Matched by Ally Condie

Release Date: November 30, 2010
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback

Matched by Ally Condie

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xanders face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate until she sees Ky Markhams face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. 

The Society tells her its a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life shes destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia cant stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Societys infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life shes known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

As the release of Crossed (the sequel to Matched) draws closer, this book is talked more and more about. More people are reading it, the paperback edition came out, and Penguin is creating more and more buzz about it.

I had actually borrowed and read this book before I got a copy from the #allychat on Twitter from Penguin. I was pretty excited about it. I had wanted Crossed, but I didn’t have a need for it. Matched had left me satisfied, but that was pretty much it.

When I read this for the first time, I kept making comparisons to The Giver, which I had analyzed so often and thoroughly in Language Arts that I started to have a deep seated loathing for it. I know that its a great book, but after a certain point of debating metaphors and analyzing each characters intent, you tend to get kind of sick of a book.

The thought of reading The Giver again had depressed me. Anyways, the first time, I thought of Matched as okay. I honestly hadnt understood why my friends loved it. I thought it was good, but I didnt think it was amazing. The second time that I read it, I truly adored it.

This review is a mixture of both the first and second times that I read this, with comparisons between the two as I continue, so that you know. It may depend on how you look at it, but Matched gets even better each time that you reread it. It did for me.

Cassia has always had faith in the Society. If marriages weren’t regulated, if people didn’t die at exactly the same age, where would order be? There would be no happiness in the chaos, because while one person might be bursting with pride, another might be falling apart at the seams. The Society has drilled these facts into her head since she was a baby.

Sleep tags monitor the dreams of the citizens at night. Food is distributed and experimented with based on each individual person’s dietary need. Careers are assigned.

Sometime after your sixteenth year, you are Matched. You find the person that you are going to be with, the person calculated to be most like you, and that your genes might “match” up perfectly to produce healthy children. You become married at age 21.

Cassia goes to her Matching ceremony on her birthday, with her parents and her best friend, Xander. She will find out her partner that night and she will learn about him. Someday they will be married, and Cassia is extremely nervous about the ceremony.

Cassia has been matched with Xander. For the first time in a long time, somebody has been matched with a person that she knows. She loves Xander, and she knows that they will be happy together.

However, there’s a source of doubt prying away at her. For a brief moment, she saw another face as her Match. The screen showed another face as her Match, and it was also somebody that she knew.

It was Ky. Always invisible and almost never noticed, Ky is the boy that she never thinks about. Until then, she hadn’t thought of Ky in years.

Then she sees him everywhere. As they become friends, as she learns the truth behind their forbidden Match, as they grow to love each other, she knows that she has a decision to make: Ky or the Society?

In this chilling and elegant story of forbidden love and rebellion, boundaries will be tested and loyalties will change. This was an enthralling read, exactly the type of story that I love to read.

The first time that I read this book, I thought that it was kind of boring. I read this over a year ago, I believe, and I didn’t get why my friends were obsessing over it. Nothing much happened at the beginning, and things were much more subtle.

The second time that I read it, I noticed finer details. I realized that this was more of a world-building book, and it was setting up the world for the next book. There is a chapter teaser for Crossed in the paperback that I received, and after reading that, I know that my theory is correct. The second book will be even better than the first. Part of this understanding might have been that when I first read it, I was a reader, but I didnt know much about how series worked. I wanted my books to be immediately fantastic. As I got older, I got that sometimes books were more patient with this and that you had to wait for the world to be fully created.

Although it is definitely true that this was a slower book, I feel that it needed to happen this way. Dystopian books can’t all be The Hunger Games. Like The Giver, this book did focus more on character-building and setting and world-building.

Ally Condie did fully establish the rules and government systems of the Society. She made it very clear what the boundaries were, while she also gave us a sense of secrecy and evilness in the Society. She used fine detail to illustrate the coldness of the society. Everything seemed kind of starch and uniform, and there was a crack in their logic. Everything couldnt be controlled.

There’s a reason why this book is actually very similar to other dystopian books. This would be because in every dystopian, the society has to regulate things to keep order. It’s for the greater good. The problem with these ideas is that you can’t control every variable thrown out there, and this book is the perfect example of that.

A huge theme  in this book was trust. Who could Cassia trust? Ky or the Society? She had to make life-altering choices based on that trust and she sometimes didnt know what to believe. The Society had influenced everybodys decisions and thoughts for years, so when she is suddenly making decisions on her own, she doesnt know what to think. Trust is the key concept of this book, and it was beautifully illustrated.

Cassia was a beautiful character to read about. Her personality was more laid-back. She was content to follow the Society because she was more sheltered, and hadn’t seen a problem with it. However, she does have a fervent curiosity in her that is absolutely stunning. She knew when to think things through but she still acted rashly when talking about love. She was sensible, but not in an annoying way that some characters are.

One thing that kept going through my head as I read was how the Society would tell her that everything was controlled. Even the choice of her dress was calculated by her personality and data. It made me wonder whether everything in the Society was controlled like that and if they truly did know what was going to happen with everybody or if they were lying to her. It brought the points up as to whether or not it was an experiment or if her feelings for Ky and Xander were real.

She was quieter as well, but profound. She didn’t really have any hugely defining character traits, but she was steady and consistent in her personality. It was refreshing to see such a balanced character.

Now Xander sounds like the perfect boy. He watches out for Cassia and is a perfect gentleman. He is her best friend and he acted like it, but he also gave little hints of wanting something more than being friends. You know that no matter what, he was there for her. He was her rock throughout the book and was solid. I loved him a little bit.

Ky was the messy, chaotic, passionate one. He wasn’t a bad boy, or a perfect gentleman, but he was just average mostly. He was sad because of the awful things that happened to him and he expressed himself through his words and art. It was he who put in the seeds of rebellion in Cassia, but he wasn’t a bad influence on her at all.

He laughed and he cried. While Xander was the rock, it was really Ky who was the source of emotion throughout the book. He was the one who truly changes Cassia. He was the one who made her think about what exactly was wrong with the Society, and how they had the power to fix it.

Im not saying that Im Team anybody. Ky seemed better for Cassia, but I did like Xander better. Just because I felt that he was more consistent, and he had been there for Cassia for years. She just started looking at Ky in the past few months in the book and I thought that personally, she was being unfair to Ky. Feel free to disagree, this is just my opinion! :)

The ending was pulled off beautifully. Ally Condie gave the reader exactly what we needed at the end.

The best part of this book was probably how clean it was. During the #allychat that I got this book at, I was stunned to learn that Ally doesnt outline! She did it all randomly. Im not sure if she wrote chronologically or out of order, but I was stunned. Its one of the cleanest books that Ive read but whether thats on the part of the editors and copy editors or Ally herself, its yet to be determined. Im amazed by her!

I also read this for the second time after reading Fahrenheit 451, which Ally also said influenced her work a lot. I can definitely see traces of it in the library scene and in how youre only allowed to have 100 novels, 100 paintings, 100 poems, etc,.

That also brought up another point to me because Im always curious as to whether thats true: I personally dont think that we have too many different arts in our society. The Society claimed that culture was too cluttered and they needed to select only a few to remain. The devastation of having all of those works of art destroyed would kill me. I get upset if somebody ruins a book!

I was very impressed by Matched the second time around. I had read the paperback only because it had been a long time since I had read it, and I knew that I was going to probably end up borrowing Crossed from a friend in November, so I was really excited to dig into this. Once I got into it again however, I ended up picking up details that I hadnt noticed before. I ended up really enjoying it the second time around. I have the feeling that Crossed is going to blow my mind.

Recommended for anybody who loves: The Giver; City of Ember; Fahrenheit 451; Gone; etc,.

Possible book club questions:

If you could only choose five works of art to save, what would you save?
Do you think that the Society considered it in their best interest or in the citizens to keep them in control?
What do you think that Kys adoptive parents believed about him? Do you think that they will play a bigger part in the later books?
Would Matching make relationships easier or harder if it were in the real world?
etc,.

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