On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her Match. Society dictates he is her perfect partner for life.
Except he's not.
In Cassia's society, Officials decide who people love.
How many children they have.
Where they work.
When they die.
But, as Cassia finds herself falling in love with another boy, she is determined to make some choices of her own.
And that's when her whole world begins to unravel . . .
Dystopian novels scare me a bit ever since I read 1984. They give me a strange, claustrophobic, sinking feeling. So it was with some trepidation that I started Matched. The book opens with Cassia attending her Match Banquet to find out who she'll marry when she reaches twenty-one. I found Cassia so endearing, excited to find out who her future partner will be despite only being seventeen. Everyone else at the banquet is introduced to a face on a screen in another part of the country. However, Cassia finds herself matched to her childhood friend Xander - a rare occurrence.
Everything in Cassia's society is controlled by Officials. From the clothes they wear to the food they eat which is delivered through food ports to their homes each evening. House visitors are forbidden, as are pens, brightly coloured clothes and choosing your own mate. Despite all of this I was saved from feeling tight-chested by Cassia whose voice is honest and open. Although she's been controlled her whole life she, with the help of her amazing grandfather, learns to question everything. Her grandfather and father are not against twisting the rules and I think this is where she gets her rebellious spirit from. Society also controls the arts and Cassia frequently refers to the One Hundred Poems which are the few which have survived from the past and they play a touching part in this book.
When Cassia finds out that her perfect match isn't the real one she's thrown into a state of confusion. Once she begins to question what she does and why she does it there's no stopping her. Despite the threat of severe repercussions for herself and her family, Cassia forges her own way with disturbing and thought provoking results. Ky is the one who she believes she should be matched with. Due to the restraints on their actions their relationship is one made up of tiny, subtle actions: a word, a brush of a hand, a glance - all these become super-charged. Part of me was screaming inside for her to go back to her safety of life within society's confines but I think that says far more about me than courageous Cassia.
At times I wasn't sure if Ky was worthy of Cassia, if he was charismatic enough that she would risk everything. After all, she's incredibly close to her parents and little brother Bram. But in a way I hardly think this matters as the story is bigger than just their relationship. For me the strength of the book lies in Cassia's journey of discovery - watching her seeing things as they really are rather than what she's supposed to see. The strongest relationship that seems to be a thread through the book is the one with her grandfather and I was crying by page 79. The future portrayed in Matched is suitably terrifying but despite my fear of alternative future societies I'm interested to see what happens to Cassia in Crossed out next year.