Also appears on The YA Kitten. Read and reviewed for the H.Y.P.E. Project (details here).Basically, this is your book if you want more bland romance and less dystopia in your YA dystopia.The night of Cassia's Matching, she is as nervous as she can be. Why wouldn't she be? It's one of the biggest nights of her life, the night she will meet her Match and see who she will spend the rest of her life in love with. Her best friend Xander is announced as her Match, unusual enough as it is because two Matches rarely live so close to one another, but then something else strange happens. Cassia tries to take a look at the microchip that is supposed to include information on Xander, but another boy's face flashes across the screen: Ky. Now torn between her feelings for the two, Cassia will learn how to make a choice and then be forced to make one for the first time in her life.CharactersI'm only an hour removed from the book and I can hardly remember anything about its flat little characters. This is not a good sign, I believe. The relationships between the characters are never developed; we're just told that they are and we're supposed to accept that these two are best friends despite seeing no evidence of it and that these two are in love despite seeing no proper development of their feelings. Neither Cassia nor Xander nor Ky nor any other character inspired any emotion in me other than disinterest, and I had a big disagreement with Cassia over how strong her mother was. Is it wrong of me to believe a person is weaker for holding in their emotions than for letting them all out to share with their loved ones? Letting people in is much harder than keeping them out.Plot/Pacing...Wait, you're telling me there was a plot? You're kidding. No wait, I see that look on your face. You're not kidding. Well, you've got to be joking about the pacing, right? This book moved so slowly a dead man would beat it in a race! There was no such thing as pacing in this novel!...And there's that look again. Oh. Well. Let's move on.Themes/ConflictsOkay, this time, you just have to be joking. There is no way you can say this novel has some big conflict or theme (that wasn't gleefully and blatantly ripped off from The Giver) with a straight face.Oh. Oh.Writing"I sort and sort and sort until there is no data left for me. Everything is clear on my screen. I am the one who makes it go blank." (Matched, p. 33)While I read, I took notes in my personal notebook so I wouldn't forget anything. Fun fact, but I used a neon green pen to write those notes for the sake of matching. My note for the above quote: "Well, duh. You failed badly at being deep." (Well, it was a word other than "duh" that starts with s, but I'd like this to post on Amazon without trouble, so not cursing here.) The writing tries so hard to be pretty and so hard to be deep so it can impress us, but all it ever achieves is a cheap pseudo-depth that can't even be given credit for trying.The book has a bad habit of telling us what we don't need to know and then skimping out on the stuff we would like to know a little more about, like the worldbuilding. What's the deal with Singles? Anomalies? Why is it necessary for us to spent an entire page on some seeds? So many pages and yet so little of importance is written. It is also incredibly predictable; a clumsy attempt at infodumping about Ky at the beginning of the book ended up giving away a big twist of the novel that wasn't revealed until page 300 or so.LogicNow, dystopian fiction has its own special brand of suspension of disbelief with me. I've got to accept more unusual things than I would have to with most other books and consider them possible or plausible. There are things I did accept about the book, but there are far more things I couldn't accept because my suspension of disbelief only has so much coverage and these little issues fell outside that protective blanket. I cannot believe under any circumstances that the urge to create has been squashed out of the people and that complicated emotions such as love, lust, attraction, etc. can be so easily controlled without any sort of drug to force them down.Where are the gay people? Seriously, where are the gay people? Matching pairs up one boy and one girl, so what if that boy likes boys or that girl likes girls? You can't government regulate the gay out of someone. You can't genetically manipulate the gay out of society. Gay isn't genetic or as easy to get rid of as that! Gay people exist, Matched! Don't pretend that they don't! Pretty much anyone that falls in a group other than heterosexual does not appear to exist. Everyone covered by QUILTBAG and beyond? Nonexistent. I'm one of those letters, so the implications kind of make me mad.Was it worth the hype?As was the case with Starcrossed (a book I recently read and... well, there are no words for that book that don't start with a, s, b, f, or d and that aren't considered vulgar by greater society), Matched gained its hype from major pre-publication buzz, much of it centering around the author's seven-figure advance for the entire trilogy. It should mean it's good if the publisher paid so much for it, right? No. This book is not worth its hype or the money spent on it.On the other side of the spectrum, I heard a lot about the book being a cheap rip-off of The Giver from multiple people and trusted sources. So I could accurately see these supposed parallels, I read The Giver a little over a month ago. They're 100% right. This book rips off The Giver so badly. Anything halfway good is ripped out of that book and everything else is just bland. The messages, the main events that are supposed to tug at our heartstrings, and all of that were better done there than here. Books so heavily derivative of another book that they're ripping it off do not easily win my heart.Bonus cover sectionI have an unusual relationship with this cover: I only love it if I'm looking at it online. When I looked at the print copy I've been carrying around for the last few days, I made funny faces at it because I didn't like having it in real life. (Okay, that's half the reason. I've spent this entire review outlining the other half.) Don't ask me why I only like seeing it and its sequel's cover online because I have no idea.