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matched Matched by Allie Condie | Rating: ★★★☆☆

"I think of how perhaps the best way to fly would be with hands full of earth, so you always remember where you came from."

Matched takes place in a distant future and is the first of three novels. It has also been titled, by Entertainment Weekly, as the hottest young adult book since fan favorite The Hunger Games. With its promising plot and beautiful cover, I thought I’d check into purchasing the first book in the series to see what it was like.

I will say that I was pleasantly surprised with the way the stories flowed in this world and that, though compared to the likes of The Hunger Games and Divergent, its story was relatively light when compared.

There were a few similarities between each story that would certainly draw fans of other dystopian aged novels into reading it, but, the plot is all of its own — and who doesn’t love someone challenging an overbearing government, right? There is something so thrilling and captivating about taking on a higher power. Rebellion. Yet if anything, the similarities lay bigger when compared to the young adult/kids favorite The Giver. But even in all the parallels, it is important to know that this story is all its own.

Fast forward in time to a future that is controlled entirely by the government. Everything is decided for the characters in this story, nothing is fully up for an individual to decide. Who you marry and love, who you become — what your career is, even down to what you eat. This society makes sure to have everyone under their control and leaves no room for decisions.

They even decide when you die and give you a handy, small, supply of pills that will suppress any emotions we’ve become so aware of.

I thought that the political aspects of this were interesting and not far off the mark of what could become of the human race in hundreds of years. Everything we do is monitored and controlled as it is, so it’s a relatively believable plot — the idea that somewhere along the lines we’ll never, ever be allowed to decide things on our own.

We’re introduced to the main character Cassia (what a pretty name!) as she is on her way to a banquet that decides her “match”, i.e: the man she will, one day, marry. It’s a rather suffocating thought that they have no choice as to who they will begin a life with, and it’s this fact that makes Cassia naturally a bit nervous. We meet her best friend, Xander, and see just how well they mesh together and find ourselves warmed by their friendship.

Then, a surprise face appears as her match — someone she’s grown up with; something that is a bit of a rare thing to have happen at the banquet. And to make matters worse — as she looks over her match, she finds that for a brief moment another face appears. One that isn’t her match.

Naturally even in a distant society we are drawn to chance occurrences and find ourselves curious of the whys and hows.

Matched does, unfortunately and fortunately, follow the familiar love triangle formula in doing this, but it is done in a very tasteful way. You also know pretty quickly who Cassia would choose… if she had a choice all her own. So, the romance of the story is on point and isn’t drawn out or done too quickly. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a good forbidden love story?

(Don’t answer that.)

Though the story does have its faults, there are some very interesting elements in it when it comes to learning all the government has taken away. And what certain characters do to remember things that are considered forbidden or irrelevant to their day to day lives.

My favorite part of the story is the theme of Cassia’s grandfather and his final days. Their bond is a very important bit of the story and he stays with Cassia, mentally, throughout the entire novel. While the society and her love interests make her mind jumble and question everything around her, her grandpa is the one who initially sparks that within. He is ultimately the one that keeps her motivated, determined, and gives her the thought: do not go gentle.

Overall, the story is very fascinating and a quick read that will leave you thinking about quite a bit.

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