Matched follows Cassia Reyes, newly turned 17, at her experience of being Matched in her Society. This means the Society has picked her Match, which will be the person she dates, marries, and has children with. On the night of her Matching Banquet, she sees not one face as her Match, but two: Xander Carrow, her best friend and neighbor, and Ky Markham, a boy who lives in her Borough. An Official tells her it was a mistake and Xander is her real Match, but this does not stop Cassia from being curious about Ky. It also makes her wonder about the Society, which tries to give their citizens (at least in Cassia’s home of Oria Province) the best life they can offer, but Cassia sees that this isn’t the case, at least for an Aberration like Ky. His father committed an Infraction against the Society, and so he cannot have Citizenship status. He cannot be Matched or live until he’s 80 or find a good job. He is not important. Through Cassia’s growing connections with Ky, she must question her own feelings, about Ky, Xander, the Matching process, and the Society’s rules and actions. The only comfort she has is from her dead Grandfather’s secret poem by Dylan Thomas, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” She will choose her own way, and not the Society.
Crossed picks up with Ky, who has been sent to die with the other Aberrations in the Outer Provinces by the Enemy. He must use is childhood knowledge to escape into the desert canyons and find the rebellion against the Society. Cassia isn’t far behind him, having been doing labor in a work camp as she is determined to find Ky. She steals away as an Aberration to the Outer Provinces, but when she gets to the camp, Ky is not there. Cassia travels into the unknown for him, but still cannot escape the influences of the Society. Ky, too, is battling his own past and inner demons, but for Cassia and for love, he will do so much more. This is not just a struggle for survival but for knowledge, truth, and most of all, freedom. Freedom to make your own choices and fight for the things you believe in. Once again, the reader can savor the poignant poems and bittersweet memories to add to the rich flavor inherent in Condie’s unique use of metaphors.
Reached adds Xander’s voice to the mix of Cassia and Ky, and so completes the love/survival triangle. The three-part struggle is mirrored in the fight among the Society, the Rising, and the Anomalies and Aberrations, but there is a new, scarier, more silent enemy that comes: the Plague. Cassia, Ky, and Xander all play a unique and vital role against the Plague, but like a sword tempered with fire, they become stronger together. Without one, all would fall and bring everyone with them.
So, I really try hard not to give away spoilers here because I want people to read the books.
But I do have a few comments of my own.
One of the things I like most about these books is how much they draw from poetry. While poetry is not something I love to read, I do appreciate it when it crosses my path. In these, I would be surprised if people read them and did not gain a new appreciation for poetry. She really draws on her background in English (especially through metaphors, the art of writing, and the human gift of creativity), and I aptly admire her for this. I hope readers will see these things as gifts and use them to define their own worlds and so continue evolving.
I thought the series was resolved well in many ways, but I want to know a couple things:
1) What happened to Em?
2) Will we ever know what happened to Matthew Markham, Patrick, and Aida?
3) Will there be a” future” for the main characters?
I just want to say, these are NOT necessary to the story or the story’s resolution, but I do so dearly love all the strings tied up neatly and with no guessing about where the future went. I dislike post-modernism for this very fact, but I do accept that it is a valid ending. Maybe these questions will not be answered, but there’s no harm in asking.
When I finished Reached (which was an hour ago) I noticed an odd feeling. It felt like water, not exactly tears of joy or sorrow, but just the feeling of being moved somewhere, somehow without noticing, just adrift but perhaps ready for a new beginning.
Let me know what you feel when you finish.
Readers who enjoyed other dystopians: The Hunger Games, Divergent, Delirium etc. will probably enjoy this, but I would like to think this also includes readers who enjoy modern English classics will see their influence in this work and want to pay special attention.
Rating: MUST BUY! Loved it! Have all three and lend them out constantly!