Matched (Matched, Book 1)
by Ally Condie
Release Date: November 30, 2010
2010 Dutton Books
Hardcover Edition; 373 Pages
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review Copy from Penguin Canada
3.5 / 5
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.
Matched is an interesting love triangle involving 17-year-old Cassia and her best friend Xander and a boy she never really gave much thought to until she sees his face flash across her screen the night of her Matching ceremony. Intrigued, though in denial to herself, she sets about getting to know him better, breaking the rules of her society for the first time in her life. Her slow development into a questioning being is rather intriguing and her fall into someone who sneaks around and learns to lie about her activities definitely sets up some scenes for some rather interesting drama.
I was rather fascinated by the dystopian world that Ms. Condie created as it made a lot of sense and seemed like a natural progression from where we are currently. In fact, it's rather creepy seeing a world that could one day be our own. Cassia's world is one that abides strictly by rules, where Infractions and Warnings can lead people to be relocated almost immediately and Aberrations can never be fully functioning members of the Society. People are served their own personal meals, full of specialized vitamins and minerals, the goals being to produce healthy, functioning people. While it makes perfect sense, I often wondered what else was put into the food; besides, it takes the fun out of shopping and cooking. People's lives are so organized they are told what to do and when to do it, with little will of their own. The Society, a totalitarian type government, controls every aspect of a person's life, and while perfectly logical, it is terrifying in the extreme.
While the novel was about learning to fight against Society, but in subtle ways, there was some romance involved as well. This was part of the problem for me however, as I just didn't feel the connection between Cassia and Ky on that level, or between Cassia and Xander either, for that matter. While I enjoyed the characters, I felt like they didn't have a lot of depth to them and really wanted more from them. I wanted to feel the emotions, the anger, the love. While I did enjoy the plot and found it engrossing, it was definitely on a lighter note and didn't match the heavier subject material of The Giver, The Hunger Games, or Fahrenheit 451. The writing style was incredibly easy to read, and is perfect for a younger audience. The ultra-clean material also makes it perfect for a younger age group to sink themselves into. For me however, it lacked a lot of the rich description and expressive language that would have made it a more interesting read. I did like how Ms. Condie used poetry in this novel to set up some of the plot points however, and Dylan Thomas is an old favourite of mine.
Matched was an interesting novel, and just plain fun. I enjoyed the characters, the setting, and the plotline. I really wish however, that there had been more depth to the storyline and to the characters themselves as it would have added that extra something to make this novel great. I am definitely looking forward to reading Crossed when it is published in November 2011.