Matched by Ally Condie, Dutton Juvenile, 2010, 384 pp, ISBN: 0525423648
Cassia is a member of the Society - a community where there is no need for stress or anxiety; all of your decisions, from your spouse to your career, are carefully planned and decided for you. Cassie just celebrated her 16th birthday, and as a key part of the celebration, she attended her Match Banquet and learned the identity of the boy whom she would eventually marry.
The only catch is, once Cassie got home got home and checked her Match's microchip (the Society's facebook?!), a different boy's face appeared on her screen.
Now Cassia is questioning everything about the world that once made her feel so safe. The only tricky thing about questions is... you may not always like the answers you find.
I have been dying to read Matched for months. I swear, a week does not go by where I don't see another Matched review pop up on my blog roll. This book is everywhere! I started Cassia's story in a book store over Christmas break and got hooked, but was determined to wait for a copy to come in at the library. In the luckiest twist of fate ever, I met with my favorite YA lit professor a week ago and she so very graciously gave me her ARC copy!!!! It was like Christmas and my birthday rolled into one :)
Now that I've finished this long awaited read, I feel somewhat underwhelmed... Did I enjoy Cassia's story? Absolutely! Am I already pumped up to read Crossed? You bet. I thought Cassia was a protagonist to admire. I wish more of my female students had her unique blend of intelligence, thoughtfulness, courage, and sense of family honor.
I actually love the ideas behind the Society. We do have such an overabundance of technology in our world today, and many of those modes of technology serve as just another source of pressure or unnecessary drama. On top of that, we have the constant stress of career, relationships, and even personal appearances. The Society has found a way to deal with all of that - to make all citizens feel peaceful and safe. For at least the first half of the book, I found myself half wishing that I could trade places with Cassia!
The "100" lists were fascinating. I am truly all for simplicity, but I cannot imagine doing away with all of our literature and music. How could a person possibly choose just 100 of the world's best stories? Or poems? Or songs? Beyonce better have made that list...
So why was I left feeling so underwhelmed? I was honestly just disappointed when I realized a quarter of the way through that I already knew how the book would end. There is nothing I love more in a book than being surprised by new twists in the plot, and although I was intrigued by the world of the Society, there weren't any real surprises. On top of that, I'm pretty sure Cassia picked the wrong guy. I mean, I don't need to get in a big debate about this, but what did she really see in him? A mystery, but what happens when the mystery is solved? Someone to take care of, but those type of relationships rarely end well. Really, I just wasn't buying it.
Of course, many thousands of people are obsessed with Matched, so don't let the last bit of this review make you think it's not worth reading. It was wholly enjoyable book that I can't wait to recommend to kiddos as The Giver meets Romeo and Juliet!
PS: I spent a long time playing this Matched game from the book's website. All of my results were waaay far off base (Is there any way I can get Matched with my husband?!), but it didn't stop me from playing over and over!