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|Matched by Ally Condie
Published by Dutton Juvenile
Publish Date: November 30, 2010
My Source: Borrowed/Library
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. -(summary from Goodreads.com)
My Thoughts: I waited way too long to read this book. I’m not really sure why. But once I started reading it, I read it fairly quickly. One of the first things apparent to me was that it reminded me of Lois Lowry’s The Giver – one of my all-time favorites – and perhaps that’s why I gobbled it up so quickly. When Matched was first released, there was tons of hype and buzz and I remember reading that it was completely justified. In reading the book for myself, I find that it is indeed a great book or, rather, a great start to a potentially amazing dystopian series.
1. The Characters. Written and developed well. Here are the main cast and an extra favorite:
- Cassia Reyes. Female protagonist, 17 years old. Learns she has been ‘matched’ to her best friend. Cassia tends to be less-than-happy most of the time, but what she lacks in happiness she makes up for in strength of character. Shows tremendous character growth throughout the story in which she learns to question everything, which I love. I can’t wait to see how she is fleshed out in the next book.
- Xander Carrow. Cassia’s best friend & match. Handsome and loyal, he is the guy all the girls want to be matched with. At times, his character tends to appear flat but I think this is just a case of Xander lying-low. He is not a weak character by any means, and I am hoping he plays an active role in book two.
- Ky Markham. Cassia’s love interest & An Aberration*. Ky was adopted by his aunt and uncle years ago after his father committed a heinous crime, and he is somewhat mysterious to the rest of the young people. Because of his social status as Aberration, his activities are monitored extra closely by The Society, as if he is paying for the sins of his father. Despite this, he finds time to maintain some semblance of a relationship with Cassia, thus sparking a teensy little rebellion. Ky has a strength that is revealed in pieces, and is remarkable, but he also has a vulnerability that is very crush-worthy. Love him.
- Cassia’s Grandfather. The age of death is determined by The Society, and Cassia’s Grandfather has come to that time in his life when it is his time to die. She loves her grandfather dearly and it is some of his parting inspiration to her that encourages her character growth and development, starting the rebellion that we will
likelyhopefully see continue throughout this trilogy. He encouraged her to question things and that nothing is impossible. And he gave her the gift of poetry from Dylan Thomas and Alfred Lord Tennyson, neither of which are among the pieces of poetry approved for reading by The Society. Cassia was able to find meaning hidden in the words of those poems.
2. The Match Ceremony. What an interesting way to marry-off people, right? The Society and their computers match you with your ideal mate, deemed perfect for you in terms of genetics and DNA. At the ceremony, you get a chance to dress up (for once) and see who you will be married to for the first time ever. Cassia learns that she is to be matched with Xander, which is extremely rare since they both come from the same community. Typically people are matched with those they do not know. Also at the Match Ceremony, they get to eat foods they normally wouldn’t, like cake. Such an interesting part of the book, and well-conceived.
3. Free Will. There is no free will in this dystopia. The Society has eradicated disease, weakness, and crime in this world. In order to maintain this, they exercise complete control over everything, including diet, clothing, career choice, marriage, and daily work/play/sleep schedules. They have determined the best exact ages to meet your match, marry your match, have children with your match, and even the best time for death.
I love free will; I love having it and I love the concept of it. I love when it is written into a book and explored well. I find it horrifying and scary for a government to have this much control, but it typically makes for an exciting dystopian story. I find it oddly interesting that the people in stories like this always go along with the government like they’re brainwashed – and in some stories, they are. In this case, though, Cassia wises up and decides that trusting The Society isn’t the best of ideas. It takes encouragement from her dying grandfather coupled with building a relationship with Ky to get her to this point, but when she arrives there things really start to get interesting in the book.
4. World-building. There is unique and mention-worthy world-building here. It is not the kind of world-building readers of fantasy literature drool over, but the scary and horrifying dystopian “the-government-is-watching-you” kind. Also mention-worthy is this: the world is built slowly, released bit-by-bit as the story unfolds, as it becomes necessary. This is almost a relief, as we have time to adjust before another piece of the creepy dystopian puzzle comes flying out of nowhere.
5. The Romance. Okay, we have to talk about this sooner or later: Whether or not everyone can agree that it is an actual love triangle or not, there is indeed a romance present. And it is a really-big-huge-colossal part of the story. We initially think the romance is going to be super neat and easy – Cassia and Xander, matched – and BAM! out of nowhere, Ky comes into the picture. Both of these guys are great, both of these guys are worthy of Cassia. I think she likes them both, but she only loves one of them – the trouble is that they both love her. So…in my opinion, this situation qualifies as a love triangle. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I love a well-executed love triangle. This one breaks my heart a little bit, but thankfully there are further books in the series to see where everything goes.
The amazing thing about the love triangle in Matched is that, while it definitely DID overshadow the dystopian aspect of the story at times, it also was the reason for the stirring in Cassia’s heart, the rebellion in her actions, and what happened in the latter part of the book. Because of this, and after careful deliberation with myself, I’ve decided that it is okay (in this instance) for the romance to equalize itself with the dystopia. I say this, though, still not having read Crossed, so I really don’t know what is up ahead of me.
I thought Matched was a very well-written and deserving piece of dystopian literature. I don’t know why I waited so long to read it, and I don’t know why I still haven’t read Crossed. Shame on me! I love the way Matched felt reminiscent of The Giver, yet totally defined itself within the genre. I loved Ally Condie’s voice and the way this book read with ease.
I will say that I’m annoyed with the comparisons that I’ve seen between Matched and The Hunger Games. Personally, I didn’t get any Hunger Games vibes at all. Matched is a very character-driven book and making comparisons with a finished trilogy just doesn’t seem very fair to an unfinished series. This paragraph is dedicated to me rejecting those comparisons.
I recommend this book to fans of the dystopian genre. I think it is a great book that will interest young YA readers all the way up to adult readers. I DO recommend having access to Crossed (Book Two) when you finish. I didn’t and I was all kinds of ticked-off at myself for not having it at arm’s length. I’ll be reading it soon. I’m having a fit to see where this story goes.
*aberration – n, A departure from what is normal, usual, or expected, typically one that is unwelcome. (source: Dictionary.com)