by Ally Condie
Summary: 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 with complete certainty that 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.
I absolutely loved this book. It was a million times deeper than I expected it to be and it tore my heart out reading it. I cannot praise this book enough.
I knew I wanted to read this because I'm always interested in dystopian novels. I skimmed a few reviews and saw a few negative ones that mentioned it was a rip off of The Giver by Lois Lowry with a love triangle. I don't know what I expected, but maybe in some ways I did expect it to be slightly too focused on a teenaged romance. But that's not what I got at all.
There are similarities in Cassia's world to the one in The Giver. It didn't bother me because The Giver is one of my favorite books and I am eager to gobble up anything similar. It's not too similar that I feel like it's a rip off. It's similar enough to sate my appetite and easily understand how it is set up. The love triangle was far from what I expected. It lacked immaturity to me, as Cassia was far from flighty or stupid or confused. The entire premise made perfect sense to me and flowed elegantly and I have zero complaints.
I loved Cassia as a main character. She was perfect. Unlike Tally, from the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, she was stronger and curious by nature and not completely blind to society even after discovering things that don't quite fit. It didn't take other people to sway her views on Society. And unlike Katniss, from The Hunger Games Trilogy, she wasn't automatically skeptical and distrusting of authority without provocation. She was in the middle of these two dystopian characters. She was believable in the sense that she was used to how things have been her entire life and didn't automatically assume anything was wrong, but her curiosity led her to make certain decisions that left her feeling more and more skeptical throughout the book. She was exactly how I would want a character in a dystopian society to be and completely believable without being annoyingly blind or suspiciously all knowing.
While there was a love triangle, it was great. Cassia is matched with her long time friend, Xander at her Matching ceremony on her seventeenth birthday. But when she looks at Xander's information on her microcard, she sees another person, Ky. She has known Ky throughout her childhood as well. The Officials tell her there was a mistake and Ky is unable to be matched and was never in the matching pool and her true match is definitely Xander. But her curiosity leads to her to wonder more and more about Ky. When she starts noticing him a little more, she begins to form a friendship with him on a deeper level.
I feel like I can't give anything more away without ruining the story, it was all incredibly interesting. It leads Cassia to question more and more about her life. She holds on to snippets of poetry given to her by her Grandfather before his death, which also leads her to question things. She discovers the power of words and pays attention to the things around her, all while trying to act as normal as possible.
Cassia's internal conflict resonated with me. Ky's story broke my heart. Xander's loyalty and ability to always do the right thing in times of crisis really spoke to me. Cassia's parent's love her one another and their family was strong and I cared deeply about virtually every character.
I couldn't stop turning the pages of this book and thought the story was believable, original, and completely captivating. I was sad when I was finished and even more sad that I didn't purchase the second book in the series. I cannot rave about this book enough. I thought it was mature and well written and wonderfully dystopian. I couldn't find any plot holes. While it will definitely appeal to fans of YA dystopians, it was so great that I'd recommend it to fans of more classic dystopians as well. Definitely well done.