Cassia is the heroine in Matched. She is the perfect daughter, student and citizen. She knows who she will marry, what her job will be, and that she will die on her 80th birthday. It all seems so organized and perfect for society. Cassie never thinks to question the society or her place in it. Jonas is the hero in The Giver. Though younger than Cassia, Jonas is also a perfect son, student, and citizen. He is told what job he will hold, who he will marry and when he will die. They are both given pills to suppress their desires and emotions. Both societies are very controlling, but tell everyone it is for their own good.
Both of the books made me think in new ways. Matched made me wonder about why we choose the people we love. Is there one love for all of us that is our perfect match or is there always another person? By choosing one, do we set a new set of choices in motion or is fate still set because someone knew what we would choose? What about my job? Why did teaching always seem like such a certainty? In our rush to make everything less offensive to everyone, how much do we lose? Which songs or poems or paintings or books would make the cut? How much of ourselves would we lose in the choosing or later in the limitations that remain?
The Giver made me wonder about the euphemisms we use to hide the brutal truth of our lives. What happens if we lose our memories? What is wisdom? When we turn over the hard parts of our lives: war and death and suffering and loss, do we lose our best parts? Without suffering, can we understand joy? Without loss, can we understand love? What makes us human? In giving up our wisdom, do we lose our capacity to make life-changing decisions humanely? Is this worth the cost of the hard parts of our lives? What are we willing to sacrifice for the greater good? What are we unwilling to sacrifice of ourselves?
Both of these books are thought-provoking and poignant. Although both books are easy to read, to enjoy the deeper meanings and questions, I recommend both books to advanced readers.