If I judged books by their covers, this one would get top marks. Look at that pretty green dress and girl in a bubble. Very nice, right? Matched by Ally Condie takes place in an oppressive future society. If you choose to marry, then the Society will match you with your most optimal mate, who is usually someone you’ve never met before, living far away. The story opens with Cassia’s matching ceremony. Surprisingly, she’s matched to a boy she knows already – her neighbor and best friend. However, when she goes to look at the data about the match, she sees the face of another boy she knows, a boy who is an outcast. That starts a chain of events where Cassia risks her safe, secure status to get to know the boy who might have been her match. As the story unfolds, Cassia begins to see the oppression that she lives under.
The copy I checked out of the library had obviously been well-read as the seams were beginning to come apart even though it’s a new book – still less than a year old. It’s also had a lot of buzz and I’ve heard it may already be in development as a film. The ending was left open, and a sequel is already due out in a couple of months. I think the book may appeal to fans of The Hunger Games. There are several plot elements which mimic that bestselling series: the romantic triangle, the oppressive future society, a girl who is a pawn in a larger game, and the resistance movement against the oppressors. I found it to be a quick read. The plot pulled me along so that I wanted to know what would happen. However, since the comparison is so clearly there, it’s also easy to see that the book is lacking many of the qualities that made The Hunger Games so good. The characters and the moral issues presented lacked the nuance of The Hunger Games. Many of the things the Society does to control people are so blatantly obvious that it strained my credulity that Cassia didn’t know about them. The ending also felt rushed after a very slow narrative up to that point. Overall, I think YA readers who find the premise interesting will probably enjoy the book, but it’s definitely one that can be skipped, even if it does become the next worldwide YA girl phenomenon, as marketers are clearly hoping.