Ally Condie’s ‘Matched’ stands out among YA reads

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“MATCHED,” by Ally Condie, Dutton Juvenile, $17.99 (young adult)

What if choice where not an option, and the government made all your big decisions for you?

What if one of those big decisions was choosing your future spouse?

Total government control is the order of the day in Ally Condie‘s dystopian novel “Matched,” which is the first offering in a three-part trilogy.

Everyone dreams of their Match Banquet. It’s the first time 17-year-olds learn who will be their Match, their future spouse. For Cassia, it’s no different. She can’t wait for the first time she sees her Match’s face.

All across the country teenagers and their parents gather in city halls, waiting for Matches to be announced. Each teen receives a silver box after the ceremony. Inside a microcard containing their Match’s background information.

When Cassia’s name is announced something unexpected happens. She can’t believe her luck when hearing her fate.

It’s not until the next day when Cassia looks at her microcard. “Cassia Reyes, the Society is pleased to present you with your Match,” a voice tells her. Everything’s just as she imagined it would be until touching a link triggers the voice again, only this time, another face appears.

How could the Society make such a mistake?  How can she be matched to two different people? The Society is perfect; at least Cassia thought so. Now she can’t help wondering what other mistakes it’s made.

“Matched” has broader appeal than Condie’s previous works, “Being Sixteen” and “Yearbook,” which are contemporary YA and geared toward a specific audience.

But going big-time hasn’t changed Condie’s voice, which remains accessible. Condie’s writing doesn’t suffer from her wholesome approach, rather it benefits. She’s not trying to be something she’s not, and that follows through from story line to characters.

If anything, Condie’s sensibilities might give her greater crossover appeal with parents not having to worry about what their children are reading and teens not having to worry about hiding it away.

Though it’s tempting to compare “Matched” to Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games,” there’s really no comparison. Condie has crafted a unique story that stands on its own merit. She’s created a unique world that feels familiar but has a sense of the unknown.

“Matched” is a polished, driving force that you won’t want to put down. Too bad we have to wait until November 2011 for its sequel, “Crossed.”

 

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About Author

Jessica Harrison is the main reviewer behind Cracking the Cover. Prior to creating Cracking the Cover, Jessica worked as the in-house book critic for the Deseret News, a daily newspaper in Salt Lake City. Jessica also worked as a copy editor and general features writer for the paper. Following that, Jessica spent two years with an international company as a social media specialist. She is currently a freelance writer/editor. She is passionate about reading and giving people the tools to make informed decisions in their own book choices.