Author: Ally Condie
Release date: 2nd December 2010 UK
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Penguin Razorbill
Summary from Amazon:
On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her Match. Society dictates he is her perfect partner for life. Except he’s not. In Cassia’s society, Officials decide who people love. How many children they have. Where they work. When they die. But, as Cassia finds herself falling in love with another boy, she is determined to make some choices of her own. And that’s when her whole world begins to unravel . . .
I’m not sure that I have quite put my thoughts together after reading Matched. It is the sort of story that you become completely consumed by, where the ending really matters to you. It is also the type of novel that makes you ask huge questions about the freedoms we have and often take for granted.
Cassia is seventeen. The novel opens with her travelling to her Matching Banquet. Along with her parents and her best friend Xander, she goes to the ceremony where her future life partner will be revealed. Everything in their society is calculated, measured, weighed, formulated and assessed. It is a society based on measurable and perfected social outcomes. Outcomes are predicted. People are categorised and documented as data. It is a system that ensures quality. People have no more or no less than anyone else. It is system that Cassia believes in and so she is excited at the prospect of learning about her match. She has hopes and dreams for a contented life with her match, she is happy to leave it in the hands of the Society. But there is a glitch in the perfect system and suddenly Cassia finds herself thinking about another boy and torn between two possible futures instead of the single one she has always believed there to be.
If I tell you anymore more than this, I think it would spoil it for you. There are beautiful moments of blossoming love in Matched. You are swept completely along with the snatched moments Cassia chooses to hide from the ever watchful Officials. There are also sinister moments when you see just how far the Officials are willing to go to prevent people from having any choices at all. Food is delivered and prepared individually for each person. They must not share. Everyone carries three tablets: a blue one, a green one and a red one.
The other thing that in infinitely dark is the realisation that the Officials are just ordinary people like Cassia, born into the system, monitored by the system and then selected to do the optimum job for the system, if this is an Official in one way or another then so be it.
I must also mention the musical nature of the writing and the eradication of all creativity from society. The culture of society extends to one hundred poems, one hundred songs. There are no new original words created and shared. Handwriting is part of the old way. No one remembers how anymore. Words are not words but data typed on a pad. It is so sad. It makes me want to write poem after poem, draw and paint, and imagine thousands of scientifically impossible things.
Matched is a dystopia with a love story at its heart. Perhaps it is only love that can give a person the power to rise against the machine, to add 2 + 2 and find out that it equals the whole sky and the sun and the stars. I felt truly captivated by this story. I was immersed in the characters, lost in the words and enthralled by the plot.
Thank you to Penguin Razorbill for sending me the book to review.