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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Matched* by Ally Condie- young adult book review
by Ally Condie
Grades 7+ 384 pages Dutton November 2010 Hardcover    

Cassia is nervous. Tonight - the night of her seventeenth birthday - is her Match banquet. Tonight she will see the face of the person she is destined to be with, the person whose genetic makeup and skills best complement her own. Chosen by the Society, this is the only person Cassia can ever be with.

However, something unexpected happens the day after Cassia discovers who her Match is, when she inserts his information into the computer. Cassia sees the face of another boy, someone she knows. Cassia’s world comes crashing down on her. The Society doesn’t make mistakes, yet how has this boy’s face appeared to her? Is he really her Match? If a person can have two Matches, does that mean they should be able to love and marry whomever they choose? As Cassia discovers more about her situation, she fights to understand what is truly happening around her, and within her.

With the way the dystopian craze has hit the YA genre, you would think that the best has already been written, and what’s coming are the last copycats dribbling in before the entire genre moves onto their next “big thing.” But you would be wrong. Clearly, the dystopian wave isn’t finished yet; in fact, it seems to be getting a second wind as new, creative and unexpected books continue finding their ways to shelves. Matched, one of the most talked about YA releases of the fall/winter, is one of these impressive novels.

Cassia is a stirring character. Smart and resourceful, she has the ability to think for herself in a world where the Society is supposed to think for everyone. Even though her instincts tell her she should stay put and do what she’s told, her heart can’t help but wonder. “What if?” shouldn’t be such a difficult question to ask, yet it’s dangerous in Cassia’s world, and she has the bravery to not only ask it but to follow the answer to see where it takes her. With the unraveling of one small, seemingly insignificant thread, she begins to question everything around her, unable to trust any longer.

The world-building in Matched is impressive. The book doesn’t fully flesh out the world, as Cassia doesn’t really know what is going on; that will likely be addressed in the next two books. (Matched is the first in a trilogy). Instead, the reader gets tantalizing hints about what is really happening beneath the surface. The more answers that Cassia gets, the more questions she has, especially when she realizes that the Society might not know best after all.

Matched is an enjoyably frightening look at a possible future. Though author Ally Condie doesn’t provide details about how the present-day world moves to such an extreme one, readers will wonder how it could be possible. Read this book as quickly as possible; you won’t be able to put it down once you start it. There’s a reason Matched has received so much buzz, and it deserves every drop of it.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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