Pages: 400 Copyright: 2011
The blurb: “In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one… until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow — between perfection and passion.”
I wasn’t planning to talk about Matched today. But then in the car on the way home from school, I randomly started thinking about it, and feeling a lot of retrospective love for it. So I thought hey, why not.
For some reason, I’m feeling an unshakable urge to start this with defensive disclaimers. I guess I feel like some people might accuse Matched of being melodramatic or overly flowery. And maybe there were moments where it could have chilled a little. But I’m a flowery girl. And I loved that about it. To each their own, right?
Matched, being a YA dystopian, would most likely get lumped together in bookstores with The Hunger Games and Divergent and so forth. But it’s not Hunger Games. Nor is it Twilight, despite having, yes, a love triangle, and having shades of the same, well, lovey-dovey tone. It is a solid dystopia, with a well-built dysfunctional world and a compelling revolution storyline. But rather than revolving around flag-waving action, it takes a more contemplative track, resting its weight on highly poetic prose and romance. Ultimately, I would classify Matched as a love story. Maybe that was obvious from the blurb, maybe not.
I was in love with Cassia, Ky, and Cassia&Ky. Tough, sassy heroines are fabulous, but after too long a march of them without interruption, they can come to feel formulaic. Cassia is definitely not from that formula. She slowly discovers and falls in love with poetry (literally— the Society has banned all but 100 approved poems, but throughout the story, Cassia finds, is given, or trades for old contraband ones), and the poeticness of the prose came across very effectively as her voice, not awkward affectation that the author was putting in her mouth. Cassia is gentle and artistic, yet full of incredible strength, but it’s a quiet strength that stems not from anger or bitterness, but from love, and the desire to fight for those she loves. I also think she had very strong character development throughout the trilogy, going from a blindly obedient girl to a smart, self-reliant young woman. As for Ky, well, I talked about him on my list of Top Ten Fictional Crushes (he was the runner-up! Although I really need to rethink some of those entries… hrmm. But not him.) But wow. I’m trying not to say “swoon” because I don’t want to objectify him. But what a life he’s had. And in response, he’s gotten jaded and independent, but is still able to let people in if they deserve to be let in. Watching them discover each other and change each other was just so enjoyable for me. Ky teaches Cassia to dare to create new thoughts and images, and Cassia, for Ky, is something worthy to inspire art, which he wasn’t sure existed anymore.
For me, Matched was a beautiful, meditative take on the dystopian gambit, and it’s really stuck with me. I love the way it incorporated real poems into the story— “Do not go gentle into that good night/ …Rage, rage against the dying of the light…” The melody of this book drifts into my head at random times, and it’s always welcome.