Published by Penguin on September 20th 2011
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
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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.Look for the sequel, CROSSED, and the epic series finale, REACHED!
My thoughts: Wow! This is my first dystopian novel and I am totally hooked. Condie’s writing is absolutely incredible and her imagery helps the reader see and feel the society she has created. Imagining a life in a society where everything is decided for you guiding you to feel the oppressive rules of the society. She also did a great job of creating suspense and mystery as she leaves hints about the society which made me want to keep turning the pages. What are the pills that everyone carries around? Why are people matched? Imagine a society where everything is decided for you, who you will marry, what your job will be, what you eat, what you learn, where you are always watched, this is the society that Cassia has grown up in.
“I’ll stand next to that dry fountain and wait until the Official finds me. And when she does and asks me what I’m doing, I’ll tell her and everyone else that I know: they are giving us pieces of a real life instead of the whole thing. And I’ll tell her that I don’t want my life to be samples and scraps. A taste of everything but a meal of nothing.
They have perfected the art of giving us just enough freedom; just enough that when we are ready to snap, a little bone is offered and we roll over, belly up, comfortable and placated like a dog I saw once when we visited my grandparents at the Farmlands.” p. 249
When Cassia is matched with Xander, her lifelong friend, she feels happiness and content until, another boy appears on the screen, another boy she already knows, Ky. She feels confusion and anxiousness, the society doesn’t make mistakes. Despite reassurances from an Official that it was just a mistake, Cassia begins to wonder about Ky and yearns to get to know him. Don’t we always want what we can’t have? They begin to secretly fall in love, share their secrets and begin to trust one another, something not easily done in such an oppressive society. One of the biggest secrets they share is that Ky knows how to write, something forbidden in the society, and Ky begins to teach Cassia.
“When I open it up there are words inside. Gorgeous words. Cursive words. The were beautiful up on the green hill with the sound of the wind in trees and they are beautiful here in my gray-and-blue kitchen with the grumbling of the incinerator in the background. Dark, curling, swirling words curve across the brown paper.” p. 176
While Cassia and Xander have a bond of lifelong friendship, she and Ky share an incredible and enduring connection. Will Cassia decide on the safe and pre-determined path of the Society, or will she make her own path with Ky?
“I let myself imagine futures that can never be, the two of us together.” p. 259