by Ally Condie
In A Nutshell
There are a lot of problems in the world, right? We're talking war, disease, riots, poverty, and more, not to mention all sorts of disagreements among people with different values and beliefs. Wouldn't it be great if we could find a way to eliminate all of this hard stuff and create a society in which everyone was happy? Where everyone has a job they excel at, a house to live in, food to eat, social activities to attend, a spouse who is their perfect mate, healthy children, and the opportunity to live a long and full life without worry of getting sick or hurt?
Doesn't that sound awesome?
Well, whether or not you have trouble imagining that reality, fear not—Ally Condie's done it for you in her 2010 novel, Matched. The first in a three-part series, Condie tells the story of a young girl growing up in such a world and answers the question about whether such a world is, indeed, awesome.
Landing on shelves in the midst of the dystopian craze, Matched goes in the opposite direction of books like Hunger Games. Instead of imagining a futuristic world in which modern technology has caused things to go horribly awry, Condie's novel imagines a future in which technology has been able to solve all of today's biggest problems… or has it?
Why Should I Care?
What if, instead of having to deal with all the heart racing, nervous sweating, awkward stammering, crazy jealous-making aspects of your first love, it was all a little bit easier?
Imagine being handed a little USB drive with the cute boy or girl who's your best match (based on some fancy schmancy algorithms done by the government), sitting and learning about them in the privacy of your own home, and then someone else arranging a date for you two. Whether that sounds appealing—no sweaty palms when you ask them out—or absolutely terrifying—see ya, free choice—we're sure you're curious about who the computers would set you up with. Who wouldn't be?
For Cassia—our main girl in Matched—things get a little more complicated when her USB thingy shows not one but two perfect matches for her. What's a never-been-kissed dystopian teenager supposed to do when she has to choose between Hot Best Friend Guy and Hot Mysterious New Guy? Maybe this choice sounds familiar, or perhaps it doesn't. At the heart of it, though, is the classic coming of age conundrum about whether to follow the rules or do what your gut's hollering at you to do—and that's something everyone can relate to.