Ally Condie does an exemplar job at building her world - which in some respects has elements of our own. If we use IQ and personality tests to assess people's suitability for certain jobs, who is to say this won't develop further into who we should love (on-line dating sites are prime example). The point being, that like all exemplar writers in this field, Condie builds a world that is not hugely dissimilar to our own, she takes elements of our world and skews them to an extreme and for this reason the story and moral of Matched has more impact. Definitely in my opinion, world-building is one of the strongest features of this book.
Regarding characters, Cassia was an alright character - she has her flaws and good qualities, however to be honest I didn't really engage with her. Not because of how she was written but just the character herself, which is no reflection on Condie's writing. My favourite characters are Grandfather and Bram as both strike me as free spirits in their own way. For instance, Cassia's eyes needed to be opened through the mismatch, her grandfather's words and Ky's lessons while Bram from the get go seems to always be pushing the barriers in his own small ways. I just found him to be delightful and a touching character especially when it comes to the antiques incident.
My feeling is that although this book centres around a match/mismatch, romance is not the main theme, which is refreshing. Now, there obviously is romance in this book, and it's nice to see both male leads on equal footing (smart, handsome, decent), although you do feel sorry for Xander at times. In some ways, regarding Ky too, I find it sad that it took the mismatch for open Cassia's eyes, but I'm glad this is explored in the book - that it is not taken as a given by the character, that Cassia questions herself regarding her feelings.
But my most favourite aspect of this book and the main theme (imo), is the use of poetry, especially one of my all time favourite poems "Do not go gentle into that good night" , as a catalyst for Cassia. It demonstrates that in the void of Cassia's world, where only 100 poems, novels and songs exist, the timeless impact of certain works remain. That, regulation of the arts and elimination of creative self-expression is the beginning of the end - a regulation on the evocation of emotion and the human spirit. Condie does an exemplar job of showing us how these forbidden poems fester in Cassia's mind, riling up her spirit, in a quiet but deep way and provoking her to questions the society and consequently to seek out Ky more and more.
My only detraction from the book, is I felt the ending could have been stronger. Ky's disappearance and then Cassias leaving didn't leave me on the edge of my seat. However the last chapter was touching as she associates each word as bringing her closer to Ky, reiterating the importance of self-expression without restraints/monitoring.
Off topic: Sometimes I wonder about the wisdom of trilogies - whether sometimes an extra-long tightly written book would be better than three?
Back on topic, this is definitely one the better Dystopian YA fictions out there, and I recommend fans of dystopian romance to have a gander. I'm giving this 4 out of 5 moons :)
Toodles for now,