Matched #1. 2011. Speak (Penguin Group). 366 pp.
The Society has called Cassia to her Matched Banquet. There she, and hundreds of other 17-year-olds, will find out who Society has predicted will be their best Life Matches. Interestingly, Cassia is matched to her best friend Xander. This is highly unusual, in a Society that prides itself on being able to predict everything. These predictions are used to decide your mate, where you work and live, what you eat, how you exercise, and everything about your life.
Despite the unusualness of this Match, Cassia is happy as she is quite fond of Xander. She is given a microcard with personal information to memorize about her Match but, interestingly, the photo that appears as her Match on it is not Xander but Ky. Ky is a neighbor boy who lives a shunned life within the Society. They are all watched by Officials from the Society, but Ky is watched most of all.
Cassia finds herself drawn to Ky as they gravitate towards each under in their daily activities. She feels guilty as her feelings for Ky become stronger than what she had felt for Xander. When she’s with Ky she feels alive. He helps her to see the many ways Society has put them into shackles, and she begins to feel stirrings of rebelliousness. However, the Society has plans of its own for them, and they will never allow rebelliousness.
As I read “Matched,” I felt it to be just another typical spinoff of the Romantic Triangles genre that YA lit seems to be so fond of since the Bella/Edward/Jacob Romantic Triangle was introduced in the Twilight series. I also felt it was trying too hard to be another Hunger Games, without any of the action from that series. I felt the author was doing too much floundering, trying to figure out what kind of book she wanted “Matched” to be. I understood she inserted many references to the Society because she was trying to show how the people were brainwashed by them, but I also thought there was not enough action to merit all this droning on and on. At times, I wanted to stop reading. However, since there are 3 books in the series I felt there had to be SOMETHING worth reading if Condie had to continue the story in two more books.
I finally made it through “Matched” and am ready to start “Crossed,” the next book in the series. Perhaps, after reading “Matched,” other readers age 14 and older will find it to be a bit less tedious than I did. I hope “Crossed” will be a lot more interesting.