Rating: 4 Stars
Blurb: On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her match. Society dictates he is her perfect partner for life. Except he's not. In Cassia's society, Officials decide who people love. How many children they have. Where they work. When they die. But, as Cassia finds herself falling in love with another boy, she is determined to make some choices of her own. And that's when her whole world begins to unravel...
In short: Enjoyable, thought-provoking dystopian - very YA.
Review: I'm feeling a lot of cover-love for this one (go Theresa Evangelista!). Cassia trapped in the orb is an excellent descriptor of the book to come. Besides, I've seen a lot of good reviews so I had to get it.
The funny thing is, when you boil it down I would usually HATE the premise/theme of this book. It's literally centred around romance and a love triangle. I have never seen anything MORE love-triangle-y. (love-triangular?).
But what's amazing about this book is its dystopian elements. The dystopian world Ally Condie creates is vividly described and quite terrifying in its very utopia. On paper, it's a perfect system. But when you throw human beings in, it's restrictive and unjust. The little details that Condie lets slip out subtly - the Officials completely choosing someone's line of work, their partner, their possessions - really build up to create a good picture of it all.
It was really enjoyable and light. It's not a hugely long book, but there's a lot of information in it - and even with that it's not done with a heavy hand, which I'm very glad of. As well as that, there were some genuinely thought-provoking parts that seem to be missing from a lot of dystopians lately. The government has everyone die on their eightieth birthday, because it has decreed that after that quality of life decreases so much that the person shouldn't be alive at all. That was really chilling, and brings up topics like pre-emptive euthanasia. Then there were the measures the Officials took to keep everyone equal and not questioning, like when they raided homes for artifacts. Again, hints of Communism. Not loudly, but just enough to make you compare it to today's world. And they incinerated libraries (!!!).
And then the romance. I am not a fan of romance. This one was done well, actually, but I still don't like it being the main focus of the story. So, the conflict is that Cassia is expected to love the person she's Matched to, but because of some big conspiracy/mistake, it doesn't exactly work out as planned. She sees someone else, and starts to fall in love with them, breaking every rule in the book.
Here's what I did like about the romance. Her 'true' love interest, the unsafe one, encourages her to open her eyes, to see past the forced safety of Oria and become a bit of a rebel. It makes her into a defiant, proactive heroine and I really liked that. Also, with the way the love interest is done it's exactly like Slated by Teri Terry (one of my favourites, my review here), to the point where it's uncanny.
There were some quite clumsy metaphors, as if the author was just trying to get them in - like the one about Sisyphus. I get the point, and I understand that it was meant to symbolise their struggle and acts as a catalyst for Cassia's transformation, but it just seems forced.
Other than that, a highly enjoyable book that leads well into its sequel in the trilogy, all the books of which (Matched, Crossed and Reached) are out now.
P.S. I got contact lenses, after 13 years of wearing glasses! This is exciting! Also, I have to get Fractured, Slated's sequel. And Divergent. And Insurgent ... I have less than 2 weeks until holidays so I have to get my books lined up soon.