Monday, January 14, 2013

Matched Gets Crossed... Off My List

Matched (Matched, #1)Matched by Ally Condie
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Oh, dystopian young adult fiction, you are one of my guilty pleasures.

Well, sometimes, at least.

I did like the dystopian world of this book, though I think it owes an awfully large debt to The Giver for everything from deaths orchestrated by Society to the widespread use of emotion-suppressing pills.
The Giver (The Giver, #1)
The Patriarch of Dystopian Young Adult Fiction
 But you know what Matched has that The Giver didn't?  Really dumb, overwrought, unbelieveable romance.  I'm not exaggerating; I found myself making gagging noises -- out loud! -- every so often.  Good thing I was reading this while home for the holidays instead of on the subway to work.
 Okay, so it wasn't quite as bad as having to sit next to one of these guys during a no-pants subway ride...
The bulk of this book is an overwhelmingly mushy relationship between Cassia and Ky, replete with agonizing tension over whether he'll ever finally kiss her.  This breathless tension awkardly coincides with Cassia's insistence that she loves Ky so much that she'd leave her family, her friends, and give up all her dreams of a normal life, just to be with him.  Is it old-fashioned of me to think that maybe you should wait until at least second base before you decide to trade everything you've ever known for the guy?

Even more awkwardly, there's supposed to be a semblance of a love triangle.  See, Cassia might be falling in love with Ky, but she's matched (by Society!) with her BFF Xander -- and gosh darn it, she kind of loves him too.  Just, you know, not in the same way.  So we get some more teenage angst in the form of Cassia wondering if maybe she should just settle for perfectly wonderful Xander, even though it makes no sense that she'd be wondering this (because as I just mentioned, she is totally and completely bonkers over Ky, to the point that she's basically ready to take a bullet for him).

Take out the stupid romance, make Ky into just a good friend (even, gasp, a female friend!), and the story is actually not too bad; the dystopian Society would make a great setting for something other than googly-eyed pining.

Crossed (Matched, #2)Crossed (Matched #2) by Ally Condie
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Ugh.  Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, but the sequel was so much worse.

Unlike the first book, which was told from Cassia's point of view, this book has chapters alternating between Cassia's and Ky's points of view. (Note: it wasn't until I saw Ky's name in caps at the top of a chapter -- "KY" -- that it occurred to me how unfortunate it would be if his name ever appeared in a sentence with "jelly.")  The problem is that Cassia and Ky are basically in the same situation -- each is in the Outer Provinces searching for the other -- so the perspectives just aren't different enough.  Repeatedly, I would start reading a chapter with one character's voice in my head, only to realize a few pages in that the perspective had switched.  "Oops, now I'm reading about the other character who's lost and hungry and endlessly hiking through canyons!"

Virtually everything that interested me about the first book, particularly the design of Society and its careful planning of its Citizens' lives, is absent here.  Out in the Outer Provinces, Society is just a Big Bad that sends its less desirable inhabitants out to be decoy farmers in otherwise-uninhabited villages (aka cannon fodder) for the mysterious Enemy.

That seems a little dumb and not well thought out.  We're supposed to believe that Society is sending kids out to populate villages for the sole purpose of letting the Enemy bomb them.  Why not just let the villages stay uninhabited?   Is the Enemy so busy bombing the fake villages that it can't plan an attack on, you know, actual military targets?  If the Enemy is that stupid, shouldn't Society have beaten them by now?

When a painful and wholly unnecessary love triangle among idiotic teenagers is the most interesting thing in the book, the time has come to put it down. And I mean that in a friendly neighborhood veterinarian way.
bulldog puppy getting vet exam
I'm sorry, buddy, but trust me -- it's the kindest thing.


Charlie said...

Is it some kind of requirement that all of these young adult books involve a love triangle? Twilight, Hunger Games, both iterations of the Mortal Instruments series, now this one... I guess it's sending the message that girls love to be fought over by guys.

Reader One said...

Maybe we can spin the broader trend more positively: young girls don't have to commit to one man from the very moment they achieve adolescence, and it doesn't make them sluts to acknowledge attraction to more than one male? Yay subtle feminist undertones?

But the love "triangle" here was just ridiculously gratuitous. It was a straightforward love story where the girl would, every few chapters, inexplicably pause to remind herself that she loved someone else, too.

Lauren said...

Is that Patrick in the photo? lol

bookshelves ga said...

Interesting site and Love to read the books here.