Book Review: Matched (Book 1) by Ally Condie

In a dystopian future, a teenage girl is caught in a forbidden love triangle and seeks to defy the powers that be. But I’m not talking about The Hunger Games! This is Matched, by Ally Condie.

Seventeen-year-old Cassia Reyes is surprised to discover that her government, “the Society,” has “Matched” her to wed her best and lifelong friend, Xander. That sort of thing almost never happens. The majority of citizens are Matched with strangers from faraway cities. But when Cassia goes to view her government-issued data card for more information about her Match, a picture of a different boy replaces Xander’s: the face of Ky Markham. The Society assures Cassia this was the result of some prank (the Society never makes errors), and commands her silence on the matter. But now, Cassia can’t stop wondering: as much as she loves Xander, was her Match supposed to be the mysterious Ky?

While it might be easy to assume this book is all about romance, its overarching themes are of freedom and choices. There are few actual romantic encounters. The focus in the story is mostly on the dystopian Society. It’s always watching, a la 1984. And citizens have no choice in any aspect of their lives – they believe it’s for the greater good. The Society has also eliminated the majority of knowledge and art, as they felt civilization was too overloaded with information.

But Cassia realizes that she wants more. She wants to create new words, new art of her own, to go where she pleases. Whether she’ll end up with Xander or Ky is just one more choice she wishes she – and not the Society – could make. Cassia eventually develops a sense of rebellion, but in a silent, artistic way. I loved the spotlight on poetry and literature in this thought-provoking novel, and Condie’s writing is simply addicting to read.

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