What would you do if all your choices were taken away? Who you married, where you lived, your occupation, how many children you could have and when, what you ate and when you slept, even when you died – all of this was determined by someone else. How would you react? What kind of person would you become? Would you be glad to turn over control of your life to others or would you “not go gentle into that good night”? This is the basic premise of The Matched Trilogy, a gripping young adult series by Ally Condie.
The earlier phrase I used, ‘not go gentle into that good night’, is from a Dylan Thomas poem and is used quite often in the books, as are poems by Emily Dickinson and others. I liked that – wish I had more time to read poetry, but my book list is pretty long already. The series focuses on three 17-year-old teenagers, Cassia, Xander, and Ky, who live in this dystopian society and are not inclined to go gently into that good night. The three also form a romantic triangle, which seems to be pretty popular in YA these days, but most of the focus is on the Society – the controlling government, and the Rising – the rebellion faction. Throughout the trilogy, Cassia, Xander, and Ky actually spend quite a bit of time apart and are mature enough to prioritize the needs of many above their own individual needs – something not all teens can do. Although Cassia is a strong female protagonist, I felt she manipulated one of the characters to get what she wanted, taking advantage of his feelings for her. The character development was exceptional and I truly cared about Ms. Condie’s characters and what happened to them after suffering devastating losses, self-doubt, survival issues, and questioning who to trust. Starting as typical teenagers in their society, they were required to make choices along the way that determined the kind of person they’d become and one of them, in my opinion, matured far more than the other two.
The books are full of action, adventure, and romance (the love triangle), and pose an interesting concept of what can happen when choice is taken away and everything is decided for you. I recommended this series to my son’s girlfriend last week and she’s on track to finish the trilogy in the next couple of days and says she loves them. Even though my sons won’t try my recommendations, at least she does! If you haven’t jumped into the YA pool yet, this would be a great place to start.