Review: Reached by Ally Condie

Reached (Matched #3)
Ally Condie

Dutton Children's Book
Released November 13, 2012
512 pages
YA / Dystopian

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After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

In this gripping conclusion to the #1 New York Times-bestselling Matched trilogy, Cassia will reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honoring a love she cannot live without.

A lot of people found flaws in the first two books of the Matched series, but I liked them. Cassia spent the first book being a little weak, but the awesomeness of Ky and the fascinating world they inhabited pulled me through and I enjoyed it. The second book, with the addition of Ky’s point of view, was full of excitement, adventure and a broadening of the world Condie had created. This was a dystopian book that I could get behind, one that felt as though it added new elements to what might have otherwise felt like a tired formula. I was really excited for the final book in the series and had it as one of the top 10 books I was looking forward to in 2012.

What I got from the library was a door-stopper of a book, which actually excited me because I wanted more of the Society and their bizarre restrictions on culture. I wanted more explanation on how it was created, why the particular pieces of history, art, and music had been chosen… I wanted the blank spots in the world that hadn’t been fleshed out in the first book or added in the second book. Instead I got a twisty story involving a sort of revolution and a jumbled plot that didn’t even feel like it took place in the same series as Matched and Crossed.

POTENTIAL SPOILERS FOR MATCHED AND CROSSED AHEAD

The end of Crossed found Cassia and Ky joining the Resistance, an organization that for most of the series hadn’t been verified to even exist. There was a feeling of vast possibilities to come in a final book and perhaps even some sort of patched together happiness for Cassia and Ky outside of the Society. Crossed picks up several months later with Cassia working for the Resistance inside one of the Society’s cities analyzing data sets and matching things up. Ky is somewhere far away acting as a pilot for the Resistance, making mysterious supply drops in preparation for something. Cassia’s friend Xander, who didn’t really factor much in Crossed, has returned as a Society minion in the health department. All three are far from each other and not able to communicate very well.

The characters are still the same characters they have been. Xander is loyal and a little broken from Cassia’s rejection, but determined to do the right thing. Cassia is a little defiant, but often timidly so while Ky is strong, a little emo and willing to take control of situations if it helps him get to Cassia. What has changed is the atmosphere. Now that these three are firmly embedded into various aspects of the Society and the Resistance, I expected to learn more about the world around them and the world does expand beyond the range of Crossed, but there isn’t much more about the culture or why things are as they are.

Then, soon after Reached begins, everything turns upside down. Somehow an on-coming plague becomes the focus of the story, driving all future actions of all three characters. There is no real mention of this plague prior to it suddenly appearing nor was there any indication that the story would take that direction. It felt as though it came out of nowhere and suddenly it was the main concern. The relationships between the three main characters were pushed off to the side and, because the relationships were the strength in this series, the whole thing sort of slammed to a halt.

Unfortunately what I thought would be an exciting conclusion to a series I enjoyed turned out to be mostly boring and a little incomprehensible. The story makes sense within itself; it just doesn’t seem to fit inside the series as a whole. There is science babble in places and a lot of going from place A to place B back to place A and over and over. It quickly became tedious with only a few highlights of excitement or bright relationship moments that I held on to as I trudged through the rest of the story.

It was a disappointing conclusion to a previously enjoyable series. Characters I’d previously enjoyed seemed flat and a little lifeless, and the story felt unhinged from the previous narrative. I guess it makes sense if I take a few steps back, but I wish there had been a little more groundwork laid for where things were headed so it didn’t seem so random. But even if that had occurred, it was too long. Despite that I still look forward to what Ally Condie comes out with next.