Matched (2010) by Ally Condie
Inside Jacket: In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die. Cassia has always trusted their choices. It's hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on her 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.
Review: All the hype around this book certainly worked on me: I made a special trip to the local 'Noble just a few days after it officially released. I'm pleased to report that all the positive reviews are spot on. Cassia is certainly likeable, and the themes Condie explores are ones that always interest me. She addresses issues of power, equality, the prisoner's dilemma, poetry, love, family, and more. Xander and Ky are excellent characters as well. I've heard other people describe Ky as a sensitive, poetic, emo-outsider type and I have to disagree. He is a sensitive, thoughtful person, but to reduce him to a "type" does him a disservice, because there are depths Condie hasn't even touched on yet (for him as well as Xander). Condie's writing is spare and powerful, and the story flew by.
Conclusion: 5/5. This is an excellent addition to the Dystopian genre. I like that it is internal and character driven, and Cassia's world feels both complete and entirely unexplored. Aspects of the story are infused with a sterile eeriness while other parts are lush and open, which lends that nice balance to the world Cassia knows and the world she does not. I would reread this book, and I'm looking forward to the sequels. I have to admit, though, that I'm tired of books that come in a series. Longer isn't always better, and it's been too long since I've seen stand-alone books that get a lot of attention. Does anyone know why it's more popular to publish a 3 or 4 book set as opposed to just one?