Matched by Ally CondiePublished: November 30, 2010
Publisher: Dutton Juvenille
(366 pages, hardcover)
Summary: 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.
My thoughts: Matched is primarily a dystopian romance and it was amazing in that regard. It was also about fighting against the norm, about stepping over boundaries that had been set long before, and in that regard it was amazing also. Condie writes with beautiful simplicity at times, almost seeming childish in how Cassia looks at the world. At other times it was complex and deep and thoughtful in way that gave me chills. Okay, maybe not chills, but I was enthralled by the graceful writing. Now, there's been a lot of hype surrounding this novel, and let me just say, it did not disappoint. Cassia was just another girl in the Society, perfectly content with the way their every move was calculated before hand, how the Society decided everything, from what you wear to who they marry. Suddenly, Cassia sees another option in life when another face appears after she's been Matched. Ky Markham has always been a mystery in a world where everything is plain as day, and something about his aloof manner draws Cassia toward a dangerous life where safe, beautiful Xander is only her best friend and not her Match. The romance was passionate and slow-developing, and overall beautifully written. Cassia's transformation to one of the conforming crowd to someone with her own mind and in the end, that was what made this novel stand out from a lot of other novels.
Cassia was just another girl content with life in the Society; she had no desire to not live the life that was created around and for her. She was happy with knowing that her life was previously predicted and perfected before she was even born. So when a boy she knows, her best friend, in fact, Xander, is chosen as her match, she's thrilled. Then she sees another Match; Ky Markham, a boy who was adopted when he was ten and moved away from the Outer Provinces, where a war that no one knows much about is being waged. His parents were killed, therefore shrouding him in mystery. His quiet demeanor, Cassia soon realizes as she spends more and more time with him, hides his rebellion. Cassia starts out unfeeling, unemotional, and unconnected to anything. But soon she transforms and becomes aware of how terrible the Society's rules are. From eyes tightly shut to eyes wide open, Cassia's journey was wonderfully written and I loved how she became a strong character who refuses to give up. Xander was sweet and sensitive and the perfect best friend; I'll admit to having teared-up at the end because of him. He was perfect and three-dimensional in a way that impressed me, since he wasn't really a main character. The other secondary characters weren't a huge part, even though I hated the Officials so much I just wanted to punch them in the nose by the end. Ky was mysterious and even though he wasn't totally easy to relate to, I loved his romance with Cassia, especially since he was so understanding and gentle through the story. Cassia's little brother, Bram, was my favorite character because, even when he didn't really realize it, he was rebelling against the Society throughout the whole book. He was funny and protective of his older sister in a cute way that made me love him as much as Cassia.
Matched had a very complex story line and I'll keep this short to keep from trying to summarize. I'll just say that while this story was mainly about Cassia's transformation and the forbidden romance between her and Ky, the story was well-thought out and drawn out to the perfect point. The pacing was good, if not a little inconsistent. It's only downfall was the fact that it seemed like everyone else was perfectly content with their lives. It surprised me a little that no one else seemed to be on their side. But other than that, everything was perfection, making the book infuriating and eerie in its simplistic, idealistic, and yet completely controlled and restrained.
Condie's writing style was really diverse and extremely engrossing. Cassia's writing starts out simple and child-like, with short sentence and facts about the Society that seem perfectly natural to her and repelling to readers. She continues on this way for a while, but eventually she speaks poetically, sounding like a true writer. Condie incorporates a lot of poetry into the novel, and I thought it fit in perfectly. For the sake of not raving for too long, I'll just say that it was amazing how much things changed halfway through and how beautiful the writing was from start to finish.
Overall rating: 5 stars