This is a new series for my blog, wherein I will discuss whatever book or books I’m reading or have just finished that week. Feel free to post in the comments what you’re reading this week, too, or your own thoughts about the books I discuss.
1/20/10: Matched by Ally Condie
A girl in a strictly-controlled future society sees her Match after the Match Banquet and then sees the face of another boy. It was strange enough that her Match is her best friend, weirder still that she knows the other boy too. When her grandfather dies, right on schedule, and gives her part of the Dylan Thomas poem Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night – which is not one of The Hundred Poems and therefore isn’t supposed to exist anymore – it feels like everything is pushing Cassia to ask questions, to want choices, and to rebel.
This book has received many mega-awesome reviews. It is on many lists of top books from 2010. I had been hearing and reading about it for months and I couldn’t wait to read it. So, I really wanted to like it.
I have to make a painful confession: The first half was slow. At some point I realized that nothing much was happening. There wasn’t a whole lot of action.
However, I kept turning pages. Not because I felt I had to or that it might get better, but because I wanted to. Because I had to keep turning pages. Despite the lack of action, what this book had in abundance was tension.
There was tension between how Cassia was supposed to live and how she wanted to live. There was tension between her two Matches. There was tension about which Match she should be with and which she wanted to be with (yes, another love triangle – oh, YA). There was tension between Cassia and the various Officials she came into contact with. Plenty of tension – everywhere, on every page, in every scene, between every possible combination of characters.
About halfway in, the tension became great enough and the action increased to the point where it was difficult to put the book down. In addition, the prose was beautiful throughout.
In terms of tension, this book is so valuable to a writer. Donald Maass (yup, him again) advocates “tension on every page” and Ally Condie certainly delivers.