Allie Condie’s YA novel “Matched” (book one of the series “Matched“) follows 17 year old Cassia Reyes, a bright-eyed hopeful young girl, in love with the promise of what the future holds for her. In her world, a collective governing group, known as The Society, controls every aspect of citizen life- what you wear, eat, where you work, and who you marry. They go so far as to monitor ones sleep via invading the dream sequencing by looking at ones behavior during rest (restlessness, heartrate, etc). This is to ensure a long life expectancy as well as optimal quality of life, or so Cassia is brought up to believe. She doesn’t question this world. The Society makes it so no one ever really questions, but let’s the governing force lead the way. Even the day of her Matching banquet ceremony, where Cassia discovers that she is to be Matched and Contracted into marriage with her life long best friend Xander, Cassia doesn’t blink an eye at the process of procedural life. It isn’t until the next day when she inserts her microcard into the port to examine the information regarding her Match, that she discovers a glitch, a second name and face appears in front of her. A second Match? Ky, a boy who she barely knows, but knows he carries a hidden story that she desires to know more of appears in front of her then disappears just as quickly. A glitch? hmm, good question. Here is where Cassia has to decide, does she allow The Society to determine what’s best and let them control her fate, or does she believe in the individual, and the right for herself to choose who and what she wants out of life.
Thoughts and overall Review:
Condie has created a socialistic society that attempts to equalize all it’s citizens (except for those aberrations and anomolies). It challenges the ultimate question of, can one be free in a highly governed and controlled society such as Cassia’s. Though, the people in her society have not assessed their own freedom or lack there of. They are mere puppets, moving along, without much thinking or feeling. Cassia has a sort of an awakening where she begins to feel- feel strength in her passion to learn new things that are considered ‘off limits’ to the public, and feel the desire to be with someone other then her ‘Match,’ Xander. Her questioning nature, no longer blind folded into believing that life is only what she is told to believe it is, is one of the books strength. The character embodies a curiosity and a sense of rebelliousness, and gives us an interesting heroine. One whom we’d all like to know better.
Though, here comes the tough part of the critique. Do I like this book? The premise, yes. Though I do feel in three major areas, the story is greatly lacking:
1.) The Writing- it leaves much to be desired, and is often lack luster. This directly relates to #2 and #3 on my list.
2.) Cassia’s world, although futuristic and made to be, in many ways, unlike our own, has the ability to be and feel familiar. Though the written language on the page leads me to feel only lack of depth in this world. A connection is lost, and I do not feel connected to this world or the characters (which leads me to #3).
3.) Character Development- I didn’t feel much depth in the character development. The characters seem to be just that…’characters,’ rather then actual believable people. This greatly affects the success of a story as it makes it hard to believe in the reality of the characters, both physically and psychologically.
This book and series has great potential, though I feel that, from only reading the first book in the series, that it did not live up to the bar it set for itself.