Matched by Ally Condie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was an interesting story about what we value as a society and as people. Do we value the risks and uncertainty that come with freedom to live our lives as we choose over stability and safety and longevity?
As I was reading this, I couldn't help but be horrified by the existence that the members of this Society live. Their every move is monitored, even their dreams are monitored, and this information is used to predict and guide them to the optimal life. Their food is specially formulated for their metabolism, and is delivered 3 times a day - no sharing, no treats unless it's a special occasion and sanctioned by the Officials. There is no free time, no unscheduled alone time - every second is ruled by the Officials. Sure, you get your free-rec hour, with your choice of seeing a showing, which is essentially a Society propaganda film, going to a music hall where the music is simulated, or going to the game center.
The world has been narrowed down to a hundred of each kind of thing because life was just too cluttered before. Now there are one hundred stories, one hundred poems, one hundred songs, one hundred paintings, etc. Everything else was deemed unnecessary and slated for incineration. All of the world's history and beauty and creativity, gone, just like that.
Ally Condie did a great job building this world, and making me believe it. She did a great job showing the bleak and dreadful aspects of living in a world where any difference, any nonconformity, could mean disaster. I loved how she brought this knowledge to us through Cassia's gradual understanding of her world. What was once perfect and ideal turns into a stifling cage. The only thing that I would have liked was a little backstory about how the world became this way, but as history is avoided, it's unlikely that it would just be handed to us on a silver platter. I hope that Cassia finds out though because if we don't know where we came from, it's impossible to get back.
I loved all of the characters in this story. I loved Cassia's growth and her willingness to do what she thinks is right for the people she loves, even if what she thinks is right is the very thing that the Society tells her is wrong and forbidden. I liked that she was willing to go against the grain, to go against what even she recognizes as a great match, for a chance at even truer happiness.
I loved Ky as well. I loved his control, his innate knowledge of the ways of the world, and how he helps Cassia to see things the way that they really are, and not the way that the Society wants them to be seen. I loved the way that he was passionate inside, but never showed his hand, even when the whole system seemed against him.
I loved Xander for his devotion and true friendship even when his perfect world was falling down around him. His best friend is falling deeper and deeper, and running more and more risks, yet he never says a word and helps as much as possible, even when that goes against everything that he wants for himself.
I really enjoyed this story, and I can't wait to see where the sequel takes us.