Thursday, March 26, 2020

Matched, by Ally Condie

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The Society has created a seemingly Utopian life for its citizens. People are "matched" with a partner at age 17. Their Match is chosen based on common interests, intelligence, and if the genes of each person pair nicely to create healthy offspring. The matched pair marry at 21, have children around the age of 24, and die at 80.

Teens learn important skills needed for a job assigned to them when they get older by practicing after school. Some get their work position while they are still 17.

The Society is divided into the Provinces and the Outer Provinces. Cassia Reyes lives in Oria Province. She is nervous. It's the night of her Match Banquet, a party thrown annually where all the 17-year-olds find out who their Match is. It's also her 17th birthday.

When Cassia learns her Match is her best friend Xander, she feels elated and relieved. It's a rarity to be Matched with someone from your Province, and even rarer to be Matched with someone you've known your whole life.

But when Cassia gets home, she plugs in the microcard she received, a small credit-card-like object that contains information about your Match. Cassia already knows everything about Xander but she plugs the card in anyway.

For a minute, it's Xander's face that appears on the portscreen, which takes up the greater portion of a wall. As his picture appears, a voice connected to the card announces, "Cassia Reyes, The Society is pleased to present you with your Match." She smiles, looking at his face. But then the screen goes dark. The voice says again, "Cassia Reyes, the Society is pleased to present you with your Match." And a new face appears. 

This face belongs to one of Cassia's classmates, a boy named Ky. This must be some sort of cruel trick. The Society makes no mistakes, and no one has two Matches. Later, she learns that Ky also couldn't have been Matched with anyone because of his classification. Ky is an Aberration, meaning that he or one of his close relatives broke the law and was caught. 

Cassia is told by an Official that there was simply a malfunction on the microcard and she has nothing to worry about. Cassia knows she should feel relieved, but instead, she feels sorry for Ky. 

As time goes on, however, she begins to have feelings for Ky, even though she's already Matched.

Ky begins to open up to her about his past, how his village in the Outer Provinces was attacked, how he now has to live with his aunt and uncle in Oria. He also shares forbidden knowledge; he shows her how to hand-write, and he gives her forbidden poems (The Society has preserved only 100 of certain things - the Hundred History Lessons and the Hundred Poems - the rest have been destroyed.)

Cassia knows that her feelings for Ky are illegal, but she can't help it. How can she be with her Match, but love another?

Matched is the first novel in a trilogy about a future, where everything is as it should be, people marry their (seemingly) perfect Match, early death is almost nonexistent, and even cancer has a cure. The Society governs all, keeping its citizens in a safe little bubble. However, everything is only great until it's not, when a flaw is found in the system... 

I would recommend this book for ages 12+, as the topics of forbidden love and a totalitarian government might be a bit much for pre-tweens. The Lincoln Journal Star, from Lincoln, Nebraska, compares it to The Giver, for those of you who have read that.

I enjoyed the story a lot, and can't wait to begin reading the sequel, Crossed

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