Published November 30th 2010 by Dutton Juvenile
Cassia lives in a perfect society. Everything is controlled – food, exercise, your career, your future spouse, your free time, even your death. Things were too saturated in the old days – people overdid it with technology and knowledge. Now, you simply know what you need to know in order to do your job. And instead of millions of different songs and books and other stuff like that, there is simply one hundred of each thing. The hundred best songs, the hundred best poems, etc.
Cassia’s Matching Banquet – the night when you find out who you’re going to marry – goes better than she ever expected. She simply couldn’t be happier with her match. Except, when she is reading about him later on, a different face pops up on her computer. Someone she knows.
An official assures her that this is just a glitch, or someone’s idea of a joke – nothing to worry about. But now Cassia finds herself intrigued by this other boy. As she spends time with him, she may just be falling in love with him. But there’s no room for insubordination in her perfect society.
It’s been a long time since I read The Giver by Lois Lowry, but I sensed a lot of similarities between it and Matched in the beginning, in that memory-of-a-memory kind of way.
Cassia is a very levelheaded girl, always following the rules and doing what’s expected of her. The entire society is like that. There are officials that will cite anyone doing the wrong thing. The way the novel is written reflects this – it’s not boring, it’s just that there aren’t really any edge-of-your-seat moments. There’s a lot to do with poetry in the story, and the writing style has that poetic feel to it as well. I want to add that it’s not a fun novel. There isn’t any laughter in Cassia’s romance. But don’t get me wrong, it’s a good book. This was a reread, and it was just as good the second time around, if not better.
Beneath the surface, despite this perfect society, there are still people with secrets, partaking in tiny acts of defiance. Personally, I don’t believe that any setup could be perfect, that there wouldn’t be a single soul who wanted to bust out of their repression. I guess the point is that they’re not supposed to realise that they are repressed. But that’s the thing: I think there will always be humans who will instinctively want more than what’s presented to them.
Okay, so it’s yet another love triangle. But I feel like it’s a believable situation. It’s like if someone tells you that a person is interested in you – you may have had no previous desire for that person, but after it’s been put out there, you can’t help but wonder. Since Cassia was presented an image of this second boy, it put her in that situation. What if? And ‘what if’ leads to a genuine interest in him. It’s a strange situation, because even though Cassia is Matched to this first guy, they’re not to married for another four years. Post-Match flings are not uncommon – what’s uncommon is the fact that they know each other already, most of the time your Match will be from a different city and you just have to correspond via the web for a while. It’s not your run of the mill love triangle, filled with angst and endless whining. There’s a little angst, maybe, but not very much. I was thinking that maybe Cassia didn’t feel guilty enough, but then I decided that extra guilt was not required in her situation.
This is the kind of novel that makes you wonder about dystopian/totalitarian futures, and whether it’s better to be safe and controlled or free and in danger. Which life would you choose?
My Rating: 4/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.74/5