Matched Trilogy—Ally Condie
Can I trust this boy who writes in the earth?
Someplace deep within me—Is it my heart? Or perhaps my soul, the mythical part of humans that the angels cared about?—tells me that I can. (175)
On the ride to City Hall, I keep my head down. There are too many places I can't look: at the seats where Ky used to sit; at the floor of the air-train car where he set his feet and kept his balance, always making it seem easy, natural. (334) She can't look at the floor because HE SET HIS FEET THERE ONCE?! OH MY GOD, KILL MY NOW.
That pretty much sums up my feelings of the whole series. I had such high hopes for this trilogy. I am a total sucker for dystopian stories, which is great for me because they're all the rage right now. First and foremost, it is essentially The Giver. (Which I re-read recently, and was not as impressed with it as I was when I first read it in 5th grade.) There's even a hilarious Goodreads review based on the fact that it's almost a carbon copy of The Giver.
Cassia lives in the Society, which makes all of her decisions for her. They tell her what to watch, what to read. The Society is limited to "100" of each of the cultural items we consider commonplace: 100 Paintings, 100 Poems, 100 Songs. Anything outside of that doesn't exist; all the remainders were disposed of years ago. The elderly are lovingly euthanized at age 80. Cassia is pleased when Xander, her best friend, is shown as her Match at her Matching ceremony. She'd never dared dream, because usually Matches are from different geographical areas. But then, when she goes to look at the disc that contains the information for her to begin getting to know her Match better, for just a split second, the face of another boy comes up. Another boy that Cassia knows. And it's all downhill from there.
Beyond that, I liked all of the details, all of the specifics, the things that were actually different from The Giver. And then Cassia, the protagonist, turns into this whiny girl OBSESSED with this boy that she doesn't know at all, basically BECAUSE she doesn't know him! I wanted to punch myself in the face all the way through. Cassia turns into Bella from Twilight in one of the most irritating ways, basically deciding that there's no reason to exist without this boy she wouldn't have taken a second look at the day before had it not been for a "glitch" when she goes to look at her Match's information. (See quote above.) Here's another gem: "Somehow I've run out of fear; I feel lethargic instead, which is almost worse. Why care about a flat planet populated by flat people? Who cares about a place where there is no Ky?" (329)
To be sure, there's something to be said for teen angst, and the general feeling that you'd rather die than be separated from the person you love. I mean, it's the basis for some of literature's most famous teen lovers, like Romeo and Juliet. But come on. I can't take them either. I think honestly there's a danger that comes with that "you are my everything" mentality.
It seems very clear that Condie was attempting to create a character like Katniss or Tris (even though Divergent was published after this one; it's obvious that's the entity she's aiming for) but she just misses the mark. Cassia is much too angsty. Too much Bella, not enough Katniss. I almost rage-quit the book at least three times, but managed to power through due to my completionist nature. But it was a close one.
I also really didn't appreciate the all-encompassing nature of Cassia's love for Ky because it made her treat Xander like a lacky. There's even a point where Xander tells her that he knew a particular secret about Ky, and Cassia takes from this that Ky was vulnerable once and isn't that sad, not that Xander is a great guy who has kept a secret for someone else for years and years at possible danger to himself. Xander even says to her, "I came up on the screen, too, Cassia, but he was the one you chose to see." To which Cassia is like, "I'm sorry, I can't hear your rationality over the sound of my obsession."
The second book, Crossed, is told in alternating chapters from Cassia's point of view and Ky's point of view. Essentially nothing happens in this book, other than crazed preoccupation masquerading as love. We do learn two plot-driving points in the span of 450 pages, so that's something I guess.
The final book is told in alternating points of view again, but throwing Xander into the mix. The rebellion has finally begun, the Society is falling, but it's because the rebellion has basically poisoned everyone. Yay revolution! I really only read this one to appease the completionist inside of me. Spoiler alert: everyone ends up happily ever after, with Ky and Cassia being together, and Xander (Cassia's original Match) hooking up with the old girlfriend of the kid who died with Ky in the second book. Isn't that neat?!
I would suggest staying far away from these books if you want to keep your sanity. I'm barely clinging to mine. (See all caps yelling above if you don't believe me.)