I wasn’t prepared to like this young adult book as much as I did. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with romantic YA literature, it’s simply not my cup of tea. I’d rather not relive my hormone addled teenage years through fiction. However, to classify Matched as a teenage romance is a serious disservice to Ally Condie’s novel. The novel uses the framework of an accidental love triangle to tackle universal themes such as self-determination, authority, and familial relationships.
Matched takes place in a future dystopian civilization governed by The Society and is told from the perspective of Cassia Reyes. At 17, she is “matched” to her best friend Xander, but due to a glitch, she finds out that she was also matched to a boy her age named Ky. Although The Society officials assure her that her real match is Xander, she can’t stop herself from wondering what her life would have been like if she had been matched to Ky. As she gets to know Ky better, she struggles between choosing a safe, comfortable life with Xander and a difficult, unstable one with Ky.
It’s not perfect, but it’s an immensely readable book. Condie’s writing gives voice to the push and pull between choosing our futures and wondering what might have been if we had taken a different path. Along the way, Cassia has to make some tough decisions and goes from being a carefree adolescent who sees the world in black and white to an adult who has to navigate a very shades-of-gray world.