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.
Blurbed by Melina Marchetta: 'Beautifully written with characters that stayed with me long after the final page,' and with it's stunning cover, Matched is the shiny new temptation of the season.
Okay - so I was completely PUMPED about it. I am an unashamed fan of a good love triangle - tension! drama! heart-ache-y choices! swooning! Also - a dystopian, well, it's a fascinating setting to explore all kinds of themes and deliver some twisted showdowns.
Matched begins with the Matching Banquet, on Cassia's 17th birthday, where Cassia is Matched by the Society to her long time best friend, Xander. She's thrilled, but then a glitch causes things to unravel and Cassia starts questioning more than just her match... Oooh - something's going to go down...
Because the pacing is a slow. It's a deliberate build, more introspective than action. However, I found it compulsively readable. I casually sailed through the first 2/3's and then the final third really comes into it's own. By then it felt like the story was into it's own completely addictive groove and by the time it ended, I was ready to pick up the next installment (Ah, Dec 2011, it's a while away...).
Rather than it being gritty with undertones of foreboding - it is more laying the ground work for a future rebellion and show-down - taking Cassia from a place of acceptance of the Society, to questioning and ultimately finding a strength inside of her that will alter the course of her life. It's very much a coming of age novel set in a manufactured world.
Condie has laid all the groundwork for some thrilling discoveries, impossible choices and deadly stakes. (re: thrilling discoveries, impossible choice and deadly stakes - it was kind of lacking in this title - but I'm thinking they're coming in the next, yeah?)
Xander and Ky are both stand-out characters (although neither had me swooning - what was with that? Two guys and neither one did anything for me?) However, I so appreciated the restraint Condie showed in fashioning the love triangle aspect - it does not tread the well worn path of YA melodrama (although I'm hoping she'll amp it up a bit in the sequels in terms of choices and stakes).
The prose. Some have called it beautiful. It does read effortlessly - and there's a few instances of lovely thoughtful introspection and nice phrases. There's also a lot of prose. As in, occasionally, it feels overwritten - I sometimes felt that urge to skim over redundant paragraphs.
Recommended: This is right in the pocket of the YA market and all my teen readers out there (love you guys!) are sure to enjoy and devour it and maybe even find it earning a starred place on your favourites shelf. It's an entry level novel into dystopian worlds, perfectly suitable for mature middle grade readers. It's a squeaky clean read.
As for adult readers who are still digging the YA scene, it's enjoyable, sure, and perfect for a rainy-day comfort read. As Alexa said: A word of warning though, if you are looking for a book to fill the void left by the end of The Hunger Games, this may not be for you, despite the dystopian tag. Matched is more reminiscent of the coming of age/romance you might expect from Sarah Dessen. It is quiet, and it is beautiful, and it is well worth reading. (and I get what she means) - which worked okay for me as I love that Sarah Dessen vibe.
I'm thinking that it will be a stand-out series in popularity - and I'm happily recommending it to a few teens I think will really get into it.
Matched @ goodreads
Get Matched (so, I got matched to my bro-in-law. Um, awkward... :)
Casting the Characters. Here's Ally Condie's casting choices (who she thinks would be a good match ;) :
You're welcome :)
|Chord Overstreet as Xander|
|Emma stone as Cassia|
|Christian Cooke as Ky|
Thank you to the lovely people @ Penguin Australia for sending me this review copy