Thursday, September 30, 2010

Matched-Ally Condie

Cassia is seventeen and she is about to attend her Match Banquet where the Society will reveal to her who her Match is. Her Match is her future husband found using a mixture of genetic and psychological compatibility. The government, known as the Society, has picked the partner who she is most likely to have a happy family life with and who is most likely to produce strong healthy children with her. Everyone in Cassia’s world is matched when they are seventeen unless they choose to be single for the rest of their lives. Only those who are matched are allowed to have children. In Cassia’s world the people are watched closely at all times, even while they are dreaming or exercising. People’s careers are determined by what they are best at and they are not allowed to have knowledge that relates to jobs that are not theirs. The Society even determines when people die, on their eightieth birthday. Cassia fits perfectly into this world, accepting all the rules the Society makes without question. It is only after her Match Banquet that she finds out more about the totalitarian regime that the Society really is and begins to see what is lost when lives are run purely on rules.

Cassia’s Match Banquet goes perfectly. She is matched to her best friend Xander, a surprise as is it rare that a person knows their Match prior to their matching. She is happy until she goes home and puts the microcard with Xander’s personal details onto her computer. Xander’s picture is replaced by someone else’s after a second. Someone that Cassia knows, Ky Markman. Curiosity leads Cassia to learn more about Ky and why he is one of the people in the Society who is not allowed be matched. Her relationship with Ky develops and through him she learns about things that have been lost due to the Society’s rules and about the people the Society exploits in order to maintain its control over the majority of the population. Cassia finds herself falling for Ky with no thought for the consequences.

Matched is a book about freedom of choice and about how something can look perfect on the outside until the consequences of achieving that perfection are shown. It explores the effects of a totalitarian government’s brainwashing on society when there is no one left who remembers what life was like before the totalitarian regime was established. It also puts the reader in mind of the Aryan race of Hitler’s regime as the matching system is essentially a breeding programme. It is a powerful book and as two more are to follow in the series it promises to continue to be so. My only problem with it is that probability gets such a bad name as it is one of my favourite branches of maths!

Condie has created a disturbing dystopian book, which not only makes the reader look to the future to see the faults that could happen there but to examine the faults in our own time. The Society shows why they rejected the world we live in now in the book. It easy for the reader to look at the world Condie portrays and to see the flaws in it but it is unsettling to see the flaws of our own as an outsider would see them. Dystopian as the world shown is, the inequalities of our own are equally unpalatable and the book helps us to remember that our world could be considered as a dystopia by an outsider. At least the people in Cassia’s world have the excuse of being brainwashed from birth in accepting their society. We have no such excuse.

Matched is a great, if disturbing read. It is suitable for young adults in the 14+ age group and is due out on 2nd December 2010. I would like to thank Razorbill Penguin for providing me with an advance copy for review.


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