Matched by Ally Condie
Matched was another book that I picked up as a Christmas present during the fall Scholastic Book Fair. I heard students raving about the story and thought it might be a good addition to our family library, even though I doubted that anything could rival the Hunger Games or Uglies series.
There have been many other famous dystopian stories, including Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson’s Logan’s Run or even George Lucas’s THX-1138. Though Matched also portrays a Society which appears to be perfect on the surface, Ally Condie manages to add her own twists and unique touches to a futuristic Society which sets her story apart and makes it memorable.
Matched portrays a Society in which couples are chosen for each other at the age of 17 though an elaborate evening ceremony after a careful screening process to determine the person’s best partner on an emotional and genetic level. The story begins as the main character, Cassia, heads off to her Match Banquet with her parents, her best friend Xander and his family. After a delicious meal, wearing her beautiful green silk gown, Cassia stands when her name is called. For endless moments the screen goes blank and remains blank until a Society Official announces that her match is actually present at the same banquet. Xander’s name is called and Cassie suddenly discovers that her perfect Match is none other than the boy she’s been friends with all her life.
The problem with perfect Utopian Societies, is that they seldom stay that way… revealing themselves to be full of problems, errors or corruption. When Cassia enters her microcard into the portscreen, the face that appears is not Xander’s. It is the face of another boy in her neighbourhood, a boy named Ky with a dubious background. An Official visits Cassia to explain the error and forbid her to tell anyone about having a second Match, which only causes her to wonder more about the two boys she’s been paired with. Will she remain faithful to her childhood friend or explore the new feelings that seem to be growing within her every time she is thrown together with Ky? Are the double match, the strange news from other provinces and her grandfather’s message hidden in an Artifact symptoms of a bigger problem or the seeds of rebellion being planted?
The best stories always have strong, believable characters and vivid prose. Ally Condie does a beautiful job in portraying the struggles of a young girl coming of age and learning to make her own decisions. Thinking for yourself is never encouraged in a controlled Society and yet the more events unfold, the more we share in Cassia’s struggle to figure out what is right, even when the Powers That Be tell her these things are wrong. Matched is a must-read for teens and adults alike!
Paperback format, 366 pages, published in 2010 by Scholastic