Matched by Ally Condie
I've had Matched on my wish list at Paperback Swap since its release but when I saw a copy at Sam's Wholesale Club for a reasonable price, I snatched it up. It seemed a likely candidate to help me break my reading slump and, as it turned out, Matched definitely helped me get back into my reading groove.
Cassia has always been very trusting and obedient. When the book opens, she's excited about her Matching banquet, where she'll see the name and face of the boy she'll eventually marry. She's particularly excited to find out she's matched to a good friend, Xander, but when she begins to read the data about him, another face briefly flashes onto her screen and then disappears. She knows that face, as well. Did the Society make a mistake when matching her? Why is the other boy, Ky, labelled in a way that makes it impossible for him to be matched?
When Cassia and Ky end up on a work team together and find that sparks are flying, Cassia becomes determined to find answers while fighting her urge to let go of her Xander, whom she knows to be an excellent match.
I was expecting a run-of-the-mill dystopian novel, to be honest, but I found smart, thought-provoking writing, likable characters and a dilemma easy to find yourself quickly invested in, along with a nicely fast-moving plot with moments of slow build.
In a Twitter chat, this week, author Jay Kristoff said, "I think the most important thing to remember when worldbuilding is that worlds are populated by PEOPLE. Character first. Always." That's where Ally Condie really shines. Her characters are believable and the world seems to be built around them not designed first and populated later. While there are times that you feel like, "Sigh, another dystopian. Same old struggle against the powers plotline," Matched is suitably unique and I'm quite anxious to read the next book in the series. There was a bit of a cliff-hanger ending but the book pretty much felt complete to me.
Recommended to lovers of Young Adult dystopian fiction. Light reading, quick-paced but with well-rounded characters and very good writing.