Well, it serves me right to read a book based on its cover. I did go into this novel knowing it’s a teen lit book but the sci-fi aspect intrigued me and Hunger Games was a (very) good read and some critic touted the Matched trilogy was the next Hunger Games. Ha!
At the tender age of 17, Cassia attends her Match Banquet where she finally gets to wear a borrowed gown that is a vibrant green colour and her fate becomes known as she is assigned her life companion. Against all odds, her Match is statistically and genetically determined to be her long-time friend, Xander who is, well, Mr. Perfect. When she later reviews the microcard that holds his vital information, for a moment, a different image appears instead of Xander’s, a classmate of hers named Ky. Immediately, an Official overly reassures Cassia that someone had played a prank and entered Ky into the Match pool when he should never have been there for because-it was confidentially told to Cassia-Ky’s status is that of an Aberration. While Cassia lives a perfectly normal and blissfully ignorant life thus far as someone approved to reproduce, Ky is assigned a status through no fault of his own which guarantees he will only be dealt the worst hand by authoritarian Society. Then follows the classic girl is intrigued by boy from the wrong side of the tracks story when the perfect guy is in the palm of her hand.
While Hunger Games was written with a clear and complex world that is intriguing across ages and genders of readers, Matched is a fluff piece of coming of age and teenaged rebellion. Like a switched turned on when a forbidden boy’s face is shown to her, Cassia starts seeing the world different and only now realizes that her family is a bit subversive. Her grandfather who has his Final Banquet and passes away shortly after her Match Banquet leaves her with riddles that guide her to think for herself and a piece of paper with forbidden poetry. Lines from the poem ring through Cassia’s head and she can only share it with Ky. Ky who was introduced as a peripheral part of her social circle, now seems to pop up everywhere. I got so mad that she was so intrigued by him, hungered to know more about him, naively wanted to “protect him” when he’s capable of doing it himself. Ky with all his life skills but an insufferable softie because the possibility of love has entered his life. Xander is more than capable and although at first it seems like he might be Society brain-washed robot who can quote all the policies but from the start, you can see he has his own set of values, too.
In the egalitarian Society, names are made generic, easy to classify and sort into order and hierarchy: Borough, City, Province, Country, First School, Second School, plainclothes, sleepclothes. Citizens have highly specialized vocations that are assigned to them based on their strengths and status because the belief is that ignorance of all else is bliss. Society is just another set of parents, the one that Cassia rebels against – everyone cheer for her! Break down barriers, challenge authority, dare to dream! Great messages for kids. Fighting for love, marginalizing the benefits of falling in love with your friend and being a girl torn between two suitors. Ugh, this is purely for romantic girls and from my own experience, I’m not sure it’s a good influence. Other than Officials taunting Cassia that they could predict everything they’ve seen her do, much like parents will say “I told you so” – but Officials have the statistics to back-it all up – I am not intrigued by this dystopia.
Two more novels, Crossed and Reacted, round out the trilogy. I would hope that the voice changes to reflect Cassia become more and more an informed individual. I started reading Crossed which starts nice and darkly with Cassia in a labour camp but her mooning over Ky was so nauseous that I didn’t read a full chapter. I’d much rather read something else.
Edit: I actually read this back in April but didn’t get around to posting this.