Matched by Ally Condie is a must read for anyone over the age of 12.
A thought-provoking, poignant novel, Matched takes a hard look at how a futuristic government impacts the life and love of a teenage girl.
Instead of calling it a government, Cassia's world is run by the Officials of the Society. They are always watching and make all the decisions, and as long as one goes along with those decisions, he or she will get their equal share. They take all of the choices away from the people - who to love, how many children to have, where to live, where to work, and even when to die.
The Society gets everyone to comply with these choices by promising them equality, security, and a good match. Cassia's story begins with the Matching. When a girl in the Society turns seventeen, she is matched with the boy she will eventually marry. Their courting is approved and supervised by the Officials. After Cassia finds out who her match is, she is able to open and view a file with information of him, but for a brief second, the face on the screen is not of the match she received at the ceremony, it is a different face. In that brief moment, something happens to Cassia that she never planned - she has feelings. Feelings that she wants something...different. In this Society, different is dangerous. Will she choose to follow her own path, and suffer the consequences, or will she follow the path that was chosen for her, and suffer heartbreak?
There are so many different layers of this novel to discuss - freedom, equality, choice, control, privacy, art, security, government, politics, law, order, prosperity, friendship, passion, trust, technology, family, life, death, and, ultimately, love.
At its core, Matched, it is a love story. Cassia is a seventeen year old girl, who was not only fine with her life, but excited about the direction her future was heading. When her heart got in the way, all bets were off. She started to question what she wanted, what she desired, what was important, and what, if anything, was beyond the Society's boundaries. The question that started it all was who was meant to be her Match? Ky or Xander?
I fell in love with both Ky and Xander. How could she choose between her best friend, with whom she could trust and feel safe and has loved, on some level, her whole life or a boy that is shrouded in mystery and filled with passion?
There are issues in Matched which may sound extreme now, but when you boil it down to where it all began, we may find ourselves at a crossroads in the present day. How much control do we want the government to have? What kinds of choices are we allowing the government to make for us, under the pretense that it's for the good of the people? Are we giving up our freedoms with the hope of equality?
The back cover of Matched says:
Matched is a story for right now and storytelling with the resonance of a classic.
I couldn't agree more!
Read this book. Talk about this book. Pass it on to a friend, a teacher, a family member.
Parents' Note: There is no sex or drugs to worry about with Matched. Even with the heavy dose of government surrounding the story, your child will either look at it as background, or, if they are mature enough, this book may spark some wonderful discussions around the dinner table!
The Man's Note: The Man finished Atlas Shrugged while I was reading Matched. I needed to talk to someone about this novel, and he was lucky enough to be sitting next to me. We had a wonderful discussion, and in the end, he felt that Atlas Shrugged would be a wonderful companion piece to Matched.
About the Book: Matched by Ally Condie
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (November 30, 2010)
About the Author (from author's website):
Allyson Braithwaite Condie taught high school English in Utah and in upstate New York. Currently, she is employed by her three little boys, who keep her busy playing trucks and building blocks. She enjoys running with her husband, Scott, listening to Neil Diamond (really!), reading, traveling, and eating