Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Series: Matched #1
Release Date: November 30, 2010
Read it in: 1.5 days
Source: The library
I feel a teeny-tiny bit sorry for Matched, because I read it in the wake of other amazing YA dystopians such as The Hunger Games, Wither and Divergent. Now, that is not to say that I didn't like it, or that it was a disappointment-- because it wasn't! Only that, it somewhat lacked the brilliance of other novels in this genre. It wasn't heart-stoppingly amazing, but I did like it. In fact, I liked it enough that I read it in 2 sittings, which is almost unheard of for me (I'm a slow reader!).
Cassia Maria Reyes is 17 years old and every aspect of her life has already been planned out for her by the trusted Officials of "The Society." Rules and regulations shape every aspect of her life, and Cassia has never questioned or deviated from them. Everything is safe and perfect, and there is no pain, suffering or sadness. That is, until a glitch in the system matches her with two different guys-- Xander, her best friend, and Ky, a mysterious boy from the Outer Provinces whom she knows little about.
I loved seeing Cassia's character develop as I read this story. Through her Grandfather's poems, Ky's stories, and her own observations, Cassia begins to think for herself and realize that everything she has always passively accepted as truth is actually false. And as Cassia slowly starts to think independently from what the Society has always told her to believe, she also starts to find her own identity along the way. I loved that Cassia finally realized that she needed to live her life according to her own terms and no one else's.
The romance between Cassia and Ky was very touching and beautiful, and I loved seeing their relationship slowly build over the course of the novel. Even though it's secret and forbidden, you just can't help but wish against everything that they will end up together! The romance is thankfully free of teen angst or mushy love scenes- everything was genuine and sweet.
Ally Condie really did a fantastic job of creating a world that seems perfect, but clearly has something very dark and disturbing lurking under the surface. The plot itself did lack the same amount of heart-pounding action as The Hunger Games or Divergent, but in it's quieter way Matched still had it's own appeal.
Unfortunately, some parts of this book did seem slightly formulaic (yup, there's a big ol' love triangle)-- and I thought some things were reminiscent of other dystopian books I've already read (The Giver-- almost everyone else has said the same thing). Also, I felt like we were left in the dark about a lot of things, and I wish that more history and context had been explained. What lead to the Society being created in the first place? What year does this story take place in? Who are the people fighting the system? Who are the people actually in charge and what does the structure of the Society look like? Is there a president or leader? What exactly is the war about and who are they fighting against? These are things that seemed frustratingly vague and wishy-washy to me, and I hope we get to hear more about them in the next books!
In many ways, Matched was a good story that kept me reading. However, there were also things that I found to be lacking, and even though this probably isn't fair, it was hard not to compare it to other books in the YA dystopian genre. Overall it was still very readable and entertaining, and I think that the story it tells was both beautiful and thought-provoking.