What parents need to know
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?
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?