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 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.
Pub. Date: November 2010
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Format: Hardcover , 369pp
Age Range: Young Adult
I found it interesting that I've seen other's pointing out the lack of action-oriented motives on behalf of the main character, Cassia, as a minor draw back for them regarding the book when the author intended for it to be more introspective and for the novel itself to focus on Cassia learning to make a choice. I've always believed that choosing not to choose, would be the worst possible mistake that anyone could make, and it only holds true when it comes to this character and the story she's telling.
Cassia's world consists of The Society, which dictates how a person lives, what they eat, whom they're going to be matched with (their partner for life), their vocation, and even down to the day they are going to die. There are a so many choices that aren't even really available choices at all for these people and they're willing to go along with it, because to go against the society would be committing an infraction or worse being relegated to aberration status and/or shipped off to the outer provinces, for hard manual labor short of being worked to death with less leisure hours.
In a lot of ways, the girl in the pretty green dress inside the bubble on the cover of the book is what drew me to it. Like anyone else, I like pretty things and when I see them and they catch my eye, I have to pick them up and look at them. The bubble seemed to signify that she was trapped in some sort of world or dystopian society, where she wanted to break free but was taught at such a young age that going against conformity would ultimately lead to trouble farther down the road. The book does a good job of illustrating that it's not just the decisions to go against the Society that Cassia makes in not only choosing but allowing herself to fall in love with Ky Markham when she had been matched to Xander (her lifelong best friend), but her grandfather's refusal to "not go gentle in the night" in an effort to assert some control over his own life, and the Markham's with regard to Ky towards the end of the book.
It also illustrates the dangers of living in a virtual world of utopia, void of feelings and dulled down to contentment or being reduced to carrying pills, one of which aids in the calming of one's stress level and another that helps to trick one's mind to possibly "forget" something that has already happened. I, personally, wouldn't want to live in a world or society governed by rules like this and enforced by people in higher powers that had that much control over my life - numb to a lot of my own emotions or other experiences I could be enjoying.
Again, there's not much action in this book, but there is the promise of a choice that's being made and a decision to be carried out. Everyday brings Cassia closer to that, she's standing on the precipice and she's weighing all of the options in her mind. For now, Ky seems to be the one thing that's driving her, but I feel that as we get further along in the series that at some point that will change and we'll start to see other reasoning’s come into play.
Personally, I just really enjoyed this book and the prose was beautiful. One of my favorite things about it was the use of a Dylan Thomas poem, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night." In giving her those two poems tucked away inside the compact that belonged to Cassia's grandmother, her grandfather seemed to be saying, "It's okay to wonder." Questions are only human part of life and it's okay to ask them, whether or not it's been drilled into you all of your life from an early age that yours is not to ask, but to do as far as the Society is concerned.
There's a will to fight locked into those words and I feel like if Cassia really listens closely to them, let's them sink deeply into the crawl spaces of her bones, that she will be able to dig down deep and find that urge to rise up and fight, to rebel in sort of a way as I expect her to in the next novel which looks just as promising as this one was. This book asked a handful of questions that needed to be asked and I'm hoping with the next novel, there are going to come answers and more of the back story that was alluded to.
All in all, I really can't find fault with this book, as in it reads effortlessly and I found myself drawn in from the beginning and relating to Cassia in some ways and rooting for her, her grandfather, her father, Xander, and Ky in other ways. I definitely look for to the next novel and I can only give this one five out of five stars, because I wasn't disappointed in any aspect of this book and as I've said before, some of the drawback's for other readers just weren't there for me as I enjoyed it thoroughly and it is a book that I would re-read again and again, most especially in anticipation of the next book in this trilogy.