Matched begins on Cassia Reyes’s seventeenth birthday as she rides a train to her Match Banquet. In the futuristic world in which she lives, the Society decides who marries whom. Leaders called Officials are responsible for Matching boys and girls to their perfect partners, thus ensuring happy marriages and genetically well-balanced offspring. Cassia waits eagerly until her name is called, and then—like dozens of girls did before her—she walks to a screen at the front of the room. She expects the screen to light up with the image of a stranger from another city. Instead, most unusually, Cassia is Matched to someone she already knows: Xander Carrow, her best friend from childhood.
Cassia already loves Xander, so she knows immediately that he is the perfect Match for her. Although she never dared to hope that she might be Matched with him, the choice reinforces her belief in the Society. As she sees it, it is worth giving up personal freedom in exchange for a near-perfect life of happiness, health, and productivity. She does not mind that the Society’s Officials dictate everything that happens to her and her family—what they wear, what they eat, where they work, and even when they die.
At the Banquet, each Match receives a microcard containing information about his or her future spouse. Cassia already knows all about Xander, but she is excited to view the information on her card anyway. But when she attempts to do this, Xander’s image flashes onto the screen and disappears. It is replaced with a picture of another boy, Ky Markham. This leaves Cassia scared and bewildered. Nobody gets two Matches, and the Society does not make mistakes; she wonders why Ky’s face appeared on her screen.
That evening, an Official from the Matching Department comes to see Cassia during her leisure hours. The Official explains that Cassia is still Matched with Xander and that someone must have put Ky’s information into the Match system as a cruel joke. Cassia has known Ky since they were both ten years old, when her neighbors adopted Ky. Now the Official explains that Ky is classified as an Aberration, a person who has lost certain rights because he has broken the Society’s laws. Ky did not break a law himself, but his father did. This means that he will never be Matched—to Cassia or anyone else.
After her conversation with the Official, Cassia knows she should feel relieved. However, she cannot...
(The entire section is 2148 words.)
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