WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
Matched by Ally Condie
Type: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Romance
Basic Plot: In the future, Cassia lives in a world where the Society controls all things and makes the regulations of the world she lives in. She has been happy and content, especially when she is “matched” to marry her best friend Xander, but after finding a mistake in the program, she wonders if the Society truly knows best.
Plot: 3/5 Average: The plot had a good speed and development. The characters changed and developed relationships at a pace that was natural and not too fast or slow. The plot ended with there being no plot holes, but there being an ending that leaved room for more books.
The only negative feature of the story was that it was lacking originality in some ways. It did not seem to have a goal to make a new or unique statement, other than to show what other books have, that totalitarian societies are bad and true love can conquer anything. This was a good way to show this idea, but the idea itself is not very unique.
Writing Style and Setup: 4/5 Well Done: Ms. Ally Condie’s style was focused on symbolism, emotion, and thought and many of her characters were also revolved around these things. She does not focus on describing the surroundings or actions as much as she does the ideas Cassia has and her feelings. This does not mean that the former are done poorly, just that they were not the focus. I did enjoy the personal and original style she used.
The beginning of the book was not as well written as the rest of it. It started a bit slowly and was not as natural. Somewhere between chapters five and ten it started becoming more interesting to read and more natural sounding. This does not mean it had a bad start, just a slightly slow one.
Moral: 3/5 A Mostly Good Moral: The moral of books that deal with topics such as freedom and dictatorship. God says in Romans 13:1, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” We are to obey authority and be submissive, but at the same time how can one worship and serve God to the fullest extent when they are under a socialist and communist country? I believe the book was able to show how bad a society that is totalitarian can be – even at its best – , without having a rebellious spirit with it. Cassia does disobey in her heart and even a little on the outside to the Society, but her entire attitude is not rebellious.
Overall 3½/5: I recommend it to teenagers of all ages as they would probably be most interested in it. I also believe younger college students may like it if they are looking for clean books about dystopian fantasies, though it may not be as interesting for them.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 1/5 Non-Sexual Physical Contact and Slight Suggestiveness: There is hand holding, hugging, and kissing. One of the rules mentioned in for dating is that you may use physical contact to express affection. Cassia thinks several times about wanting nonsexual physical contact. It is mentioned that the teenagers have played kissing games. One of the things a person may be suspected of if they run too much for exercise is masochism. Handholding and tension when a person accidentally touches another are described, but not in an inappropriate manner. Though kissing happens it is hardly described outside of the fact of it happening and some afterthoughts about it.
Violence: 1½/5 Mentions of Violence and War: It mentions a little boy was once murdered and a man was attacked. A boy gets a sprain. Cassia falls when she is running and gets scraped up. A movie shows people dieing. There is mention that there is a war and people are forced to join the army. It is mentioned that all of the people in a particular place are dead. A woman believes her son will die when he is drafted. There is mention of a man using a weapon against a person as well as that weapons were once used by people in charge of the Society. Cassia reflects on how the people in charge of where she is do not physically punish them to get them to work or obey.
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: ½/5 Suggestive: It mentions that people swear, but never says what those swear words are.
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 1½/5 Some Emotional and Slightly Disturbing Content: People are only allowed to live until they turn eighty, then they formally die and are preserved. Cassia experiences this with her grandfather. This is done by slowly poisoning them. Some people do not die by poisoning. Cassia dreams that her friend dies. Blood is in a film they watch, is mentioned in descriptions, and is drawn in pictures alongside bullets. There are rumors that a certain tablet will kill you.
Religious Issues: ½/5 Slight Mention: Cassia thinks about “playing God” as the society always does so and is treated like the people’s “Gods.”
Magic: 0/5 None
Overall: I do not recommend this book as much in quality as I do morally. Morally this book is excellent and highly recommended. Many books that try to teach about broken and controlling societies also show how depraved and perverse these societies are, but Matched was written by a Mormon, and therefore is very clean.