Author: Ally Condie
Pub. Date: November 2010
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian
Synopsis: Throughout her life, Cassia has accepted the fact that the Officials of her Society know best. She has taken for granted the fact that the government’s decisions are good. On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia is to be Matched– shown the boy whom the Officials have named her best match and future spouse. She is naturally thrilled when her sought-after best friend, Xander, pops up on the screen, but she is filled with doubt when another boy briefly appears: Ky Markham, an Abberation against the society who shouldn’t even be in the Matching pool. Cassia soon finds herself torn between Xander and Ky, safety and possibilities, obedience and true love.
Review: I’ve noticed that the YA genre has been flooded with dystopias of late.The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Across the Universe by Beth Revis, and many more I’ve yet to read have made top headlines in the book blogosphere. Correct me if I’m wrong (really– feel free to post a comment in disagreement!), but it seems that, unlike other book trends (the paranormal romance, for example), the dystopia has not yet been inundated by less-than-wonderful rip-offs of the books that started the craze in the first place. I haven’t yet encountered a dystopia that isn’t great. Matched follows the pattern. I enjoyed it wholeheartedly.
Ally Condie writes beautiful prose. I was sucked right into the Society and haven’t stopped thinking about it since I read the opening lines. Characters and situations were perfectly drawn, with the right details to paint a full picture. Cassia was an engaging and believable narrator, and the first-person present-tense storytelling style put me right in her head.
The Society was eerily real. References to the “old society” (aka what we’re living now) tied in current world events and issues that could indeed affect the future profoundly. The all-powerful government, while nothing new in the dystopia, was well laid out and believable to the present-day reader. Other details of the Society, such as the nameless Outer Provinces and the way culture had been utterly squashed, made this read particularly thought-provoking– and heart-wrenching. As any bibliophile would, I felt enormous regret and outrage as I read about the destruction of an old library, how the books’ spines were broken and their unread pages incinerated.
The romance element was, thankfully, not overdone. (Reading the praise on the back of the book, I was a little worried.) In this age of “Twilight”-inspired over-descriptive snogging, it was refreshing to see things kept brief and pure. The space on the pages instead went to important things, like character and plot development.
The only thing that I would say could have been done better was (this is going to sound weird to anyone who hasn’t read the book) the tablets. The little pills given to citizens seemed…I don’t know…out of place, somehow. Why give the ordinary people the power to administer these powerful drugs themselves, without Official supervision? It just confused me a bit. Maybe I missed something. Anyway, that’s a minor detail.
Matched is an excellent book for teens, and highly recommended.
Recommended for: All-around fans of YA literature– Matched, while a dystopia, has a little something for everyone. Sci-fi fans will appreciate it most, though.
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 possible stars