Yesterday morning I remembered that I had a book review of Matched by Ally Condie for the BlogHer Book Club due today. In looking at the 366 page book, I could see the email to my editor forming with apologies and a quiet beg for more time. Heck, I practically sat down and wrote it right then and there. Of course, I do often finish books in a day or two so there was a chance …
But I decided to see how far I could get first. I read a little yesterday morning and a little more last night. Then I put my seven-year-old son, Will, on the bus this morning and read some more. I paused and cleaned the kitchen, got Paige, my almost-five-year-old ready for school and even hit the grocery store. Then I read some more.
And just like that, I was done. I had devoured every one of those 366 pages greedily, soaking in the well-crafted story and feeling myself in the shoes of Cassie, the main character. Frankly, if not for responsibility, I would have read this book in one sitting. It was that good.
Matched is the story of a society where everything has been boiled down and controlled. There are the 100 best paintings, the 100 best poems, the 100 best books and the 100 best songs — and all the rest have been destroyed. Food is prepared and delivered to homes, which each tray individualized for the person — no sharing allowed. Even love is regulated, with teens being matched up based on factors and statistics. They receive their match at 17 and usually marry at 21. And children? Even those are regulated too — and no one can give birth after age 31.
The Society, as the government is called, everything is about control. It’s neat and orderly. Diseases have been pretty much eradicated. Injuries are infrequent. Children are educated and then trained and then assigned to the job that best suits their skills. People dress in clothes that all look alike and behave in the way The Society has prescribed they should. And people live to the ripe old age of 80.
It’s a world that has been created to be perfect.
Except for one thing: nothing can be perfect.
Cassia receives her match on her 17th birthday and it’s her best friend, a boy who grew up literally down the street (it’s rare for matches to know each other). She’s thrilled. But when she goes to check out her match with the special electronic means they have, she sees a different match on her card — someone who could never be matched. This sets in motion a chain of events that leads Cassia to look critically at her society — and consider if the perfect world isn’t so great after all.
This was written for young adults, but Matches is a smart, thought-provoking, page-turning book. Who cares if it’s for teens?
Please join me over at the BlogHer Book Club this month where we’ll be discussing this book.
Disclosure: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.