Book Review: Reached
By: Ally Condie
Published By: Dutton Childrens Books
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
Page Count: 512
Source: Galley Kindly Provided by Penguin Teen
Audience: Young Adult - Dystopian
Reached was always a book I couldn't decide about. I loved Matched, the first book in the series, but I couldn't say the same for Crossed - so I wasn't sure if Reached would fall down on the side of Matched or Crossed in temperament. Like many fans, I suppose I wasn't expecting the story to go the way it did in Crossed and I can say the same for Reached now that I have finished it.
At the end of Crossed, Cassia, Ky and Xander went their own ways to work for The Rising. Reached is delivered from all three points of view. That was a strange thing for me, because although each character was experiencing different things in their lives, I actually frequently forgot who I was reading about because their ‘voices’ seemed very similar to me. I was glad that my review copy had the name of the character at the top of each page, because I needed to refer to it on a regular basis.
I was interested in what was going on with Xander the most; he was on the front line battling an outbreak of plague for most the book. Ky kind of bumbled about flying to places, but never near Cassia, and Cassia sorted, traded with Archivists and worked on her poetry. In all honesty, I could have happily done without large portions of Ky and Cassia’s chapters, because they were pretty slow. I didn't connect with the poetry at all in Reached, which was a shame because I felt that Matched opened a door to poetry appreciation that I had never thought to look at. I was back to my usual feelings on the subject this time around.
I found that Reached got pretty intense on the science too, as Xander looked for a cure to the plague. I followed along with no problems, as I am trained in that field, but I do wonder if other readers would skip those bits, or feel a little like they had no real idea of what was going on there. I also found Cassia’s sorting a little too abstract to picture; as far as I could work out it was like she was sorting random numbers into groups with almost no criteria for the sorting? I may well have that wrong, but I decided not to over-think about those bits.
The plot was fairly straightforward to follow – all three of our lead characters were separated, dealt with personal challenges, and were finally brought back together in an effort to deal with a mutated and very serious strain of plague. My main question about that was, why them? They were all ok at what they did, but nothing that seemed exceptional to me. They followed the directives from ‘the Pilot’ without much question, when clearly at times he had no idea what was going on. Everyone was very concerned about who was the Pilot, and who could be a Pilot... it got a little much for me. The rebellion had a leader, but he wasn't very visible, and he didn't lead so much as run about like a headless chicken. The Rising's rebellion also wasn't really rebel-ish enough for me either... I think I've read too many butt kicking dystopian books now to compare rebellions!
I am sorry to say that I feel this was much more like Crossed than Matched for me. I was hoping for it to be the other way around, but I just couldn’t feel the emotions of the characters at all; the romance, what little of it there was, fell flat for me, and I didn’t really believe that these three kids could save everyone with their combined skill set. I thought the ending was just ok, and the whole thing felt over-long... in fact I actually put this one aside for a while to read Requiem by Lauren Oliver, the last book in the Delirium trilogy (due out in March 2013). Initially I felt like Matched by Ally Condie and Delirium by Lauren Oliver stood up against each other well, the difference now is that I feel the Matched trilogy has gone gentle into the night, whereas the Delirium trilogy raged against the dying light - to borrow a little from the Dylan Thomas poem that the Matched trilogy favours so much. I find a touch of irony in there, and sadness that I feel that this series was only OK, after such a strong start. Reached is worth reading, as there are some lovely descriptions of things and places, but I wouldn't race to get to it because I just didn't really connect with it emotionally at all.
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.