After reading a review of Matched, a dystopian romance by Ally Condie, in the Wall Street Journal, I decided to move it to the top of my reading list. The reviewer, Meghan Cox Gurdon, compares the book, the first in a proposed trilogy, to Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, saying, "Ms. Meyer, captures the temptation, the mix of longing and self-discipline, felt by passion-swept young people trying to make the right choices for the right reasons. Ally Condie catches the same heart-tugging elements that Ms. Meyer does."
Matched is set in a tranquil, rational futuristic world where choice has been virtually eliminated. Seventeen-year-old Cassia, who is looking forward to her matching ceremony where she will be introduced to her future husband, is also dreading her grandfather's upcoming Final Banquet, where he is scheduled to die. When Cassia is matched with her childhood friend, Xander, she is ecstatic, until she gets home and looks at her courtship microcard and instead sees the face of Ky Markham, an orphan from the Outer Provinces, who was adopted by a neighboring family. He is considered an aberration and is forbidden from matching. She decides to confide in her grandfather, who rather than comforting her by saying that it was just a computer glitch, encourages her to question the Society's dictates. He gives her a forbidden poem by Dylan Thomas, telling her "Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage against the dying of the light."
When Cassia joins a hiking group for leisure time activity, she finds herself paired with Ky, who introduces her to the lost art of cursive writing (keyboarding is the only writing allowed) and surreptitiously begins to share the secrets of his past. The better she gets to know Ky, the more she wishes he were her Match. Although Xander is her best friend from childhood, Ky's creative rebellious personality speaks to her passionate nature that she has been sublimating for years with lockstep obedience to the Society's rules. As the book draws to a close, Cassia's fateful decision sets up the sequel in which she will continue the rebel against societal dictates.
In the Wall Street Journal review Ms. Gruden says, "That Matched works so well is due partly to the author's even, measured prose. The cool clarity of Cassia's voice, eerily suits the watchful, unfree Society she inhabits." School Library Journal compares Matched to Lowis Lowry's The Giver, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, and George Orwell's 1984. Comparisons to these esteemed novels, should signal readers that Matched is a step above the average teen romance. I would highly recommend this book for middle level and high school readers.