Author: Ally Condie
UK Publisher: Penguin Group
UK Release date: December 2010
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Summary (from Goodreads): 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
Review: Matched is set in an alternate future society where everything is designed for optimal health and life. Disease and illness has all but been eradicated, meals are prepared for your optimal nutritional levels, and on your 80th birthday you die peacefully. At 17, Cassia attends her Matching ceremony where Society's officials tell her who optimal partner is to start a family with.
"The goal of Matching is twofold: to provide the healthiest possible future citizens for our Society and to provide the best chances for interested citizens to experience successful Family life. It is of the utmost importance to the Society that the Matches be as optimal as possible."
The impossible happens, and Cassia gets matched to her best friend Xander. Life seems perfect, until another boy's face appears on her home port screen as her match. Childhood friend, Ky. Soon Cassia starts finding herself wanting a life that the Society won't allow, and she is forced to reevaluate her life and Society's rules.
The interplay between Ky and Cassia is irresistible - full of first love trepidation and forbidden trysts. Written from Cassia's perspective we see her learn more and more about Ky and herself, and slowly she starts to fall for him. Ky starts as the mysterious character; we know he's had a difficult childhood and want to learn more about him. As the story progresses, he blossoms in front of our very eyes.
The story is paced exceptionally well; and has a good balance between Cassia's narrative and plot. Through Cassia's narrative you build up an emotional understanding of how her perception of the Society changes. What I loved were the little meetings between Ky and Cassia, where they talk and share rare intimate moments that the society wouldn't normally allow.
Matched looks at issues of freedom, choice and individualism; to make everyone equal there are no personal items except for a few mementos, and everyone wears the same clothes. I enjoyed the fact that you weren't given more background information about who the 'Society' is; this way you are in the same position as Cassia. What you have to remember when reading the book is that we often take our freedom for granted; whilst we are taught to be open minded, to be creative, and to question, none of this happens in Cassia's world. If you learn from birth that life is about rules and to cross those rules means danger, it takes a lot to change this instinct.
I couldn't find anything that I didn't like about this book: it flowed well, kept me intrigued, and had a heart-wrenching plot line.