Although The Hunger Games was the book that truly set me on the path as a fan of dystopian YA fiction, Ally Condie’s Matched was the next book I read, so I am sad today to be writing a book review of Reached, the final book in the Matched Trilogy. Reaching the end of a series is like saying goodbye to a dear friend and I think that the author Ally herself felt that way as there is a rather melancholy bittersweet undertone to this final book in the series. It’s that feeling you get when you leave high school, when you are grown up and leave friends and loved ones behind as you go forward into a new life. The characters of the trilogy have been tempered by trouble and have matured into adulthood.
Cassia and Ky have returned to the Society to play a role for the Uprising. Xander who had remained in the Society in Crossed, has become an Official, though he too belongs to the Uprising. Once again the three are separated from each other and all must walk their own path to the future.
Xander, a physic attends the Welcome Ceremony for a newborn; he and other members of the Uprising have been giving all children the Rising immunizations, rather than the Society’s which means that the new generation will grow up immune to the red tablet so that the Society can’t take their memories of the truth. It’s during this particular ceremony that Xander sees the sign that the rebellion won’t wait for the children to grow into a new uncontrolled generation.
Cassia has been sent to Capital to continue her work as a sorter, but she also works on the side as a trader with the Archivists, the only way she can pay to send messages to her family and the two most important men in her life.
Ky, along with pal Indie from Crossed, has become a pilot for the Uprising, though the only reason he is doing that is for Cassia. He isn’t sure he can believe in or trust the Pilot, the leader of the Uprising.
The story is alternatively narrated by each of the three characters. While a love triangle in other books is usually not very successful as the balance is always tipped towards one of the participants, Condie does a good job of balancing out the strengths and weaknesses of both Ky and Xander as suitors for Cassia. In fact, this triangle rounds out the characters as three-dimensional as the feelings they have about each other and the situation are complicated and painful. There is a maturity to the romance that is missing in most other YA books.
An outbreak of disease is the catalyst for the Uprising to supplant the Society, as the Uprising are able to provide people with a cure, but the means, motives and leadership behind the Uprising are more muddied than expected and each of the main characters are pulled into a situation that begins to spiral out of control. Ky flys the cure into the infected cities, Cassia had started a Gallery to give people the freedom to share art, songs and poems and Xander has been curing the victims of the disease until some patients present new symptoms which bring the three heroes together in a race to save civilization.
Ally Condie is speaking as much to herself as her readers when she says, “…even though all cannot be as everyone would wish, there is satisfaction in knowing that something good and right and true was part of you…There is ebb and flow. Leaving and coming. Fight and fall. Sing and silent. Reaching and reached.” Goodspeed Cassia, Ky and Xander.