Matched written by Ally Conde, Speak, 2011, ISBN: 978-014-241-9779
Seventeen-year-old Cassia Reyes has the perfect life. The Society takes care of all her needs, including food, shelter, education, job and marriage. When their algorithm decides that her ideal match is her best friend Xander Carrow, she is delighted as not many people know their match before the marriage ceremony. When she goes home to view her future mate’s information, she sees a different boy’s face show up on the screen: Ky Markham, an aberration who cannot be matched by society’s laws.
A representative from the Society appears the following day to explain the error, but Cassia is not convinced that it was a mistake. She starts to question how perfect The Society really is. These doubts only grow when her grandfather, scheduled to die on his 80th birthday, gives her a piece of banned poetry. Dylan Thomas’s famous words, “Do not go gentle into that good night” become a rallying cry for her as she seeks to discover what’s really behind the Society she trusted to make all her choices for her.
As she spends more time with Ky, she becomes more enamored with him and the secrets he imparts to her about writing and his past. When he is suddenly taken away by the Society, Cassia must decide whether to follow the path set out for her or rebel against conformity and discover the truth for herself.
Matched will appeal to fans of dystopian fiction. While not as action packed or suspenseful as the Hunger Games series, it establishes and develops an intriguing mystery about a world that is seemingly perfect. The central premise of the story is an intriguing one. If the government could select your ideal husband or wife, would you let them? This question seems on the face of it absurd until you consider how bad most people are in selecting their own life partners (just look at the current divorce rate). The most fundamental of choices (who will I love?) seems such a critical aspect of our individuality, sacrificing it seems impossible.
Conde has done a great job creating a character that begins innocent and naïve and becomes more troubled and courageous as she learns the truth. Like Winston in 1984, she is an ideal citizen until a single image reveals the truth of her oppressive regime. Once revealed, Cassie can’t help but investigate and learn more about how the Society operates. She is a sympathetic heroine who must learn to make her own choices, sometimes using information she’s not sure she can trust.
The love triangle between Cassie, Ky and Xander is intriguing and keeps the reader engaged trying to decide who Cassie might be better of with. Conde makes both Ky and Xander attractive characters, thus making Cassie’s choice all the more difficult. This reminded me in some way of the dilemma faced by Katniss in the Hunger Games series.
If your life were perfect, would you want it to change? This is the question that Cassie Reyes must answer when she discovers that the Society in charge of arranging her marriage may not be as infallible as she once thought it was. Now she’s faced with a choice: allow the Society to dictate her life, or take matters into her own hands.
Information about the author
From the author’s page on Amazon.com, we learn that “Ally Condie (www.allycondie.com) is a former high school English teacher who lives with her husband and three sons outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves reading, running, eating, and listening to her husband play guitar.”
Dystopian Young Adult Fiction
English, History, Art
If such an algorithm existed, would you use it to find your spouse?
What questions remain unanswered by the end of the novel?
Reading Level / Interest Age
Grade 9 and up
Why did I include this title?
This book was a popular check out in my library last year so I picked it up and found its central concept interesting. I also like how the main character gradually learns the truth about her world and must make some pretty hard decisions about her life.