Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Matched is the first book in a new series of Young Adult science fiction novels by Ally Condie. It is a cross between The Giver and the The Hunger Games, a romance set in a dystopian/utopian future in which the diseased culture of the past has been nearly eliminated. The resulting Society is very structured, formalized, and bland. And, of course, ripe for rebellion.

In the future, the Society has reduced the flood of sensory input that has distracted us through hundreds of years of history. The art and culture of Western civilization has been reduced to the very best that history had to offer. There are the 100 songs, the 100 poems, the 100 paintings, the 100 history lessons, etc. And that's all. There is no need for the clutter that develops when humans are free to collect and record whatever passing fancy enters their heads. Nearly everything is planned out for the citizens -- their careers are carefully chosen based on their abilities, their meals are planned to match each person's individual nutritional needs, and everyone is Matched with their future mate when they turn 17 years old.

And this is as it should be. But when Cassia is matched there is a glitch, a highly improbable and inexplicable error; she is shown the faces of two boys, rather than one. The matter is cleared up quickly; an officer comes to explain that one man is her Match, and the other most certainly is not. The second, in fact, will never be anyone's Match, as he has been designated an Aberration, one unworthy of reproducing. As you have no doubt guessed, both Cassia's Match and this other boy develop as romantic interests.

This is not just a romance, however. Cassie is also wrapped up in other conundrums. A friend who seems to be heading towards a nervous breakdown, an ancient piece of paper with an illegal poem on it, and building hints that the Society may be in more trouble than the Officials would have you believe. The story also centers around poetry, and does it well. Not that there are a lot of poems in this story, but the few illegal poems that Cassie finds are important to the plot, and help drive her growing rebellion. The most important of these is, appropriately, Dylan Thomas' Do not go gentle into that good night.

This book is very much a part of the new wave of SF/F romances for young women. It is reminiscent Twilight although it has a bit more introverted (and intelligent) main character, who spends just as much time obsessing about boys but engages in less dialog and actual romancing. It is a lot like The Hunger Games, but without the drama of violent deaths and an openly evil government. It is perhaps not as 'catchy' as these two series, but it is still well worth reading.

The second book, Crossed will come out in November 1, 2011. You can learn more at the Matched website:

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

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