Title: Matched [Matched 1]
Author: Ally Condie
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars
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.
WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW
I really enjoyed this book. Matched is the story of Cassia, a girl who’s finally reached the age to be matched in the dystopian future-society she lives in. Like the other citizens of her world, life is orderly. They’re told what to learn, what to do in their off-time, what colors they can and cannot wear, what they should eat, how much exercise they should get, and who they should marry. Life for Cassia, is very nearly perfect. All of that changes when Cassia is matched to her best friend, Xander… and then another boy, Ky. Mistakes like this don’t happen in her world and she’s promptly told to forget all about it…. but she can’t. What ensues is a tale of romance, conspiracies, and adventure as Cassia begins to question her perfect world and the rules that keep it that way.
The world-building in this story was phenomenal. The dystopian aspect of the plot overshadowed most of the story. The society Cassia lives in is a nearly-utopian place from the point of view of the mild observer, but as Cassia digs deeper she discovers that what she thought was perfect was actually a lack of freedom. Her life is regulated 24/7 (even when she’s asleep). They are constantly watched, told what to do, and even the slightest deviance leads to an infraction notice. Cassia’s never had to question the rules of her world before, but as she sinks deeper into the story, she starts to question everything. It was fascinating to watch her as well as the other characters, become aware of just how controlled their lives were, and to watch them struggle to discover how much freedom they felt was appropriate to relinquish.
This was very much the beginning of her story. The world and characters were introduced, the society was explained and dismantled, but nothing was solved—if anything, Cassia’s world became more precarious as the story progressed. I enjoyed the feeling of slowly sinking deeper into her world. Though nothing was resolved, I feel invested in her story, and I’ll certainly be picking up the next two books in the series.
The characters were well fleshed out, the narrative was clean and engaging, and except for one small typo, the story was exceptionally well written. The only true problem I had with Matched was the emotional side of the story. The romance between Cassia and Ky was very convincingly put together, but in all aspects of the story (including the romance) I felt like Cassia’s personality was a little robotic. It felt a little too clinical at times, and though I was being told how scared (etc) Cassia was throughout the story, I never felt it. The way her character was voiced felt almost too editorial. It didn’t feel personal.
That aside, I really enjoyed the story. I got sucked in, I read through the book in just a few hours, and I was sad to close the last page. I’d love to recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a YA Dystopian to sink into. Though there is a bit of romance, it is understated and not at all inappropriate for teens of any age. I’d feel perfectly fine handing this book over to a 10-year-old. The story is heavily bent towards the dystopian genre, and brings up some interesting views on control and how much we as humans are willing to succumb to a higher authority as long as we’re kept healthy and happy. I’m glad I read it, and I’ll certainly be diving into the next book soon.