You will die on your 80th birthday. Your career field will be chosen for you. You will see the person who you will marry and have children with for the first time on a screen, but this person is picked by the Society, not you.
This is the world that Ally Condie creates in her riveting novel “Matched.” The protagonist, 17-year-old Cassia Reyes, lives in The Society, a place where perfection is everything and everyone is happy. Everything is picked out for Cassia: the perfect foods she needs to eat, the perfect workout routine, the perfect job, the Hundred Songs and Hundred History Lessons that she needs to know, and ultimately, her perfect Match.
The novel opens up with Cassia’s Match Banquet, where she will find out who her Match is, who she will spend the rest of her life with. She is delighted when she is Matched with her handsome childhood friend, Xander. However, another face pops up on her screen: Ky Markham, the quiet and mysterious boy who lives on her street. This is abnormal; this never should have happened; Cassia should only have one Match, not two; however, this mistake turns out to be significant later in the novel.
As Cassia becomes closer to Ky and learns more of his secrets, she must make a choice. Does she choose Xander, performing the same routines over and over again, fitting into the perfect and obedient mold of the Society? Or does she choose Ky, divulging into the passions of poetry, writing, and forbidden love, rebelling against the strict control of the Society?
As the novel progresses, Cassia quickly learns that the Society is more corrupt and dangerous than she ever thought, and ultimately, she must decide her own fate.
The novel has traces of ideas and themes that are commonly found in other dystopian novels. The Society is very similar to the society of “Brave New World”, where everyone indulges in pleasure and never feels sad or angry; the people in “Matched” even take pills similar to the “soma” found in “Brave New World.”
“Matched” also has some similarities to “Fahrenheit 451”: the governments in both novels find books and poetry to be a waste. Any piece of word written on paper is burned, discarded, and forgotten. Just as Guy Montag rebelled against his government by reading books and committing them to memory, Cassia reads and memorizes poems.
“Matched” is captivating and thrilling. Almost every chapter ends on a cliffhanger that makes the reader want to turn the next page and find out Cassia’s fate. The book leaves the reader begging for more, and luckily they can read the sequels “Crossed” and “Reached” to hear the rest of Cassia’s story.
“Matched” tells an interesting, tragic, and beautiful story about choosing one’s own fate; but it also serves as a warning about what could be, and what happens when we live in a world where our entire lives are controlled from day one.