by Ally Condie
Society matched them, but love set them free
In the society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. It's barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the 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. (back cover copy)
I could not put this book down. I almost finished it in one setting, but finally had to put it down with only 5 chapters to go (the agony) so that I could get up at 5am the next morning. Ugh. I just wanted to keep reading and reading and reading.
Matched is compelling. Cassia is a great character. She is smart and loyal and loving, yet also realistic in that part of her just wishes to live her life as expected. To be safe and secure. Both Ky and Xander are guys that would make any girl question her life choices...they're both smart, hard-working, brave, willing to do anything for her...and oh, did I mention cute?
The most fascinating thing about this story, though, was the Society. It was easy to see that this was a futuristic society set after the fall of our own. Run by Officials, citizens have every single decision in their lives made for them. This was a chillingly realistic dystopia that kept me on edge the whole way through.
Condie very successfully tied in elements from some major classic dystopias. The Society was very reminiscent of 1984's Big Brother. They also ruled with pills to keep their citizens content and unaware like in Brave New World. This may become a new classic...
I sincerely hope that a sequel is written to this book. I don't want to give spoilers, but Cassia makes quite a few great discoveries, both about the Society and her own self, the passion between Cassia and her love interests is palpable and exciting, and the book ends leaving room for an exciting sequel!!PS - I LOVE this cover! Not only is the bubble image evocative, the green is exquisite and perfectly matches a description of Cassia in the book, but there is a very subtle texture pattern to the white background giving a metallic appearance (you can't tell in a picture) that just matches the tone of the book. One of the best covers I've seen this year!
Full disclosure: A friend actually found this ARC and gave it to me...can you believe it?!