Title: Matched, Crossed, and Reached
Author: Ally Condie
Length: 416, 416, 528 pages
Format: Kindle eBook for the first two, library hardcover for the last
This is the first series I’ve read in a long time, and I really really enjoyed it. I have a soft spot for teen/YA novels, and this was no exception. Though it was a little embarrassing looking through the Teen Space section of the library in order to find the third one, as it was too expensive on Kindle to justify. It reminded me a bit of The Giver or Divergent, both series about teenagers living in a “perfect” society where their every move is controlled and most of life is extremely planned out and ritualistic. Eventually the kid realizes that there is more to life than what society has provided, and has some kind of a rebellion. The formula might be the same, but the details are very different and I generally enjoy them.
This book is about a girl, Cassia, and begins on the eve of her “Match Banquet”. In this society, you are matched with a person at age 17 which the officials have deemed to be your perfect partner. You then have a series of meetings ending at your Contract, or marriage, at age 21, and by age 24 you begin having children. These guidelines are very strict, and deviation could cause you to lose your Match and become a Single forever, or worse, become an Aberration and be ostracized from society. Cassia goes to her banquet and becomes matched with Xander, her childhood best friend. This is extremely unusual, because it is unlikely for one’s Match to reside in the same city, much less be a friend. Nevertheless, Cassia is excited, until she gets home and reviews the data about her Match. Xander’s face shows up at first, but then for a second, another face shows up, another friend in the city named Ky. Cassia is left to wonder if Society has made a mistake, and if so, who is really meant to be her Match? Eventually she finds out that Ky is an Aberration, and was never meant to be in the pool of Matches at all. If that’s true, how did the mistake happen, and who put him there? She wrestles with these questions as she begins to commit more and more forms of small rebellion.
Another detail of their society is that in order to avoid excess, all forms of art have been cut down to 100 of each, and no one is allowed to create more. They no longer even know how to write, or sing, or draw. So for example, there are only 100 books, paintings, poems, songs, etc that were chosen at the beginning of the creation of Society, as they were judged to be the most important of their category. Cassia eventually begins to find that there is an underground trading going on of people who still have saved pieces of artistic works from before, and it is then that she starts to hear rumors of an Uprising, which knowledge of could put her in danger.
As she begins to learn more, she questions the purpose of the 3 tablets everyone in society must carry. They are told by Officials that the green one is for calming, the blue one is to keep you healthy if you lose access to food and water, and the red one is unknown but you are only to take it when an Official tells you to. In the second two books, as she seeks to join the Uprising and take down Society, she learns a lot of secrets along the way. There is of course a love triangle going on between her, Xander, and Ky, and a lot of good characters are met along the way.
The story is engaging, well written, and kept my interest. I read the entire series in a matter of days, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys this type of story.