Author: Ally Condie
Genre: YA dystopian fiction
Publisher: Dutton Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from the publisher
First line: Now that I’ve found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night?
Matched was the first book I finished in September, and it was a terrific read. Take The Giver, throw in a romantic triangle a la The Hunger Games, add in a society in search of perfection like in Uglies, stir in a bit each of Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World for good measure, mix thoroughly, and you have a book like Matched.
Cassia has been looking forward to her 17th birthday for as long as she can remember, because at age 17 she gets Matched. The Society will choose her perfect match, both genetically and psychologically, and that is the man she will marry. Cassia fully expects her match to be someone she doesn’t know, but when it turns out to be her best friend, Xander, she couldn’t be happier. Until the morning after their Match Ceremony, when Cassia loads the microcard that cointains info on Xander, as well as their courtship guidelines, and a different face fills her screen, that of Ky Markham, a quiet boy she has known almost as long as Xander. Ky’s face disappears as quickly as it appeared, and Cassia is assured by an Official that it was simply a glitch. Her match is Xander, and even if it weren’t, Ky is not eligible to be matched, because he is an Aberration.
That one little “glitch” sets Cassia on a different path, a path of questioning everything she’s been raised to hold as true. The Society knows best, right? It holds the welfare of its citizens as the highest priority. Or does it? When Cassia’s Grandfather gives her the words to a poem, a poem that is not one of the Society-sanctioned Hundred Poems, it stirs up feelings in her that she’s never known before. “Do not go gentle….”
Condie has built a fascinating world in The Society, one that controls by both fear and the control of information. The citizens have been convinced that too much information is a bad thing, and that The Society will tell them what they need to know. It’s a terrifying proposition. I found myself crying over this particular paragraph:
The almost-snow reminds me of a line from a poem we studied this year in Language and Literacy: “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” It is one of my favorites of all the Hundred Poems, the ones our society chose to keep, back when they decided our culture was too cluttered. They created commissions to choose the hundred best of everything: Hundred Songs, Hundred Paintings, Hundred Stories, Hundred Poems. The rest were eliminated. Gone forever. For the best, the Society said, and everyone believed, because it made sense. How can we appreciate anything fully when overwhelmed with too much?
The thought of all those paintings, poems, stories, and songs simply being destroyed is horrifying. That a committee would have the power to choose which are the ones worthy of keeping – just imagining that makes me shudder. The power of words is very much a theme in Matched, as the words of the poems Cassia’s grandfather smuggles to her begin to take root in her heart and mind, prompting her to question and doubt and, ultimately, fight.
Matched is a terrific beginning to what I’m assuming will be a series, as the story ends with much to be resolved in Cassia’s world. I hope we don’t have to wait too long for the second installment!