Genre: Young Adult Dystopian/Romance
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Matched, by Ally Condie, has become one of the better known books in the world of young adult dystopian literature. I read all of these back to back, itching to learn more about this world. An exciting thing to look forward to in the future is that Disney bought the title to turn Matched into a movie and it is currently in production. Since Disney has a nice budget, we will see how that goes. Ally Condie has another great stand-alone novel called Atlantia, my review for which can be found here.
The world of Matched is a highly controlled society, similar to The Giver with its “Big Brother” vibe. The Society is very strict in terms of what age children start school, what age they are matched, and what age they marry and have children. Everything in the Society is screened and controlled. For Cassia Reyes, the biggest day of her young life was coming up: her match banquet for her 17th birthday, a time when her future match will be revealed. They both knew who it would be when Xander Carrow, her best friend, ends up being her match. When she gets home, Cassia looks at her microcard with all of Xander’s information, as if she didn’t already know everything about him. Then someone else’s face pops up on her microcard: Ky Markham, an acquaintance from school who is also an Aberration, meaning he shouldn’t be in the matching pool at all, and yet this slip of the microcard has cassia second-guessing. Cassia works with the match pool and knows that the data input is extremely careful and monitored. Xander, on the other hand, is interested in medicine, and is left in the dark with Cassia’s anomaly.
This book revolves around Cassia’s love for her best friend and her growing, conflicting feelings for Ky. The Society will not allow free romance, only the assigned perfect match. When Cassia and Ky have to go behind the back of the Society to harbor their romance, Cassia learns just what the Society is.
The Society controls its citizens by keeping them within the Inner Provinces and giving each member three pills to keep on them at all times: a blue, a green, and a red pill in tablet form. The blue is given to children at age ten and is claimed by the Society to keep someone alive for days without having to have food or water. This pill is in case of an emergency, but the reality is that the blue pill is poison and will kill whoever ingests it. Green tablets are calming tablets for things like stress and panic attacks, and may only be taken once a week maximum. Red is the one that no one knows what its for, except the Society and those who are immune to its effect. Red tablets erase memory, which allows the Society to take control of what it deems as emergency situations such as Cassia’s infiltration of a match banquet to corrupt the data and get Ky out of the Society and into the Outer Provinces where he can be safe.
The pill tablets also have huge meaning to the book covers. Matched shows Cassia in an enclosed ball of what appears to be glass, green in color. This represents the control the Society has over her life and the calm that the Society struggles to keep intact.
Crossed is the second book in the trilogy and we not only get Cassia’s point of view, but Ky’s, too, as she tries to find him in the outer provinces. Cassia learns even more about the Society when she finds that the Aberrations, like Ky, are sent out to die in bombings, forcing the Enemy to think they are winning the war by targeting these provinces, when in reality, the Society is protected far away. Cassia makes a new friend on her journey to find Ky, and in the process, she ends up taking the blue pill, the pill of poison. The book cover shows Cassia cracking the surface of the Society, demonstrating the knowledge she is gaining and the realization of what the Society truly is when she discovers the effects of the blue pills. This book offers a future of rebellion against the society, something Cassia, Ky, and Xander all want to be a part of.
Reached is all about breaking free and becoming immune to the demands of the Society, as the cover demonstrates. This novel adds in Xander’s point of view as a medic, along with Cassia and Ky. These three struggle to bring the society down, all from their separate vantages. The first step is infecting everyone with a disease that can only be cured by the Rebellion. This book is a lot of talk about taking action, taking the action, and having a slow resolution. With the discovery of creativity, of not being controlled by the Society, a new world emerges.
Matched is definitely worth the read. It is a unique, dystopian society with and interesting structure that has the reader yearning for more, not to mention the whole forbidden romance aspect. Yes, you should read it.
While Matched leaves the reader yearning for more, Crossed spends a lot of time in the Outer Provinces, a dry, desert-like area where very little happens. It is more of a character-driven novel with the reader yearning to see the emotions and desires of the characters fulfilled by the end, but there is very little plot to keep the novel going. This novel was interesting, but I would say it is not a necessary read, not being on the same level as Matched.
Reached is okay as well, but it is 512 pages of the characters moving along, waiting for something to happen. Some 400 pages in when something finally does happen, the reader is pretty exhausted from trying to get to that point. The resolution is interesting, but the book itself takes too long to get there. All in all, I would say this one is likewise not on the same level as Matched.
Overall, I would say YES you should read this series. Matched will have you turning the pages and skipping meals to finish, but Crossed and Reached will progressively slow down, allowing a meal break here and there, maybe even reading another book at the same time.
It is important to note that the Society has its 100 of everything: 100 songs, 100 books, 100 paintings, 100 poems, etc. NOT among the 100, but among what was destroyed, was Dylan Thomas’s poem “Do Not Go Gentle,” which is an important influence on the trilogy, driving the characters forward. The full poem can be read on my poetry page here: https://teresacrider.wordpress.com/poetry/