*Guest Review* MATCHED by Ally Condie

Review: MATCHED by Ally Condie

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.
Publisher: Speak, an Imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Release: Re-release September 20, 2011
Review Format: Mass Market Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
366 Pages

Single Title/Series: MATCHED is book one in the Matched Trilogy.

Cover Thoughts: A simple yet effective representation of the story within—a beautiful girl tentatively pushes against the invisible but very real boundaries that define her existence. A lot of covers try too hard, this one effortlessly entices with vivid color and relevant imagery.

Origin: VampFanGirl received a published release copy of MATCHED from the publisher.

Guest Review by Jennifer Donohue:

The Plot:

Cassia Reyes lives in the world of the future, in a time when everything is orderly and perfect. The structured lives of citizens in the Society are very refined, planned right down to the last detail—including the day they die. They’re told where they will live and what they will do for work. Even their food is selected for them and delivered at predetermined times in small foil packages. Cassia easily accepts the lack of choice as the price for optimal health and a quiet life without the threat of crime.

Now, on her seventeenth birthday, Cassia nervously attends her Match Banquet with the exhilaration of a girl anticipating prom. She’s eager to learn which boy the Society has chosen for her future spouse, and she’s proud to be a part of it all. Cassia is thrilled when her handsome best friend, Xander, is revealed as her match, but her initial excitement is short-lived.

There’s a glitch with Cassia’s match, and instead of the customary one, the Matching screen shows two matches—Xander and Ky. The Matching System is designed to select each person’s perfect Match and the Society never makes mistakes. What could this mean? An Official quickly contacts Cassia to correct the error, but the damage is done. The existence of a flaw in the system opens her mind to the possibility that the Society is not so infallible after all.

Cassia quickly finds herself sliding down a slippery slope as she begins breaking the rules and questioning the intentions of the Society. And although her official Match is Xander, she can’t help but notice Ky, the quiet boy who moved to their neighborhood years ago under unusual circumstances. What if Xander was the mistake and Ky was supposed to be her Match? Each boy represents a different aspect of her world. One holds the promise of everything she’s been taught life should be, while the other pulls her out of her easy view of life to see the darker, hidden elements of the Society. Who will she pick when the choice isn’t even hers to make?

The Heroine:

Young Adult heroines must tread a fine line between accurately hormonal teenage girl and likeable protagonist. Too often, the characters are sent way over the top into emotional mayhem and aggressively defiant independence. Cassia Reyes is a welcome change. She is normal—an intelligent, rational girl who loves her family and tires to follow the rules. The author does an exceptional job depicting Cassia’s struggle as she breaks the accepted standards of the Society to follow her heart. She’s easy to relate to and the evolution of her character is very organic and believable.

The Heroes:

It wouldn’t be YA without a love triangle. Xander and Ky are both perfectly suitable objects of Cassia’s affection. Well, maybe not according to the strict rules of the Society. One of them holds a secret that sets him worlds apart from the others in terms of rights and privileges of citizenship.

Xander is a high-achieving type A. He’s good at everything he does and Cassia’s thrilled he’s her Match. Ky’s lived in the neighborhood for years, but Cassia knows very little about him beyond the fact that she can’t get him out of her head since seeing him flash onto her Match screen. I applaud the author for making both boys appealing in their own way. Cassia’s choice isn’t obvious, and that makes Matched all the more fun.

Jennifer's Final Thoughts:

This book is light on romance and heavy on dystopian concepts. This happens to work well for me because I love reading stories set in extreme civilizations that make people take a closer look at—and question—their own circumstances. How much are we willing to give up for a perceived feeling of security? What if the established system isn’t fair, but we happen to be part of the group that receives the privileges? These are some of the issues Cassia must face.

While the romance is central to the story, I wasn’t swept up by it. In fact, I’ll admit for the longest time I was either unable to see where it was going, or I was stubbornly refusing to see because I wanted the other guy to win. Quite possibly I was just much more interested in the Society, with their rules and restrictions, because the author so masterfully built it from the beginning of the story and kept adding new elements, continuously upping the ante.

With a beautifully rendered dystopian world, Matched engaged me from the first scene through the last. Whispers of sinister underpinnings provide an endless store of intrigue to propel the reader forward. Every Citizen carries three emergency pills at all times, what are they for? Why aren’t they allowed into each other’s homes? And why is everyone so afraid to break the rules? I can’t promise that all of these questions are answered in Matched, but I can say this book is a fun read and once you pick it up, it won’t be long before you’re ready to read Crossed.

5 Stars

The Series:

CROSSED - Releases November 1, 2011

About Jennifer Donohue: Traversing Corporate America by day, I write young adult paranormal novels by night. What better way to escape than by slipping into an alternate world and playing there for a while? Although for me it’s not just escape--the paranormal is my normal. Whether it’s falling into a ghost hunting group or finding myself living in a haunted house (thankfully past, not present), somehow the mystical world always finds me and lures me back into the fold. I live the paranormal, why not write there? You can friend Jennifer Donohue at Facebook.


VampFanGirl said...

Fantastic review! Seriously, I could learn some tips from you. You know me and my dreaded purple prose. *wink* But I digress.

First of all, I LOVED your cover thoughts. It sounds like the image is a brilliant concept as well as the perfect representation for the novel's innards.

Speaking of concepts, the concepts mentioned in your review of MATCHED reminds me strongly of the movie "The Island". Watching as a perfect world crumbles to ultimately reveal the hidden evil that spins it is totally edge-of-your-seat fun.

Glad you enjoyed this one!

Hugs, VFG

Blodeuedd said...

So it is heavy on dystopia? Cos that I want, it just looks so cute and innocent in a way

Eve Langlais said...

What a striking cover.

The_Book_Queen said...

Wonderful review!

I have the Matched and Crossed in my pile right now to read (and review...*cough*), but I've been so busy lately I haven't had the time yet. That will soon change--with all the great reviews I've seen, as well as the fact that the story sounds amazing, I can't resist the lure of the books much longer! :D


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