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.
Imagine living in a world where disease, divorce and crime are practically eradicated. A place where everyone has a specific place in society, a purpose to fulfill for the good of mankind and a guarantee that as long as the rules are followed and expectations are met, life will be good for all. This is the world in which Cassia lives. She wakes each day knowing where she must be, what she will do with her free time, and is eagerly anticipating the night that she will be told about her Match—the boy she will eventually marry, as chosen by the Society.
When her Match is revealed, it’s a both a relief and a surprise— her best friend, Xander. Xander is handsome, intelligent and the person Cassia is closest to in her quiet, sheltered world. Plus, the Society places people together based on genetics and a multitude of factors, ensuring that individuals have the happiest partnership and healthiest offspring. Cassia couldn’t have asked for a better match and she doesn’t question it until, upon reviewing the data card given to her by the Matching officials, she sees another face for a brief moment. It’s not the face of Xander, but one of Ky, a boy from her block. She is assured by the officials that it was all a terrible mistake and to tell her secret to no one, and she dutifully agrees.
The problem is that seeing Ky’s face on that screen brings up questions for Cassia. Is it merely the power of suggestion, or has she always been somewhat drawn to Ky? He’s different from Cassia and Xander. He’s an abberation (someone with a flaw, be it genetic or otherwise, that makes him more of a “risk”), never intended to marry or do anything beyond working in a manual-labor job chosen by the officials. At a young age he was sent to live with his aunt and uncle, who raised him as their own son, and as a result, he grew up on the same street as Cassia and her friends, though he was always destined to a different fate.
Cassia knows she should follow the rules. She should live by the plan the Society has laid out before her, both for the greater good of the Society as a whole and for the safety of those she loves. Acts of disobedience could have disparaging affects on her family, Xander and Ky. But she is inexplicably drawn to Ky, desperate to know if he was actually her intended Match, and she’s willing to take certain risks to find out.
There was so much buzz about this book that I was beside myself with anticipation at the thought of actually reading it. Unfortunately, it’s so difficult to live up to the heightened expectations that come from so much hype and Matched is no exception. While I loved the premise and the overall setting of the story, I thought it fell flat. I felt no emotion for the characters, no sense of urgency for their safety and no desire to learn the outcome of their plight. While Cassia was a brave character, she was lacking any dimension or personality. Xander was empty and without appeal as well. Ky was somewhat interesting because of his mysterious past and his willingness to test the boundaries of what was considered safe. He had the greatest story to tell, but in the end I felt I still barely knew him.
I kept reading because I hoped to find that spark that so many others seem to have discovered in this book, but I was ultimately disappointed. Its strength is in the creative world Condy has created, complete with subtle hints about the horrors of disobeying the powers that be; but its weakness is the actual characters and their lack of depth. This is the first in a planned trilogy, and I’m not sure I care enough about any of them to see what happens next.
Crush Intensity: 2/5 It may be worth it for curiosity’s sake, but I wouldn’t rush out and buy this one.
The Way I See It:
Lily Collins would be a perfect Cassia. Her gorgeous hair and the image on the cover seem so similar that this is how I pictured Cassia the entire time I was reading.
Xander is supposed to be a blonde pretty boy. No image comes to mind more than Chace Crawford.
Ky is a tortured soul who is willing to accept his fate until he falls for Cassia. I envisioned him as cute in a simple, understated sort of way. Steven R. McQueen, who plays the once-annoying-but-now-kinda-cool little bro on The Vampire Diaries, is a perfect representation of how I pictured him.
Soundtrack: The Resistance by Muse