, creates teams for the love interest, I am totally Team Ky. He's real in a way Xander can't be. Ky is freer to choose his own life because of his status.  Now, that doesn't mean he isn't subdued by society's rules, but Ky is smart enough to manipulate the rules and fly under the radar. Xander is just as smart, discovering Ky's secret of purposely remaining average, but he has no desire to change.  In this world, you take what you're given, and Xander seems content with that.  He doesn't have the history of another, wilder place like Ky does. It's Ky's experiences that make him unique and intriguing to Cassia.

Isn't that true of all of us?  Our pasts, be them good or bad, make us who we are today. They allow us insight into life in ways others can't see.  The things we love, the things we notice and appreciate (Books, poetry, music, etc) all stem from our own personal history and experiences.

 Let me give you a personal example: When I was growing up, we used to make fun of my Dad who would sit at the dinner table spouting Greek, Latin and Hebrew to us.  "Pedantic comes from the Latin root ped, meaning foot," he'd say. "It's the same root we get in the word pedal." This was common practice, and though I don't remember all the roots,--Sorry Dad--I gained his love for language, words and how they're put together. I chose my path based on this. My experiences with language shaped my love for it. Now, I wish I had paid closer attention to my father all those years ago.

So, I ask you, where do you come from?  What past experiences made you who you are? What shaped you to love the things you love? Do you like to listen to swing music or eat black licorice? (Thanks again, Dad!) Are you a person of faith? Do you love poetry? Books? Sports? Coffee? And do you ever wonder who you'd be if that person, that influence hadn't been around? Think about it. What would be missing from your life if one person or experience hadn't happened?


  1. I loved Matched! The author is from Utah and will be the keynote speaker at the best YA writing conference: Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers ( You should totally come to Utah for it! :)

    Now, to answer your questions. I'm not sure who influenced me. I'm a reader and a writer, yet no one else in my family does either. I hope, though, that as a teacher, I can influence my students to love reading and writing as much as I do.

  2. It's easy for me to figure out why I've chosen the career path I have. When I was younger, my parents split pretty early on. I didn't have any friends, and my brother and I have fought like cats and dogs since I can remember. My friends were books. I read them to go to a different place, to socialize with people I would never meet. So now I want to write books of my own, and maybe help out some other little girl out there. =)