Matched

 
Fun, provoking start to dystopian series for teens.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The book may prompt some discussion about our relationship to technology, and what is lost in the name of progress. The Society saved 100 great works in different genres: music, art, books, etc. Readers who aren't familiar with the specific works mentioned might be interested in checking them out.

Positive messages

Clear message about the cost of blindly following unjust rules -- and the dangers of surrendering personal freedoms to a hyper-controlling government.

Positive role models

It's hard not to be an obedient child in the Society, but Cassie stands out as a good kid: She loves her family, she wants to be a productive worker, she enjoys her friends, and she appreciates her life. Likewise, her rule-breaking is rooted in a desire to do right in the world. The other characters are equally admirable. Xander, in particular, manages to fiercely support Cassie even as she falls in love with another.

Violence

References to violence are minimal. The Society is at war in the distant Outer Provinces, but in Cassie’s world that’s the stuff of occasional rumor. There are some references to villagers killed in the Outer Provinces, and one story of a boy who was murdered. Citizens are poisoned so they’ll die peacefully on their 80th birthdays.

Sex

For a story with a strong romantic undercurrent, there's not much sexual content other than a few kisses.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this absorbing page-turner is a classic dystopian tale. Its heroine is a model daughter and citizen who begins to suspect the pursuit of perfection comes with too steep a price. While there's danger and romance here, there's not very much violence or sex. Instead, it encourages readers to think long and hard about their relationships -- to people, to technology, and to authority -- and could lead to some spirited debates about how to best balance personal freedoms and government control. Parents and teens who read this book together will certainly find a lot to talk about.

What's the story?

Cassie has never doubted the choices of the Society, which decides what she eats, whom she'll love, where she'll work, and even when she'll die. She's thrilled to learn she’s to marry Xander, her best friend. But then why does the face of her neighbor, Ky, flash on her Match microcard instead? The Officials tell her it was a rare mistake, but a tiny seed of doubt is planted. And as she grows to love Ky, she begins to see the darker truths of the Society. She embarks with him on a risky, dangerous path -- with the Society watching their every move.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

MATCHED invites comparisons to The Giver and Brave New World, and some science fiction fans may rightly complain that it’s derivative. But most teen readers will agree that author Condie has crafted a fine addition to the genre. Her characters are complex and surprising; even the peripheral characters carry real weight. Cassie’s awakening -- to the harm caused by the Society, to love, to the complexity of the adults who have raised her -- feels authentic. As Cassie’s relationship with Ky deepens, so do her relationships with her parents, her brother, and even Xander. 

This could easily turn into just another hand-wringing love triangle, or a ho-hum story of teen rebellion. Instead, it's a great coming-of-age story, one that encourages readers to think long and hard about their relationships -- to people, to technology, and to authority. There are just enough details about the Society to tell the story, making it pretty light as far as sci-fi goes -- so this will appeal to readers who don't consider themselves fans of the genre normally. Overall, it's a terrific start to the planned trilogy. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of dystopian novels. What makes them appealing as a setting for teenage characters? Why do you think they are particularly popular right now?

  • Is it important to read stories about our possible futures? How could a book like this affect the choices we make in the present?

  • Does a future government like the Society seem plausible to you? What do you think might promote or discourage this kind of a future?

Book details

Author:Ally Condie
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Dutton Children's Books
Publication date:November 30, 2010
Number of pages:384
Publisher's recommended age(s):14

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 12 years old January 20, 2011
age 11+
 

B-O-R-I-N-G

I was very disappointed in this book! I went out and bought it for the hard cover price because everyone hyped it up and stuff. I thought it would be fast paced and engrossing! NO. It's so slow paced, I stopped reading it for a while and then I didn't even finish it!!!
Educator Written byTeachMuch April 13, 2012
age 11+
 

Matched is a great discussion starter...

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Parent of a 11, 12, and 13 year old Written bykmburdick April 16, 2011
age 12+
 

Middle school must-have

After getting my students (grades seven and eight) hooked on dystopian novels like "The Giver" and "The Hunger Games," Condie's novel "Matched" seemed like a perfect fit for summer reading, and I was right. It draws kids in, even reluctant readers; not a single parent had an issue with it's content and in fact, many enjoyed reading it themselves. It has wonderful mesages that fit in with our curriculum (both English and social studies). I'd like to actually have a chance to teach it!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages

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