Matched by Alie Condie
Release Date: November 30, 2010
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
In the Society everything is decided. Officials Match you to your ideal mate, pick your vocation, choose where you live and select when you die. Cassia has never known it any other way and when she's Matched with her childhood friend at her Match banquet, Xander, she couldn't be happier. The two families are happy at this stroke of luck--most people are Matched to people they do not know from far away provinces. Cassia knows her future will be secure, and giving up the freedom to make choices seems a small price to pay for a long life, the perfect mate, and a safe life.
But Cassia's view of the Society is about to be shaken when her grandfather gives her his artifact, an old compact, which has a secret compartment that holds a dangerous secret. Before his death, Cassia grandfather shows her the compartment and the paper which contains a poem. The poem is both special and dangerous; it is a poem Cassia's grandmother copied and hid away when she helped select the Hundred Poems that the society would keep. It was kept at great risk, and now Cassia owns it--but what will she do? What her Society would want her to do; report it or destroy it? Or what she has the sudden temptation to do; read it and let the poem take her where it will?
Cassia's faith is further shaken after her Match banquet. She accesses the card that contains information about her Match, Xander, but instead of Xander's face flashing on the screen, another face appears--Ky. Ky is another one of Cassia's classmates, but who could have made this mistake? Officials soon find Cassia and correct the card; her match is Xander, but it leaves doubts in Cassia's mind. Why was did Ky's face appear? Who is her real match supposed to be?
With the poem and Ky in mind, Cassia must make a choice--who should she follow? Society and all the rules that have been set for her? Or her own mind and heart, which urges her to question Society and all its rigid rules?
What I enjoyed most about Matched is the world Ally Condie has created. I definitely got the feel of how stifling and controlling the Society was! Ally creates a believable but gloomy future in Matched that really helps set the mood for the story. The control exerted over everyone and their choices reminded me of The Giver by Lois Lowry (another excellent dystopian novel, one of my favorites, I'd have to say).
Cassia's struggle, between passion and what Society wants, is believable and well written as well. However, as hard as I tried and as much as I wanted, I could not really connect to Ky and Cassia's romance. The chemistry and attraction between them was not as well spun as the rest of the story and I had a hard time truly accepting it.
Matched has received a lot of hype and I would have to say it has one of the best built worlds compared to all the other dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels out there right now. Despite this, I feel that Matched fell short of my expectations on several counts. As I mentioned above, the budding romance between Ky and Cassia was really hard to connect to (and this story depends heavily on said romance) and in addition to that, the story seemed to drag at points. It seemed as if Ky and Cassia weren't doing much; they were not really trying to change things. Granted, Society is a highly monitored and controlled environment, but I had hoped they would take more steps towards breaking free of the chains Society has put on them. I am sure that more of this will take place in the next novel in Ms. Condie's series, since the pace sped up considerably near the end of Matched and it was definitely building up to something. I enjoyed reading Matched and am definitely looking forward to the next novel!
Overall: 4 out of 5
Plot: 3.75 stars
Characters: 4 stars
Writing: 4.25 stars
Cover: 5 stars