One of the things I’ve read recently is this really, really, really, really annoying series.
Now a smart person, as all of you are, would ask why did I continue with it if I hate it so much? Good question. I often asked myself this question too. The best I could come up with was that it was really interesting to listen to, I liked the narrators, and as much as the characters themselves annoyed me, the story has so much potential. I kept with it hoping it would go somewhere.
It didn’t, predictably.
I don’t regret all the wasted time and I shocked myself when I got in the car and was sad the story was over. I hated it! But I liked listening to it. Ironic but true. However, other than the things I’ve mentioned I don’t have much good to say about the books.
The series is Matched by Ally Condie.
Matched (Matched #1) by Ally Condie
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Published November 30th 2010 by Dutton Juvenile
This is the first book in the series and it starts off really strong. The setting is some bland futuristic/dystopian time where either a major event or war has restructured the US. It’s not implicitly stated its the US but it sounds that way. The government is known as “The Society” run by a panel of people who have tried to simplify people’s lives. Their jobs and spouses are chosen for them and every day, nearly every hour, is accounted for on The Society’s schedule. Meals, leisure activities, sleep – are all regulated. Freedom of thought and choice is almost non-existant. Cassia is very happy within her Society regulations and is eventually matched with her best friend, Xander. When she goes to view the details of his life, she sees another face instead of Xander’s. She sees another friend of her’s, Ky. All of a sudden Cassia is not sure if she’s in love with Xander or Ky.
This first book is actually decent. The beginning spends a lot of time setting up The Society and despite the bland name and ambiguous details, I was interested in how it functioned and worked. I liked the slightly sinister edge to the do-good actions. I liked that Cassia went from uninformed to slowly making her own decisions. I liked that she questioned her role and how to change it. The love triangle is a bit immature and exhausting. There’s absolutely no reason that Cassia would have all of a sudden fallen in love with Ky and definitely no reason her family would have agreed and facilitated her actions at the end. The end of the first book focuses too much on Cassia being all knowing (which she isn’t and couldn’t be) and on the unfounded love between her and Ky, while not closing the door on Xander. It bugged me and I lost a lot of the steam I had for the book with the last third. I will say I *adored* Cassia’s little brother.
However it was enough for me to keep going with the series. Onto…
Crossed (Matched #2) by Ally Condie
My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Published March 12th 2013 by Speak (first published November 1st 2011)
This book made no sense to me. It contains Cassia, Ky, and Xander (among other new characters) but other than that it has very little connection to the first book in my opinion. The general concept of a link is there – Cassia searching for Ky – but nothing else about the book made sense. For starters the plot is very unfocused and slow, so very very slow. It generally involves Cassia running to a work camp to find Ky – though WHY this would work is so beyond me. She then escapes the work camp with a new friend, Indie, and they cross a desert? (sounded like the Grand Canyon to me) to find Ky. They cross once then go back then meet up with Ky and a great Eli, then back track yet again and seem to be walking in circles before stumbling upon people. I guess the book wanted to make the journey both physical and symbolic. Cassia literally going through hell to prove her love and devotion to Ky (again, why!?) while having her question The Society with each step, ultimately positioning her to join the rebellion called The Rising.
My problem is that it has little to do with the first book. Yes Cassia is questioning The Society, great, but running off to the middle of nowhere, literally, to be reunited didn’t make sense. It also added nothing to the world building. The book goes on for long, long passages about the bleakness of the landscape, the evilness of The Society, the hardships of the farmers living in the Outer Provinces and in the no-man’s land of aberrations. It is supposed to offer Cassia a deep understanding of suffering and sacrifice. She’s supposed to grow up and change on this great journey. Instead I think she’s still immature and spoiled. She obsesses about poems constantly – STOP WITH THE POEMS! Not everything in the world is a poem. Not every emotion and sentiment needs a friggin poem.
She also acts impulsively and without a lot of thought. Ky and Xander spend the entire novel worried about her and wanting to protect her while Cassia spends the novel worried about herself. True, she supposedly thinks of Ky the whole time but I never felt that was real. She seemed more intent on her agenda than the men. She strings Xander along because he can help her even though it’s clear she’ll never choose him over Ky. I attribute this more to immaturity in relationships than anything but it didn’t make me like or appreciate Cassia. She came across as spoiled, especially next to Indie. I kept wanting the book to connect to the main story of The Society more. I didn’t see where her questioning the choices of The Society led to rebellion. It seemed like such a leap and not a well connected and thought out one.
Which leads me to the final book…
Reached (Matched #3) by Ally Condie
My Rating: 1 out of 5
Published November 13th 2012 by Penguin
Finally…it’s over! I gave it a 1 not because it’s horribly written but mostly I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the series and especially not this last book. I wanted to know what finally happened and hoped with the concept of The Rising, the story would turn back to the fundamental concept of how much to govern and how much choice people really want to have. I liked the initial ideas of the series and world but the books have not ever fulfilled them. Instead they’ve gone off on unrelated tangents. To me, the second book had little to do with the first other than staring the same characters. Sadly I feel the same way about this third book. It stars Xander, Ky, and Cassia among even more new characters but has little to do with them and the overall plot. I now believe there is no overall plot spanning three books.
This time all three are in The Rising (yet another bland descriptor of a commonality to save the book the trouble of oh, actually describing the event or thing) but everyone is fighting The Plague. A disease has now ransacked The Society and although The Rising took over with nary a drop of blood spilled, even The Rising can’t control the disease as it mutates beyond their vaccine capabilities. Only Xander, Ky and Cassia with their unique talents (not so special honestly) can save the entire population.
UGH! Let me start by saying the poem BS is out of control in this book. Cassia acts like reciting a poem is the most original, special, meaningful thing in the entire universe. She acts as though it’s never been done before and will never be done with as much meaning as she does it. I’m so incredibly sick of all the poem references that I wanted to scream every time it came up. Of course then I’d be screaming almost constantly. Moving on, if possible, I kept hoping the change of leadership would affect change and show how that alters the lives of those living within. Except the book spent the entire time obsessed with the Plague and how these three leads will solve it all on their own. It’s ludicrous that ONLY these three would be able to come up with a cure and even more ridiculous how they were picked up and brought to the farmers to find it. The entire scene with the Pilot jumps the shark so much my eyes rolled out of my head.
However much I wanted to throw the book – a lot since Cassia never actually grows up while Xander and Ky do considerably – I liked the secondary characters and the narrator. I could get lost listening to the sound of the narrator’s voice so it took the edge off my irritation. Likewise most of my annoyance begins and ends with Cassia. She’s not a character I ever liked after the first book while I enjoyed seeing Xander and Ky’s interpretations. The lack of world building is a real flaw in these books and the lack of a coherent plot is another.
This isn’t a series I would recommend, despite all the inherent promise within.
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