Today we bring you our very first joint review. And we’re jumping to the fourth book of the Penguin Five, and trust me, you do not want to miss this one.  Christine and I were lucky enough to each pick up a copy of Matched by Ally Condie recently when we were together.

Caitlin: It’s fun to be reviewing this together since we read it together! So, Christine, how did you find out about this book?

Christine: Funny you should ask… I found out from you. It was one of the books you wanted to see if we could get in advance from the nice people at Penguin. (And they are nice.) It had a pretty cover and I generally like the same things that you do, so I grabbed one, too. But how did you find out about it?

Caitlin: I don’t specifically remember. I guess I saw a lot of people blogging about it after Book Expo America and the story sounded like it was my type of thing, so I became determined that it would be mine. And I was not disappointed at all when I got my hands on it.

Christine: Agreed. This was a great book. And I believe you hit it right on the nail when you said it was like viewing the life of someone who lived in the Capitol in Hunger Games. It made Cassia’s progression of awareness about what was happening to her and to the people around her when it came to the Society that much better.

Caitlin: Right, my epiphany. I’d heard a lot about the book and a lot of people were comparing it to the Hunger Games. But what I’d heard about the plot didn’t seem anything like the Hunger Games. A girl faced with a choice between two boys in a weird society where everything is decided for you, even the day you die? But when reading it, Cassia’s complacency, even support, of the system around her was such a product of her upbringing. It took so much for her to question it, and I couldn’t help but think of the spectators in the Hunger Games who don’t seem to realize there is anything wrong with their world.

Christine: Ah, okay. Enough about the Hunger Games. I’m getting anxious about Mockingjay now. Back to Matched. What would you say was the first thing that sucked you in?

Caitlin: I remember reading the first chapter and Cassia was talking about the dress she chose. She called it “the green one.” And it took a little while to get it, but eventually it sank in that there were a finite number of dresses to choose from. And that everyone in the Society would know exactly what dress she meant when she told them she was wearing “the green one.” It was such a good microcosm for what that world was.

Christine: Alright, you’re smarter than me. I didn’t see that until just now.

For me, it was just after the Match ceremony. (And I can reveal this since it’s in the summary.) In the Society, people are matched during their seventeenth year to their perfect mate, as dictated by the parameters set by the Match department. At the beginning of the book, Cassia is on her way to her Match ceremony and her “ideal match” turns out to be her best friend, the guy she had grown up with, Xander. But later, when she brings up her match information, she sees another boy’s face before it fades to black. And then I was in. I loved the mystery and I needed to know who that boy was and why his face appeared when it should have been Xander all along.

Caitlin:     I’d heard a lot about the love triangle before getting the book, and truthfully, I’m a little hesitant about love triangles. They’ve become so prevalent in YA I get the feeling authors think they have to have one. But I loved the dynamic between Xander and Ky, Cassia’s two matches, because the choice that she ultimately has to make isn’t between the two boys. The boys are just a representation of choosing between the safe, the known, the easy and comfortable, or the unknown, the dangerous, the mysterious. I loved that being presented with this choice was what woke Cassia up to the truth about the Society. That they didn’t ever really give her a choice.

Christine: Well said. Basically, we loved the book. I can’t wait for the second one, which is supposedly coming out next year around this time, as told to me by Ally Condie herself (she answers tweets!) and this will ultimately be a trilogy. If you like dystopian worlds, like Hunger Games, Fahrenheit 451 or 1984, you’ll like this.

Caitlin: One thing I feel I must tell everyone in regards to Cassia’s name. The whole time reading it I pronounced it myself as “Cass-i-ah” but according to this interview, its “Casha.” And now I have to train myself to think of it that way. Also, its an interesting interview.

And, Christine, since you haven’t done a giveaway yet, you get to decide on the rules for entering this one.

Christine: Okay, it’s pretty easy. To enter for the giveaway, you must leave a comment for this post. It needs to include a way for us to contact you in case you’re the lucky winner. Also, you can gain an additional entry by telling Ally Condie via Twitter (@allycondie) that you are excited to read her book. The message can vary from ‘I can’t wait to read Matched’. The only thing I want is some enthusiasm when you tweet her. (If you don’t have a Twitter account, it’s okay. You can email her at [email protected].) Got it?

One entry = leave a comment here

Two entries = leave a comment and tell Ally you’re excited about Matched

And please leave your Twitter name in your comment should you choose to tweet Ally so we can check that you actually did it. (If you email her, please include us in that email so we can see that you actually sent one –> [email protected]). The contest will end Friday, August 27 at midnight CST and is open…internationally!

Good luck!

You can find out more about the Penguin Five here

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