Matched is the first book of Ally Condie's new trilogy. It tells Cassia's story, a seventeen year old girl who lives in a perfect world created by "The Society". The Society chooses everything for everyone: where they work and live, what they eat and do with their time, who they love, how many children they have and when they live or die. And that is all well and good until she loses someone she loves and finds herself falling in love for a boy that is not her "Match" and has not been chosen to be her partner. The Society and the world she knows and once believed to be so perfect begin to feel more like a prison as she starts to question why she cannot choose for herself.
When asked how is this book different from other YA books in an interview for Amazon Condie replied: " I think it’s different in that it’s perhaps less action-oriented and more introspective. This is really the story of one girl, Cassia, learning to choose." And ultimately it's also a story of how we take our freedom and free-will for granted.
Although Matched was voted Best Book of the Month for December 2010 by Amazon I have to admit I struggled reading it and found it a little heavy going. Probably a lot to do with the fact that it is not an action book as much as a self-discovery one.
The story unfolds slowly as Cassia starts to question decisions and events, but finds it hard to let go of her trust in the apparently perfect Society. The characters are interesting and so is the plot, but I found the story long winded and slow to the point that I wondered if Condie set the pace on purpose to make the reader feel controlled, paced, herded and ever so slightly bored, just like Cassia in her life before she starts to wonder about all the other possibilities.
The end it's not so much a cliff hanger, but you know the story is to be continued. Condie also does a good job of evoking the right feelings on you: quiet anger, rebellion, questioning, indignation and passive aggression. Emotionally this can feel somewhat of a dark book, specially towards the end. I had flashbacks from when I read Anne Frank's Diary and watched documentaries on Concentration Camps as this is what Cassia's world really is: a glamorized concentration camp labeled Utopia. And we all know that Utopia is never really fair or even as there is always someone at the very top playing God.
Crossed, the second book of the series, comes out in November and I'm looking forward to it.
OUT OF CURIOSITY: The book has reportedly already been signed by Disney to become a movie and, rumor has it, Condie received a seven figure deal for the series.
Book Rating: ***
To check the rating system click here.