Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Review: Matched

Ally Condie
In Cassia's Society, people are told where to live, where to work, when to die, and who to marry. The system is perfect, of course: each person who chooses to is Matched with their perfect Match. And on her seventeenth birthday, Cassia is, too. Unlike other girls, whose Matches live in other cities, hers lives just down the street. Hers is her best friend, Xander. But then something happens: the screen flickers and, just for an instant, its another boy's face staring back at Cassia. This boy is not her best friend, not her Match - he's someone she never should have been Matched with. And yet she was, for just an instant, and this paired with the secret poems her grandfather gave her at his Final Banquet before he died, changes everything for Cassia. For the first time in her life she sees choice. She sees that there is more to living than what the Society tells her there is.

This was an amazing, slowly-building, page-turner of a book that was incredible in so many ways. I don't even know where to begin. One of the most astounding things about this book is that in the beginning it really isn't that good. The writing is clunky and the characters seem flat. But then, as Cassia develops as a character her voice develops as well until it is filled with a type of impossible-to-describe poetry. As brilliant as the premise is, its the combination of all the elements that really make this book fantastic. The plot, through slow-moving, is exceptionally crafted. There's a sense of something more lurking just below the surface and despite its lack of action, this book manages to be nearly unputdownable. Though the Society Cassia lives in is said to be peaceful there's a constant threat of danger just under the surface, a threat of Cassia losing everything she loves if it's discovered that she's read poems she shouldn't and is falling for a boy who isn't her Match.

Surprisingly, despite being less developed than other parts of the novel, it's the characters that really made this story for me. Cassia herself is absolutely wonderful as she dares to step out of the box and push the envelope of what's expected and demanded of her. The journey she takes from the first page to the last is an overwhelming one with a few unexpected turns, but she has a kind of quiet, inner strength that you don't often find in the protagonists of dystopian or sci-fi, who are typically more kick-ass than kind and loving. But Cassia - and those around her - is loving. She cares deeply about not only her family, but also Xander and Ky (the boy she wasn't supposed to be Matched with). She breaks the rules, yes, but there's a limit to what she's willing to risk. Like Cassia, the other characters around her are also quiet risk-takers. From Ky, who gets by on being absolutely average and knows how to write by hand to Xander, who's willing to hide forbidden items for Cassia and bend the rules for their friends, to Cassia's parents and grandfather who each rebel in their own small way to protect the ones they love. However, despite all these things I wanted more from these characters and their relationships. Though Cassia is incredible and amazing and I want to be friends with her omg, other characters are less developed. I was surprised at how much of the time Xander wasn't in the book, as well as how ambivalent I felt towards Ky.

Despite having a premise that revolves around a love triangle, I just didn't feel it. There was no love triangle, really, not for Cassia. It's not about her choosing between Xander and Ky; it's about her fighting to be able to choose at all. And while this is absolutely wonderful and the feelings between her and Ky are undeniable and well-written, the character of Ky himself wasn't very impressive. I felt that while Xander can stand on his own what makes Ky really interesting was the mere fact that Cassia found him interesting and that there was this love between them that seemed to transform things.

To put it simply: I love this book and can't wait for the rest of the trilogy. It's amazing, incredible, unexpected, etc. It's rare to find a dystopian novel as emotion- and character-driven as this one, and it works perfectly.


  1. I read this book just a couple weeks ago and agree, it was a great read! I didn't realize there was a trilogy in the making...awesome!

  2. I actually agree with you about the beginning. But the poetry is def amazing, and the book gets better and better the deeper you get into the story.

  3. I'm really glad to see that you liked this one! I've seen some other reviews that say that this book isn't really "original" or whatever - too close to the GIVER, or something. So I'm really glad to see that you liked it.

  4. Yeah, I loved this one too. Great review!