Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 384 Pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile 11/30/10
In Cassia's world, you live by the Societies rules. They give you your job and they tell you who you will be matched with sometime during your 17th year of birth and they tell you when you die. They have a big celebration and everyone is nervous waiting to see who they will be spending the rest of their life with. Cassia's match is perfect for her. He's handsome, he's got a great personality and will most likely have an Official job. Cassia's match is her best friend, Xander. How could that not be wonderful?
But there is a problem. When she checks her microcard to see what Society has on Xander she is surprised to find someone else's face on her screen. Someone who she never even thought would be a match for her.
I liked the world that Condie built. Sometimes we think that life really would be easier if life was mapped out for us, but whenever big brother decides to get involved there are always problems. I think George Orwell figured that out first, but still people love the what if scenario. Cassia was a real teen dealing with real teen problems. Having been matched with her best friend was cool, but weird at the same time.
But when Ky enters the picture everything in her perfect little world is thrown upside down. She wonders if she could be a match with him. Is Society playing games with her to see what she would do with this knowledge? Is she just a test? During her grandfather's death day celebration, he gives her something that she knows she shouldn't have. A poem by Dylan Thomas. A poem that states that we should not sit still and allow life to live around us but to fight for what is right. A poem that was outlawed by the Officials and would cause problems if Cassia was found with it.
But this poem is the seed of dissent for Cassia. Every day of every week, her life is plotted out for her. So when she allowed some 'downtime' she chooses to go hiking. During this outing she finds herself growing closer to Ky who by society terms is an aberration and would never have been matched with anyone because of his status. He's from the Outer Provinces where society does not rule.
Some of this story seemed very similar to The Giver and that is high praise. Because that book opened me up to a world that was simply fascinating. How can a society dictate what you will be and how you will follow that formula? I liked that Cassia started thinking for herself and looking outside of the Society 'zone' if you will. She seemed to follow a family that was the same way. Her grandfather held something so precious and deemed her worthy of it. Her father completely disobeyed Official orders due to a promise. Even Cassia's mother seems to try to think for herself, but knows that she has her family to think about as well. Defying Society can ruin your social status and possibly even give you an 'aberration' status.
But throughout this book, love is the main theme. What does your heart tell you and do you listen to what other people tell you. Cassia chooses her heart.