Saturday, November 3, 2012

Review: Matched & Audiobook

by Ally Condie (Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter)
Series: Matched, #1
Published: November 30th, 2010 by Dutton Juvenille
Pages: 369 (Hardcover)
Genre: Dystopian
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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.

Have you ever started a book thinking it would be all that and a bag of chips? And then it was?! Well that’s how I felt about Matched… my second time around anyways. My first try was disastrous. I was bored, I couldn’t figure out how to pronounce Cassia’s name, and Xander with an “X” was irritating me. I actually gave it another go because of my mom. She asked me if the series was worth the time AND YES, Maja, it's SO WORTH IT! I was curious about the world, fell in love with the characters, was sucked into the love story… I just thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Let’s start with the negative – Matched has a ridiculously slow beginning, as in you would’ve got 5 stars but I almost stopped reading you twice so now you get 4. During the first couple of chapters we get some very basic information on The Society and about Cassia. It’s informative but also super dry. I hoped the novel would quickly pick up speed because I was hesitant of its premise - I wanted to know if this book would be about more than Cassia and a forbidden romance (more on this later!). Unfortunately, the first third or so was excruciatingly slow and I was seriously considering calling it quits again when I decided to check out the audiobook. Well, I ended up loving the story!

Condie really knows how to create a world full of intrigue and secrecy. At first I thought Matched was just a love story. But oh how I was wrong! It took a while to figure out where she was actually taking the novel, but I am so thrilled about how she used Cassia and Ky’s relationship to set up rebellion and conspiracy, as well as a means of uncovering the dark details of The Society. I was so excited (I’m still excited) about how much deeper Matched gets! Safe to say, I am now sufficiently addicted to the series and invested in what happens to everyone.

The character development in Matched is flawless. Cassia buys into everything The Society tells her and she honestly believes it has improved the way people now live. Her devotion to her family and to The Society’s rules is believable since it’s all she has ever known, but it takes falling in love with Ky for her to stop blindly following orders. I liked this; it showed Cassia growing out of her ignorance and naivety in a totally believable way.

There is a love triangle in Matched but I actually liked this one. It added to the character development and (obviously) got the plot moving. Xander is Cassia’s best friend and her match. He’s sweet and loving, fiercely loyal, and all around a great guy. But he just didn’t have that umph for me. Out of the three major characters, Xander fell a bit flat. Not like Ky. Ky, why must you be so mysterious and intelligent and sexy? Oh… to make me fall for you? Okay, I’m good with that. ;)

Matched is one of those books that takes a long time to finally get going, but once it starts, it flies by. The world Cassia lives in is ruled by statistics and probabilities. Everything is calculated and decided for you. You have no free will. Watching these characters break out from underneath that mindset in their own ways was a rewarding experience, and I can’t wait to finally start Crossed.

Rating: 4/5 stars
I would have liked to have been sucked into this book sooner, but the payoff was great. Buy a copy pronto (or better yet listen to the audiobook!) and don’t give up on it!

Narrated by Kate Simses
9 hours and 54 minutes | Unabridged 

Kate Simses does a spectacular job with this book! She really is an amazing storyteller. I got lost in her narration so easily, particularly because of her spot on voices. Cassia’s voice was cool and calculating, void of most emotion and matter-of-factual. But as the story unfolded, Cassia’s character changed into a more emotional and spirited girl, and so did Simses’ voice. :D She also added depth and dimension to the other characters as well: Bram sounded like a scared little boy; Cassia’s mother was strong but hesitant; Ky – restrained and measured; Em – emotional and full of life… it goes on! She gave Matched the life it needed to really suck me in, and I found myself digging around for my old CD player so I wasn't limited to listening in my car.

I absolutely loved the dramatic piece of background music that would play during a heartfelt or intense scene. I thought it added an extra bit of emotion and urgency to the situations in which it played. Honestly though, I didn’t listen to the last disk… I couldn’t stand having the last 40 pages be drawn out to a little less than hour, so I went to Barns and Nobles and sped through it. So if the last disk was AWESOME and had lots of sound effects, I have no idea.

Rating: 5/5 stars
I would highly recommend giving the audiobook a listen though, whether you’re reading Matched for the first time and especially if you’re re-reading it, you won’t be disappointed!

Have you read Matched and/or the rest of the series? If you have, did you enjoy it? If not, what’s keeping you from checking out a copy? I’d love to discuss! :)
- Alysson

1 comment:

  1. Oh man, it sure is boring when a book starts out really slowly. I've heard so much of great stuff about Matched and mums are always right, right?! Hahaha! It's great you listened to her and read the book AND liked it. :)
    Great review!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts