This past week’s Publishers Weekly has an article about the national market “debut” of LDS YA novelist Ally Condie, whose sixth novel, Matched, was released by Dutton on November 30th. Released is an understatement.
Dutton began with a 250,000 copy first printing and booksellers responded to the buzz around the novel. As a result the novel started at #2 on the ABA’s bestseller list (representing sales at independent bookstores). This morning it was ranked #223 on Amazon. The buzz has extended overseas, as foreign rights have been sold into 30 countries. Given that, it should come as no surprise that Disney has purchased an option for the film rights.
Sound familiar? The Wall Street Journal also noticed the parallel.
Unlike Meyer’s work, however, the subject matter of Matched boils down to a concept with philosophical heft, and one dear to Mormonism: freedom of choice. But it is also a dystopian novel, which, as far as I know, is unusual in Mormon literature (anyone know of other Mormon dystopian works? Is Meyer’s Twilight dystopian? Anything else?).
The novel, the first volume in a trilogy, is told from the perspective of a young girl nearing the age of marriage. She lives in a society in which nothing is left to chance–her food, work, and marriage are planned for her by “the Society,” the ruling religion in her world. Believing that the Society knows best, she accepts all this, until one day she is presented with evidence of the unthinkable: that the Society doesn’t know best.
I haven’t read Matched, but the descriptions have already enticed my 16-year-old daughter, so I’m sure it will be around the house within the next few weeks (who knows, the season of the year may have something to do with that). If nothing else these descriptions make me hopeful that this will be not only as popular as Meyer’s work, but have more substantial ideas to explore.