Study Guide

Xander Thomas Carrow in Matched

By Ally Condie

Xander Thomas Carrow

The Boy Next Door

Xander's name might as well be Boy Next Door. Like so many other young adult heroines, Cassia has grown up with a sweet—but hunky—neighbor, who's smitten with her but also knows her like the back of his hand. Cassia tells us, "His smile looks bright and real, his blue eyes kind" (3.67)—in other words, he's the kind of guy every small-town girl lusts over, though as Cassia says, "None of us thought we could have golden, charismatic, clever Xander" (4.24). Yup—this guy's a classic teen dream.

Unlike Cassia, who's still figuring out her place in this world, "Xander is the kind of person who is sure about what he wants" (1.11)—plus he's not anxious about the Match Banquet, meaning that he falls in "the seven percent who don't show any nerves at all" (1.15). He's smart and competitive to boot—"Xanders's always been this way about the games—completely alive with energy and anticipation" (5.4). In other words, Xander is handsome, confident, and intelligent—the total package.

Bestie, Lover, and Rebel

Xander's only got eyes for Cassia. Lucky her too, since he's the kind of guy who shares his last spoonful of ice cream with her—"he is smiling and generous and it seems ungracious to push his hand away" (13.53)—and gives kisses that are "sweeter than I expected" (13.61). To Xander, love means risking himself to protect those he cares for, like when he offers to save Cassia's beloved artifact (18.24).

When Xander gives Cassia a generous gift to help her find Ky, she realizes that "he knows I'm going to find Ky. And he's helping me. In spite of everything, Xander hasn't betrayed me" (31.42). Aw… what a good guy, right? He's well aware of what he's doing, and tells Cassia it's "'not just for you. For all of us'" (31.47). Yep—this noble stud wants everyone to be able to discover the passion and free will Cassia already has. So while they may not be perfect matches, he shares her vision for a different life than the one Society enforces.

Xander realizes deep down that he's being kind of a sucker, though. Cassia notes:

There's sadness in his voice. "Sometimes it seems like everything I've done has been to help you be ready for someone else." (31.61)

He's got a point—he may be decent through and through, but this ends up helping Ky out romantically a bit more than it helps himself. We'll throw a tiny bone Xander's way, though—at least Cassia realizes what a stand-up guy he is. She says, "It is impossible not to love Xander for everything he is and everything he does" (18.35), which is pretty high praise… even if the love she's referring to isn't exactly the sparkly romantic kind.

Something Special

Although Xander's role in most of this book is best friend, gaming nerd, and über-nice guy, we get a hint toward the end that there may be more to Cassia's sidekick than meets the eye:

"I know what really happened to Ky […] The red tablets don't work on me," he whispers. (31.18)

Say what? So… there's clearly something special about Xander that makes him immune to the tablets. Since this is just the first book in the series, we're willing to bet this special skill comes into play later on. Stay tuned—this friend-zoned dreamboat should be back.

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