Cover: 9/10Characters: 9/10
On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her Match. Society dictates he is her perfect partner for life. Except he’s not. In Cassia’s society, Officials decide who people love. How many children they have. Where they work. When they die. But, as Cassia finds herself falling in love with another boy, she is determined to make some choices of her own. And that’s when her whole world begins to unravel...
Matched is without a doubt one of my favourite books of 2010. I loved every single page, and could have quite easily read the sequel straight away. Unfortunately there's a bit of a wait for that so, as always, I'll have to be patient. I started Matched at about 1am in the morning, and read right through to 7am. I didn't sleep at all that day, and spent my day trip to London (to meet John Green) looking like a zombie out of one of Carrie Ryan's books. It was so worth it though, because there's no way I could have slept without knowing how the first part of Cassia's story ended.
The first thing that struck me about Matched was Ally Condie's writing. I know some people will probably disagree with me, but I thought it was brilliant. Certain passages were so beautifully written that they almost read like poetry, and I couldn't tear my eyes away. It's such a strong start to the series, and you wouldn't guess it was Condie's first dystopian novel. It's SO GOOD.
Condie's world building was also fantastic. The society was mysterious and suffocating, and the idea that choice and free will no longer exists was a scary thought. I think I speak for everyone when I say that a world where you couldn't choose who to marry or how many children to have would be a nightmare. Not to mention the fact that, in Cassia's world, even your death is preordained. Nothing is left to chance, and to me that's the worst thing that could ever happen to individuals in a society. It would lead to mundane existences and a neverending routine filled with rules and regulations. No thanks. I have no idea how Cassia coped with it, though when it's all you've ever known, I guess it's easy to.
At first, I thought Cassia was quite a bland, nondescript character. She didn't seem to have any stand out qualities or memorable traits, though that was before she fell in love with a boy who wasn't her match. I was happy with Cassia's best friend Xander as her match -- they were compatible, they fit well and they knew each other inside out. It wasn't until Ky first appeared that I thought there could be any other person for Cassia. Wow, was I wrong! Matched uses a dangerous, epic love triangle to emphasise the society's role in Cassia's life, and it's beyond anything I was expecting. I couldn't have predicted some of the plot twists if I'd tried, and instead they hit me like a fork of lightning.
Cassia had some ridiculously hard choices to make in Matched; had I been in her shoes I would have crumbled under the pressure and emotional weight of it all. There's no way I could have lived like that and been afraid for my life at the same time. She deals with everything thrown at her, which shows incredible strength of character. By the end of the book I absolutely loved her, as well as the boys and her lovely family. I haven't read a book with such a well-rounded, diverse set of characters for a long time, but in Matched there was no-one I didn't like.
Well, I think that's just about enough gushing from me. Go and get yourself a copy of this as soon as possible if you haven't already. Hopefully you'll love it, and won't forfeit a night's sleep like I did. Until then, here's a tip for you: don't start Matched late at night. You'll thank me in the morning, I promise!