Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Book talk: The world used to be a horrible place, but Society has changed all that. Society guides each of its citizens down the optimal path: choosing their careers, their houses, and even their spouses. Society is all that keeps them from the diseases, crimes, and wars of the past. Cassia is a bit nervous on the way to her Match Banquet, but she knows that Society will choose the ideal match for her and keep her safe. But then Society makes a mistake, and she realizes that there is more than one path that she could follow, and more than one match she could choose. Making her own choices means risking everything, but how can she keep trusting Society to choose for her when she discovers the dark secrets they've been hiding?
Rocks my socks: I admit that I judged this book by its cover and wrote it off as another fluffy love triangle series. Then I needed an audiobook for a last minute road trip with my sister. I ended up being pleasantly surprised by the depth of the novel and the extent of the world-building. Even the love triangle served the plot without eclipsing it. It triggered important actions by the characters, but it was not the whole point of the novel. Add to this the refreshing addition of parents that are loving and not completely useless, an allusion to Sisyphus (one of my favorite myths), and the fact that the poem "Do Not Go Gentle" (another favorite) was a pivotal to the story and you get a surprisingly refreshing novel that thoroughly entertained my sister and I through vast stretches of Arizona desert.
Rocks in my socks: The book was predictable at times and strongly reminiscent of The Giver. Both societies create order by eliminating choice of career, spouse, etc. Both work to destroy memories of the past and euthanize the elderly at a certain age. Still, Matched provides plenty of details that differentiate it. Besides, the question of how much freedom people would be willing to give up to ensure their safety is one American society has been grappling with for a long time. Benjamin Franklin famously cautioned "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." The question remains relevant today as I was often reminded this summer as I travelled and submitted sheepishly to the TSA. The recent controversy around the Patriot Act has also caused many to question how many civil liberties we are willing to give up for the sake of the safety of society. So if another book gets today's teens talking about this very question then that's not a bad thing.
Every book its reader: I'd give this to fans of other YA dystopias like The Hunger Games, although this one is more character than plot focused so those just looking for something dark and violent should look elsewhere. The book is far less violent than most of the dystopian books out there and Society keeps such close tabs on the characters that it never gets too steamy either. I'd say it's fine for 6th grade and up.
Ally Condie has her own site with the usual blog, FAQ, bio, etc as well a play list of suggested songs for your listening pleasure
The series has its own official website with information about the books and a party pack pdf download with suggestions for throwing your own themed party (including a quiz you can take to see where the dystopian Society would place you. The marketing department seems to have missed the point of the novels.)
There is also a fansite where you can get info on the books, the author, the upcoming movie, and quotes.
If that isn't enough for you head on over to the tumblr for more quotes, fan art, and other images related to the book.
If you want even more you can head on over to the wiki and get involved in the fan community.
There's an official trailer for the book that's appropriately ominous:
Those who have read the book may appreciate this recording of Dylan Thomas reciting "Do Not Go Gentle"
And to round the media extravaganza off, here's a scene from The Muppet Show where Fozzie attempts to recite another poem mentioned in the novel, Robert Frost's "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" (stay through the end because Statler and Waldorf's pun is my favorite part)
“Growing apart doesn't change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I'm glad for that.”
Source: Audiobook from a public library
Matched by Ally Condie: Buy it or check it out today!