Author: Allie Condie
Published: November 1, 2010
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Series: Matched #1
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Rating: 3.5 stars
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“Every minute you spend with someone gives them a part of your life and takes part of theirs.”My Thoughts
― Ally Condie, Matched
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.
The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow. (Goodreads)
It seems dystopia novels are very popular right now. While Matched didn't quite reach Hunger Games standards, I was pleasantly surprised by this first book of the trilogy. Matched was a blend of The Giver, The Hunger Games, and many other beloved books. While it wasn't necessarily unique, it was an entertaining story.
In Matched, Cassia and everyone are Matched at the age of seventeen. They are Matched with their optimal mate in order to guarantee healthy children and a happy Marriage Contract. Their vocation is chosen for them, their home is selected for them, and they are not allowed to bear children after a certain age. Even the age of their death is determined by the Society. Everything, including their personality and preferences, is predicted by the Society through statistics and probability. Cassia has never questioned her lack of choice before, and when she is Matched to her close friend Xander, she is overjoyed. But she starts to see her life differently when another face flashes on the port screen. A face that isn't Xander's but Ky Markham's. When she starts to wonder how she could have two Matches, she goes against everything she has ever known as she begins to fall in love with Ky.
Matched was beautifully written, and I loved the symbolism of the angels, the cottonwood seeds, and the striking imagery. There were many metaphors that flowed throughout the book and they were executed perfectly. As a poet, I can never complain about a book that includes poetry. The poems Condie chose to include worked wonderfully with the plot, and "Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night" by Dylan Thomas is a personal favorite of mine.
The message of beauty lost and the creative power of your own words spoke to me as a writer, and I can only hope it will speak to anyone who reads this. In Cassia's Society, art has been limited to 100 pieces and poetry to 100 poems selected by certain individuals. The tragic loss of so much literature and art was devastating to me, and I sympathized with Cassia when she appreciated the poetry which was once lost but was now found. Cassia was forced to live in a world devoid of color and imagination, wearing only brown and black, and I loved seeing color brought back into her world as she discovered more to live for than the confines of the Society. It was shocking to see the limitations of the Society and the dependence of every person on the Officials to make decisions for them. They had no agency at all. It was Big Brother all over again.
I found Cassia's deep investment in family touching. I loved reading about her close relationship with her Grandfather, and a lot of the plot hinges on the family dynamics. Despite the main focus on romance, the family hardly takes a backseat, and Cassia's compassion for her family is refreshing. I think Condie does a wonderful job of showing the readers Cassia's place within her family and how she connects with her parents and brother.
In Matched, Ky's and Cassia's romance unfolded through shared stories and poetry. It was far from the cliched relationship of two teenagers sneaking away for a kiss or two. Ky and Cassia shared so much more because they learned about each other through words and shared confidences. I enjoyed their hikes on the hills because I felt they were entering another world separate from the Society while they were still robbed of the closeness and privacy they wished for. Ky's and Cassia's developing trust for each other was profound and touching in a world where any independence is considered an Infraction. Their time spent together was not simply filled with flirtation or banter but spent conversing about more meaningful topics, which, in a way, is rebelling against the Matching system and all of society.
Despite my love for Condie's writing style and the appreciation that is shown for poetry, for some reason, I was not invested in the characters. I found the story interesting enough to keep reading, and there were no slow parts, but I could have cared about who ended up with who. The romance was supposed to be revolutionary, but it didn't feel that way to me. I never felt much of a connection to Cassia either. I'm not exactly sure why.
While I understood a love triangle was necessary for this storyline, I was a little apprehensive about reading another book with one. I find love triangles to often be frustrating and a distraction from, instead of a device of, the plot. I am curious about how the story will unfold in the next two books because Cassia discovered so much in this first one, but I dread reading the end result of this love triangle. I sympathize with Xander. It seems like he was cheated when he received only one Match and Cassia received two. One of the men will have to lose out, and I hate seeing someone hurt. It is always an awkward scene.
I am eager to read the next book in the series, Crossed, because I want to find out what happens. I can only hope the second book will be enjoyable or even better than the first.