The Matched series is something that I've been thinking a lot, mainly 'cos I'm considering what I did and didn't like about it (Since it's been a few weeks since finishing it) and I thought, hey, I should probably get to reviewing this quickly before I completely lose the thoughts and feels I have about this book!
So, here's the rule changing, society shattering, blurby-blurb!
'The Society chooses everything.
The books you read.
The music you listen to.
The person you love.
Yet for Cassia the rules have changed. Ky has been taken and she will sacrifice everything to find him.
And when Cassia discovers Ky has escaped to the wild frontiers beyond the Society there is hope.
But on the edge of society nothing is as it seems...
A rebellion is rising.
And a tangled web of lies and double-crosses could destroy everything.'
As the same old with a book series, if it's a trilogy, they all get their own review! :)
- Spoilers! There are spoilers in this review, and unless you want to start up a rebellion against me for sharing said spoilers, do not pass this point!
but if you totally don't care and love that poetic irony of reading it, be my guest! Spoilers -
The Book Depository has a wide and FANTASTIC selection of stand-alone novels, trilogy boxsets, and even those 8+ series in one huge boxset. The best part? There's even a range of boxsets you can choose from if you're picky (like me) about the covers you get for your book ( I spent weeks deciding between what cover of Animal Farm by George Orwell to get because there were so many editions and so many beautiful symbolic renditions of it! Book lover struggles man)
As pictured, that was the book set that I bought of the Matched series.
I have a weird aesthetic for boxsets on my bookshelf. Don't they just all look so pretty in sync and matching and in this protective box that's all matchy-matchy *Heart eyes* Be still, my aching aesthetic.
The boxset is $70, and is free shipping worldwide!
Is it weird that I hate it, but I feel obligated to like it? It's a weird sensation to describe.
On one hand, it fills all the criteria of my usually favourite book covers. It's symbolic of Cassia breaking out of society's mold, it's matching all the colours of the series and has a nice colour scheme of grey/blue, it's minimalistic, it's meant to be perfect, right?
Wrong. I can't stand it. I have no idea why! Perhaps it's the poorly edited girl breaking out of the glass ball where you can count the pixels, or the obnoxious backwards R, who knows? It's just sitting there all smugly about how great it's meant to be and it just falls flat for me.
Why oh why don't I like you cover? Whyyyyy? Why do you induce cringes?
- The Society Chooses Everything (Good good, yes, this is going fantastically. A Dystopian society dictacting what everyone does, Aww Yiss!)
- The books you read. The music you listen to. The person you love. (YESSSSSS. HERE WE GO! BRING IT HOME LADIES!)
- Yet for Cassia the rules have changed. Ky has been taken and she will sacrifice everything to find him. (Dang it. Dag nabbit. Of course. Of course you do, sweetheart. We can't have anything nice unless it's YA sacrificial love with an extra measure of angst and drama and somehow society imposing on it)
- And when Cassia discovers Ky has escaped to the wild frontiers beyond the Society there is hope. But on the edge of Society nothing is as it seems...A rebellion is rising (Now why couldn't we just have kept it at a rebellion? not this love triangle/not even a love triangle because it's clearly established who she prefers, just like the whole Twilight dilemma of Edward and Jacob (I am so sorry anyone who loves me right now, I don't like Twilight I just strangely know too much about it) when it was clearly obvious that she was never going to pick Jacob. It was always Edward/Ky)
- And a tangled web of lies and double-crosses could destroy everything. (And we're back to something that COULD be interesting, but was inevitably over shadowed by the immense level of romance, triangular shaped romance. The angsty, 'You're the sun of my life, giving me breath and life and all that poetic stuff' kind of romance.)
It had so much potential, but that potential was instead channeled into a poorly and almost hipster-like teen romance.
(Now, not really a lot happened in this sequel, to be honest. It did not have a world building atmosphere, it did not really explain the Rebellion or the Society in detail, it just was one of those slow moving sequels to lead it along to the big climatic finale)
Basically, you could summarise the entire summary in one sentence - 'Traveling to the Outer Provinces to find Ky' - 'cos that's pretty much it. Or, - 'Ky is in the Outer Provinces. So is Cassia' -
Aaaaaand, it's been a few weeks now since I've read Crossed, so it's hard to remember what happened to exact detail. I've even tried to find an online wikipedia of the plot summary, but alas, no success!
Okay, what was this novel, Ally Condie? What was this? Was this the pit stop, the resting place between your trilogy? The place where nothing happens except a bit of bad poetry that is clearly cringeworthy, and the place where Ky and Cassia just talk about their feelings all the time. Poor, icky, teen feelings.
I wanted to like this. That would be the sentence to represent this review. I wanted to like this book, this sequel, this series. But it isn't happening. Perhaps I'm outgrowing this certain genre, or I just can't stop finding these really subpar substitutes.
Not only was it a snore-fest, but it was completely filled with trying-too-hard-to-be-meaningful poetry and these whiney teen love triangles that are so popular. All the, 'But I can never be with the one that I truly love! SO I'M GOING TO LOVE HIM EVEN HARDER AND AGGRESSIVELY!' and then everything dramatically happens to cause them to always be apart, but when they finally do get together, it's always really cringey. It's like when you see two young kids just making out and you're awkwardly sitting there like, 'This is wrong. This is so wrong on so many levels. Wroooong'
What I just hate, and I can't figure out why there are no other books that actually tackle this problem, is that the world is crashing around Cassia/Ky/Xander, right? They're figuring out that Society is not as great as they previously thought, things are happening (Like a rebellion), and yet all they can think about is their relationships and romance. Even when Ky gets sent to the Outer Province, watching kids his age die around him, ALL HE IS THINKING ABOUT IS CASSIA!
I get it, you're in love and of course you're going to be thinking of your love frequently, but my gosh son...people are dying around you, and Society has casted you out as an Aberration, and you're just picking flowers singing, 'She loves me...She loves me not...she loves me'
How about a Dystopian book series that actually has romance, but it's not the key plot point in which every other thing circulates. How about a Dystopian book or book series that deals with Society, deals with all that cliche YA Dystopian Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic, and can INCLUDE romance but have it be an underlying message? But no, it can only ever be one or the other. It's only ever romance all the time ever, regardless of what the plot is or what's going on in the background, or all plot and absolutely NO romance at all.
But regardless, as long as we don't have anymore angsty teen romances where it's basically Romeo and Juliet, I won't have to cringe so hard that it hurts.
Cassia Reyes: I liked Katniss Everdeen, in the Hunger Games series, even though sometimes she irritated me (But sometimes that's a good thing. It means that the character is flawed, is multileveled, and is their own person in which you sometimes don't agree with. I also liked Vin in the Mistborn series, though it took a while to grow into herself. I wasn't too fond of Tris Prior in the Divergent series, but she cared not only for Four (Heh) but for all her friends and family. Even Clary Fray from the Mortal Instruments was alright, and at least did some fighting and at times was realistic (But still verging on the annoying teen angsty relationship)
But yet I can't shake the feeling that female protagonists can't stop filling these awful tropes. The tropes of 'Femme Fatale' or 'Femme Fatale until the Love of her Life shows up' or 'Weak Damsel in Distress' or the worst offender, 'The Whiney Love-Is-Everything Character'
And unfortunately that's what Cassia Reyes filled in my books (Heh) She was just continually talking about Ky, or things that Ky had showed her because it was tied to Ky, and I was so fed up with it. In a way, you could really tell that she was 17 and thirsty.
Xander Carrow: Xander. I'm partially sad for Xander that the girl that he loved didn't reciprocate, but at the same time I'm not. If someone doesn't return your affections, that's the end of the story. You're not friend-zoned, you weren't led on (Though sometimes it does happen and some people do it, but in this case we will say it didn't happen), your life isn't tragically over because someone doesn't reciprocate your feelings.
But I couldn't help feel that Xander was used just as a simple plot device for everything. And if there was no need for a plot device, Xander wasn't mentioned. He was also written as one of those perfect boy tropes. Even his description on the Matched Wikipedia is, 'Golden, charimastic, clever Xander' who has blond hair, blue eyes, and is handsome.
Seriously? His trope is so obvious it's a little gag worthy. I didn't connect to his character at all, and he felt very expendable in a lot of ways, especially in this sequel.
Ky Markham: Ky. Markham. Probably one of the most interesting characters, and because of that, the most infuriating because he is filled with the background of uninteresting main protagonists. Tragedy not only follows this dude, but it's the old friend that sits quietly with him. I think if there was any character that I could say that I did connect with, or did like, it was Ky...but that's not saying that much when there's plenty of mediocre characters to follow.
Indie: She's that type of friend that you're never sure about, and probably know that if someone were to get sacrificed or left behind, Indie would happily volunteer you. The friend-enemy title, I guess. She had so many moments where I was thinking, 'Yeah! Indie is kinda cool actually. I really like her character and how she's sensitive alone but completely independant on her own, but she was flawed by her past and her mum's stories that she carried with her' but then she'd do something and I'd think, 'You're absolutely freaking pyscho and I would want to keep a minimum of 10 feet away from you at all times'. She was border-lining a femme fatale though, and while I could understand in that situation it'd be reasonable, it does annoy me when you have this femme fatale character, then a weakling damsel in distress character. Indie was so close to reaching that perfect balance, but just didn't make it sadly.
(And speaking on that topic of female tropes, where they can only be one or the either in there's more than two together, the only books I've seen that has great female characters that don't strictly follow a trope but are multiple tropes pulled into this one magically flawed and human character is Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, The Book Thief, and Rainbow Rowell's novels Eleanor & Park and Fangirl (Though sometimes the female characters in those two last books can follow a trope of those quirky girls who are misunderstood)
Vick: Vick. The tragedy of Vick. You know those Side Characters that you just know, YOU. JUST. KNOW. that they're going to die. It's not even a question of if, it's when now. Vick was that character for me, as soon as he was introduced. I did the whole, 'Him. It's him. He is the sacrificial lamb, and it sucks because he was an awesome character :( THE GOOD ARE ALWAYS TAKEN TOO EARLY!
Eli: Eli is a precious baby, and will always be the precious baby. Protect him at all costs, even if he is a weakling and needs protecting because he reminds Ky of Cassia's little brother. Protect the baby!
- The Do Not Gently poetry/repeating theme. It's quite a cool mantra to repeat to yourself :)
- The side characters! Vick, Indie, Bram, even Xander's friend who I completely forgot the name of! They are significantly more interesting than the main characters, Cassia and Xander (Ky is alright...but he was a little more annoying and infuriating in this book!)
- Whatever was mentioned about the Rebellion and the Society. To see the two stark contrasts and how they assembled their rules and laws. Too bad there is so little of it *Sigh*
- Some of the quotes were actually really nice, and the quote that I added in as my favourite quote was brilliant. I loved it, even though the romance was so heavy in this book, I actually found that this quote was cute and meaningful. I'm totally going to add that into my journal that I'm writing to my Future Husband <3
Things I Didn't Like:
- Cassia and Ky's relationship. It's the most basic and trope form of teen relationships. The keeping secrets, the drama and having everything always going wrong or trying to stop them from being together. Gross. So gross.
- Practically no world building. I like it when there's a least a little bit of description mixed into the dialogue or shown through someone's actions (The most famous description being, 'The moon glinted against his knife'. It clearly depicts night, outside, suspenseful because of a murder? It's shown through action) But no, none of it was that. It was either bullet point descriptions that made no sense unless you're the one writing the book, or nothing and you have to figure out what everything looks like yourself (Which isn't bad, but it's something hard to picture and in the end they all are just floating bodies in the middle of no where doing nothing looking like nothing)
- The plot devices. So. Many. Plot devices. The thing or the person only being in the story simply to fulfill a plot device and then to die because their usefulness is done.
- LOVE TRIANGLES/SQUARES/OCTAGONS. UGH. UGH. NO MORE. I'M SICK OF IT. IT'S NOT NECESSARY UNLESS YOU'RE 13 OR 14. EWWWWWWUH.
I'm rating Crossed a 3 out of 10, and that's being courteous.
If I could say anything about this book, it'd simply be this
- ' LAY OFF THE DAMNED ROMANCE AND FOCUS ON WHAT'S ON HAND: SOCIETY IS CRUMBLING AND YOU'RE WALKING/RUNNING IN THE DESERT' -
You tried, Matched Series, you tried.
I did read the last book, because I am not a quitter, so the third book Reached will be done soon :)
“Everyone has something of beauty about them. But loving lets you look, and look, and look again. You notice the back of a hand, the turn of a head, the way of a walk. When you first love, you look blind and you see it all as the glorious, beloved whole, or a beautiful sum of beautiful parts. But when you see the one you love as pieces, as why's, you can love those parts too, and it's a love at once more complicated and more complete.”
― Ally Condie, Crossed