Nearly three years later, I can finally say I’ve completed Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy. I looked over my review of Crossed, book two from the series, and realized now how brutal I was in critiquing it (I’m sorry!) After finishing this final entry, I now feel more familiar with the author’s tone and have a better understanding and appreciation for the trio.
When I first read Matched, I was coming off of a Hunger Games binge, so my expectations were set for something much more action-packed or thrilling. Matched was more subdued. The premise hooked me right away: soon after their 16th birthday, teenagers of The Society are introduced to their life match in a grand ceremony. They are presented with a data card to take home and review their match’s profile, but once Cassia inserts her data card, she sees the face of a boy who is not the same as the one she was matched with during the ceremony. Was it a glitch in The Society’s perfect system? Cassia finds herself in the middle of secret love triangle and soon discovers that The Society’s cracked facade is starting to crumble. With the help of her two potential matches, Cassia investigates the mystery of The Pilot — a fabled leader meant to head up The Rising and overthrow The Society.
To sum up Crossed, Cassia is wandering around the Grand Canyon with one of her matches (Ky) and a few more teens and discover tubes containing preserved tissue samples from the members of The Society that have all died… presumably to bring the deceased back in the future. We still don’t know who The Pilot is, but it’s got to be one of the three from this love triangle, right?
Reached gives us the collapse of The Society and the takeover of The Rising by the use of a widespread viral plague. Certain members that have been selected by The Rising (since birth) are immune, and therefore unharmed… until someone pops up with a mutated version and then everyone’s at risk. That’s a big “Oops.” Cassia and her two matches are tasked with helping to discover the cure. Ky becomes infected by the mutation, but of course, he survives and is ultimately paired with Cassia.
There were some unexpected curve balls: The Pilot was just a random guy. The Rising was actually created by The Society as a way to feign a rebellion, to gain the community’s trust, and ultimately still be in control of everyone. There was no big blow-out fight for Cassia’s love. In fact, the two boys were stayed friends throughout the entire trilogy… so a bit anticlimactic.
Overall, though, the series has a very steady flow. The first book gave us one point of view, the second book introduced a new point of view, and the third book gave us three. When I first read Crossed, I found this flip-flopping to be a bit forced, but in reading Reached, I found it to be part of a natural progression in the story-telling. Condie’s descriptions of the setting of the story are vivid and beautiful. All of her characters are likable, but I’m not sure if it’s because everyone in The Society is groomed to be regulated and well-balanced, or if there was lack of more interpersonal conflict. I didn’t find myself disliking any of the characters… and I had a difficult time deciding which of the two matches Cassia should ultimately end up with because everyone was so “nice.”
I definitely would not call this the next Hunger Games. But for a strong young female protagonist living in a post-apocalyptic futuristic society in the middle of a love triangle, it fits the bill.
Oh, and a band of Archivists ran a black market of smuggled historical papers, objects, and other such paraphernalia. My future as a librarian is now justified.