BY: Kelsey Williamson (Gainesville, GA)
One of the first things that Ally Condie said when she began speaking to the first-year seminar classes on Wednesday afternoon was that she was surprised when she received the request to come speak at a college, because she assumed the request was meant for the adult book publishers, not that of a young adult novelist like herself.
This was merely an indication that Condie did not feel that her book was of the level that college freshmen would be studying, and I cannot help but agree with her. However, she did a good job of capturing the room by beginning with topics that we could relate to, like prom and high school. She explained the premise for the book but did not go into much depth due to time restraints. Her ideas felt as though they were undeveloped and she made it seem as though Matched was a spur-of-the-moment idea that didn’t take much thought.
Condie is however a very warm person who is very charismatic when talking about her books, most likely due to her years as a teacher; however, when time came for a question and answer session, the author began to falter in my eyes. One of the most controversial topics talked about in class discussion was that she chose the age 80 for people to die. When asked about the choice, she did not have much reasoning other than her grandparents’ health began to deteriorate at that age and she felt it was somewhat of a maximum age where people could be healthy before they began to have problems. I, along with many others, felt as though this was an issue because many of us have grandparents or relatives much older than 80 who thrive in their golden years.
Another question that Condie did not have an answer for was an inquiry about the significance of the three colors of the pills in the book, blue, green and red. Her answer that she just chose colors because she wanted colors to contrast against the drabness of the setting. Coming from a strong literature background myself, Condie’s response was upsetting to me and led me to believe that she didn’t think many of her ideas through.
The Matched author stated that she did not bother to create the lists of “100 Poems,” “100 Books,” or any of the other lists mentioned in the book because she got bored doing so. I felt like this was almost unacceptable for an author who seems to want to create the next Twilight or The Hunger Games empire, complete with movie. She had very vague answers to questions about the location and time period of the book, and she even admitted that she was “too lazy” to do a lot of research when writing her books. I can understand that there are certain topics that her publisher prevents her from discussing, but I was unimpressed by her nonchalant attitude toward what I would consider some of the more important gaps in the story. Any symbolism that could have been identified by the readers was almost dismissed by Condie as being exactly what it is, removing any bit of depth that the novel could have had. In fact, I can’t recall a single symbol or deeper meaning that Condie identified from the book.
Ally Condie is a fun person to listen to when telling the story of a certain school’s prom dynamic, but I was disappointed with her answers to most of our questions. Maybe I’m just a sucker for classic literature that is full of symbols and depth, but I will probably not read the next book unless it’s free on Kindle. If her second speech was any more insightful than the first, then I may have altered my opinion; however, after leaving the book discussion I can say that I like Matched even less than I did to start with.