Letter Essay #9 – Matched




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Recently, we finished reading Matched, a 366-page dystopian novel by Ally Condie. Ally Condie used to be a high school English teacher. She lives outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. Also, Condie has a husband, and three sons. She likes to listen her husband play the guitar. Ally’s Matched series also became a #1 New York Times and international best seller.


We chose this book because it was a past nutmeg book that was very popular for quite some time. We all thought it sounded like a good read (although this was not the case.) Finally, none of us had ever read the novel, so we thought it would be a good idea.


In Matched, a futuristic society called “The Society” wants its residents to live orderly and perfect, through arranged marriages, and healthy lifestyle for generations to come. Also, residents are told not to dwell on the past or negative events that occur or have occurred. People must obey curfew, take their pills, and be honest especially to officials or officers. But, they don’t know what true love feel likes, they don’t even know what life is because everything is taken care of and they can’t experience things for themselves. Finally they don’t know how they evolved from the past because they are taught not to care. Everything in the society is meant to be positive, perfect, and free of destruction, but in order to sustain this, the society must destroy and cover up the truth. This is why they have pills, this is why they only choose 100 things to keep from the past, and finally this is why they have such strict rules and punishments. So, when Cassia starts to find out the truth and realizes how bad the government truly is, she finally gives up her loyalty to and creates a plan to change things.


This book reminded us of The Giver by Lois Lowry. One of the dystopian features throughout The Giver, was that residents, were selected their job through a ceremony. This is similar to Matched, because people are given different job openings that they must do. The Giver uses this more as a main idea than Matched, but this still makes them very close in relation. Also, in Matched residents have an arranged marriage, called their “match” who is meant to be their soul mate. The society makes a big deal of this, having a banquet revealing their match. In The Giver, people also have arranged marriages, but again isn’t the main theme of the novel. Other  than these examples, there are many more ways that The Giver is similar to Matched.


While reading this book we noticed that the characters were not very developed at all. Every emotion or problem the character was facing, we knew about it. Every tough decision or feelings of tension between characters, we knew. We didn’t have to guess Cassia’s conflicts because every time Ally Condie literally spelled it out for the reader. There was no suspense about what would happen next or what Cassia was planning to do because the novel was unbelievably predictable. For example, we learn on page 39 that on Cassia’s micro card, the card given to every match ceremony participant and tells them about their match, that Cassia does not see her match, Xander, but another boy that lives in her providence named Ky. At first she is very confused especially since Ky, an Aberration, is not allowed to be matched because of his status as a “criminal.” Cassia does not understand how the society could make a mistake as big as this when they’ve never made mistakes in the past. From this one event we as a group predicted that Cassia would become more interested in Ky and they would later have a strong relationship. That fact that we could predict this so early in the book and have our predictions be correct just goes to show how poorly this book was written. In addition, we know from our time studying the Dystopian unit, that in order for it to be considered a Dystopian novel, the characters have to show some sort of rebellion. Up until the ending of the this book, Cassia stayed completely loyal to the society. She followed the rules even though she knew the officials wanted her to step out of line, she started distancing herself from Ky when the officials started to catch on, and finally she didn’t do anything but meaningless “crimes” that were not really punishable. She didn’t put herself out there and stand up for what she believed in, she more kept it to herself and only told Ky when it was absolutely necessary. Although she might have have had some hatred for the society her devotion to it was more over powerful. As a result, Cassia did not develope into this strong and courageous character we expect her to be and this also made the book very unamusing and sequential.  

We were angry when we found out what the red pills were, and that they made people take them. These red pills made people forget what happened in the previous 12 hours. At the end of the book, Ky was harshly taken away. Therefore, the people who witnessed it were forced to take the red pills. People should not be forced to forget things let alone being forced to swallow a pill. If every time something bad happened and they forgot about it, the people would never really feel pain or sadness, or even regret things. If you never regret things,  you will never learn from your mistakes and you will not become a better person. These red pills are truly no good for their society.


We were interested in this passage when Ky and Cassia were hiking, and talking about what life was like in the outer provinces. They were specifically talking about life expectancy. Ally Condie writes:


“‘Yes. Isn’t it like that where you came from?’ I’m surprised that the words escaped my mouth- not two seconds ago he reminded me not to ask about his past. This time, though, he answers me.


“Eighty is… harder to achieve,” he says.
We were interested in this passage because of the use of Ellipsis. The use of this helps build tension and shows a passage of time. This helps the reader really understand that life is not as good in the outer provinces than it is where Cassia lives. While looking for a quoted passage, we also realized that the author hardly ever used Ellipsis so, we thought that this quoted passage was different. We would give this book a 1 out of 10, because of how predictable and uninteresting it was. 


Amelia Burrell, Mia Prizio, Maddie O’Dowd, and Amelia Wasco

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