‘Matched’ a must-read novel for distopian novel fans

'Matched' a must-read novel for distopian novel fans

By Danielle Kiefer, Online Observations

What to eat, wear, work, read or who to marry are all choices that most people can make for themselves every day. Ally Condie’s novel Matched explores a society where these choices are made for everyone by Officials to ensure that people have a seemingly perfect and healthy life.

In Matched, 17-year-old Cassia Reyes’ predictable life in the Society suddenly changes the day she finds out whom she will marry. When Cassia looks to the screen supposedly showing her perfect match, she sees the face of her best friend, Xander Carrow, but his picture flashes for an instant to the face of another boy, Ky Markham.

Throughout the novel, Cassia matures and develops as an adolescent, and Condie’s writing perfectly captures all of Cassia’s emotions and frustrations. In the beginning of the novel, Cassia wholeheartedly accepts all of the Officials’ decisions, never once doubting the people who provide her and all the other citizens with a perfect life.

However, she begins to question authority when she realizes what she is missing out on and wonders which boy she is meant to be with. Cassia then becomes caught between the ideal life she is supposed to live with Xander or an unpredictable life where she can make her own choices.

Along the way, Cassia deals with love, another huge aspect of growing up. While she is supposed to be in love with Xander, she finds herself lusting after Ky as she learns more about him and his history. Ky is an Abberation, which means he can never be matched, and Cassia’s affections for him are an act of rebellion against the Society.

Cassia’s heartwarming relationship with her family also develops as the novel progresses. Her appreciation for her parents grows as she discovers just how strong their fierce love is for each other, her and her brother, Bram. She uncovers that sometimes her father will lie or break the Society’s rules to protect his family, just as her mother obeys all of the rules to do the same.

Aside from her admiration of her parents, Cassia’s love for Bram is demonstrated when she tries to protect him. On Bram’s first day of school, Cassia makes up games for him to get him to attend school so that he does not get in trouble with the Officials.

Some may find the plot too slow- paced and lacking action, but similar to The Giver, Matched is an introspective novel, based on character interactions and internal struggles.

The interesting storyline and ability to relate to the characters makes the coming-of-age novel a must-read for all teenagers. However, the key role romance plays in the plot makes it more geared toward a female audience. Although it is less action-packed, fans of The Hunger Games looking for a new read may enjoy this similar dystopian-style novel. Matched and Crossed, the sequel, are out now, and the third book in the trilogy, Reached, is set to be released Nov. 13, 2012.