Reached begins with The Rising, the event that has been anticipated since the beginning of the series, really. Literary dystopian societies are made to fall apart – it is how this happens where the story comes in.
In Reached, The Society falls apart through the outbreak of a virus called The Plague. Patients get sick and feverish and eventually “go still”. The Society, which has control over everything, cannot control this new virus, and The Rising steps in to take its place. Cassia, Ky, and even Xander have important roles to play in The Rising.
Eventually The Plague is under control and everything seems to be going well, until The Plague mutates and The Rising is left to deal with the consequences.
It is said that a character never truly gets what they want, and if they do it is never quite what it seems. In my opinion, although it may be overdone, a dystopian novel is an excellent example of how this plays out within a story.
Reached adds on to where Crossed left off both in plot development and narration. The chapters alternate between Cassia, Ky, and now Xander. Xander proves to be an interesting character, and not the Society square perfect boy that he was made out to be in Matched. Each character has their own point of view when it comes to the events in The Rising, although sometimes the narration can be very similar.
Condie does a good job of tying up the loose ends of the first two books by bringing everything together in this final installment. However, I did find it to be a bit long, and to drag on in places. I definitely thought it could be edited down, or that some of the plot elements could have been brought up in Crossed to not overload the final book. There were a few details I would like to know more about, however, like what happened to the original Markham boy. That plot line was pretty much left open.
That being said, the characters do develop quite a bit between Matched and Crossed, each in their own way. Cassia really delves into creation through poetry and the arts. I really enjoyed the way that this played out in the story. The Society does not like the concept of creating things, and they have tackled that full heartedly. Cassia is a sorter, and an excellent sorter at that. She can make sense of senseless numbers, and can see where things need to go to make order. She is a perfect for The Society’s needs. But ever since she met Ky back in the first book, she has been interested in more than just sorting, she has wanted to create. Whether it is writing her name in dirt with a stick, reading poetry, or creating a Gallery for people to express their talents, Cassia has always been interested in the idea of creation, especially since The Society is so against it.
The concept of the love triangle between Cassia, Xander, and Ky does continue to exist, but each character has a life beyond the love triangle, which makes for more enjoyable and realistic characters. Each has something to live for. This also makes the plot better, and more suspenseful overall. If anything, the love triangle drives each character’s actions towards The Rising and The Plague, which in turn drives those narratives forward. They are all involved in something bigger than themselves, and they are all very aware of this fact.
It is hard to keep a story going through multiple books, and in my opinion, Matched is probably the strongest book. That being said I did enjoy where Condie brought the story in the end, and I think that there are many good ideas and concepts within the books. It has proved itself to be more than just a flighty love triangle book of teenage angst.