Matched by Ally Condie – Audiobook Review

Matched by Ally Condie, narrated by Kate Simses
Published in audio by Penguin Audio, published in print by Dutton Juvenile, both imprints of Penguin

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Cassia has been looking forward to her Match banquet for a long, long time. The Sorters of Society have this sort of thing down by now, and Cassia is dying to see who her perfect Match is. Amazingly, when Cassia’s Match flashes on the screen at the banquet, it is her best friend, Xander. Almost nobody is Matched with anyone they know, let alone a best friend. Everything gets all the more improbable when she reviews her files later at home and sees the face of another acquaintance, Ky. She is told by the Society that it is all a mistake, that Ky should not have even been in the Matching pool. Initially, Cassia accepts this, but her feelings begin to grow complicated, and she begins questioning even the most basic aspect of the Society.

Thoughts on the story:

SUCH a good dystopian (or negative utopian) novel! Early on, the descriptions of the Society in which Cassia lives reminded me a lot of one of my favorite books, The Giver by Lois Lowry. I was worried that it would be derivative. Certainly there are a number of similarities in the basic setup of the society, both seem idyllic from the outside, or to more naive members of society, but there are very real problems that became obvious as one looks closer. There are moments when Cassia’s confused feelings grow slightly obnoxious (“Xander! Ky! Xander! Ky!”), but it was not overwhelming, and it fit very well with her character.

Actually, I quite appreciated that Matched avoided the ubiquitous YA love triangle even as it puts Cassia between who boys who both might be perfect for her. Yes, she was unsure who to choose, but to Cassia her choice between Xander and Ky is greater than just between the two boys, the choice instead represented remaining a loyal and productive member of Society, or questioning the decisions made by those in power around her. The plotting and characterizations were incredibly well done, and I was left craving the next installment in the series.

Thoughts on the audio production:

I’m certain I could track down an advance copy of Crossed, the next book in this series, if I really so desired. At this point I am purposely not doing so, in order to wait and see if Kate Simses narrates the second book as well. If she does, there is no question in my mind as to whether I will attempt this in print or audio. The pacing of young adult literature works really well in audio, but frequently narrator choice is an issue for me. So many narrators of YA either sound too old, or sound like they are trying too hard to sound young. It can be really awkward. Kate Simses, on the other hand, has both the bearing of a professional narrator and a youthful enough voice that I absolutely believed her as the teenaged Cassia. I would say that she is the absolute best narrator of a young adult book I have yet heard.

One interesting thing about Matched in audio is that Penguin audio used sound effects at certain times. I know for many listeners this can be a huge turnoff, but I thought it was done very well in this case. Occasionally it was used as an announcement over a loudspeaker, or similar things that set the scene of the Society. For more discussion about the issue of sound effects in audiobooks, see today’s Audiobook Week discussion post.


Matched is a fabulous specimen of YA dystopia/negative utopia, and Kate Simses narration turns the great book into a fabulous audiobook, I don’t think you could go wrong with print or audio.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound: Audio/Print*

This review was done with a book received from the library.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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15 comments to Matched by Ally Condie – Audiobook Review

  • I started reading this book and put it down…. mainly time restraints at the time but it wasn’t grabbing me. I wonder if audio would?

  • Heather J.

    I enjoyed this on audio much more than I think I would have in print. And I’m not usually a fan of sound effects but the ones in this production were low-key and added to the story rather than detracting from it.

  • I loved this book. I read an ARC of the book before it came out, but I have been dying to go back and listen to the audio version. Thank you for the review of the audiobook. It makes me even more excited to read it!

  • I too reviewed a YA new YA audio book today: Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt. The narrator gives a strong performance, enhancing the novel immensely. He voices the text with an “adult” vocal character, although his delivery works perfectly to illuminate the quirky vernacular of Doug Swieteck, our eighth grade protagonist.
    Jen – I do know exactly what you mean about matching the vocal character of adult actors to youthful characters: dicey business indeed. I’ve been pretty fortunate to find many YA/children’s books in audio format in which the narrator’s been well chosen. Of course, the ones featuring a bad match go right back to the library after 1 CD, so I suppose they fade from memory quite quickly!

  • I really liked this print book. I may try the second book on audio.

  • I have this in print, so probably won’t listen to the audio version, but you’ve made it sound awfully tempting.

  • I just put this audio book on hold at the library: Thanks for the rec, Jen.

  • it always amazes me how one listener can love a narrator while another is *meh* about him or her. i listened to ‘matched’ a few months ago and found kate’s voice almost too sweet to tolerate. the music didn’t bother me but i just found her voice a tad too cloying. not sure if you’re going to touch on this topic but would it kill producers to add END OF DISC #– at the end of a disc? it makes me a bit batty when the cds just loop back to the first track with no warning.

    • She was VERY sweet, but I thought it worked for MATCHED, Cassia is very sweet too. And thank god she at least sounded young! Some people actually did touch on the announcement or music at the end of discs today in their sound effect posts. Personally, I HATE it, because I’m always listening on my ipod and I don’t care that the disc has changed. I prefer the music to the actual announcement, but either way it pulls me out of the audio.

  • Amanda

    I’ve thought about rereading this one before reading Crossed, but maybe I’ll see if I can track down the audio version instead.

  • […] part of Audiobook Week, Devourer of Books has a review of the Matched […]

  • […] Matched by Ally Condie, narrated by Kate Simses* Penguin Audio, an imprint of Penguin – released November 30, 2010 […]

  • […] I previously reviewed the first audiobook in this series, Matched. […]