I got an advanced reading copy of this book through Librarything's Early Reviewer program. The cover of this book is just stunning and caught my attention immediately, when I found that is was a dystopia I was even more intrigued. This was a very good book. Think of it as Brave New World for the teen crowd.
The book starts with Cassia going to her Matching Day. Matching Day is where all the seventeen year olds are presented with the picture of the person that they are a genetic match too; this is the one and only person they can marry and raise a family with. Cassia's Matching Day is unique instead of being matched with someone from a different city she is matched with someone she knows very well; this is something that almost never happens. Then when she gets home to look at his datacard she sees his picture and then up pops a picture of another boy she knows. It appears she has been matched to two different boys. When the Officials claim it is all a mistake, Cassia is shaken. In a society where they predict the dress you will pick to wear, the order you will finish in gym class, and your vocation ahead of time and with great accuracy, how can they make a mistake this big? As other strange things start happening in the City Cassia begins to question the perfection of the world she has always believed to be utopia.
This was a very creative and well thought out book. Cassia is easy to like and it is interesting to follow her path from happy innocence to inquiring unease. This book reminded me a lot of Aldolf Huxley's Brave New World; although not as crazily strict as the society in Brave New World, there are similarities. People's vocations are predicted early on, no one is allowed to live past the age of 80, and beneath the polished exterior of the City there are many dark secrets. Some people have been comparing this to the Hunger Games; but I don't see a lot of similarity between the too. This book doesn't have much action or violence (Cassia is a peace loving girl at heart) and the people here are living in happy ignorance not destitute conditions. The only similarity is an organized government controlling every aspect of these people's lives.
Of course there is the teenage love triangle going here. Cassia is stuck between her original Match (Xander, a boy perfect in just about every way and a good friend) and the accidental Match (Ky, a boy who is dark, moody and tortured, who draws her in a way Xander doesn't). Ky was a wonderful character full of depth and intriguing. I felt like Xander was neglected though, he kind of fades in and out of the story and doesn't have a ton of depth to his personality.
The book is very engaging and hard to put down. Condie gradually introduces more and more events that are a bit off; as a reader you can see things coming to a head slowly but surely. The writing was very easy to read, it was a bit simplistic at times, but overall I enjoyed it.
I am not sure if a sequel is planned for this book. The story is fairly complete at the end but there are things that could be further expanded on in a future books. I would love to see another book where the City starts to crumble and things come to a head between the Outer Lands and the City.
Overall this was an excellent read. It was like Brave New World, but with romance and aimed at a teen audience. If you like dystopias you will love this one. There isn't a ton of action but the plot is suspenseful, intriguing, and though-provoking. If there is a sequel I will definitely be picking it up.
Cassia's Society is perfect. The Society's Officials calculate all the data and give you what's best for you: your job, your food intake, and most especially your Match, the person with whom you'd be perfect and raise a family.
At Cassia's Matching ceremony, she feels glad when her best friend Xander's image appears as her ideal mate. However, a glitch in the software reveals another's image: Ky, a reserved boy in her neighborhood with an unusual history. Cassia can't help but feel all the more attracted to Ky as she learns more about him. With things starting to crumble all around them--tense, missing Officials, mistakes that should not have been made--what does the future hold for Cassia and the two most important boys in her life?
MATCHED is quite possibly the most highly anticipated YA novel of late 2010. While MATCHED does not quite live up to all its hype, it is still a relatively powerful dystopian work that will keep you up late reading.
The most stunning part of this book is its world-building. It is all too easy to do a half-assed job of creating a frightening believable future world. Thankfully, Ally Condie is no fool, and the world of the Society is one that thrums with realistically nervous energy. The world is laid out for us from the first chapter, told with an almost hypnotic narration. I don't think I've seen kind of dystopian worldbuilding this convincing since Lois Lowry's The Giver.
While the writing was fantastic, I felt like there were pieces missing from the characterization and plot. I enjoyed Cassia's relatable wavering between being the perfectly obedient citizen, the way she's been her whole life, and daring to question and doubt. However, I found that I wasn't able to connect with the developing romance between Cassia and Ky the way I wanted to, the way the story needs readers to in order for everything to be justified. Ky is an interesting character, to be sure, but neither of them did much throughout the story. I understand that under such a heavily surveillanced Society, it would be almost impossible for Cassia and Ky to develop love the way we know it, but still. That was what the story needed to do in order for everything else to fall into place, whether it's near impossible or not, and unfortunately that aspect didn't pull through for me.
MATCHED is a highly accomplished work of literature. Ally Condie quite obviously has a wonderful way with words, though the story part feels slightly lacking. I will hope that future installments in this series up the stakes in order to grab on hard to me and never let me go.
One of my teacher friends told me to read this book, as it is expected to be the next Hunger Games. I am hooked, and I can't wait to read Crossed, the second book in the series. A few of my students have read it as well and enjoyed it too, and I expect that as it gains popularity, it will make a big hit as the Hunger Games did.
Matched is very much like the Hunger Games in many ways. The love triangle between Cassia, Ky, and Xander is very reminiscent of the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. The story of survival in what seems to be an apocalyptic society of the future is a bit less violent for older elementary/young middle school readers than was the Hunger Games. I remain an avid fan of the Hunger Games series, but Matched, though a bit more romantic than the Hunger Games, seems more suited for readers under 13. I anticipate that female readers will grow to like Matched more than boys for that reason too.
This book had me hooked from the first few pages. I loved the idea of a different "society" and all that entailed. While it does favor Hunger Games, the characters are different in my opinion. The idea that the government or "society" would have control over every aspect of your life down to what you eat really had me wondering if things like this could happen. I would recommend this book to anyone.
I enjoyed this book immensely, as it was so similar to "The Hunger Games"...exciting, young adult reading, but will also hold the interest of an adult as well. Can't wait to read the 2nd & 3rd in this series! Makes one think about our future and how scary it could become...