Book Titles: Matched & Crossed
Author: Ally Condie
Published: 2010 & 2011
Pages: 366 & 367
Category: fiction: young adult
Ally Condie’s books, Matched and Crossed explore a dystopian world where citizen movement is tracked, culture is regulated, and your partners are decided for you. Citizens wear a uniform except on three special occasions where they can pick from a few pre-determined options. Your job is decided for you based on aptitude and even your dreams are monitored by the government.
Falling into a tradition of dystopian novels reminiscent of Lois Lowry’s The Giver, the main character, Cassia starts to realise that her world is not as perfect as it appears when the government makes a mistake with her match and she briefly sees two faces on her match screen instead of just one.
The world Ally Condie has created is a really interesting one, while it is similar to many other fictional dystopias popularized by novels like The Hunger Games, The Giver, and many more, the element I found most interesting and unique is the curtailing of culture. When The Society was created, a panel of citizens chose 100 films, 100 poems, 100 paintings to represent the culture of the past. New art is prohibited and citizens do not learn how to write or create.
The first novel, Matched explores the awakening of understanding of the flaws of the world, and has our protagonist realizing that this way of living is not the way that she wants to be. By the end of the novel, she has experienced horror and heartbreak at the hands of the ‘officials’ and decides to attempt to find what has been taken from her.
Crossed finds Cassia exiled to the outer provinces trying to find a way to live outside of the government structure, and looking for evidence and artifacts of the past.
I thought these books were good overall, though at first they seemed like just another exploration of the same dystopian genre, Condie did manage to find unique elements of authoritarian government and society to explore. I particularly liked the inclusion of technology and the curtailing of culture as hegemonic tools towards the suppression of society. I also enjoyed the positioning of Museum attendants and historians being the driving force of resistance as well as the importance poetry to the main characters, it was very well done.
Condie has a third novel in the works for this series, and it looks to explore another element of society in terms of an organized resistance movement. These books did not captivate me as much as Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy or Lois Lowry’s The Giver, but they were well written and interesting to read and I will be checking it out when it is released some time in 2013.