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. (summary from Goodreads)
Matched offers some fascinating prospects, that while not quite everything I hoped for, have the potential for more as the series continues.
Cassia lives in the perfect world - at least, that's what the Society tells them. Along with what to eat, what to learn, what to read, what to listen to, when to play, where to work, whom to marry...when to die. The Society's rules are the be all end all of Cassia's world, and she's glad for it. She's about to be Matched, an event Cassia has dreamed of. When Xander's face appears as her perfect match, Cassia thinks all her dreams have come true - after all, he's her lifelong best friend, no one else could be more perfect...right? When another face appears to Cassia, she's shocked and confused. She knows the face well, for Ky has grown up right there alongside Cassia and Xander, but always just on the outside. Ky is an Aberration - marked as such for an Infraction his father caused against the Society. Cassia is told to ignore Ky, that his face appearing is no more than a malfunction. But Cassia can't help but to wonder...and when her Grandfather pushes her to question everything she's known and provides inspiration through poems the Society long ago ruled invaluable, Cassia tests the boundaries. The more she gets to know Ky the more she questions the Society...and her Matching with Xander. But the Society is always watching and Cassia and her family face dire consequences if it is deemed they have commited an Infraction.
Matched was a mixed read for me. I loved the cover at first sight - still do - and was so eager to read it. In some ways it met my expectations, and in others, not so much. Condie created a thought-provoking world that I enjoyed getting to know - well, as much as we could. There's definitely a lot of questions still left unanswered at the end of Matched...I might even go so far as to say all of them! In terms of the Society, Condie has ensured readers and characters alike remain in the dark! It really got to me how the Society worked - the rigid routines, the pills, the Matching ceremony, the censorship. I couldn't help but wonder at the possibilities and what ifs. What if this could happen? What if giving up so much meant saving the world and/or humanity? What if we had to choose just 100 pieces of art and literature to save as part of our history? Still, while I understood that maybe it had good intentions - at least at first - that much control can never be for the greater good. Certainly throughout the book Condie supplies some interesting hints to the truth of it's creation and motivations - just enough to keep you wanting to read on for answers.
It must be said though that that was almost not enough of an enticement. The pace of Matched is quite slow, and despite wanting those answers, there were times it bordered on frustratingly slow. Sometimes I'd have to put it down and take a break for fear of reaching that point where I couldn't get past the wanting and not receiving. I couldn't help but feel like it was going over and over the same while I was waiting for some huge...something. Almost like the excitement and action was right there within reach but I just couldn't grasp it. I am interested to continue reading this series though - indeed, Crossed is on my shelf waiting for me - and I hope it supplies some of that 'more' that Matched only just lacked. After all, towards the end this book did pick up a little, with some surprising revelations that alluded to even more questions and intrigue.
From reading the Goodreads summary above it's clear that the relationships between Cassia, Ky, and Xander are a major focus of Matched. I am definitely one to most enjoy the romance aspects of a book too! Like with the story as a whole however, I also have mixed feelings about that here. For the most part, I liked Cassia. At first I was hesitant by how quickly she began to question the Society and it's rules - after spending her whole life pretty much brainwashed, a few words from her Grandfather and a couple of 'illegal' poems didn't seem like enough for a full 180...but then I kind of liked it. That is the point of so much of literature, right? To effect a person and their perceptions? Plus Condie adds to this with Cassia's ability to sort through and piece together what is at first unclear. I enjoyed Cassia's eventual growth and have high hopes that she becomes a fierce contender!
Now for that question...Ky or Xander? Honestly, this one was easy for me, right from the beginning. Ky. I expected more from Xander, truth be told, as I'd like the long time best friend to have a fighting chance, but instead he fell kind of flat for me. Sure, him and Cassia had some cutesy moments, but there was no spark. Though I was very surprised by a certain twist in terms of Xander that helped me to gain more of an interest in him. Condie promises some intriguing prospects for him, that's for sure. Initially though, Ky really only stood out because of the ways Xander didn't. It did still take me time to warm up to him too. Cassia and his romance almost crossed into insta-love territory for me, but I did find their letter writing lessons and Ky's notes endearing. Where they go from here should prove thrilling!
Overall, Matched is an entertaining and thought-provoking read, though it does plod along at times. Many aspects of the story however hold the promise of more, and so I'm interested to see if Crossed delivers!
Published date: 2 December 2010
Series: Matched, Book 1
Note: This review is very, very late...as in, I forgot to write it months ago. Oh, to be better organised.