Dystopian stories are popular right now. You would think that would make me excited, the abundance of super-controlling societies being overthrown by the underdog. I love The Giver, Uglies, and all their Fahrenheit 451-esque classic cousins.
But once Hunger Games (another of my favorites) made it big, publishers began taking in Katniss clones like they were loveable
wizards vampires zombies.
Matched by Ally Condie does follow some of the genre formula. The utopia promises a perfect existence (utopias are notorious for this) and main character Cassia has to break from what she has always known and forge a new path into the larger world around her.
There is the love triangle. One boy, the one the government matches her with to marry, is a childhood friend and a great guy. The other is an Aberration and is only introduced as a matching glitch. Cassia is torn and spends most of the book sorting this out.
It’s told from first-person perspective and I don’t think it would work any other way. There are not big action scenes. There are no hoverboard fights, crazy sled rides, or rats attached to her face. (The rats? 1984. Read it, kids.) The most physical activity from the protagonist is to go on a hike.
What grabs your attention is the person vs. self conflict. Cassia progressively realizes that the government actually has only a tiny thread of control over society. Even though I love books with cool machines, the technology in Matched is very subtle. Like in The Giver, there are pills for residents to take. Unlike The Giver, residents are given a choice. This adds to the suspense since there are some pills that no one has taken before. Cassia risks swallowing a lethal dosage.
The characterization in Matched is great. The parents are believable and work as a good team. My favorite scene is when Cassia realizes just how human and mortal her parents are. This is a big moment in anyone’s life.
Ally Condie did a great job creating a believable world. If you want a romance story with a tinge of sci-fi, Matched is a good choice. Crossed, book two, comes out this November.