by Ally Condie
9780525423645, $17.99, Dutton Books (Penguin), Pub. Date: November 2010
Matched was fascinating. It had a slow start, but kept me intrigued, and gathered momentum until I was reading at full gallop toward the end of the first book of what is obviously a new series.
Cassia Maria Reyes lives in the Society: a perfect futuristic society created out of the ashes of a society much like ours today. Food is prepared in individually-specific packages, jobs are carefully assigned to those for whom they would best suit, and at 17-years-old, Matches are selected for romantic partnership. During Cassia's Match Banquet, she is unexpectedly Matched with someone she already knows - her best friend, Xander. Highly unusual, yet not unwelcome, Cassia is pleased to be Matched with someone she feels so comfortable with.
Even though she already knows everything about him, a few days after the banquet, Cassia puts the information data stick given to her into the home computer to learn all about Xander. After she scrolls through all of his information, another screen pops up. This screen holds a second match for Cassia. It is also a boy she knows. A boy named Ky.
The Officials have caught the mistake and they attempt to do damage control. Cassia can tell no one. The faulty data stick is destroyed. But that glance at a second face has Cassia imagining a different life than the one she is living every day. She feels a connection to Ky now, and though Ky has no idea she saw his face, he seems to feel a connection for her too.
In a perfectly controlled Society, emotions such as love are not allowed to enter into any equation, as they rarely determine what is best for anybody. But Cassia has something inside her, a feeling, a spirit, an emotion, of independence, of rebellion, of fighting for her right to choose her Match for love. But the Society sees all. It knows all. And it orchestrates all. How can one 17-year-old girl take on the whole Society and win?
Cassia's story is well-told, with layers carefully built upon each other. By the end of the book, my interest in these characters was complete. The beginning only seemed sluggish because I didn't understand why all the elements were important to mention, but Condie does a great job of picking up those snippets and tying them together at the end. I'm excited to read more of Cassia & Ky's story.