Oh, how I love dystopian books. When I saw that it was being handed out at BEA I made sure to make my way to Dutton’s booth well before the designated time. I lucked out and got one of the ARCs a bit early and didn’t even have to wait on the long line that eventually formed. Then I lost my job, got a new one, got married, and started all over again- no time to read books! But ARCs are like magic reading pills and my students are gobbling them up (and then reviewing them on Goodreads!). I am trying to tear through all the ARCs I have in order to bring them in. Ally Condie’s Matched was next on my pile this week and I almost made it a legitimate #bookaday! Yes, it is that good.
Rather than spew out a summary, I will let the book jacket do that for you:
In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.
I loved, loved, loved Matched! I’ve already passed it on to my students, who are also tearing through it. It hasn’t been back in my classroom for more than a period since I finished reading it. I’m already desperately awaiting the sequel, which HAS to be coming. (It’s coming, right? Right?!) What I really loved is that the characters in Matched are well-developed and believable. I loved Cassia and felt like she was a friend by the end of the book. She seems like a regular teen tossed into a strange situation, and her reactions are believable, despite the dystopian premise. Cassia is a reluctant heroine for most of the book, one who doesn’t want her world turned upside down and doesn’t necessarily want to know what’s really going on. But by the end, she has stepped into her new role as hero. (Again, that sequel is going to happen, right?)
The similarities to The Giver will pull a lot of reader’s in, but the romance aspect will hook those who might find Lowry’s book too tedious for them. (Not me- The Giver is in my Top 10 of favorite books!). Condie has created a frightening world where Big Brother controls everything while letting the people believe they still have some control over their own lives. It’s frightening.
This is a coming-of-age story, an awakening, and a fight-for-it-all-never-give-up story. I couldn’t put it down and can’t wait to read more from Ally Condie. Her world-building is superior and I love how she fleshed out the minor characters- it allowed me to feel like I was a member of The Society, too. While the story sometimes seems to move slow, it is all worth it in the end. Condie masterfully weaves the Society, its rules, and its rulers into a scarily realistic possibility for humanity’s future. Do not miss out on this one!