Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: November 30th, 2010
Stand Alone or Series: Not sure…will possibly have a sequel?
Source: Received a copy Librarything Early Reviewers for review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
I got an advanced reading copy of this book through Librarything’s Early Reviewer program. The cover of this book is just stunning and caught my attention immediately, when I found that is was a dystopia I was even more intrigued. This was a very good book. Think of it as Brave New World for the teen crowd.
The book starts with Cassia going to her Matching Day. Matching Day is where all the seventeen year olds are presented with the picture of the person that they are a genetic match too; this is the one and only person they can marry and raise a family with. Cassia’s Matching Day is unique instead of being matched with someone from a different city she is matched with someone she knows very well; this is something that almost never happens. Then when she gets home to look at his datacard she sees his picture and then up pops a picture of another boy she knows. It appears she has been matched to two different boys. When the Officials claim it is all a mistake, Cassia is shaken. In a society where they predict the dress you will pick to wear, the order you will finish in gym class, and your vocation ahead of time and with great accuracy, how can they make a mistake this big? As other strange things start happening in the City Cassia begins to question the perfection of the world she has always believed to be utopia.
This was a very creative and well thought out book. Cassia is easy to like and it is interesting to follow her path from happy innocence to inquiring unease. This book reminded me a lot of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World; although not as crazily strict as the society in Brave New World, there are similarities. People’s vocations are predicted early on, no one is allowed to live past the age of 80, and beneath the polished exterior of the City there are many dark secrets. Some people have been comparing this to the Hunger Games; but I don’t see a lot of similarity between the too. This book doesn’t have much action or violence (Cassia is a peace loving girl at heart) and the people here are living in happy ignorance not destitute conditions. The only similarity is an organized government controlling every aspect of these people’s lives.
Of course there is the teenage love triangle going here. Cassia is stuck between her original Match (Xander, a boy perfect in just about every way and a good friend) and the accidental Match (Ky, a boy who is dark, moody and tortured, who draws her in a way Xander doesn’t). Ky was a wonderful character full of depth and intriguing. I felt like Xander was neglected though, he kind of fades in and out of the story and doesn’t have a ton of depth to his personality.
The book is very engaging and hard to put down. Condie gradually introduces more and more events that are a bit off; as a reader you can see things coming to a head slowly but surely. The writing was very easy to read, it was a bit simplistic at times, but overall I enjoyed it.
I am not sure if a sequel is planned for this book. The story is fairly complete at the end but there are things that could be further expanded on in a future books. I would love to see another book where the City starts to crumble and things come to a head between the Outer Lands and the City.
Overall this was an excellent read. It was like Brave New World, but with romance and aimed at a teen audience. If you like dystopias you will love this one. There isn’t a ton of action but the plot is suspenseful, intriguing, and though-provoking. If there is a sequel I will definitely be picking it up.