Matched by Ally Condie

Matched is a book set in the future.  A perfect society where everything is arranged for the citizens and nothing is left to chance.  It starts with Cassia attending her matching ceremony on her seventeenth birthday where she will find out who her future partner for life is. At the ceremony Cassia is matched with a childhood friend Xander.  Xander is almost everything you could hope for, he’s good looking, reliable and thoughtful and is also Cassia’s best friend. However, the following day when Cassia looks at her microchip card that contains all the information about her match a different name and picture are revealed and Ky Markham is shown as her perfect match.  This error is of course quickly rectified by the Officials but the first seeds of doubt have already been sewn and Cassia starts to become more intrigued by Ky and more desperate to find out his story.

In this novel AC reveals to us what is, on the face of it, a perfect world.  Everything is regulated, there is no longer disease or crime, or want.  Everybody is seemingly equal and will eventually be allocated his or her place in society and everybody accepts this.  But is it really a perfect world?  Of course not.  Everybody is controlled, there is no real emotion and if anybody becomes emotional they permanently carry around green, blue and red pills which control their feelings of anxiety and eliminate stress.  The society is completely stilted, they are dissuaded from any real thought and to that end all material is controlled.  There are only 100 poems, 100 pictures, 100 books -omg – imagine only 100 books (give me a green pill right now)!! On top of this people live to the age of 80 when they spend their final day with their family and then pass away quietly.  All very suspicious!  Food is regulated, free time is controlled, even leisure activities are restricted and a strict curfew is in place.  Basically, in this new world, people have become almost like little robots just programmed to go about their every day business to a very strict schedule.  Nobody ever questions anything – their own knowledge is too restricted and they are all dependent on each other.  For example, you may be able to grow food but you don’t know how to prepare it.  Also, even though the Officials don’t come across as particularly threatening they are constantly around, monitoring people and controlling the environment.  Basically, peoples’ own fear of losing their status is what ultimately keeps them in check.

I think Cassia started to question the society even before the mistake with her matched partner.  I felt that when Cassia was matched with her childhood friend this, in some way, took away her anticipation for something new and unexpected and although she knew she should be happy really she was experiencing doubt and even jealousy of her friend Em who had been matched with someone unknown.

I really enjoyed this book – it isn’t an action packed book but more a slow burner and definitely the sort of book that makes you think when you put it down.  I know that comparisons have been made to other novels such as the Hunger Games but to be honest I wouldn’t suggest you read this book with any such expectations.  There isn’t really any action although the final chapters are quite gripping.  I think this book has very nicely set the stage for the next two books – in Matched we have been shown this sterile world with bland people, living bland lives.  But we see that everything isn’t as it first seems, people do whisper behind closed doors and not everybody is as happy as they first seem.  The suspense gradually builds as Cassia steers from her chosen path and becomes more and more interested in Ky – and the Officials become more interested in her!

My criticisms for the book would be that in spite of the fact that Xander is Cassia’s best friend he plays quite a small part in the book – in fact I was surprised at how very little time they actually did spend together – but I suppose I’m basing this on ‘best friend relationships’ and how they work in my world and not this one.  Again, we had a bit of a love triangle going on which I’m not overly fond of as they seem to have become a prerequisite but that being said I think there is never any real doubt who Cassia wants to be with.

I would recommend reading Matched as I really enjoyed it – but I didn’t have any expectations of it being the next ‘Twilight’ or ‘Hunger Games’.  I don’t think these comparisons are necessarily helpful – they give you an idea of what to expect that isn’t always accurate and then instead of reading the story as a new novel you are constantly holding it up for examination with something else.  Read this book for what it is – one girl’s story about the life she is leading and her slow realisation that everything she believes in may not be quite as perfect as it seems – with a little romance thrown in for good measure!

Rating A



One Response to “Matched by Ally Condie”

  1. Early Days | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Matched by Ally Condie […]

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