By Ally Condie
Dystopian Young Adult fiction has been doing the rounds for a while and is getting even bigger with The Hunger Games now being made into a series of films. Matched, set somewhere in the future, follows a trilogy format and has been written specifically for this style. Although it’s possible to read each independently I don’t think you would get the best out of the books.
We follow the thoughts and travels of Cassia, a 17 year old girl who is due to be ‘matched’ to her future husband at the extravagant and much awaited Match Banquet. The Society record and measure their citizens to provide the best life possible for them – from calorie controlled meals, whom to marry, to the time you should die. All of the results are collated and your life is predicted and controlled accordingly. Cassia’s match has been carefully chosen to suit her (and his) needs perfectly.
Everyone including Cassia enjoys the structure of their daily lives and respects the order and expectations because it leads to a healthier, productive, happier society.
After the joyous Match Banquet, where in a rare occurrence Cassia is matched with Xavier – her best friend who lives in her district – Cassia is presented with an event which changes the course of her life. Each person matched receives a Microcard with information about their future partner on it. On viewing her Microcard, Cassia is momentarily presented with another face – Ky, another boy from her district. Throwing everything into question, Cassia is confused: the Society doesn’t make mistakes. Cassia loves Xavier and is relieved and thrilled to be matched to him – it’s meant to be, it’s been predicted. However, Ky’s face won’t remove itself from her mind and this begins a slow change in her perception of the Society and even herself.
As the story unravels we, along with Cassia, discover the deeper workings of the Society and become aware of just what they’re capable of. Without giving too much away, the end is the start of Cassia’s search for her future and the truth and the beginning of the next book.
As an adult I enjoyed this book and I feel it suits the YA age group. A lot of books are called ‘cross-over’ but have an adult voice – and although this does house adult concepts and the occasional word you wouldn’t expect a teenager to use (it can be forgiven because of the futuristic environment) you do still feel it’s a teenager speaking. Cassia goes on a journey and like most teenagers moving into adulthood we see her opening her eyes and becoming aware of the world as a whole and not just her own little, egocentric bubble. Although the protagonist is a teenager it doesn’t matter because the concepts of conspiracy theories, society’s control, love etc. are ones which draw us all in. All you adults out there don’t restrict yourself to books with people of a similar age, sex and ethnicity to you – it’s limiting and a bit boring too. I just like reading and am happy to devour any book that comes my way and if I don’t like it then it doesn’t matter – you can’t like everything but how do you know if you don’t try?
Crossed and Reached are the next books in this trilogy and I look forward to reading and reviewing them too.