By now I have read several reviews of Ally Condie's Matched. Because fantasy/dystopian novels are definitely not my genre of choice, I initially didn't think much about reading this novel. But, my good friend Kristin made me look at it a bit more closely, carefully going over the plot and telling me how good it sounded. I requested it from the library and was the first one to get to read this one. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are some aspects that are The Giver-ish - the controlled society especiall reminded me of The Giver, but with an entirely different plot.
As the story begins, Cassia is waiting to hear the name of the boy she is matched with. The Society Officials tell each person who they will be mated with, as well as what job they will do, where they will live, and other aspects of their lives. By doing this, the Society has created a world with optimal living conditions, eradicating diseases entirely. When Cassia finds that she is mated with Xander, a boy she has been friends with since they were young, she is elated. She doesn't have to worry and wonder about the person she will spend her life with. But, after Xander's face appears on the screen, the face of another young man also appears. Cassia starts to wonder why Ky's face is also on her screen. The two are hiking partners and gets to know each other as they climb, fighting off their attraction to each other for a while. Cassia feels as though she must make a choice - something forbidden in their society - and risk everything to follow her heart.
The world Condie creates is such a fascinating one. As I read it was intriguing to find all the ways Cassia lived that were so different than our world. Matched is set in some future time and there are references to no longer being able to write using a pen or pencil, to famous authors whose works had been destroyed, to diseases that killed people. Dylan Thomas' poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night is used as a reference point for many of Cassia's feelings. I love this poem and have for many years (probably being the one poem that I actually have memorized), and loved how this was referred to many time as Cassia tried to decide if she should choose to follow the dictates her Society had already set for her, or defy their control and make choices for herself.
Matched is left wide open for a sequel to occur. Personally, I can't wait. This is one book that may force me to rethink my general distaste for dystopian novels. There are lots of good discussion points in Matched, and the story is hard to put down.