Matched Chapter 22

I know I’ve harped on the chaste teen thing a lot through more than a few books. It’s not because I need a book filled with teens boning each other senseless. It’s because these hacks seem either squicked by the thought of teen sex or just don’t want to bring it up for fear of alienating their audience. The problem is that’s not a small part of being a teen. Dealing with the urge to have sex, the lessons ingrained by society and family and the pressure of their peers is a part of going from kid to adult.

With that element completely excised, Cassia doesn’t come across like a teen. She comes across like a forty year old woman who’s bored by her civilized, suburban life and needs any cheap thrill she can get her hands on because her vibrator broke and Amazon can’t teleport goods yet.

Fast forward to “a few days later” and Cassia is sitting in class. I always love when a character is in a classroom setting. That’s when hacks have the teacher go over basic things the characters should know already and act like they don’t know. Teach is going over messages and saying they should be short and succinct to excuse Ally’s atrocious writing when a message comes in. It says Cassia and “Infraction” and tells her to wait for an escort.

Cassia, being an all knowing teenager and protagonist, says she knows exactly who will be coming for her. She says it will be the lady who first told her that the glitch was a prank, remember her? She was so memorable, what with her name and the short but distinguishing description. And rather than Cassia being wrong because there are a lot of people who work for the government and any one of them might have drawn the short straw, Cassia is one hundred percent correct.

This is Ally’s editor jabbing her in the ribs and reminding her that books generally have this thing called a plot. It’s pretty common among hack to spend more than half the book dicking around, see Chris or PCK’s books for more example, then suddenly dash towards an unseen objective pulled out of thin air.

“Hello, Cassia,” she says.


“Your name has come up lately in several Society departments.” She gestures for me to sit. “Why do you think that is?”

‘Uhhh, you guys were making bets on who had to deal with the dumbest citizen and I keep making the top ten?’

Cassia says she doesn’t know, hoping that if she plays dumb that Nameless Lady will just go away. Official Jane says that Cassia was so honest last time and knew it couldn’t last. She tells Cassia they wanted to pick her for the matching department but she, Official Jane, didn’t trust Cassia’s relationships. She says that she knows Cassia is rebelling and it’s normal and blah blah blah.

“Don’t you think this happens quite often?” the Official says, sounding amused. “Almost seventy-eight percent of teenagers who are Matched have some kind of youthful fling. And most of those occur within the year or so after the Matching. This is not unexpected.”

‘Dur, I used math so the number sound legitimate!’ ‘Very good, Ally. Have another box of crayons and don’t poke your eye out.’ And if it’s not unexpected, then why not let her screw up her stupid life? Because Ky’s a member of the untouchable caste or because Cassia has to be involved in some sort of drama?

I hate the Officials the most when they do this: when they act as if they have seen it all before, as if they have seen me before. When really they have never seen me at all. Just my data on a screen.

This is Cassia’s response and it’s perfect. No really, Ally captured that teen angst perfectly there. The proud declaration that they’re different even while they’re being exactly the same as everyone else. What Ally’s really trying to do is show us how impersonal the government is but all I see is whining that fits the character.

Official Jane asks Cassia if she regrets signing up to be “Matched” and asks if she wished she’d chosen “Single” instead. Cassia says no, it’s just that she thinks they should choose who they end up with. Official Jane asks where would it end? Would people want to decide how many children they have or where they live or when they want to die? Again, we’re supposed to be horrified that those decisions don’t belong to them because we, the audience, generally have them.

Cassia remembers that line again ‘do not go gentle’ and asks what infraction she committed. Because enothing shows a character’s resolve like asking, politely, what they’re being charged with. You go, rebel Cassia. Official Jane says that was a mistake and that this is merely a warning. She asks if Cassia understands, Cassia lies and says she does and Official Jane leaves.

“There’s a delivery for you,” Bram tells me when I arrive home, his face eager. “Someone brought it by. It must be something good. I had to have my fingerprint entered in their datapod when I accepted it.”

It had better be letter bomb. One of Ky’s step parents noticed that Cassia was leading him down the path of breeding drool factories with Cassia and decided to intervene. As soon as she opens the package, she and Bram are killed which greatly improves the local gene pool.

After much wasted anticipation, it turns out to be the scrap of dress material from her ceremony. It’s even framed and everything so she can present it to her children. They’ll want to see the cloth square from the dress she was wearing the day she decided to not marry Xander and, instead, go off with Ky and live in the woods. Perhaps that will provide them with small comfort when they have to use tree bark as toilet paper.

Bram is disappointed so Cassia gets mad at him, asking what he thought it was. Did he think they’d be getting their stuff back in the mail? This makes Bram sad and he runs off to cry in a corner. She calls out to him but doesn’t stop him from leaving because that would take effort. She then realizes she was being a bitch about it but doesn’t apologize. Instead she gets mad at the frame she got in the mail.

I want to take this frame and walk to the middle of the greenspace. I’ll stand next to that dry fountain and wait until the Official finds me. And when she does and asks me what I’m doing, I’ll tell her and everyone else that I know: they are giving us pieces of a real life instead of the whole thing. And I’ll tell her that I don’t want my life to be samples and scraps. A taste of everything but a meal of nothing.

How do you know that, Cassia? You don’t know anything about life outside of your own. If someone from our time had been awoken out of stasis, they might say that. But it would take someone who’s known a completely different life to make that call. It wouldn’t be a seventeen year old snot with the personality of a grapefruit.

Then Cassia pulls out the latest bit of paper she’s gotten from Ky. Once again is has a terrible bit of poetry and a drawing on it. This one shows Ky handcuffed and his hands are red. Cassia guesses at the symbolism and can’t tell if his hands are red because of his work or because he feels guilt over his parents death which Cassia says it totally not his fault. Hey Ally? Why didn’t you do this in third person again? You clearly wanted to add details about other people without having them explained.

And damn it, Ally, stop having Cassia explain the symbolism to us! Ky’s hands are red, we get that’s not a positive sign, let the dummies in the audience learn by example. And Cassia, how do you know that Ky’s hands aren’t red because he killed someone? Maybe Ky tried to get revenge and “the Society” couldn’t prove he killed anyone. So they shipped him off to be adopted and are still watching him incase he relapses?

Cassia says that a “few sharp strokes” show someone she’s already seen. Apparently Official Jane has been to see Ky already and he had time to draw it. Which means he got yelled at for flirting with the main idiot of the story and didn’t tell Cassia. I’m sure next chapter, he’ll have a perfectly reasonable explanation for that.

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