November 2010

A comfortable life—but at what cost?

By Ally Condie
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Seventeen-year-old Cassia Reyes lives in a futuristic society that is ruled by unforgiving Officials who tightly control birth, housing, jobs, marriage and even death. No one dares defy the government for fear of punishment; in fact many, including Cassia, happily comply in order to live comfortable, stable lives. So on the night of her Match Banquet, Cassia is elated that Officials have selected her best friend Xander as her future husband. But then someone makes a mistake and briefly pairs Cassia up with Ky Markham, a boy with a mysterious past. Suddenly Cassia is drawn to Ky, and the two begin an innocent, yet subversive, romance. As Cassia falls in love, she defies the Officials, leading to danger not only for herself, but for her family and Ky as well.

Told in first-person point of view, Cassia’s narration is riveting as she describes life without liberties. On losing her grandfather, she notes, “Today is Sunday. It is Grandfather’s eightieth birthday, so tonight he will die. . . . Things didn’t use to be this fair. In the old days, not everyone died at the same age and there were all kinds of problems and uncertainty.” As Cassia changes and embraces all that’s forbidden—first love, poetry, free will—readers will be captivated by her desperation and rebellion. Her poetic voice and struggles will stay with readers long after the last page.

Despite the violence characteristic of dystopian favorites such as The Hunger Games, there is no overt bloodshed in this novel. Just as Cassia is unsure exactly what the Officials are capable of, so is the reader, who anxiously expects the Officials’ cruelty at every turn.

Ally Condie is a masterful storyteller whose latest novel will ignite meaningful conversations about the power of free will in a totalitarian society. An impressive work, Matched joins the ranks of classics such as Brave New World and 1984. Destined to be a classic for teens, Matched is also a compelling read for adults—and readers of all ages will eagerly await the impending sequel.

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By Ally Condie
ISBN 9780525423645

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