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Book Cover Image: Matched by Ally CondieTitle: Matched

Author: Ally Condie

Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books): “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.”

Thoughts: This is another novel about which so many in the blogging world have been raving, and yet again, their praise is completely and utterly justified. Haunting, horrifying and yet hopeful, Cassia and Ky leave quite an impression on the reader. Ms. Condie presents just enough information to keep the plot moving while maintaining the mystery behind the Society’s ultimate plans for Cassia and her family. More definitely meets the eye in Cassia’s world, and the journey to uncover all the hidden truths is going to be fun.

Matched is unlike other dystopian novels in that Cassia is not trying to circumvent the authorities. Until the glitch, she thought the Society infallible and trusted implicitly in the rules set out for everyone’s protection. In addition, Cassia’s dilemma is not just a matter of turning her back on all that is familiar. In her case, Xander is her true Match, and she knows she could lead a fulfilling and happy life with him. In essence, she is torn between two different forms of happiness, and her struggle to choose is both understandable and painful.

The Society is chilling in its remote coldness and precision. To reduce everyone and everything to statistics removes the human element behind governing. Yet, in order to gather those statistics, one must be monitored constantly. From sleep monitors to regulated dietary needs to specific work and play schedules, free will is completely stripped. Given the increased monitoring and involvement of the government in various aspects of people’s lives today, it is not difficult to imagine how such a society can exist. The realism behind this thought makes the scenario in Matched that much more horrifying.

The characters are truly what make the story. Cassia’s growing realization that all is not well in the Oria Province is heartbreaking, as Cassia is a girl the reader just wants to be happy. Yet, as the insidious nature of the Society makes itself felt more and more often, the reader questions that happiness just as much as Cassia does. What was once innocent no longer is, and that includes Cassia. Ky is the man of mystery. As he unveils his secrets, his intrigue is only heightened. What does he know about the Society that he is not sharing? What truths will he be willing to share? Xander is the perfect boyfriend – handsome, generous and loyal. Not above breaking the law from those he loves, Xander has enough rebelliousness to prevent him from being the goody-goody he truly could have been. The end result is a love triangle that is truly a triangle. The reader respects and admires each character and wants all of them to be happy in the end.

Beautifully written and perfectly executed, Matched leaves the reader spellbound. More than a coming-of-age story, it forces the reader to question just how far one is willing to go to achieve perfection. Is the loss of free will worth that in the end? As a trilogy, Matched understandably ends with many unanswered questions and unresolved stories. There is no gut-wrenching cliffhanger but rather the emotional connections to the characters leaves the reader with the need to get answers to those questions and find out what happens next. Fall 2011 cannot come fast enough.

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