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.
I pre-ordered this book via Amazon, which is kind of a rare occurrence for me; I usually try to wait and see if I can get the books I want from the library, OR I wait until I see if it has been getting a lot of good reviews, then I'll spring for the purchase (hardcovers on a student/nanny budget...ouch).
However, once I read the summary a few months before the release, I knew I wanted to read it right away. Fast forward to November 30th; picture me doing a happy dance in the post office while the workers look at me like I'm nuts. I don't care. Wheeeee!
So I set to reading, and 24 hours later (not bad for a 350+ page book), I was done and...thank god. I LOVED IT. Money well spent!
I know it has been said before, but Cassia's world is very much like that of The Giver. The governing powers that be decide everything for you, what you wear, where you work, what you eat, who you marry, when you die...every last decision is taken away from an individual in an effort to create a "perfect" society. I have loved The Giver since I was a kid, and while I can see many parallels, I would not call the premise of Matched a ripoff of The Giver. Rather, I see Matched as expounding upon the ideas of a perfectly controlled society.
When we first meet Cassia, she is heading for her Match Banquet, in which she be be told who society has chosen to be her perfect match. I feel like Ally Condie began this novel at just the right moment in Cassia's life; she is right on the precipice of change. At the banquet, an unusual event occurs: she is matched with her best friend Xander. Cassia is happy and content with this outcome, until...she encounters Ky, her unheard of, unthinkable, other perfect match.
And so begins another great love triangle. If it were my choice, I would pick Xander...he is handsome, considerate, loyal, and just an all-around good guy. On the other hand, I can see the allure that Ky holds for Cassia. Ky is an outcast, not fit for marriage, and destined to spend his days working the worst jobs the society can give him. In spite of that, though, Ky is not broken; he rebels in small ways, like by writing, and by learning forbidden poetry, which is forbidden. Ky gives Cassia something she never knew she needed - the freedom to create.
The fact that the government has outlawed creation of any sort is a central theme to this novel. They have chosen 100 poems, 100 songs, 100 history lessons, and so forth, that are deemed acceptable to learn and remember. Everything else has been burned, destroyed, forgotten, and the creation of anything new is expressly forbidden. What a terrifying concept! Throughout most of this book I was outraged at the way the citizens were controlled...like sheep. If that's what it takes to have a perfect world...they can keep it, as far as I am concerned! And yet, just when I was starting to get mad at the characters themselves for acting like said sheep, I saw that they were actually not as docile as they seemed...they were all rebelling in some small way, doing the best that they could under a terrifying regime. I have to admit, the Officials did terrify me quite a bit.
There was a definite lack of action in this book, especially in the middle areas...mostly we are following the evolution of Cassia's attraction to Ky. Though this is dystopian fiction, it is nothing like The Hunger Games; I suppose it might be closer to Uglies, although i would place this in a class of it's own. In that sense, this book is well-suited for fans of romance, as well as those who enjoy dystopian fiction.
A minor hiccup: the red, blue, and green pills were a little too Matrix for me. It was also quite obvious what the red pill was for, way before it was revealed.
Otherwise, I was pleasantly surprised by the twists and turns this novel took. Ally Condie writes fluidly, and if I didn't feel as if I knew the characters inside and out, I did finish the book wanting to know more about them and the world they live in. I couldn't put it down!
Cover notes: beautiful, and represents the story perfectly. Anyone know where can I find a dress like that?