Goodreads kept telling me that I needed to read this book, so I finally gave into all the pressure. I'm really happy I did because this ended up being a really great read. I've been really into YA dystopian novels lately, and Matched definitely fit into that category.
Matched is about a girl named Cassia who has always put her trust into the Society. The Society tells you what to eat and when, what to read, what jobs you can have, who your friends are, what you talk about, who you spend the rest of your life with and even which memories you're allowed to keep. When you're ready to take a mate, you sign up to be matched in the Matching Ceremony. On Cassia's matching day, she is matched with her best friend, Xander, and she couldn't be more thrilled. When she's looking at her micro-chip to learn even more about the best friend she's excited to spend the rest of her life with, another face pops up - the face of Ky, another boy who she's known almost her whole life.
When she's approached by the Society about this, they tell her it was a rare malfunction, and that she is, in fact, supposed to be with Xander, but Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky. When she starts falling for him, she starts to doubt all of the trust that she's put into the society, and she's faced with the impossible decision of who to choose: Xander or Ky.
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First of all, Cassia was an amazing heroine. A lot of the books I've read lately have had heroines or main characters that I didn't relate to or I didn't connect with or just made choices that made them look so dim that it was unbelievable. Cassia was actually a free-thinker, and she was willing to question the Society. When she's challenged by these people who she's supposed to put her trust in, rather than following along with their orders blindly, she actually questions the authorities and tries to find her own answers and ventures on her own path.
As far as the love triangle is concerned, I kept on jumping back and forth between Xander and Ky. The first chapter makes you fall in love with Xander. He's essentially everything anyone could ever want in a guy - he's charming, attractive, thoughtful, caring, and funny. All the girls are pining after him, but it's unlikely for you to get matched with someone from your same city, which is why Cassia and Xander getting matched was such a big deal. Ky is great too, but it took me awhile to warm up to him. In a battle between Xander and Ky, I definitely would have been team Xander. It's easy to see why Cassia was matched up (though not technically so) with both of these boys.
At the beginning of the book, I thought it was going to be centered around the love triangle between the three aforementioned characters, but it ends up being so much more than that. When Cassia realizes how little voice everyone actually has and how perfect (too perfect) the Society is, she isn't sure what to believe. Everything about the Society is flawless:
No one is overweight.
No one gets dirty.
No one experiences pain.
The literary world is stripped to just 100 poems, 100 songs, 100 paintings.
The world is clean.
Marriages are arranged.
No one plays games.
There are no material possessions like watches and compasses.
Food isn't consumed for taste, only to live, and they dictate when you eat it.
Everyone dies at age 80.
And no one questions anything.
The story develops a little slowly at first as far as the bigger picture of what the series is about is concerned, but then it hits you right there at the end, and you'll find yourself wanting to read the rest of the series.
I give this book a 4.5 out of 5. The love triangle drew me in, but the story behind the Society and its rules is what kept me reading. I think anyone who likes dystopian novels will enjoy this book.
For more from Ally Condie, check out her official website.