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VINE VOICEon 2 December 2010
Cassia lives in a future world where everything is controlled by Society. People where different colour uniforms depending on their status, meals - all nutritionally tailored for the individual - are supplied. Even death is controlled.

The story starts with Cassia about to attend the ceremony where she gets to find out who she is to be Matched with,.ie. who she'll marry when she's older. For most people this is usually someone they've never met before but Cassia's match ends up being her best friend, Xander. The matchees are given data cards with information about their match, obviously pointless to Xander and Cassia, they grew ip together after all but Cassia decides to take a look anyway, only to have a picture of another boy flash up on the screen briefly. Cassia wonders if there has been some mistake. Could it be that this boy is actually her match. It's strange because Society doesn't make mistakes and even stranger because she also knows the other boy, Ky.

In lots of ways, Matched is very typical of dystopian fiction. An 'ideal' world where everything is controlled to the extreme, supposedly for the good of the people and a protagonist who starts to doubt the rules. It's a very well written and interesting story. There's probably not enough depth to some of the characters but I think that will come with future books in the series. It would have been too overwhelming to go too much into this as well as setting up and explaining the storyworld. Saying that however, I adored both the relationship between Cassia and Xander and that which grew between Cassia and Ky.

Throughout, the book was really enjoyable and was one that I could have quite easily read through in one go if I'd had the time to be able to do that. The only part I was slightly disappointed in was the ending as there didn't really seem to be one. However, having now seen that it is the first of a planned trilogy, it wasn't such a bad way to finish up; especially as it's left me wanting the next book right now!
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on 11 March 2014
In Cassia's society, Officials dictate everything: where you work, where you live, and when you die. They also analyse every bit of data they have on everybody to ensure everyone meets their perfect Match. When her best friend Xander is revealed to be hers, Cassia is delighted; but just for a second, someone else's face flashes up on the screen. The Society does not make mistakes, so why is this boy's face there? And why is it someone she knows?

First of all, I have to express how in love I am with the cover of Matched. It was immediately attractive to me; I felt like I might die if I didn't purchase the book with the girl in the lime green bubble on the front. Props to Condie for selecting such a wonderful design!

The society Cassia lives in runs like clockwork - meals are measured out and prepared for each individual, they are tested repeatedly to discern what kind of work they're suited to, and Officials have so much data on each person that they can correctly predict what their course of action will be in any given situation. It was a very interesting concept, so it's a shame Condie didn't focus on it a little more; I would happily have read another hundred pages just giving us a better feel of the place.

While it seems opinion is divided on the topic, I actually liked Cassia. She's interesting; she's not a Mary Sue, but she's not totally screwed up, either. She's just a normal girl living in a normal family, getting through every day without any significant events prior to her Matching. It's not that I don't love heroines with tragic back stories - on the contrary, I really do - but her sheer normality made it very easy to step into Cassia's shoes. I also LOVED the fact that Cassia's family were really close. While missing parents and distant family members are perfectly understandable in dystopian novels, it was wonderful to see a family who love one another unconditionally, who can talk about all manner of topics and who deeply care about one another. I come from a very tight-knit family, so I was able to relate to this element very well indeed, and it made a refreshing change not to have family dramas at the centre of the plot.

Matched wasn't perfect by any means - it had a few major flaws. For one, the Society wasn't explained awfully well, to be honest. The Match Banquet was beautifully written and made perfect sense, but other elements - like the sorting, and the technologies people use in Cassia's world - were skimmed over to the point that I found myself getting muddled. I also didn't understand how Cassia fell for Ky so quickly; to me he seemed pretty boring until well over halfway through the book, to be honest. She said she was falling for him when they'd barely exchanged a few sentences; I can see why he might be interesting to her, given his murky past and his status as an outsider, but surely you need something a bit more significant than that to actually fall for someone? Eventually he begins to speak a little more and you can see the appeal; but even so, one can't fully understand why Cassia would jeopardise her entire future with the infintely loveable Xander for a guy she's barely said four words to.

Despite my misgivings about certain elements of the book, I can't wait to read Crossed - I need to know what's going to happen after the sudden and very shocking ending! I also desperately need to know who Cassia will choose; it seems kind of obvious at this point, but thus far, I'm 100% team Xander. Ky's silent schtick doesn't really do it for me, and Xander is such a great guy! I think I have a pretty good idea how this trilogy is going to end already, but let's see what the next book brings to the table- I'm intrigued enough to go along for the ride!
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on 17 August 2013
Every dystopia has a different "cure" for today's problems. Whether it's teenagers fighting to their death in an arena to pay for society's historic crimes against the government; dividing society into factions depending on the different virtues people exhibit, at the expense of all other virtues; or eradicating love and calling it a disease, every dystopian society has based itself on one ideal in particular to make the "perfect" society. In Matched, the main idea is control. If the government makes all life's big decisions for its people (who you marry, where you live, what job you do, how many children you have, even when you die), there will be no more crime and everyone can live in harmony. When the government even controls what information you have access to (choose from the 100 Songs or the 100 Poems or the 100 Stories or the 100 Paintings etc. but you won't be able to get your hands on anything else, and forget about being taught how to write - creativity is discouraged), how can you ever know not to trust them? How can you ever know that once society was very different and that it wasn't so bad? That's the situation our heroine Cassia is in until the day she is Matched - the day she finds out who she will spend the rest of her life with. On that day, everything changes. Why? Because not only has she been matched with her best friend from childhood Xander, but another face also flickers on the screen as her Match: the face of Ky, an Aberration who is permitted to live in society but without privileges, such as being Matched. So if Ky is not supposed to be Matched, why did Cassia see his face?

This "glitch" changes everything for Cassia. It doesn't matter how much Society tells her that she should not have seen Ky's face, the fact that she saw it causes her to wonder about Ky. Is he her perfect Match after all? And if he is, does that mean that Society's system has failed because he's an Aberration or does it mean that it works because it Matched her with someone she now finds herself drawn to? Now the more Cassia sees Ky, the more she is intrigued by him and the more he draws her into a world she barely knew existed. He teaches her how to write and he teaches her that there was once more to life than what Society would have people believe. At the heart of it all is poetry, and some beautiful poetry is included here, so treasured by Cassia because not only is it a gift from Ky, but because society completely outlaws it. Matched chronicles Cassia's journey as she wakes up from the controlled slumber everyone in the Society is under and begins to question what is going on around her for the first time.

The reason Matched works so well is because most of us live in a society where freedom is one of our most precious commodities. For many of us, to live in society that controls our every thought and action Nineteen Eighty-Four-style is the worst society imaginable. For dictators, the best way to crush rebellion is to prevent original thought and to limit what information your subjects have and as there are societies in the world today similar to this, it's not hard to conceive of the Society of Matched really existing. Likewise, it's easy to see how a teenager who sees a flaw in a perfect society might begin to rebel. For me, that was the best part of Matched because it felt so real in that sense.

The problem it does have is characterization. Honestly it's the same flaw a lot of YA novels have, but I found the characters to be almost a little bland. Cassia definitely has her moments, though, and you have to admire her courage to rebel the way she does and her desire to seek freedom. I can't say the lack of real depth in the characters stopped me from enjoying Matched, and while the story isn't full of action, Condie's writing is detailed and descriptive making it a pleasure to read.

The trilogy is now available for the whole of Matched and I wholly encourage everyone to read the series, though Matched is without a doubt the best of the three. It's thought-provoking and an interesting take on the YA dystopia; a must-read for lovers of dystopia!
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on 24 May 2012
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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Wow, just wow. This one really lingers in your memory long after you turn that last page. That's all I can say is thank goodness this is a trilogy as I have so many unanswered questions and feel as if I am personally invested in the futures of the main characters that I just don't want to let them go.

Shades of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. A society that controls every aspect of daily life. Watching all aspects of 'normal' human behaviour. Monitoring everything from interactions to dreams. Controlling what is grown, what is eaten and how much is eaten; what jobs people do and even who we are allowed to love. All this was just so frighteningly easy to picture in the imagination, even relate to on some fundamental level.

People's behaviour and actions are predicted; what would happen if we were given a choice. The power the 'officials' possess makes them think that they are 'gods' playing with peoples lives as if it were some kind of sadistic experiment. The monotony of 'the society' and the drabness of their lives probably provides the reasoning behind this behaviour. As I read my mind kept questioning the entire foundation of 'the society', like a domino effect one question lead to another; how did it start, why did it start, who controls it, I could go on.

I found myself rebelling mentally against the idea of living in a world where nothing is created. There are only 100 poems/books/paintings that have been chosen for the population by an appointed panel. I just could not live like that. I wondered if this lifestyle would turn people into automatons, not really living but just going through the motions until the 'society' sanctioned euthanasia at 80. It would be like living in an ant colony only there to serve and provide a reproductive service in order to maintain 'the society'. The inspired use of Dylan Thomas's Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night added impact to the imagery; being welsh Dylan Thomas is one of my favourite poets. Plus the use of a Harry Potter reference for sarcastic purposes made me feel that Ally Condie is a kindred spirit. The tone is at times delightfully sarcastic which I totally adore.

All the characters are tremendously well rounded; their interactions and behaviour are revealed slowly throughout the narrative. The main point, I felt, was that we may not know the people close to us as well as we think we do.

The three main protagonist work beautifully together.
Cassia: initially a drone desperate to be a model citizen. Slowly realises appearances aren't always what they seem mainly due to her Grandfather's influence. Her personality and creativity goes from strength to strength as the plot develops.
Ky: wow my heart just ached for him. Such a wonderful character to imagine. Always the outsider on the fringes watching and learning as he is in turn being watched. Hiding who he really is in order to blend in. The weight of so many secrets weighs him down.
Xander: another multi-dimensional character. it seemed as if he was too different people, one in public and one in private. He too has his secrets.
This was one very difficult love triangle in which to pick a side. Normally I have no trouble deciding which male protagonist I would pick but this one left me baffled, both Ky and Xander are wonderful. I really didn't want to see anyone get hurt.

The whole idea of being Matched by a set of criteria and then the developing love triangle really brought to mind the whole question of how do we fall in love. If matching wasn't involved who would they chose to fall in love with.

A truly fantastic book with a fresh dystopian theme. I am just so happy that this is a trilogy but obviously not at all happy that I have to wait for the next installment. I just hope that at least some of my questions get answered.
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on 27 April 2011
I often struggle getting into a book, however this book was fairly easy, and I found myself hooked from the start. Although being hooked, I did get to a few points where I began to get bored as the story line remained the same for a lot of it, developing the characters more than perhaps necessary. Normally it takes me a good few days to read a book of this size, however I managed to read this in just under two days (although my mum didn't like this as it meant my revision got put on hold!).

The characters are easy to connect with, even though we don't live in the same 'world' we have momemnts where our lives can be very similar, love triangles...liking the bad boy when our parents would rather us be with the good boy...but I feel that too much of the book was used to develop their personalities and I would have rathered more events happening.

I'm wary as to whether I should get the next book as I would love to hear more about Cassia, however, if it is as slow as Matched then I think maybe I shouldn't bother. Also I think I should stop reading fiction books while I revise, as I have exams coming up!

I'm 18 but I tend to read books for younger audiences so I would probably recomend this book to young teens, maybe 15ish, but it's your choise really as I don't think there are any age limits on books like these, and you know what types of books you like to read :D (I don't help much do I!!)

What I didn't know before purchase of the book was that it is the first in a few books (three I think), and so the story doesn't finish and is pretty much the same thing the whole way, as there isn't all that many things that happen.
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on 27 September 2011
There's something about the struggle for identity that most teenagers experience that makes the YA genre especially suited to dystopian tales. And Matched is another great example of how well the partnership between YA and dystopian fiction works.

The cover for Matched suits the story and manages to convey a world of meaning in a seemingly simple image. Cassia is shown in her green dress from her Match Banquet, the night her ordered world begins to unravel. The model pressing against the walls of the bubble that encloses her is symbolic of Cassia pressing against the rules of a Society she has always accepted without question. The bubble is a very effective visual metaphor for the contained and controlled lives that the Society values.

Dystopian worlds seem to have at least one thing in common - those who rule exert careful control over every aspect of the society they govern. But how each author chooses to describe this control is what allows for the great variation in dystopian tales. I really like the world that Ally Condie has created in Matched - I was swept up by Cassia's story and the world she lives in.

Ally Condie has created an interesting and absorbing view of the future. In this Society every aspect of an individual's life is carefully controlled - from how much and what they eat to who they will marry and when they will die. The level of control exerted by the Society in Matched was brought home for me by the fact that only one hundred each of songs, paintings, books and poems have been approved for people to hear, see and read. I tried to imagine having to choose and never being able to see those that had not been accepted.

Matched is well paced and engaging and Ally Condie's writing allowed me to become immersed in the story - which is something I love! As the plot progressed I could see the cracks beginning to form in the Society's perfect veneer. This only added to my questions and made me want to read more - what was really going on and what is the Society hiding from so many people?

Cassia is a well written, complex character and I immediately liked her. Matched is told from her point-of-view and I enjoyed seeing her character progression through her own eyes. I also fell in love with Ky right along with her! Ky is a mystery. He blends seamlessly into the Society, but there is more going on under the surface. As he tells Cassia his story through words and images he opens up and shows more of himself. Ally Condie has created real and complex characters who take active roles in the story and I loved them.

Matched is an intriguing dystopian tale that will win Ally Condie many fans and I can't wait to see what she has in store for us next.
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on 23 December 2011
Part of the problem when coming to Matched was one of my own making and individual to me - I'd been reading a lot of YA and a lot of dystopian YA at that, so Matched didn't feel so much unique as retreading familiar ground. Girl growing up in a controlling society, who begins to doubt the rules and starts to flout them, with ominous consequences. We've seen this a lot now, since the Hunger Games presented the idea originally.

Matched does succeed in its worldbuilding, where other dystopian futures can feel very contrived (I'm thinking about the Factions in Divergent). Here we have a society which is so controlling that it is determined to 'match' citizens i.e. use their genes, personalities, and a number of other factors to present them with the perfect person they should marry. We join Cassia as she discovers that her perfect match is, most unusually, her childhood friend Xander. However, when she examines the information she is given on Xander (to see if it matches what she thinks of him) she sees another face - that of the boy Ky, who came late into the society.

I found the love triangle very difficult, in all honesty, because Ky is presented (at least to me) as being so much more attractive and yearned after than Xander. Despite her fondness for Xander, I never actually believe that she would want to be with him. Ky was the only obvious choice. At that point a love triangle is distinctly redundant.

The other aspect of Matched that I wasn't sure about was the slow, dreamy pacing. There was not much get up and go about the novel. I liked the way we drifted from situation to situation without the frenetic pacing of some of the other YA dystopian novels on the market, but it went almost too far the other way.

I find myself unconvinced by Matched, but I will certainly try Crossed to see whether the trilogy improves.
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on 28 March 2011
I'm a big fan of dystopian fiction but when I thought back to which books I'd actually read, not many sprang to mind, except for the fabulous 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood and more recently 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy. I don't think I'll have any problem remembering 'Matched' however. I absolutely loved it and it's a perfect example of dystopian fiction which lives and breathes in your hands and your head. I know it's only March but I have a feeling that this is already going to be competing for my book of the year.

What I enjoy most about this genre is reading about the imagined world as it may become in the future. Yes, obviously we can't see into the future but who's to say that these things won't actually happen. We have no idea what awaits humanity. It's both chilling and frightening and intriguing all at the same time. Cassia lives in a perfect society governed by officials who make all the rules and decisions for people - who they marry, how many children they have, when they will die, where they will live, what job they have and so it goes on. People are given pre-packed meals catering to their individual dietary requirements and there has been a cull of art, poetry and books with only a hundred items of each selected to remain in popular culture. The latter is horrifying! I'm someone who loves culture and being surrounded by literature and theatre and art. I can't imagine only being able to read a prescribed 100 poems and not having the ability to write and create.

All choice and free will has been eradicated in cultivation of what the officials call an equal society. Cassia believes in the virtues preached to ber by the officials and the story begins as she is about to attend the ceremony that will 'match' her with her future husband. All goes well until a mistake is made and Cassia's whole life is turned upside down. Her future is no longer clear cut. Cassia is a strong central character who begins to question the rules and regulations which are imposed upon society. She finally starts to see things clearly for the first time in her life and fights back against the bonds which are imposed upon her.

The love triangle between Cassia, her best friend Xander and neighbour Ky is dealt with sensitively and thoughtfully. When Cassia does finally make her choice, I liked the fact that it wasn't necessarily a choice which would isolate her from one or the other. She loves both boys but in different ways and it was nice to see those feelings explored. She has known Xander all her life and they've grown up together so the potential is there for them to have a long and happy life with each other but there's also Ky with whom she feels the first blossomings of a love that's new and exciting and real. He teaches her about things she has no knowledge of and they learn and grow together.

Hope is a significant theme in the book. The idea that there's always something to hope for and that however much you may have to struggle and however futile things may seem at times, hope always remains. That meant that the book ended on what I thought was quite an uplifting, rather than bleak, note.

Ally Condie's prose is exquisite. I savoured every single word. I felt like I was living Cassia's story with her and experiencing the same emotions and feelings. I'm hugely impressed by this sensational debut and thrilled that Condie is planning a whole trilogy. There's so much more to come and I'm excited to see where the story is going to go next. The film rights have also been sold to Disney so there's a big screen outing for 'Matched' sometime in the future too.
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on 8 June 2011
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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