Sunday, September 5, 2010

Matched by Ally Condie

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Matched opens at Cassia's Matching Ceremony. The Matching Ceremonies take place on the girl's 17th birthday. They get to dress up in a fancy dress instead of regulation clothes and eat fancy food and cake instead of regulation food. Cassia's match ends up defying the odds. Most girls are matched with boys from other cities far away, complete strangers to imagine and dream about. Cassia is matched with Xander, her best friend. She already knows everything about him, but when she watches the data card with his information, she is surprised to see another face on the card. She knows the second face as well.

Ky moved to their city after his parents were killed. Officials tell Cassia that he obviously couldn't be her match. His inclusion must have been a sick joke, because Ky is an aberration. Aberrations are kept separate from regular citizens, not allowed as many job opportunities and definitely not allowed to match. Cassia was friendly with Ky before, but after seeing his face on her data card, she actually takes the time to see him.

They spend time together while hiking as a leisure activity. He teaches her how to write, she teaches him a poem that her grandfather left her before he died. It may not seem like much, but the Officials have long ago whittled all music, books, poems, pretty much everything, into a concentrated selection of everything worth knowing. There's the 100 Songs, 100 Paintings, 100 Poems. Everything else was destroyed. Before Cassia's grandfather died on his 80th birthday, which is the same age everyone dies, he showed her a hidden compartment in her grandmother's compact. The compartment held a paper with two poems, poems that are not included in the 100 poems. One poem was Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night." Cassia starts to relate to that poem. She begins to understand that it might be better for everyone to make their own choices. By the end of the book, there aren't any significant changes, but it's a decent setup for some action in the sequel.

I wanted to read this book because there were so many great comments on the cover, and they compared it to The Hunger Games. Cassia seemed a bit stupid at the beginning, but it was really just a result of following the rules and thinking everything was for the Greater Good. I'm still hoping she gets more of a Katniss Everdeen attitude by the next book. Overall, Matched was a strong book. There were times, especially near the end, when I was incredibly absorbed in the plot. It was a great start, and while I usually loathe when books are part of a series, I must say that I am looking forward to reading more of this book.

Matched comes out November 30. Thanks to Penguin for sending an Advanced Reader Copy to my B&N location.

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