Book Review: "Matched" by Ally Condie

By Angela Maria Hart

The series Matched, Crossed, and Reached by Ally Condie is an interesting dystopian YA trilogy. When I first started Matched, I became immediately engrossed in the story. Condie was able to start the novel with an important event in the protagonist’s Cassia’s life, the Matching Banquet. In her fictitious dystopian world, the society holds a Matching Banquet for all of their citizens who turned seventeen and are now eligible to be matched up for their life partner. The couple will not be married until they turn twenty-one though.

After Cassia and her family have dinner and the matching ceremony begins, she is one of the last girls to be matched with her new life partner. When she stands up, she immediately sees a blank screen and starts to worry that she may not be matched or that there might be an issue with her matching. Cassia is eventually matched with somebody she knows in her own district, Xander. The Matching Banquet usually has people from different areas of their society paired together, for Cassia to know the person is extraordinarily rare. This sets the ground work for the rest of her matching to be called into question.

Matched opens with Cassia and her family getting ready to attend the Matching Banquet. Condie dove right into the story allowing the reader to picture the society, the characters, and what life would be like in this new world. Sometimes a dystopian novel slowly builds the reader into their world so that they learn the rules of society, areas, and expectations. Condie immersed the reader in her world similar to Suzanne Collins’s technique with The Hunger Games. Katniss is going to attend the reaping with her sister, Prim, the morning of the book’s opening. Having the reader become instantly engaged with the society, helps to create intrigue and offer insight into the characters.

To be entirely honest, the first book was my favorite because it did such a good job of setting up for the other two. Matched provided the foundation for Cassia’s love triangle; whether she will choose Ky or Xander. I breezed through Matched, prompting me to speed through Crossed and Reached to see how the series ended. I was determined to find out who Cassia chose as her love and what eventually happens to the dystopian society.

I do have to give credit to the book cover design. On the first cover, there is a girl, Cassia, in a bubble. The bubble is representative of Cassia being inside society, adhering to their rules, acting as a good citizen. The second book cover depicts Cassia punching her hand through the bubble breaking it, having glass break off. By the third cover, Cassia is completely out of the bubble. She is aware of society’s flaws and the issues they present to their citizens. Cassia is shown standing up, breaking the mold of society.

While one might not realize this progression upon first glance, the story demonstrates that Cassia has to undergo an emotional transformation. At first she accepts everything society says to her to do, but learns to think for herself. Kudos to the cover design for depicting this perfectly!

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