Matched by Ally Condie was better than I had expected. It came out in 2010, and Madalyn grabbed it because the cover was so interesting. It’s of a girl in a green dress in a bubble. The dress being green does actually function in the story as a minor plot device, and it was nice to see the cover make some sort of sense.
“In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one… until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow — between perfection and passion.”
The premise of the story is that society became the Society, around 70 years ago. Daily life was restructured, food became regulated, people were only taught exactly what they needed to force everyone to work together. Additionally, the Officials decided that life was too cluttered, so committees were formed to pick the Hundred Poems, Paintings, Songs, History Lessons, etc. Anything not included in the Hundred was destroyed. Cassia’s grandmother was on the committee that chose the Hundred Poems.
Sometime in everyone’s 17th year, they are called to the Match Banquet at City Hall. Each girl gets to pick her dress for the banquet-Cassia picks the green one and is the only one to do so. At the Banquet, each girl is called alphabetically by last name, stands, and watches a big black screen. In many (hundreds?) of other cities across the Society, similar banquets are happening. When each girl’s name is called, the Match, the person they will marry, appears in a live feed on screen. But no boy appears on screen for Cassia. That means the statistical improbability of her already knowing her Match has happened. It turns out to be her best friend since childhood, Xander.
Obviously in books like these, and especially since Madalyn liked it, there has to be issues. Condie works the second Love Interest into the story in a sensical manner and shows the dwindling of Cassia’s faith in the Society in a believable manner.
I’m pretty sure I prefer Xander over the other boy, Ky. Ky seemed a bad influence on Cassia, whereas Xander was familiar and steady. But this is the big argument around the books that even the author won’t weigh in on.
The ending was rather odd. It’s obvious that there is going to be another book (Crossed, coming out in October 2011), but it ends slowly. The gasp factor would be around a 2/10, because the real climax of the story happens earlier and it gets around a 6.5/10. Maybe it was because I was expecting around 90% of plot twists, thanks to Madalyn. I don’t mind. It made the parts she left out so much better. I actually cried at one point, which doesn’t happen often.
366 pages, and I read it in under 2 hours.