REVIEW: "Matched", by Ally Condie

If it is possible to be both a self-confessed pessimist and a hopeless romantic then that's me. This is perhaps why Matched appealed to me so very much.

Matched is a young adult dystopian romance which brings many Orwellian questions home to a younger audience.

These days the idea of Big Brother brings to mind a voyeuristic television show where exhibitionists parade around a glaringly bright house, making fools of themselves in hopes of making a quick buck.

Thankfully, Condie reminds us what Orwell and Huxley were trying to say with their original dystopian masterpieces. She takes familiar ideas of society being controlled by government indoctrination and propaganda, and manages to rejuvenate them. The pessimist in me thoroughly enjoyed hating the society in which Cassia, the heroine, lives. It is a society which controls where people work, when they die, how many children they have and even who they love.

Of course, anyone who has ever had a crush on completely the wrong person, (and surely that's everyone?) knows that love and lust cannot be weighed and measured. It cannot be controlled.

Matched provides an interesting love triangle between the three main characters. Cassia and Xander are matched and you are glad that they are! Xander seems like a great guy: a sensible choice. But what teenage girl, what woman, chooses "sensible" when shown the option of "mysterious" and "exciting"? Ky provides both and is the proverbial spanner in the works.

As a reader I was drawn into this triangle and really felt for Cassia. Because hers is a tough choice! I found myself rooting for both the male leads, especially at first.

The underlying conflict of the seemingly "ideal" society of Matched, works to beautifully highlight the conflict raging in Cassia's own heart.

We live in a world where we are pretty much always on somebody's CCTV, where advertisements corner us from every form of media, and where Internet dating sites tell us that they can "match" us to a perfect partner based on deep aspects of our personalities. Matched is a poignant and intelligent book which will leave you both asking questions and positively drooling for the sequel.


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