Where do I start with this book? I originally discovered it while checking out books for fans of the Divergent series. I’m a big fan of post-apocalyptic/dystopian society novels. After I read the synopsis for Matched, I was hooked. I had to get my hands on it. Well luckily for me, my personal library (AKA Alley) already owned a copy that she was willing to lend me. That very night, I dove in to the book.
Cassia lives in a society where everything is decided for you – who you marry, what you do, when you die. At the age of 17, all willing members of society are “matched,” a process where the Society pairs two people who are statistically compatible and will produce the most genetically sound children. Cassia is excited for her match banquet, and even more so upon finding out that her match is her best friend Xander. But when Cassia goes to review the micro-card The Society gave her with Xander’s information, Xander’s face is not the one Cassia sees. Instead, Cassia sees the face of Ky Markham, an outsider from a different province who was never supposed to be in the match pool. The Society assures Cassia that seeing Ky’s face was a mistake, and that she was truly matched with Xander. Cassia can’t seem to accept this answer, and the lingering doubt causes her to question The Society and their matching practices.
I wanted to love this, I really did. I was into the synopsis, the first chapters were going well, and then somewhere in the middle it just fell flat for me. I like for an author to give little pieces of information along the way. Halfway through the book, I still knew almost nothing about The Society, or how it came to be. I don’t even know where Cassia’s province was located. There was talk of her province and other provinces, but no mention of how they were all inter-related. It appears that Cassia’s country was born from America, but Conde left me guessing as to what had happened to the USA. I had no idea how The Society came to power, why the people were so obedient, or who was even running The Society. Conde keeps referring to high-ranking members of The Society as “officials” but never gives them names, and you almost never see the same “Official” twice. It was hard to keep up with. Other authors (like Veronica Roth or Marissa Meyer) give the readers small pieces of information about how the society came to be along the way, to help hold the story together. All I knew by the end was The Society is a bunch of killjoys with crazy rules, and everyone just decided to follow them.
I was hoping the story would pick up after Cassia’s first few interactions with Ky, but the entire book continued to be one stolen moment after another. To give Conde credit, the moments Cassia had with Ky did have my heart fluttering. Conde’s writing has a way of making you feel your first love all over again. I looked forward to each time they were able to see each other, and the development of their relationship had me cheering them on. Conde also created a very likeable character in Xander, so much so that I found myself changing sides regularly on who I wanted Cassia to be with.
By the end of the book, I was disappointed. The book moved so slowly, and the end of the novel really should’ve been what happened in the middle. It was frustrating to read all the way to the end, only to be left with many questions and dissatisfaction at the movement of the story. Matched is the first book in the series, with Crossed being the second book. I haven’t read it yet, but from what I gather, it seems as those Conde could’ve combined the two books into one and had a more cohesive story. I will be reading Crossed, but mostly because I feel like I have to finish the series in hopes I’ll have some idea of what the heck is going on.
Overall, the book was a decent read. While I wouldn’t necessarily go around recommending this to all my friends, I would also say it wasn’t a total wash either. Cassia is a likeable character, and the development of her relationships with both Xander and Ky had me on the edge of my seat. The glue that holds this book together could have been the information about her mysterious society, and without that information the book just seemed odd. Conde obviously piqued my curiosity enough that I’ll finish the series, but I have serious doubt going into the next book. I’m hoping Crossed will answer all those questions left unanswered by Matched.
5 out of 10