A YA dystopia in which a computer arranges marriages for everyone. Since I spent much of my childhood in India and my own culture invented the yenta, the concept of the arranged marriage, despite being obviously horrible if non-consensual, does not exactly spell out “terrifying dystopia” to me.

[personal profile] janni has mused that dystopias tend to be either extremely ordered or extremely chaotic. This is the most orderly dystopia I’ve ever encountered.

Things which are chosen for people by the Society:

- The food they each individually eat at every single meal. They are not allowed a single bite of someone else’s food.

- The clothes you wear. You can only select the color on very special occasions. Otherwise, red, yellow, pink, and purple are banned.

- The day you die. Everyone who survives so long is euthanized on their 80th birthday.

- The total art of the society. All art has been destroyed except for the 100 Best Poems, 100 Best Paintings, 100 Best Songs. Etc. No new creation is allowed.

- Love letters, farewell letters, etc, are clipped and pasted from official templates. Handwriting and pens are banned – only typing is allowed, presumably so they can track everything you write.

- Your job, your entertainment options, your schooling, the mysterious pills you must carry at all times, where you live, what you can know, what you can own, how many kids you can have and when, and of course, who you marry.

Teenage Cassia Reyes is happy to be Matched with Xander, her childhood friend. But the computer briefly flashes an image of Ky, the neighborhood oddball, who is forever forbidden to marry because his father committed an Infraction. Cassia is told that it was a prank or mistake, but she begins to wonder.

I expected the book to be amusingly awful, but to my surprise, I liked it. Despite the anvillicious premise, it’s also a sweet, well-observed romance and coming of age story, detailing all the fleeting emotions of teenage love and personal growth with earnest, heartfelt delicacy. Cassia, Ky, and Xander are well-meaning and likable, which made the inevitable love triangle less annoying than usual.

Given the total lack of conclusiveness, I’m guessing this will have a sequel.



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