Saturday, January 7, 2012
You never have to worry about getting sick.
You never have to worry about where your next meal will come from.
You never have to worry about who you are going to marry.
The future world of Matched is just such a place. The government has gotten statistics and probabilities to such a perfect science, that they can determine exactly how much a person should eat, exercise, and who - among their millions of citizens - are perfect matches for each other.
Cassia is an intelligent (and slightly stubborn) young lady on the eve of her matching ceremony. To her delight, she finds that she is matched with her best friend Xander. A safe and happy future is guaranteed.
Then, another face flashes across the screen. Another young man she knows. Ky. The officials assure her that it was a mistake. Ky is an Abberation. He is allowed to live in their society, but due to some misstep by his parents, he will never be permitted to marry.
Outwardly Cassia pretends to accept this and tells no one what she has seen. However she begins to wonder if, after all, Ky is her true perfect match. Over the summer they find themselves growing closer together... and uncovering a grave and terrifying truth about their seemingly perfect world.
Matched is marketed as "The Hunger Games with more Romance" and it's true. It's a softer, shinier world on the outside, and lacks the grittiness and shock value of the Hunger Games, however the principles are similar. Readers who prefer reading dystopian novels though the lens of romance will find this book right up their alley.
One aspect I really appreciated was the emphasis on choice. Cassia lives in a world where all their choices are made for them and for her to choose to do anything outside of the norm is also huge. However love is also a choice. And Cassia's parents are an example of a couple matched by the government that share a real and lasting love -- a love that they choose to cherish and strengthen every day. They've passed this understanding of what love really means onto Cassia and will support her in her final choice, even if it's not one they ever would have made themselves.
While not quite the level of The Hunger Games, Matched nonetheless carries more punch and depth than the average teen romance novel. It is also very appropriate, with no crudities, swearing or violence to cause concern in handing this book to younger readers.