That a publisher is championing the notion it’s landed the next Stephenie Meyer isn’t very surprising, but Dutton Children’s Books certainly seems to be speaking in more than hyperbole when it compares its newest author to the bestselling scribe from Arizona. Last week the Penguin Young Readers Group imprint laid down a seven-figure advance for three books from Ally Condie, in a heated auction featuring seven other houses. Condie, a Brigham Young University alum and stay-at-home mom of three boys (like Meyer), grew up in Utah and is repped by Jodi Reamer at Writers House (also like Meyer). Her first book, Matched, is a dystopian novel that Dutton likens to Brave New World and The Handmaid’s Tale.
In the novel, a 17-year-old girl, who has waited her entire life to be told by a group known as “the Society” who her soul mate is, has her world upended when she discovers she’s in love with someone other than the group’s pick. Don Weisberg, president of Penguin Young Readers Group, along with Lauri Hornik, president and publisher of Dutton Children’s Books, and Julie Strauss-Gabel, associate publisher of Dutton Children’s, all worked on the deal, which is for North American rights. Gabel, who will edit the book, said that it “will make readers crave the passion of uncertainty and cherish the power of the written word.” And Reamer, expectedly perhaps, drew the Meyer parallel, saying reading Matched reminded her of the first time she read Twilight.