Hardcover | November 30, 2010

byAlly Condie

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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.

Look for CROSSED, the sequel to MATCHED, in Fall 2011!

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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 bl...

Ally Condie is a former high school English teacher who lives with her husband and three sons outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves reading, running, eating, and listening to her husband play guitar.

other books by Ally Condie

Matched Trilogy Box Set
Matched Trilogy Box Set

Hardcover|Nov 13 2012

$47.28 online$67.50list price(save 29%)

Paperback|Mar 12 2013

$9.65 online$10.99list price(save 12%)

Paperback|Nov 19 2013

$10.76 online$10.99list price
see all books by Ally Condie
Format:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 9.25 × 6.35 × 1.05 inPublished:November 30, 2010Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0525423648

ISBN - 13:9780525423645

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17


Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Strong Series Starter! Now I know that there many, many dystopian books out there that everyone claims to be AMAZING! and, some of them are. It depends on the book, and the reader. Anyway, i think that Matched is one of those really really great - not quite 'AMAZING' - books, except it deserves the credit that it gets.I love the premise, Ky is the best character in this book and Condie goes to great lengths to get readers to relate to him and appreciate his lifestory. I love the writing and the Society in which everything is controlled and planned out for you, from who you are going to marry to when you die. Its written beautifully and i love the poems and Cassia trying to figure out Kys story. Although i love this book, Cassia is not my favourite lead in a dystopian/romance book/series. I mean, i like her, but shes not anything special. She doesnt stick out in my mind. Theres no real reason that i can pinpoint, but i still dont love her. I do wish that we learn more about Xander, too. I am also not too excited to read the next book. I like the ending and want to find out what happens next, but, i don't know, I'm not finding myself racing out to the store to buy it, or even looking up reviews on my local library's website. I think i want to read the next book, but probably not anytime soon. I don't even know if i want to, but i figure, eventually, I'll get around to it. Eventually. Condie does a great job of connecting readers with Cassia. I really enjoyed reading her story. It's entertaining and facinating, and definitely a page turner! I dont know what else to say. Its an intreguing concept and written soooo well. If youre a fan of great dystopian novels, that are sometimes predictable but are written so well that you enjoy it, you will like Matched!
Date published: 2013-04-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Meh.... When I seriously got into reading books im pretty sure that this was the first book i stoped reading because it just wasnt good. I was even 10 pages away from the ending and i just couldnt do it. This book is SOOOOO BORING! I will give Ally some credit that there were a few parts that were good but the majority of the book was awful. I feel that the biggest thing that didn't keep my attention was the pacing of the story. It was too slow. I really wanted to like this book but maybe if the pacing was faster then i maybe would have gotten more out of the book. Unfortunately I give this book a crappy 2/5 stars.
Date published: 2012-02-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Cross between Brave New World and Logan's Run for YA Mini Book Review: Can't believe I have had this on my shelf for so long and haven't read it (and yes I have sequel too, lent it to Keira) A nice fast paced dystopian story for the YA and those who enjoy YA. I have to say I really am a big fan of this dystopian and post-apocalyptic trend as I tend to really enjoy them. They are often thought provoking and put out some interesting moral questions that can lead to some fabulous discussions. This one reminded me sort of like a cross between Brave New World and Logan's Run and I mean that as a compliment. The characters are intriguing and develop nicely, especially Cassia, you can really feel her struggle and disillusionment with society. I like her relationship with her parents, brother and grandparents, it felt real and honest. You can really see the appeal of the society that has been created and how it came to be, which makes Cassia's struggle so realistic. Nice added bonus the parents are not d-bags which is why I gave it an extra .25, as we know my feelings about the portrayal of parents in YA books. My only issues with this really are just a personal preference sort of things. The angsty stuff gets on my nerves since, well, I'm not a teen anymore and I felt the relationships between Cassia and Em wasn't developed enough. That's about it guys, I just think its a good story to lose yourself in for a while and look forward to cracking open Crossed when I get home tonight -- that's right Keira I'm taking it back tonight! Oh yeah and the whole time I was reading it I couldn't get the song Freewill by Rush out of my head -- read it you will get why! 4.25 Dewey's I am ashamed to say I got this over a year ago at the OLA conference from Penguin and didn't read it till now -- sorry guys!
Date published: 2012-01-26
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not too bad Once again I picked up this book because I liked the cover, it's simple get eye catching, perfect. Then I read the jacket and figured why the heck not. Now while I won't say that I was disappointed by the book I won't say I was thrilled either. The characters are all flat and it's really hard to care about Cassia and her boring love triangle. I did find it to be a pretty quick read so at least it didn't drag. I don't know whether it was the actual story fo the book that bored me or the setting of the sterile future world.I'll probably read the next one to see if it gets any better but I won't hold my breath.
Date published: 2011-08-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Enough to Read the Sequel, but Kind of Slow... You know a book is just plain 'okay' when you can't remember the lead character. I am getting my dystopian fiction all confused! I did enjoy this book, but it was really, really slow. The concept is fabulous - kind of a natural progression you could see the world taking if things started to get out of hand. There just wasn't enough action in the book to make it a page turner. And the love triangle (could you even call it that???) was boring...there was no chemistry between the characters...but how can there be chemistry when your lead character is rather uncharismatic? I am hoping Crossed will have more going on - more love story and more action...
Date published: 2011-08-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from interesting and good i liked this book very much after reading it. it was sweet and somewhat encourages it's readers to challenge anything that doesn't seem right. i liked how the relationship developed between cassia and ty, slow but real. some interesting plot twists, very enjoyable.
Date published: 2011-07-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Futuristic Dystopia The world in this novel is how I would imagine the future. With advanced technology and a better government. However, I did not see the idea of being paired up. It would make sense in the olden days, but in what is to be the future, it doesn't. I've read so many thoughts of people being matched because they're compatible. It does make sense, but if you're so similar wouldn't it be like sharing a life with yourself? It baffles me how people can't think about this, but apparently it still makes for a great book. The better govenrment isn't a terrifc thing though as the law is more enforced. I felt super bad for Ky learning about his history, there's always one person with a fate like this and it's entirely unfair.
Date published: 2011-06-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable book I picked this book up based on the excerpt and was not disappointed at all. I loved the way that it was written, very poetic at times and sweetly romantic. I thought the main character was very real and the evolution of her realization about the Society she lives in and her lack of choices was very compelling. A very well-written 1st book. I look forward the picking up the second book in the Fall.
Date published: 2011-05-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Try Hunger Games instead. I am trying to figure out what in the world the hype was all about for this book. I heard so many good reviews from it and gave it a try hoping it was good as everyone said it was. I fail to see what’s so great about it. The beginning chapters of the book did manage to get my attention to keep reading. It was interesting and I wanted to read more. The moments with Cassia and her grandfather were touching and did hit a soft spot for me. I enjoyed reading Cassia and Xander. They were literally, perfect together. Then Ky comes in. It came to the point where I really started to hate Ky. It wasn’t just Ky I started to hate. Cassia really got on my nerves. All the chapters were about Ky. Ky this. Ky that. What would Ky do? oh, I bet Ky would like that. Oh, Ky would have done something else. Ky is the light of my world. I want to kiss Ky but not yet. Ky looked so beautiful looking at the sun. Ky Ky Ky Ky Ky get my point? I understand she’s fallen in love, and fallen hard but it’s almost a very unhealthy borderline obsession and it just about made me stop reading. I didn’t know how I put up with reading endless pages about Ky. I don’t care about Ky. I want to know more about the dystopian society the characters were living in. I wanted some action and I wanted the plot to move. It got even more frustrating because then she adds Xander to this mix. Then it became: I love Ky, but I love Xander too. Xander and I are meant to be. Yet I want Ky. Egads Cassia, what in the world do you want? you want your cake and you want to eat it too?? At this point in the book I wanted to get in there and punch her to let her come to her senses. The descriptions on the world were slow to come out. They were given in fragments and it felt as if you had to pull teeth to find out more about this dystopian society. It certainly had interesting concepts and the usual characteristics of a dystopian fiction and I did like the ‘three pills’ idea. however I just don't get why the delay in explaining how the world was like? Why give bits and fragments here and there for the reader? It just made the book drag. The plot was interesting at first, but it was slow moving and nothing really happened. Don’t expect any action until the very end, and by that time, I didn’t really care anymore and thought I wasted my time with this book. If you just want a book with romance as the main central theme take this. If you’re expecting a dystopian fiction with romance on the side, but with a good exciting plot I suggest you try Hunger Games instead.
Date published: 2011-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible This is an absolute must read for all dystopian fantasy lovers. Brave New World meets The Handmaiden's Tale with an updated tone for today's young adults. The mechanical language transforms from cold, technical terms to beautiful prose and poetry as Cassia begins to find who she is instead of who they predict she will be. Can't wait for the next installment - I haven't stopped thinking of the characters since I finished it.
Date published: 2011-05-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A world I didn't want to escape When I first saw this book, I read the description and I thought it would be interesting. Boy, was I ever right. Although many books recently are about the future, this book takes it to a whole new level. It explores the true meaning of defining yourself and making your own choices, but at the expense of the ones you love. Cassia, the main female character, lives in a world where everything is already predetermined, and for her whole life she has never questioned the Societies perfection...until now. After a 'glitch' occurs in the most important part of her life, being 'Matched', Cassia begins to question the real intentions of the Society she has trusted her whole life. Through this book, it's extremely easy to feel the frustration, heartache, and confusion that Cassia experiences because of the way Condie describes it, and that is what I love most. I was a little disappointed at the end, and I'm hoping that there will be a sequel, however the end does not take away from the rest of the book. I absolutely loved this book, and I now declare it as one of my favourite books.
Date published: 2011-04-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Ending Ties It All Together When I first began reading this book, I found myself wrinkling my nose at the sentences. They felt like facts. Merely statements of what Cassia was doing or what she knew. However, towards the end of the book, I began to grow more and more attached to the characters, as Cassia became more and more attached to Ky. It wasn't until the end of the book that I began to notice that Cassia's word choice were becoming less as less like facts and moer like creations. A creation of her feelings for Ky, a creation of how she veiwed what was occuring around her, a creation of herself. This was the purpose of the beggining facts. To show us how Cassia grew and learned how to create things, how to choose for herself, even if she wasn't aloud to. Overall, the content of the book wasn't action-packed to the point where I had a heart-attack every few pages, the over all message is what gave this book it's extra star (leaf?). But what do you expact for a world were the government controls everything you do? This book packs the message of how lucky we are simply to choose what we eat for breakfast. Heck, even if we choose to skip out on breakfast, and I would gladly recrommend it to anyone.
Date published: 2011-03-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A good read While this book wasn't as action packed as other YA dystopian novels, it was still very good. The majority of the society depicted seems to be a pretty peaceful one, but in order to get that peace people have to give over control of every aspect of their lives. Because of this sheeplike tendency of the characters to follow the Society's rules I didn't find them to be particularly compelling.
Date published: 2011-03-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pretty good, but left me wanting more Overall, this book was a solid 3.5 Stars, but it still felt like something was missing. With the hype surrounding it, and all of the great reviews given to this book, i was expecting more than I got. I loved the concept, and Ally Condie did a fantastic job creating a believable futuristic world, but it still seemed there was something missing. *Spoiler alert* I never really got into the book, or her relationship with both Ky and Xander. I understood that they were 'matched', but ultimately so were Ky and Cassia. Overall, I would recommend this book to any dystopian fans, but this book is probably better to borrow from the library than to purchase.
Date published: 2011-03-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from In The Middle I feel very in the middle about this book because on one hand it was good it had a good concept and had a nice romance element to it but on the other hand I thought it could have been better concidering there was alot of hype surrounding this book. I wasn't to sure what to expect from this because there was a lot of mixed reviews but I did think it was good and I will read the next in the series. The one thing that bugged me about this book was that I never fully believed the relationships Cassia had with both Ky and Xander ( sorry if it spoils ) but I didn't believe in the relationships so I hope that gets better with the other books. :0)
Date published: 2011-02-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Didn't Love it nor Hate it I was absolutely thrilled to get a copy of this book,. I was so anxious to read it from the moment I knew what it was about. The overall setting and concept was not a let down, I was amazed at how Condie created a detailed, futuristic world that was captivating from the start to finish. All of the rules and regulations involved with this world were very fascinating and it truly made this book come to life. Aside from the setting, I also loved the idea of having a love triangle involved with the a girl living in this futuristic world. Cassia is the main character, and we meet Xander and Ky soon after. Overall, they were good characters. It was a very odd love triangle because Xander and Ky are complete opposites. Xander had a great personality who who put a smile on your face whenever he made a presence. Ky on the other hand, was strange and very mysterious in a sense. He hardly displays emotion, and I found it hard to connect to him because he just wasn't a character that I understood. By the end of the book, Ky became somewhat likable, and I did grow to anticipate the moments where he was with Cassia. It wasn't entirely fair because Ky had way more time with Cassia then Xander did, and that made me a little upset, because I absolutely love Xander. This love triangle isn't as simple as it may seem. All three of them live in a world where decisions are made for you. The Officials decide who you will love, where you will work and when you will die. This is the future, where air trains take you to your destination, and food arrives at your house steaming underneath foil ware. The Officials have only chosen 100 songs,100 poems and 100 pieces of art for the Society, it is a world with very little variety. You may only love your match, and this is where Cassia runs into trouble. During the year of your seventeenth birthday, you will have a Match Banquet where you will finally see who The Officials have matched you with for the rest of your life. This Banquet could happen at any time during that year, and we learn in the beginning, that Cassia is about to have hers. All of the girls choose from a array of dresses that they will wear. When girls say that they are wearing the yellow one, or the blue one, everyone knows what they are talking about. That shows how little variety there is within this Society. It is very uncommon for a girl to be matched with a boy in their city, so when Cassia looks at the black screen that is supposed to display her match, she instantly realizes that her match is sitting in that very room. To her surprise, she is matched with Xander, her best friend. Nothing could turn out more perfect; she is matched with her best friend, they already love each other, and they know everything about each other. She won't need to look at the microcard to see what he likes or dislikes, but she ends up doing it anyway, and she learns something that turns her whole world upside down. As she inserts the microcard into the port, she sees Xander's face, then she sees another face before the screen turns black. It becomes even stranger when she identifies this boy . . . Ky Markham, a boy who lives right by her house. Cassia is very confused as she wonders whether or not he is her match as well. She is told that it was all a mistake by The Officials, but what if it wasn't? She can't help but wonder about Ky, the strange boy with a complicated past. He isn't like any other boy, and soon she learns about his story, which begins this complicated love triangle where she will have to choose between perfection or passion. I gave this book three stars for more then one reason, I didn't exactly like the main character, and in the end, I wasn't as impressed as I thought I would be. Loved the concept, but not exactly the characters involved, except Xander... :) 3/5 2011-004
Date published: 2011-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Read! This book was incredible. I could not put it down. The story takes place in a future time where society has become very controlled. In the beginning, the society almost seems like a world anyone would want to live in. Through the eyes of the main character, we start to see the flaws in their society, and more specifically, matching. Just found out Ally is writing a sequel to be released in the fall!
Date published: 2011-01-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fantastic. I thought this book was slightly like a modern day 1984, though i've never been able to read 1984. This book makes you feel like you are there and live with the characters. I loved this book and read it in a day. A must read.
Date published: 2010-12-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Promising Read! Imagine a Society where nothing is spontaneous, everything is planned out, including your match that you are meant to marry. All decisions are predicted, all reactions exactly the way the Society thinks they will. Follow Cassia and her journey that leads her to see that not everything is perfectly predictable. For those who enjoyed Hunger Games, this book is a good choice for more broken futuristic societies. This book shows a lot of ideas that are very interesting and if the author continues with them it will be a series worth waiting for.
Date published: 2010-12-07

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Read from the Book

CHAPTER 1 Now that I’ve found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night? My wings aren’t white or feathered; they’re green, made of green silk, which shudders in the wind and bends when I move—first in a circle, then in a line, finally in a shape of my own invention. The black behind me doesn’t worry me; neither do the stars ahead.I smile at myself, at the foolishness of my imagination. People cannot fly, though before the Society, there were myths about those who could. I saw a painting of them once. White wings, blue sky, gold circles above their heads, eyes turned up in surprise as though they couldn’t believe what the artist had painted them doing, couldn’t believe that their feet didn’t touch the ground.Those stories weren’t true. I know that. But tonight, it’s easy to forget. The air train glides through the starry night so smoothly and my heart pounds so quickly that it feels as though I could soar into the sky at any moment.“What are you smiling about?” Xander wonders as I smooth the folds of my green silk dress down neat.“Everything,” I tell him, and it’s true. I’ve waited so long for this: for my Match Banquet. Where I’ll see, for the first  time, the face of the boy who will be my Match. It will be the first time I hear his name.I can’t wait. As quickly as the air train moves, it still isn’t fast enough. It hushes through the night, its sound a background for the low rain of our parents’ voices, the lightning-quick beats of my heart.Perhaps Xander can hear my heart pounding, too, because he asks, “Are you nervous?” In the seat next to him, Xander’s older brother begins to tell my mother the story of his Match Banquet. It won’t be long now until Xander and I have our own stories to tell.“No,” I say. But Xander’s my best friend. He knows me too well.“You lie,” he teases. “You are nervous.”“Aren’t you?”“Not me. I’m ready.” He says it without hesitation, and I believe him. Xander is the kind of person who is sure about what he wants.“It doesn’t matter if you’re nervous, Cassia,” he says, gentle now. “Almost ninety-three percent of those attending their Match Banquet exhibit some signs of nervousness.”“Did you memorize all of the official Matching material?”“Almost,” Xander says, grinning. He holds his hands out as if to say, What did you expect?The gesture makes me laugh, and besides, I memorized  all of the material, too. It’s easy to do when you read it so many times, when the decision is so important. “So you’re in the minority,” I say. “The seven percent who don’t show any nerves at all.”“Of course,” he agrees.“How could you tell I was nervous?”“Because you keep opening and closing that.” Xander points to the golden object in my hands. “I didn’t know you had an artifact.” A few treasures from the past float around among us. Though citizens of the Society are allowed one artifact each, they are hard to come by. Unless you had ancestors who took care to pass things along through the years.“I didn’t, until a few hours ago,” I tell him. “Grandfather gave it to me for my birthday. It belonged to his mother.”“What’s it called?” Xander asks.“A compact,” I say. I like the name very much. Compact means small. I am small. I also like the way it sounds when you say it: com-pact. Saying the word makes a sound like the one the artifact itself makes when it snaps shut.“What do the initials and numbers mean?”“I’m not sure.” I run my finger across the letters ACM and the numbers 1940 carved across the golden surface. “But look,” I tell him, popping the compact open to show him the inside: a little mirror, made of real glass, and a small hollow where the original owner once stored powder for her face, according to Grandfather. Now, I use it to hold the three  emergency tablets that everyone carries—one green, one blue, one red.“That’s convenient,” Xander says. He stretches out his arms in front of him and I notice that he has an artifact, too—a pair of shiny platinum cuff links. “My father lent me these, but you can’t put anything in them. They’re completely useless.”“They look nice, though.” My gaze travels up to Xander’s face, to his bright blue eyes and blond hair above his dark suit and white shirt. He’s always been handsome, even when we were little, but I’ve never seen him dressed up like this. Boys don’t have as much leeway in choosing clothes as girls do. One suit looks much like another. Still, they get to select the color of their shirts and cravats, and the quality of the material is much finer than the material used for plainclothes. “You look nice.” The girl who finds out that he’s her Match will be thrilled.“Nice?” Xander says, lifting his eyebrows. “That’s all?”“Xander,” his mother says next to him, amusement mingled with reproach in her voice.“You look beautiful,” Xander tells me, and I flush a little even though I’ve known Xander all my life. I feel beautiful, in this dress: ice green, floating, full-skirted. The unaccustomed smoothness of silk against my skin makes me feel lithe and graceful.Next to me, my mother and father each draw a breath as City Hall comes into view, lit up white and blue and sparkling with the special occasion lights that indicate a celebration is  taking place. I can’t see the marble stairs in front of the Hall yet, but I know that they will be polished and shining. All my life I have waited to walk up those clean marble steps and through the doors of the Hall, a building I have seen from a distance but never entered.I want to open the compact and check in the mirror to make sure I look my best. But I don’t want to seem vain, so I sneak a glance at my face in its surface instead.The rounded lid of the compact distorts my features a little, but it’s still me. My green eyes. My coppery-brown hair, which looks more golden in the compact than it does in real life. My straight small nose. My chin with a trace of a dimple like my grandfather’s. All the outward characteristics that make me Cassia Maria Reyes, seventeen years old exactly.I turn the compact over in my hands, looking at how perfectly the two sides fit together. My Match is already coming together just as neatly, beginning with the fact that I am here tonight. Since my birthday falls on the fifteenth, the day the Banquet is held each month, I’d always hoped that I might be Matched on my actual birthday—but I knew it might not happen. You can be called up for your Banquet anytime during the year after you turn seventeen. When the notification came across the port two weeks ago that I would, indeed, be Matched on the day of my birthday, I could almost hear the clean snap of the pieces fitting into place, exactly as I’ve dreamed for so long.Because although I haven’t even had to wait a full day for my Match, in some ways I have waited all my life.“Cassia,” my mother says, smiling at me. I blink and look up, startled. My parents stand up, ready to disembark. Xander stands, too, and straightens his sleeves. I hear him take a deep breath, and I smile to myself. Maybe he is a little nervous after all.“Here we go,” he says to me. His smile is so kind and good; I’m glad we were called up the same month. We’ve shared so much of childhood, it seems we should share the end of it, too.I smile back at him and give him the best greeting we have in the Society. “I wish you optimal results,” I tell Xander.“You too, Cassia,” he says.As we step off the air train and walk toward City Hall, my parents each link an arm through mine. I am surrounded, as I always have been, by their love.It is only the three of us tonight. My brother, Bram, can’t come to the Match Banquet because he is under seventeen, too young to attend. The first one you attend is always your own. I, however, will be able to attend Bram’s banquet because I am the older sibling. I smile to myself, wondering what Bram’s Match will be like. In seven years I will find out.But tonight is my night. It is easy to identify those of us being Matched; not only are we younger than all of the others, but we also float along  in beautiful dresses and tailored suits while our parents and older siblings walk around in plainclothes, a background against which we bloom. The City Officials smile proudly at us, and my heart swells as we enter the Rotunda.In addition to Xander, who waves good-bye to me as he crosses the room to his seating area, I see another girl I know named Lea. She picked the bright red dress. It is a good choice for her, because she is beautiful enough that standing out works in her favor. She looks worried, however, and she keeps twisting her artifact, a jeweled red bracelet. I am a little surprised to see Lea there. I would have picked her for a Single.“Look at this china,” my father says as we find our place at the Banquet tables. “It reminds me of the Wedgwood pieces we found last year . . .”My mother looks at me and rolls her eyes in amusement. Even at the Match Banquet, my father can’t stop himself from noticing these things. My father spends months working in old neighborhoods that are being restored and turned into new Boroughs for public use. He sifts through the relics of a society that is not as far in the past as it seems. Right now, for example, he is working on a particularly interesting Restoration project: an old library. He sorts out the things the Society has marked as valuable from the things that are not.But then I have to laugh because my mother can’t help but comment on the flowers, since they fall in her area of expertise as an Arboretum worker. “Oh, Cassia! Look at the centerpieces. Lilies.” She squeezes my hand.“Please be seated,” an Official tells us from the podium. “Dinner is about to be served.”It’s almost comical how quickly we all take our seats. Because we might admire the china and the flowers, and we might be here for our Matches, but we also can’t wait to taste the food.“They say this dinner is always wasted on the Matchees,” a jovial-looking man sitting across from us says, smiling around our table. “So excited they can’t eat a bite.” And it’s true; one of the girls sitting farther down the table, wearing a pink dress, stares at her plate, touching nothing.I don’t seem to have this problem, however. Though I don’t gorge myself, I can eat some of everything—the roasted vegetables, the savory meat, the crisp greens, and creamy cheese. The warm light bread. The meal seems like a dance, as though this is a ball as well as a banquet. The waiters slide the plates in front of us with graceful hands; the food, wearing herbs and garnishes, is as dressed up as we are. We lift the white napkins, the silver forks, the shining crystal goblets as if in time to music.My father smiles happily as a server sets a piece of chocolate cake with fresh cream before him at the end of the meal. “Wonderful,” he whispers, so softly that only my mother and I can hear him.My mother laughs a little at him, teasing him, and he reaches for her hand.I understand his enthusiasm when I take a bite of the  cake, which is rich but not overwhelming, deep and dark and flavorful. It is the best thing I have eaten since the traditional dinner at Winter Holiday, months ago. I wish Bram could have some cake, and for a minute I think about saving some of mine for him. But there is no way to take it back to him. It wouldn’t fit in my compact. It would be bad form to hide it away in my mother’s purse even if she would agree, and she won’t. My mother doesn’t break the rules.I can’t save it for later. It is now, or never.I have just popped the last bite in my mouth when the announcer says, “We are ready to announce the Matches.”I swallow in surprise, and for a second, I feel an unexpected surge of anger: I didn’t get to savor my last bite of cake. “Lea Abbey.”Lea twists her bracelet furiously as she stands, waiting to see the face flash on the screen. She is careful to hold her hands low, though, so that the boy seeing her in another City Hall somewhere will only see the beautiful blond girl and not her worried hands, twisting and turning that bracelet.It is strange how we hold on to the pieces of the past while we wait for our futures.There is a system, of course, to the Matching. In City Halls across the country, all filled with people, the Matches are announced in alphabetical order according to the girls’ last names. I feel slightly sorry for the boys, who have no idea when their names will be called, when they must stand for  girls in other City Halls to receive them as Matches. Since my last name is Reyes, I will be somewhere at the end of the middle. The beginning of the end.The screen flashes with the face of a boy, blond and handsome. He smiles as he sees Lea’s face on the screen where he is, and she smiles, too. “Joseph Peterson,” the announcer says. “Lea Abbey, you have been matched with Joseph Peterson.”The hostess presiding over the Banquet brings Lea a small silver box; the same thing happens to Joseph Peterson on the screen. When Lea sits down, she looks at the silver box longingly, as though she wishes she could open it right away. I don’t blame her. Inside the box is a microcard with background information about her Match. We all receive them. Later, the boxes will be used to hold the rings for the Marriage Contract.The screen flashes back to the default picture: a boy and a girl, smiling at each other, with glimmering lights and a white-coated Official in the background. Although the Society times the Matching to be as efficient as possible, there are still moments when the screen goes back to this picture, which means that we all wait while something happens somewhere else. It’s so complicated—the Matching—and I am again reminded of the intricate steps of the dances they used to do long ago. This dance, however, is one that the Society alone can choreograph now.The picture shimmers away.The announcer calls another name; another girl stands up.Soon, more and more people at the Banquet have little silver boxes. Some people set them on the white tablecloths in front of them, but most hold the boxes carefully, unwilling to let their futures out of their hands so soon after receiving them.I don’t see any other girls wearing the green dress. I don’t mind. I like the idea that, for one night, I don’t look like everyone else.I wait, holding my compact in one hand and my mother’s hand in the other. Her palm feels sweaty. For the first time, I realize that she and my father are nervous, too.“Cassia Maria Reyes.”It is my turn.I stand up, letting go of my mother’s hand, and turn toward the screen. I feel my heart pounding and I am tempted to twist my hands the way Lea did, but I hold perfectly still with my chin up and my eyes on the screen. I watch and wait, determined that the girl my Match will see on the screen in his City Hall somewhere out there in Society will be poised and calm and lovely, the very best image of Cassia Maria Reyes that I can present.But nothing happens.I stand and look at the screen, and, as the seconds go by, it is all I can do to stay still, all I can do to keep smiling.  Whispers start around me. Out of the corner of my eye, I see my mother move her hand as if to take mine again, but then she pulls it back.A girl in a green dress stands waiting, her heart pounding. Me.The screen is dark, and it stays dark.That can only mean one thing.