I was late to the Match Banquet, folks. I’m sure the Society would hand me an infraction. I have seen this series on the book shelf at my local Barnes and Noble for a couple years and have shied away from the crisp, clean covers. I prefer by YA Dystopian Fiction a little dirtier looking, I guess. But I was looking for a new listen on my drive to work and I’m still finding it a bit difficult to navigate my library’s online audio book selection so I tend to grab the first thing that looks vaguely interesting.
When I finished listening to Matched I had two things on my mind.
- No one in this world speaks with any emotion. It was all I say, she says, he says.
- Do some audiobook narrators taint my emotional connection with a book because of their voices?
Point 1 bothered me so much that I started to wonder if I would have noticed the lack of speaking emotion if I had read the book. I asked friends and family, “If an author only used the phrase ‘say or says’ when indicating the someone spoke in an alternate society that controls seemingly everything, do you think that is the way the author is showing how the society controls the characters or is it poor writing?” My husband pointed to the thesaurus and said, “There are lots of words to use to indicate a character is speaking.” And with that, I continued reading, twitching every time heard, “I say.”
I’ll be honest, I was not a fan of Kate Simses’s reading of Matched. The narration made Cassia seem weak and subdued as if she would “go gentle into that good night.” I just wasn’t buying her passion to fight against the Society, to fight for Ky and hide from Xander. Cassia seemed flighty and indecisive. It wasn’t until the final paragraphs of the book, which I won’t spoil, that there seems to be some of the strength Cassia kept insisting her grandfather saw in her.
My favorite parts of the book? There were two.
- Cassia’s description of the excitement she feels before a showing. It’s exactly how I feel when I go see a movie. I wished I had a physical copy of the book so I could quote the text exactly.
- The use of Dylan Thomas’s poem, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.” The poem, for me, embodied Ky, not Cassia and after reading the poem in my handy Norton Anthology and listen to Thomas read it himself, I have a deeper appreciation for the poem.
I’m curious to know how other readers felt about this novel/series. There are elements of the Society that freaked me out. Only 100 pictures? Only 100 stories? Only a 100 songs? Only 100 poems? The plus side my TBR pile would be a lot smaller. However, in the end, the Society for all its planning and manipulating created a predictable culture and as a result, the plot was predictable and stilted. I still wrestle with whether I would have noticed all this if I had read the book instead of listened to it. Was it the narrator’s delivery style or was the plot truly flat and the characters one-dimensional? Sound off in comments and let me know.
As it stands, Matched by Ally Condie receives a thumbs down. The structure of the world that was created produced weak characters with no realistic drive to fight the Society that was holding them back.