I picked up MATCHED shortly after it came out in 2010 and loved it. So when Ally Condie made a stop in St. Louis on her CROSSED tour last fall, I had to go see her. It was my first author event, and I loved hearing about her inspiration for each book.
These books are fast-paced, and Ally Condie consistently surprises with twists I didn’t see coming. With each book, I didn’t want to stop reading, and isn’t that what it’s all about?
What I enjoyed most about these books is that they made me think. I usually list the five things I loved most when I do a review, but in this case, I’m going to talk about the five things that made me think.
1. Love – Like many YA series out there, this one features a love triangle. I’m not spoiling anything by saying that Cassia loves two boys. That’s clear in the first book, and it’s set up by the way the Society matches everyone to their perfect mate. Cassia is given two matches, and it’s never a question that she doesn’t love one of them. It’s a question of how she loves them, complicated by the fact that neither love is perfect. The love triangle is resolved, but the outcome was clear early enough in the third book that the love story wasn’t the climax. It became secondary, at least in my mind, and that was ok.
2. Choices – The ability to choose is another theme set up from the very beginning, and it takes on new meaning in each book. In the first book, Cassia chooses how she will love. In the second, she chooses where she will go. And in the third, she chooses who she will follow. Ky and Xander each make choices, too. They’re all intertwined. The books raise questions about how one person’s choices affect another and what happens when the choice is wrong. There’s a really great passage in the third book about this, but I think it’s too spoilery to include here, so you’ll have to go read it yourself :).
3. Intentions – This point goes with the previous one, but intentions are important. I thought a lot about what the characters intended when they made particular choices. It’s one of the reasons I liked Xander better than Ky at the end of the second book. But sometimes the best intentions cause you to make choices that don’t have the results you hope for, and that can change you forever. It’s why the book has to end the way it does, but check out my last point on that.
4. Society/Government – Like many dystopians, the MATCHED series explores the idea of a “utopian” society. There’s the existing government and the rebellion. Neither is all wrong or all right. It’s true in our own society. We get so divided, and both sides think they know the right way. Cassia, Xander and Ky have to deal with their allegiances and the disillusionment that follows. It’s something I think most people go through at some point.
5. The ending – I generally like happily ever after endings that make me close the book smiling. Don’t expect that here. There’s happiness, but all isn’t right in the world. I don’t think there’s any way it could be. Similar to MOCKINGJAY, this ending is satisfying but in many ways bittersweet. I’m still thinking about it, so I think Ally Condie did her job well.
If you haven’t read this series, I highly recommend it. I’ll definitely read it again someday as I’ve made the books part of my permanent collection. If you have read them, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’m happy to discuss spoilers in the comments, so those who haven’t read it yet, beware.