Cassia has always trusted their choices. It's barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one...until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path no one else has ever dared follow - between perfection and passion."
First off, I've been wanting this book badly ever since I first heard about it. It sounded great, has an awesome cover, and early reviews kept popping up saying 'it's awesome!' So I was naturally delighted when I opened my emails to discover that I had won an ARC copy. For one reason and another it took almost 2 weeks before I could start it, despite wanting to dive right in to it, but oh heck. SO worth the wait! Matched is completely fantastic. Of course, now I have a longer wait for the sequel *facepalm* I couldn't put this book down. It's fantastically done, beautifully written with an almost poetic quality.
Cassia is, as the Society inspires, naive and 'perfect'. It's a stark world she lives in, a perfect one, Society decides everything for the best of everyone and they're never wrong. There are 100 songs, 100 poems and so on, never new ones being created. Society says what you do and when, and Cassia has always trusted them, always followed the rules. But at heart, she's a rebel. It barely shows at first, just a hint here and there, but grows as events unfold and things change. And I completely love her character. I felt sorry for her, the way she, and everyone in fact, appears to be puppets rather than human beings with thoughts and feelings. But Cassia's personality grew massively throughout the book and I just loved it.
Ky. Oh Ky! I have a new top level fictional love. He and Cassia have known each other for years, but no one really knows him. He's quite the mystery, not quite like the others. He's smart, and awesome and, well, like I said, I love him.
I love Xander, Cassia's best friend and 'Match' as well, and Cassia's family too. All the characters are really well drawn. I love how they're all far deeper and more complex than first appears. As the story unfolds, there are layers continually being peeled back, revealing more and more as they go. It's true of the world Cassia lives in as well as the characters actually. More and more gradually being revealed and it's spectacularly done. It creates a tension, a mystery, that I couldn't drag myself away from. I had to know what happened next.
Obviously the romance is a pretty strong theme throughout the book, but it's far from the only one. It's also the story of a girl waking up, realising who she is, what the world around her is like, how to survive. It's as much about everything around Cassia as Cassia herself. Perfect blend of internal battle and external one.
The place itself, the world Cassia lives in, scares the hell out of me. Seriously. 100 songs/poems/books/whatever picked years ago and nothing else is allowed to be made/created? Your job/spouse/exercise/food is all dictated by what 'suits you best'. And no one questions it because Society is always right. Everyone is supposed to be equal, everyone is meant to follow the rules, because then everything stays perfect. The Society even decide when you die (it's your 80th birthday in case you're wondering). Scary as hell, maybe because you can see it as real. Censorship taken to the extreme. A dictatorship of evil hidden under the guise of being 'perfect'. It's easy to see the people as puppets, to see their lives as limited and wonder how they don't all go crazy. But it's what they're used to, it's been that way for a couple generations, so no one questions. *shudders*
The ending is spectacular. Gripping, intense, beautiful, heart wrenching and brilliant. It was one of those times where you get to the final page and turn it over expecting more because a) you HAVE to know what happens next and b) Why the Hell was it left there?! So like I said at the start, I'm now desperate for the sequel (no title/date yet, sadly), it's one of the top books on my 'Must Haves' list for sure. This was one of the best dystopian books I've read, if not the best [wonders how much flack she's gonna take for saying that]. Yes really. Easily one of my favourite reads of 2010. If this book isn't on your To-Buy list, put it there, right now. My ARC copy doesn't have the pretty cover, so of course I'm getting one, and I'll be buying at least one more copy for a friend for Christmas. Love, love, love.
Rating: 10/10 [as if it would be anything else!]