Friday, June 17, 2011
Matched by Ally Condie
Cassia Maria Reyes lives in a world where everything is fiercely regulated by the powerful Society. The Society decides where Cassia is best suited to work, who is her best genetic match for marriage, and that she won't pass her eightieth birthday, the ideal age at which the Society has decided people should die to spare them indignity. Despite its many restrictions and its ever-watchful nature, Cassia never feels trapped or limited by the Society, rather she feels safe and looks forward to the day of her Match Banquet with eagerness. When she finds that she is to be matched with her best friend, Xander, things have never looked better. That is, until she glimpses the wrong face when she views the microcard that contains the details of her match. A brief glimpse of Ky Markham's face in place of Xander's is all it takes to bring Cassia's carefully sheltered life tumbling down around her and leave her swirling in a vortex of questions she was never meant to ask.
The dystopia in Ally Condie's Matched is downright frightening in its possibility. In Cassia's world, no decisions are left to chance. In her world there are only the Hundred Poems, Hundred Songs, Hundred Stories that designated committees have deemed worthy to pass down through the generations, as the rest would only serve to clutter and overwhelm citizens' minds. Children are no longer taught to write their own words, only to regurgitate those of others. Love and passion are no more in a world dominated by the Society. Girls and boys are matched based solely on their genetic qualities, practically placed together to ensure the health and endurance of the human race.
Matched is a fascinating look at a world gone so right that it's wrong. The thought of a world where one makes no decisions, and there is no unpredictability is as interesting as it is frightening. Watching what turns out to be the most fragile of strands that bind this world together come unraveled through Cassia's eyes as she begins to consider that a different life, a life more like the lives we know now, might be possible, make Matched an exhilarating page-turner of a book. Cassia herself, is a strong narrator, a girl testing the limits of her independence in a world where her every move is controlled by a higher authority, whether she realizes it or not. The relationship that develops between Cassia and the mysterious Ky is powerful in its chemistry, a force that people in the Society have little experience with, and in its questioning of the values that the Society holds dear.
But let's step out of this nice, carefully written, ungushy review for a moment so that I can level with you and tell you IjustreallywantKytobemyboyfriend, mmkay? Strong and sensitive and vulnerable all at once, smart, artistic, "bad" in a way that's oh so good. Plus he's got pretty eyes. Yes, please. Okay, just had to get that out. Back to thoughtful, analytic reviewing.
Matched is an utterly compelling look at a world that might be far away from our reality but at the same time could be oh-so-close. Cassia's will to break free from the constraints of the Society she always believed kept her safe is at the heart of what, I'm confident, is going to be an incredible series.