Monday, December 20, 2010
Page Count: 366 (hardcover)
Released: November 30th by Dutton Juvenile
Recommended for: dystopia fans, particularly the Hunger Games
(from Goodreads): 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'm a little slow in reviewing Matched, simply because I've been bombarded with enticing books lately. Besides, this is the kind of book which stays with you long after you read the final page, the kind of story you can really mull over and think 'What if..', and anticipate the sequel long before the release date is even close. Matched is most definitely one of my favorite reads of the year, and its hype is well-deserved.
Cassia is a protagonist you can cheer for-- she defies the airtight restrictions and guidelines of the Society, without actually going all Katniss Everdeen about it. This book reminds me of The Hunger Games for several reasons besides its dystopia feel-- Cassia's voice in the present tense has a similar feel as Katniss's--, but it's no tail-coat-riding book. The Society isn't as brutal as the Capital, but they have their own methods of cruelty-- they restrain the freedom of the people in their Society so completely and indifferently, but not so outrageously that their people revolt. (Yet.) The scary thing was that I can see these kind of changes, the kind of guidelines that the Society forces people to live their lives by, being put into place in the not-so-distant future. I'm not sure exactly when Matched takes place, but it probably isn't too far along the timeline. The story also reminds me a lot of Lois Lowry's older YA novel, The Giver.
The hero behind the story of Cassia's defiance and even her growing, forbidden love for Ky is her grandfather. In Cassia's world, people die the day they turn eighty, and they believe it should be this way. This, for me, was one of the worst cruelties of the society, because I simply could not imagine knowing the exact moment when you were going to die, when everyone you knew was going to die. Cassia's grandfather doesn't stand up and deft the Society, but he's so obviously a hero in his own way, advising Cassia to not 'go gently into the night' and becoming the basis for her questioning of the Society's ways and labels.
Ky, the boy Cassia falls in love with despite her being Matched with her best friend Xander, is an Aberration-- set apart by the Society due to a mysterious infraction committed by his father. Aberrations aren't entered into the Matching pool-- they can never get close to any 'normal' member of society, and they have the worst jobs and lifespans while most people live comfortable, sheltered lives. I liked the depth of Ky's emotion and the way he connected with Cassia, but I wish we found out a little more about his past and exactly what was so terribly tragic that his parents died and he was forced to relocate from his country home. The end of the book leaves you wanting more and the story is wide-open for the sequel, Crossed (coming next November according to Ally Condie's blog.)
One last thing-- I love, love the cover of this book. Browsing it on Amazon, I thought it was a strange choice, but after having read the book, I think the cover could not possibly have been better.
My Rating: 5/5