by Ally Condie

Published: 2010-11-30
Hardcover : 384 pages
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SOCIETY MATCHED THEM, BUT LOVE SET THEM FREE. In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die. Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the ...
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SOCIETY MATCHED THEM, BUT LOVE SET THEM FREE. In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die. Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one … until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow — between perfection and passion.

Amazon Exclusive: Author Q&A with Ally Condie

Q: What inspired you to write Matched?

A: Matched was inspired by several experiences'specific ones, like a conversation with my husband and chaperoning a high school prom?and general ones, like falling in love and becoming a parent.

Q: How do you think Matched differs from other dystopian novels?

A: I think it's different in that it's perhaps less action-oriented and more introspective. This is really the story of one girl, Cassia, learning to choose.

Q: The cover for Matched is so eye-catching and mysterious. What does the image represent to you?

A: I cannot imagine a more perfect cover for this book. To me, the image is a clear representation of Cassia, the main character, and the way she is trapped in her world. It's kind of a lovely world?the bubble is beautiful?but it's confining nonetheless. And, of course, the color green is very important to the book. I?m just so thrilled about this cover. Theresa Evangelista, the designer, and Samantha Aide, the photographer and model, are incredibly talented.

Q: In Matched, each member of the Society is not only assigned a spouse, they?re also assigned a job, and Cassia, your main character, is a data sorter. If you lived in the Society, what job do you think you?d have?

A: I would definitely not be a data sorter. I am terrible with numbers and patterns. I think I would probably be a teacher or instructor. Or maybe one of the people did a mundane task, like dishwashing. I have a feeling that I wouldn?t fare very well in the Society.

Q: Dylan Thomas? classic poem, ?Do Not Go Gentle,? is part of a theme that you?ve woven throughout Matched. Do you remember when you first came across this poem? What made you decide to use it in your novel?

A: I don?t remember when I first read this poem, which is pretty embarrassing. But I do remember the first time I heard a recording of the author reading it. I remember feeling almost reverent, and paying close attention to how he said the words and went through the lines. This poem came to mind almost immediately when I started writing the book. It's probably the most universal poem I?ve ever encountered. The first line alone resonates immediately with almost everyone.

Q: What do you like about writing for teenagers?

A: Everything. I like talking with teenagers themselves about books. I like trying to capture the teenage voice. And I like writing about teenagers because they have SO MUCH happening in their lives, and they are passionate about those things.

Q: What were some of the books you loved as a teen? Did any of these books influence Matched at all?

A: I loved (and still do) Anne Tyler and Wallace Stegner. I remember being introduced to those authors in ninth grade and being floored by the beauty of their writing. I also loved anything by Agatha Christie. I think these books did influence me?not in any concrete, specific way, but in that I wanted to write a story about a character worth caring about even though/because of the fact that she is flawed and human.

Q: What would you like your readers to take away from the experience of reading Matched?

A: I hope they can take away whatever they need from the story. I hope there is something there for a reader--whether it's relating to a character or reading a scene that feels true or anything else.

Q: Will there be more books featuring Cassia, or set in the world of Matched?

A: Yes! There will be two more books in the Matched trilogy.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.


Now that I’ve found the way to fl y, which direction should I
go into the night? My wings aren’t white or feathery; they’re
green, made of green silk, which shudders in the wind and bends
when I move—fi rst in a circle, then in a line, fi nally in a shape of
my own invention. Th e black behind me doesn’t worry me; neither
do the stars ahead.
I smile at myself, at the foolishness of my imagination. People
cannot fl y, though before the Society, there were myths about
those who could. I saw a painting of them once. White wings,
blue sky, gold circles above their heads, eyes turned up in surprise
as though they couldn’t believe what the artist had painted them
doing, couldn’t believe that their feet didn’t touch the ground.
Th ose stories weren’t true. I know that. But tonight, it’s easy to
forget. Th e air train glides through the starry night so smoothly
and my heart pounds so quickly that it feels as though I could
soar into the sky at any moment.
“What are you smiling about?” Xander wonders as I smooth the
folds of my green silk dress down neat.
“Everything,” I tell him, and it’s true. I’ve waited so long for this:
for my Match Banquet where I’ll see for the fi rst time, the face
of the boy who will be my Match. It will be the fi rst time I hear
his name.
I can’t wait. As quickly as the air train moves, it still isn’t fast
enough. It hushes through the night, its sound a background for the low rain of our parents’ voices, the lightning-quick beats of
my heart.
Perhaps Xander can hear my heart pounding, too, because he asks,
“Are you nervous?” In the seat next to him, Xander’s older brother
begins to tell my mother the story of his Match Banquet. It won’t
be long now until Xander and I have our own stories to tell.
“No,” I say. But Xander’s my best friend. He knows me too well.
“You lie,” he says, teasing. “You are nervous.”
“Aren’t you?”
“Not me. I’m ready.” He says it without hesitation, and I believe
him. Xander is the kind of person who is sure about what he
“It doesn’t matter if you’re nervous, Cassia,” he says gently. “Almost
ninety-three percent of those attending their Match Banquet exhibit
some signs of nervousness.”
I have to laugh. “Did you memorize all of the offi cial Matching
“Almost,” Xander says, grinning. He holds his hands out as if to
say, What did you expect?
Th e gesture makes me laugh, and besides, I memorized all of the
material, too. It’s easy to do when you read it so many times, when
the decision is so important. “So you’re in the minority,” I say.
“Th e seven percent who don’t show any nerves at all.”
“Of course,” he agrees.
“How could you tell I was nervous?”
“Because you keep opening and closing that.” Xander points to
the golden object in my hands. “I didn’t know you had an artifact.”
A few treasures from the past fl oat around among us. Th ough
each citizen of the Society is allowed one artifact each, they are
hard to come by. Unless you had ancestors who took care to pass
things along through the years.
“I didn’t, until a few hours ago,” I tell him. “Grandfather gave it to
me for my birthday. It belonged to his mother.”
“What’s it called?” Xander asks.
“A compact,” I say. I like the name very much. Compact means
small. I am small. I also like the way it sounds when you say it:
com-pact. Saying the word makes a sound like the one the artifact
itself makes when it snaps shut.
“What do the initials and numbers mean?”
“I’m not sure,” I say, running my fi nger across the letters ACM
and the numbers 1940 carved across the golden surface. “But
look,” I tell him, popping the compact open to show him the inside:
a little mirror, made of real glass, and a small hollow where
the original owner once stored powder for her face, according to
Grandfather. Now, I use it to hold the three emergency tablets
that everyone carries—one green, one blue, one red.
“Th at’s convenient,” Xander says. He stretches out his arms in
front of him and I notice that he has an artifact, too— shiny
platinum cuff links. “My father lent me these, but you can’t put anything in them. Th ey’re completely useless.”
“Th ey look nice, though.” My gaze travels up to Xander’s face, to
his bright blue eyes and blond hair above his dark suit and white
shirt. He’s always been handsome, even when we were little, but
I’ve never seen him dressed up like this. Boys don’t have as much
leeway in choosing clothes as girls do. One suit looks much like
another. Still, they get to choose the color of their shirts and cravats,
and the quality of the material is much fi ner than the material
used for plainclothes. “You look nice.” Th e girl who fi nds out
that he’s her Match will be thrilled.
“Nice?” Xander says, lift ing his eyebrows. “Th at’s all?”
“Xander,” his mother says next to him, amusement mingled with
reproach in her voice.
“You look beautiful,” Xander tells me, and I fl ush a little even
though I’ve known Xander all my life. I feel beautiful, in this
dress: ice green, fl oating, full-skirted. Th e unaccustomed smoothness
of silk against my skin makes me feel lithe and graceful.
Next to me, my mother and father each draw a breath as City
Hall comes into view, lit up white and blue and sparkling with
the secial occasion lihts that indicate a celebration is taking place.
I can’t see the marble stairs in front of the Hall yet, but I know
that they will be polished and shining. All my life I have waited
to walk up those clean marble steps and through the doors of the
Hall, a building I have seen from a distance but never entered.
I want to open the compact and check in the mirror to make sure I look my best. But I don’t want to seem vain, so I sneak a glance
at my face in its surface instead.
Th e rounded surface of the compact distorts my features a little,
but it’s still me. My green eyes. My coppery-brown hair, which
looks more golden in the compact than it does in real life. My
straight small nose. My chin with a trace of a dimple like my
grandfather’s. All the outward characteris¬tics that make me
Cassia Maria Reyes, seventeen years old exactly.
I turn the compact over in my hands, looking at how perfectly the
two sides fi t together. My Match is already coming together just
as neatly, beginning with the fact that I am here tonight. Since my
birthday falls on the fi ft eenth, the day the Banquet is held each
month, I’d always hoped that I might be Matched on my actual
birthday—but I knew it might not happen. You can be called up
for your Banquet anytime during the year aft er you turn seventeen.
When the notifi cation came across the port two weeks ago
that I would, indeed, be Matched on my birthday, I could almost
hear the clean snap of the pieces fi tting into place, exactly as I’ve
dreamed for so long.
Because although I haven’t even had to wait a full day for my
Match, in some ways I have waited all my life.
“Cassia,” my mother says, smiling at me. I blink and look up, startled.
My parents stand up, ready to disembark. Xander stands,
too, and straightens his sleeves. I hear him take a deep breath, and
I smile to myself. Maybe he is a little nervous aft er all.
“Here we go,” he says to me. His smile is so kind and good; I’m
glad we were called up the same month. We’ve shared so much of
childhood, it seems we should share the end of it, too.
I smile back at him and give him the best greeting we have in the
Society. “I wish you optimal results,” I tell Xander. “You too, Cassia,”
he says.
As we step off the air train and walk toward City Hall, my parents
each link an arm through mine. I am surrounded, as I always have
been, by their love.
It is only the three of us tonight. My brother, Bram, can’t come
to the Match Banquet because he is under seventeen, too young
to attend. Th e fi rst one you attend is always your own. I, however,
will be able to attend Bram’s banquet because I am the older sibling.
I smile to myself, wondering what Bram’s Match will be like.
In seven years I will fi nd out.
But tonight is my night.
It is easy to identify those of us being Matched; not only are we
younger than all of the others but we also fl oat along in beautiful
dresses and tailored suits while our parents and older siblings
walk around in plainclothes, a background against which we all
bloom. Th e City Offi cials smile proudly at us, and my heart swells
as we enter the Rotunda.
In addition to Xander, who waves good-bye to me as he crosses
the room to his seating area, I see another girl I know named Lea.
She picked the bright red dress. It is a good choice for her, because she is beautiful enough that standing out works in her favor.
She looks worried, however, and she keeps twisting her artifact,
a beautiful red bracelet. I am a little surprised to see Lea there. I
would have picked her for a Single.
“Look at this china,” my father says as we fi nd our place at the Banquet
tables. “It reminds me of the Wedgwood pieces we found
last year . . .”
My mother looks at me and rolls her eyes a little. Even at the
Match Banquet, my father can’t stop himself from noticing these
things. My father spends months in old neighborhoods that are
being restored and turned into new Boroughs for public use. He
sift s through the relics of a society that is not as far in the past as
it seems. Right now, for example, he is working on a particularly
interesting Restoration project: an old library. He sorts out the
things the Society has marked as valuable from the things that
are not.
But then I have to laugh because my mother can’t help but comment
on the fl owers, since they fall in her area of expertise as an
Arboretum worker. “Oh, Cassia! Look at the centerpieces: Lilies!”
She squeezes my hand.
“Please be seated,” an Offi cial tells us from the podium. “Dinner
is about to be served.”
It’s almost comical how quickly we all take our seats. Because we
might admire the china and the fl owers, and we might be here for
our Matches, but we also can’t wait to taste the food.
“Th ey say this dinner is always wasted on the Matchees,” a joviallooking
man sitting across from us says, smiling around our table.
“So excited they can’t eat a bite.” And it’s true; one of the girls sitting
farther down the table, wearing a pink dress, stares at her
plate, touching nothing.
I don’t seem to have this problem, however. Th ough I don’t gorge
myself, I can eat some of everything—the roasted vegetables, the
savory meat, the crisp greens, and creamy cheese. Th e warm light
bread. Th e meal seems like a dance; as though this is a ball as well
as a banquet. Th e waiters slide the plates in front of us with graceful
hands; the food, wearing herbs and garnishes, is as dressed up
as we are. We lift the white napkins, the silver forks, the shining
crystal goblets as if in time to music.
My father smiles happily as a server sets a piece of chocolate cake
with fresh cream before him at the end of the meal. “Wonderful,”
he whispers, so soft ly that only my mother and I can hear him.
My mother laughs a little at him, teasing him, and he reaches for
her hand and gives it a squeeze.
I understand his enthusiasm when I take a bite of the cake, which
is rich but not overwhelming, deep and dark and fl avorful. It is
the best thing I have eaten since the traditional dinner at Winter
Holiday, fi ve months ago. I wish Bram could have some cake, and
for a minute I think about saving some of mine for him. But there
is no way to take it back to him. It wouldn’t fi t in my compact.
It would be bad form to hide it away in my mother’s purse even
if she would agree, and she won’t. My mother doesn’t break the rules.
I can’t save it for later. It is now, or never.
I have just popped the last bite in my mouth when the announcer
says, “We are ready to announce the Matches.”
I swallow in surprise, and for a second, I feel an unexpected surge
of anger: I didn’t get to savor my last bite of cake.
“Lea Abbey.”
Lea twists her bracelet furiously as she stands, waiting to see
the face fl ash on the screen. She is careful to hold her hands low,
though, so that the boy seeing her in another City Hall somewhere
will only see the beautiful blond girl and not her worried
hands, twisting and turning that bracelet.
It is strange how we hold on to the pieces of the past while we wait
for our futures.
Th ere is a system, of course, to the Matching. In City Halls across
the country, all fi lled with people, the Matches are announced
in alphabetical order according to the girls’ last names. I feel
slightly sorry for the boys, who have no idea when their names
will be called when they must stand for girls in other City Halls
to receive them as Matches. Since my last name is Reyes, I will be
somewhere at the end of the middle. Th e beginning of the end.
Th e screen fl ashes with the face of a boy, blond and handsome.
He smiles as he sees Lea’s face on the screen where he is, and she
smiles, too. “Joseph Peterson,” the announcer says. “Lea Abbey, you have been matched with Joseph Peterson.”
Th e hostess presiding over the Banquet brings Lea a small silver
box; the same thing happens to Joseph Peterson on the screen.
When Lea sits down, she looks at the silver box longingly, as
though she wishes she could open it right away. I don’t blame her.
Inside the box is a microcard with background information about
her Match. We all receive them. Later, the boxes will be used to
hold the rings for the Marriage Contract.
Th e screen fl ashes back to the default picture: a boy and a girl,
smiling at each other, with glimmering lights and a white-coated
Offi cial in the background. Although the Society times the
Matching to be as effi cient as possible, there are still moments
when the screen goes back to this picture, which means that we
all wait while something happens somewhere else. It’s so complicated—
the Matching—and I am again reminded of the intricate
steps of the dances they used to do long ago. Th is dance, however,
is one that the Society alone can choreograph now.
Th e picture shimmers away.
Th e announcer calls another name; another girl stands up.
Soon, more and more people at the Banquet have little silver boxes.
Some people set them on the white tablecloths in front of them,
but most hold the boxes carefully, unwilling to let their futures
out of their hands so soon aft er receiving them.
I don’t see any other girls wearing the green dress. I don’t mind. I
like the idea that, for one night, I don’t look like everyone else.
I wait, holding my compact in one hand and my mother’s hand in
the other. Her palm feels sweaty. For the fi rst time, I realize that
she and my father are nervous, too.
“Cassia Maria Reyes.”
It is my turn.
I stand up, letting go of my mother’s hand, and turn toward the
screen. I feel my heart pounding and I am tempted to twist my
hands the way Lea did, but I hold perfectly still with my chin up
and my eyes on the screen. I watch and wait, determined that the
girl my Match will see on the screen in his City Hall somewhere
out there in Society will be poised and calm and lovely, the very
best image of Cassia Maria Reyes that I can present.
But nothing happens.
I stand and look at the screen, and, as the seconds go by, it is all
I can do to stay still, all I can do to keep smiling. Whispers start
around me. Out of the corner of my eye, I see my mother move
her hand as if to take mine again, but then she pulls it back. A girl
in a green dress stands waiting, her heart pounding.
Th e screen is dark, and it stays dark.
Th at can only mean one thing.
... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. What makes Matched dystopian? How does the Society compare with the worlds in other dystopian novels you’ve read.
2. What details and events make the world Ally Condie created realistic and believable? What do think the positive qualities of the world are? What do you think the negative qualities of the world are?
3. What scene sticks with you after you’ve finished reading?
4. Why do you think The Society was so restrictive with the art and literature it permitted?
5. What artifact from your life would choose to pass down to other generations?
6. Cassia has a special relationship with her grandfather. Why do you think he gave her the poem even though it was so dangerous?
7. Why do think that Cassia is so inspired by Dylan Thomas’ poem Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night? How do you think her understanding of the poem changes throughout the novel?
8. Cassia is to be assigned as a data sorter. If you were to be assigned a role in The Society what would it be and why?
9. Cassia has an impossible choice. Would you make the same decision as Cassia? Why or why not?
10. Now that you’ve read Matched, what questions would you most like to have answered in the upcoming sequel?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Note from the author:

Dear Reader,

As a high school English teacher, I once chaperoned high school dances to make a little extra cash. (I don’t know why; public education is a very lucrative field.) One of the experiences I will never forget is the time I chaperoned Prom Night. Held at the city’s courthouse, a beautiful old building full of stone columns and smooth marble, the dance was the culmination of the whole year. It was a glittering, promise-filled night—parents waiting outside to take pictures during the promenade, girls floating across the floor, boys in tuxedos, everything just a bit more beautiful and exciting than usual. You could almost hear them thinking: What happens next?

Later, when I had the idea for Matched, this scene came back to me. All the lovely girls, all the handsome boys, everyone poised on the edge of the steps, right on the brink of their adult lives. In Matched, Cassia stands on that same precipice—but the stakes are much higher; she is about to find out who the Society has chosen as her ideal mate.

What happens next? I wondered. Finding out, and writing this story, turned out to be the most fun I’ve had since attending my own prom.

Ally Condie

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