I recently read Matched by Ally Condie. Matched tells the story of Cassia Reyes, a seventeen year old living happily as a member of the Society.
When the book opens Cassia is on the way to her Matching Banquet, where she will learn, along with other seventeen year olds, who her Match is. Her Match has been chosen for her by officials in the Society based on personality and genetic characteristics. Turns out, her Match is her best friend, Xander. But when Cassia goes to enter the microcard they give her with Xander’s picture and information, a different name comes up- Ky Markham, another friend that she has known since childhood. This “mistake” causes Cassia to start questioning the Society where every little part of a person’s life is planned by officials, even down to how many calories someone consumes during the day.
I first picked this book up because of the arranged marriage aspect of it. I am absolutely fascinated by the idea and was hoping for a story about that. Alas, it was not meant to be. Matched does have good things to say about arranged marriages (Cassia’s parents have a very loving relationship, as do most of the other adults in the story). But ultimately, this story is just another YA dystopian romance.
That does not mean that I didn’t enjoy the story. Condie presents a Society that is not inherently evil. People have happy lives, they are healthy and they live long lives. But there is no choice. Spouses are assigned. Food is distributed directly to individuals based on caloric need. The amount of children a couple can have as well as the time period to have them is restricted. Careers are assigned based on abilities and skills. So it was interesting to read that Cassia is not rebelling simply for the sake of rebelling. She rebels because she comes to realize that she wants something. Something that the Society has chosen not to give her.
It’s a shame that this story did end as you would expect. And it was a bit heavy on poetry for my taste. I’m not a huge fan of romantic stories so there has to be something else to grab my attention in the story. And seeing as how this ended by being a fairly traditional romance, I guess I’ll have to keep looking for a good story of an arranged marriage.