Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.
(Amazon Product Description)
I have to review both of these books together since I read them back-to-back and I have a hard time separating them out in my head. I have read several dystopian YA series, but what makes Matched different is that the action is slower paced (at least in the first book it was) and Cassia as a character is not some girl is a natural fighter. In fact, she starts off the novel very much a good little member of The Society, wanting all of the beautiful things in life that they promise her. She knows that if she follows the rules, she will be healthy and (reasonably) happy until she is 80 years old. The Society never makes a mistake, so she has complete trust in them. That is, until the glitch.
This electronic malfunction which shows Ky’s face on her data card only last seconds, but it is the catalyst that very slowly turns her world upside-down. When I say slowly, I don’t mean to say that the book is in any way boring. It’s not. In fact, I liked that it took Cassia almost the entire first book to have such a significant perspective and character shift. It made the story realistic. I would say though that this is a more character driven story than action oriented. Crossed is a bit more plot driven of the two. I have a feeling that the third book Reached, which is releasing in November will be a huge action-packed story.
There is a love triangle in this book, which I generally like. Xander is Cassia’s best friend and they have known each other since they were kids. It does not surprise her at all to learn that he is her match, and that pleases her. But it is Ky who makes her heart race. It feels fairly obvious to me how this is going to turn out, but I’m hoping Reached will surprise me, or at least make the contest between the two boys more even to give it some interest. Ky is great though. The first book is told entirely in Cassia’s point of view, but book two alternates between them. It’s wonderful to see his perspective and learn about the past that haunts him. Maybe it is because of this that I don’t feel as interested or connected with Xander.
A big thing that might jar some readers is that the two books are so different that it might bother some people. Matched is a little sweeter, a little safer. Cassia ends the book on an epiphany of sorts that you know is going to change her as a person. Crossed is much darker. Both characters are now living outside The Society (tiny spoiler, sorry) and are learning just how dysfunctional their world is. In some ways, it feels like Cassia is a different character in the second book, but since I read them one after the other, it made sense to me why her character would grow in the direction that it did. I can see though if someone had a significant time lapse between them, but might find her change jarring.
Another wonderful literary device that the author uses is to frame much of the story around two poems, Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Dark Night” and Lord Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar”. I’m not a big lover of poetry, but Thomas is one of my favorites. I love the way the author used these poems to both inspire the characters and as code to drive the plot. Such a brilliant move! I hope that these books will encourage teens to read more by these poets and maybe see poetry in a different light. If you are a parent who’s kid is reading these books, I encourage you to print copies of these poems and hang them on their wall by their bed where they can read and think about them. Just a suggestion. Like I said, I’m not a poetry person, but I had a poem hanging in my bedroom through my teen years and it meant a lot to me.
Well, enough about me! Overall, I give Matched and Crossed...
Plot - 3 bookmarks for Matched and 3 1/2 bookmarks for Crossed.
Character Development - 4 bookmarks. Cassia & Ky are very well developed. We need more of Xander and Indie in the next book.
Love Story - 3 bookmarks. Hasn’t really reeled my in all of the way yet. My fingers are crossed for book three.
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Ayla Kell (Cassia), Evan Williams (Ky), Nick Roux (Xander), Karen Gillan (Indie)