Matched by Ally Condie wanted to fill The Hunger Games hole. It fails. It’s got the ingredients – teenage girl and two love interests in a society filled with lots of strict rules about what it’s citizens can and cannot do; but it’s missing the intrigue and story. The Hunger Games had passion and struggle for survival and a strong female lead. Matched has a girl that suddenly finds herself between two boys because of a computer glitch. I didn’t feel like there was any chemistry between Cassia and the two “love” interests. I mean, who is happy to have their entire life censored, controlled, and watched? There’s no sense of unrest or uncertainty about the system until the end and even then everyone’s just doing what they’re told. Matched felt like one big introduction to something larger (and yeah, it’s a series, but could I at least get a story arc). Matched didn’t leave me wanting more, it just left me annoyed.
On the flip side, I read Bumped, another dystopian society, the same weekend as Matched. Bumped by Megan McCafferty (yes, author of the Jessica Darling series) is wonderful. I requested an advance copy from NetGalley after reading the description: When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.
In Bumped, Melody is a sought after surrogate waiting to be bumped by the perfect guy (as chosen by the people with the $$$). Harmony is her identical twin that has been raised in a religious community. Both societies think girls are just meant to breed and, because of this virus, must do so before they’re 18. Melody’s secular society thinks girls should be paid to have sex with strangers if it means the perfect baby is born for the paying customers, while Harmony’s community thinks that girls should marry at 13, raise babies, and cook dinner (all in Jesus’ name, of course).
I loved the story (and great writing) and I think that it does say something very interesting about where our society might or might not be headed in regard to teen pregnancy. Not to mention, Melody and Harmony are independent, strong-minded young ladies who aren’t so sure that what their respective communities want for them is necessarily what is right for them. I can’t wait to read more of this series!