Matched By Ally Condie
January 2, 2011

Everyone keeps saying that angels are the Next Big Thing (NBT) in YA fiction.

I seriously hope not, because angels are lame.

One day, I will tell you about Fallen, which is the only angel book I’ve been able to stomach so far. It was lame, but featured the prettiest book cover ever, so I’m still kind of a fan.

Anyway, I don’t think angels are the NBT, partly because all the YA angels I’ve encountered seem to be vampires with wings, which is stupid. The NBT has to be something different from the Last Big Thing, or else its just Twilight 2: Electric Boogaloo.

After reading Matched, I feel that its time to close the polls: Dystopia is the NBT. Go home angels.

Apparently inspired by The Hunger Games (which is beyond awesome), it seems like everyone is writing a book about how much the future sucks.

Matched is one of those books.

It is the story of Cassia Reyes, a 17 year old girl living in a futuristic society – conveniently called The Society – that has eradicated disease, eliminated hunger and appears devoid of crime and all around messiness. Being a bit of a control freak  myself, I didn’t initially find the Society all that objectionable. What’s wrong with a little scheduling, people?

Unfortunately, the Society has achieved its perfection by mandating genetically ordained arranged marriages, and controlling every aspect of each citizen’s life with a combination of  propaganda, pharmaceuticals and fear. Oh and destroying all but the “top 100” poems, songs and paintings of the extinct civilization that preceded it. An extinct civilization that is unmistakeably ours.

This book could have been called Freedom, if that title wasn’t already taken, as much of the story concerns Cassia longing for the freedom to choose her own boyfriend, eat pie for breakfast, listen to her own music, keep her own secrets and write her own poems. She longs for the freedom to be her own person, and not the person predicted by the science and experience of authority.

My inner 15 year old loves this book as it is a perfect metaphor for adolescent angst. Where Cassia loves and respects her parents, its the government controlling and destroying her chosen life, for every other teenager, its their parents harshing their mellow.

Cassia begins the story as an obedient goody-goody who doesn’t even think rebellious thoughts. But the government-scheduled death of her grandfather (Heads up Tea Partiers!) and a subversive love triangle tend to change a girl. Before too long, she’s smuggling banned Dylan Thomas poems and kissing a mysterious boy named Ky.

I am always happy to see contemporary YA authors reference classic poetry and literature, because it encourages Kids These Days to seek out the authors and poets and artists referenced. This is probably because today’s Best Selling YA author, is yesterday’s high school English teacher, and that’s probably not a coincidence.

Oh and the cover art – sublime. I love when a book cover references the story, and this one looks beautiful and means something.