While dystopian novels are nothing new, they are certainly dominating the YA bookshelves and New York Times’ Bestseller list, and the Matched trilogy by Ally Condie is no exception.
“I’ve waited so long for this: my Match Banquet.”
In Matched we meet Cassia Reyes, a seventeen-year-old, on the night of her Match Banquet, the ceremony at which she will be told who she will marry. When it is announced that she is “matched” to her life-long best friend, Xander, she is shocked and excited.
But the next day, when the microcard containing information about her Match and the courtship guidelines malfunctions, showing not Xander, but another friend, Ky, she begins to wonder exactly who she is matched with.
When a Society Official comes to clear up the mistake, Cassia is left wondering, what if I had the ability to choose who I marry?
“I think she would ask you if you wondered.”
In Cassia’s society, people are not only told who and when they can marry, but also what they can read, what music they can listen to, where they will live, and when they will die.
As Cassia’s grandfather nears his eightieth birthday, the day of his death, she confides in him the unusual circumstances surrounding her Match. But rather than comfort her, he confuses her even more, encouraging her to question the Society’s rules, and even gives her a strange, forbidden gift: a poem hidden inside a compact, a family “artifact”.
“When it rains, I remember.”
As Cassia’s friendships with Xander and Ky grow and become complicated, she begins to wonder if rebellion against an unjust and oppressive Society is the right thing to do. Is it right to break the rules if they are wrong?
When Cassia and Ky are assigned to the same hiking team, he shares two gifts with her: his life story as an Aberration uprooted from his home, and how to write– something forbidden in the Society.
“I don’t want to forget.”
When Ky is torn from his home in the middle of the night, the entire community is disturbed. When the Officials order everyone to take a pill to help them “clear their mind”, Cassia realizes that the Society has control over one more area of their lives: they tell them what to remember, and what to forget.
Cassia doesn’t want to forget: she wants to remember. And change.
When Cassia and her family are relocated to the farmlands of the Society, she is more determined than ever to find Ky, but even more, to find freedom.
“Not just for you. For all of us.”
I found Matched to be a great springboard for thought-provoking discussions about government’s role in citizens’ personal and home lives. Where do we draw the line for the reach of government? When is it right to stand up and rebel against an oppressive government? I would recommend the book to young adults age fourteen and up.
Thankfully, Condie’s Mormon religious beliefs seem to have moderated her writing, resulting in no more than a couple of kisses throughout the entire book, which revolves around the intersection of totalitarian government and marriage. Condie’s Mormon beliefs also seem to come through with some extremely vague and possibly confusing references to God and angels.
I did feel that Matched was a bit drawn out, and could have easily told the same story in less than 366 pages. In some ways, it felt like a knockoff combination of The Giver and The Hunger Games. I would give the book a “C”.
Have you read Matched? If so, what are your thoughts?