Where you'll work. Who you'll marry. Even when you'll die. It's all decided for you.
Cassia Reyes is on her way to becoming exactly who the Society wants her to be.
On her 17th birthday she finally finds out who they've chosen as her Match. Cassia is surprised (and more than a little relieved) to discover that the face on the screen at her Match Banquet is a familiar one. She already knows her Match! It's her best friend, Xander. Cassia feels beyond lucky.
Until an error occurs. Another face appears. Another boy Cassia knows.
But Cassia has already been Matched. And the Society is never wrong.
So what could it possibly mean? Is Cassia meant to be with her original Match? To live the happily ever after the Society has arranged for her?
Or will that split second of a different face, a possibly dangerous decision, change everything?
For those that like their dystopias a little more romantic, swoony, and love triangle-y and a little less "Let's start a revolution!" or "Ah! Zombies! Ruuuun!," Matched is the book for you.
I'm not saying this is strictly a love story though. The Society is fucked up, to be sure, but because Cassia has been raised in it her entire life, she doesn't know any better. She doesn't know that there are things that should be questioned.
She blindly trusts her government. Until she doesn't.
To me, that was the brilliance of this book. With other dystopian novels, because of the main character's already strong point of view, we pretty much know early on that shizz is super shady and that officials are not to be trusted. But Ally Condie allowed the bullshizziness of her dystopian Society to unfurl slowly.
In fact, while reading I thought, this doesn't seem as bad as Panem where they televise young children fighting each other to the death. And at least they haven't completely outlawed love and decided that it's a disease that needs to be eradicated a la Delirium.
They just want to find you your perfect Match. And place you in the right career. And dictate how many children you can have. And--- Holy shit! I've drunk the Kool-Aid!
But see! That's how they get ya.
Everything seems fine. Everyone seems content. But it's just smoke and mirrors. There's something truly unsettling about the Society. And it's because all the soul-sucking evilness is done subtly. All the changes happen slowly.
So it takes Cassia awhile to realize that her "choices" aren't for her own well being. In fact, her choices aren't really HER choices at all.
And when she realizes that and what that truly means, she finally decides to take her life and her fate into her own hands.
And she's pretty smart about it. She rebels quietly, on the down low. She doesn't immediately gather up her pitchforks and torches and start full-on raging against the machine.
Which is good because, in the Society, that's a quick way to get yourself red-pilled. So mucho snaps to Cassia for showing some smarts. Something she demonstrates further by recognizing that any decisions she makes to break the rules won't just result in consequences for herself, they also have the potential to endanger everyone she loves. So Cassia really has to think about the risks she's willing to take.
Not to imply she's some self-sacrificing donkey, shouldering all the burden, and not even entertaining the idea of getting someone else involved in her troubles.
That's one thing that I REALLY hate that seems to be super prevalent in YA. From Harry Potter to the Pretty Little Liars, it seems like everyone is totally wrapped up in this whole "being noble" bullshit. But you're not being noble. You're being an idiot. AND frustrating the reader to the point that they want to throw large, heavy objects at you.
WHY do fictitious people have such hang ups about asking for help? I mean, what are friends for?! You can't very well defeat a dark arts obsessed wizard or an anonymous stalker with an affinity for vowels by yourself.
Sorry. It seems I've gone off on another one of my classic tangents. Let's get back to the review at hand---
That's why I Judd Nelson fist pumped so hard for Cassia. Because she recognized that shit was about to hit the fan and she didn't shut down. She turned to her parents and her best friend, Xander.
And even though she couldn't be completely forthright with them , she did give them plenty of read-between-the-lines, what-i'm-telling-you-isn't-necessarily-what-we're-actually-discussing, wink-wink, know-what-I'm sayin'.
Most of Cassia's absolute truths were saved for Ky. And they revealed said truths slyly.
So, like I said, I appreciate that the author didn't just allow Cassia to suffer in silence and wallow in untold secrets for the entirety of a 366 page book. Because, also like I said, I HATE that.
Ok, I think I've pretty thoroughly exhausted that topic. So let's move on. In fact, let's go ahead and put a ribbon on this thing.
Is Matched the rip-roaringest, compulsively page-turniest dystopian on the block? Probably not. It was a bit slow at times and there were moments when I felt like Ally Condie was maybe over-describing the situation/character/event/common household item. But I don't fault her for that. Because homegirl can flat-out write!
More than anything, Matched is a beautifully written story about a sweet first time romance and what it means to find your own freedom.
Matched delivers one of those tried and true themes commonly found in YA: the love triangle. But because the Society is so butt crazy controlling with its strict ass rules, the most one can hope for is a few longing glances, a little light hand holding, and maybe MAYBE a chaste kiss or two.
But, HELLO!, when you've got a love of triangular proportions, you're gonna want to up the ante eventually. And that's just what Ally Condie does. She provides the slow burn.
Cassia has a BIG decision to make, so she takes her time making it. And, surprisingly enough, this didn't make me want to pull my hair out in fistfuls, clutching them towards the sky and screaming, "JUST PICK ONE ALREADY!!!"
I mean, homegirl was conflicted. I get it.
Should she go with Xander, her best friend and original Match, knowing that he would be her safest bet and that she would always be happy enough with him?
Or should she really take a chance and choose Ky, the momentary glitch in the system, knowing that in choosing him everything in her world will completely change?
It is quite the dilemma picking one handsome, smart dude that totally adores you over another equally handsome, equally smart dude that also happens to totally adores you.
So, who was I rooting for?
I think I'll take a Team Ky t-shirt; light pink, size M.
Although, in truth, Cassia really couldn't go wrong no matter which guy she chose. Both Ky and Xander possess the boyfriend potential trifecta: intelligence, a kind heart and a hot body!
But Ky's character was a little more fleshed out. We get to know him on a deeper level. Plus, I gotta admit, he totally won me over with the sneaky, wonderful way he shared his story with Cassia.
Oh dystopias! I wish I could quit you. Although not really because this has, surprisingly enough, been the one genre where I have yet to stumble upon a stinker.I mean, The Hunger Games, Delirium, Divergent, the Walking Chaos trilogy? Loved 'em all!
And Matched fits right in. True, it might not be the balls to the walls, thrill a minute, action-packed type of new world that you might be expecting. But that's ok. Personally, I would rather have a little variety now and then than read the same old story of Girl Meets Boy And Other Boy and Must Almost Single-handedly Save The World.
I've got a real love/hate relationship with love triangles. When done properly I think they can be fun and swoony and just a teeny bit heartbreaking (but in a good way.) When done improperly however--- UGH! Don't even get me started. *cough*Bella/Jacob*cough*
The love triangle of Cassia, Ky, and Xander is one I can get behind. Cassia's feelings for both boys never felt forced or rushed. And because they all grew up together, the progression from "it sure is fun swimming together," to "hey, you're actually pretty cute," seemed natural.
And even though it's fairly obvious that romantically Cassia prefers Ky, it's equally as obvious that she genuinely loves Xander too. But hey, you never really know. I mean, there are two other books in the series and I guess anything could happen.
From page 127:
The books' backs are broken; their bones, thin and delicate, fall out. The workers shove them toward the incineration tube; they step on them. The bones crackle under their boots like leaves.
This passage left me seriously conflicted. On the one hand, it's so beautifully written.
But then there's that other hand. It physically hurt my stomach to read this paragraph. As a book nerd I absolutely cannot abide book homicide. Also, I'm not too keen on people being told what they can and can't read either.
If You Liked That, Try This:
Delirium by Lauren Oliver.
The Scale Of Judgment Says:
A sweet first-love story with a dash of rebellion on top!