Synopsis: (from Goodreads) 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.
First impressions: I liked that the book started right away with the Matching ceremony. It wasted no time getting us involved in what was happening and aware of how this important day factored into Cassia’s life. It was refreshing to have this happy teenager looking forward to the ceremony and it told us right away that she was content with life in the Society.
Lasting impressions: The climax of the book contains a scene so heartwrenching and beautiful that I keep running through it in my head over and over. The world that Condie builds throughout this book is detailed enough that I can still picture the scenes in my head and relish them, but not so overly detailed that it detracted from the story.
Negative impressions: I had very few issues with this book. I thought it took a bit long to establish the relationship between Ky and Cassia, and then I felt Condie had to rush through some of the later scenes when I would have enjoyed watching them spend more time together. I also felt some of the revelations at the end were not necessary and that the idea of the glitch would have held up just fine. I also must say that I’m nervous that this is a trilogy, because I felt this book had an ending that is perfectly satisfying.
Overall impressions: My goodness, I loved this book. From the first few scenes, Condie paints a well-developed picture of Cassia, and I fell in love with her from the start. She is a good girl who does as she is told, and believes in the ideals that the Society has instilled in her. The Society may seem unthreatening at first, but I believe Condie uses this tool to mirror how Cassia views the Society. She is fearful and/or apprehensive of them, and may suspect bad things happen to those who cross them, but it is not until she truly breaks the rules that she sees real consequences, and I thought the level of fear was well paced to match Cassia’s journey.
I also instantly loved Xander, and it is truly a testament to Condie’s writing abilities that she was able to convince me that Xander was Cassia’s true match, only to have me later rooting for the other man. As I was reading I kept thinking “There’s no way I’m going to ever be Team Ky.” Sure enough, by the end of the book, I believed in their love.
I was so caught up in Cassia’s story that I kept reading long after I should have been asleep, just so I could see her journey through to the end. I felt my heart pounding when she ran, I felt my breath catch in my throat when she stretched her nose to the sky, and when she had to blink away tears, I had to put the book down and sob. I connected with Cassia as deeply as I did with Katniss Everdeen, and thought this story was honest, well-crafted, and utterly gorgeous. I will definitely be purchasing a hard copy in addition to the Kindle version I purchased to read for this review. You should be running to the stores.
Rating: 5/5 stars