This 3 part series has finally wrapped itself up, after the first book came out in 2010. I waited for what felt like a long time for the ending, and despite its strong start, I wound up disappointed in the end.
Matched takes place in a dystopian future. The government, or Society, controls every aspect of your life from family size, to your job, to how you spend your free time, to when you die. The title comes from the rite of passage ceremony, the Match banquet, where teens find out who they are assigned to marry. Cassia attends her Match and is pleased to find out that she has been matched with one of her very best guy friends, Xander, someone she already knows and loves. Most of those matched end up paired with someone they have never met and end up leaving their families to move to a new city, so she is quite lucky. When she gets home with the information microchip that came in her banquet package, she plugs it into her computer to view. For a split second, someone else’s picture pops up on the screen, and again it is someone else that she knows, Ky. Ky shouldn’t be in the Match at all, but then the picture quickly switches back to Xander. How has this happened? The Society doesn’t make mistakes. Chaos ensues, and everyone is split up. I liked this book very much, even though the love triangle situation reminded me of The Hunger Games.
Book 2 is called Crossed. Our main characters are still apart from each other, and as a result, the narrator switches from chapter to chapter between Ky and Cassia. For me, this was distracting, especially since Ky and Cassia are reunited pretty early on in the book. They are trying to find the people who are part of the Rising, the people who have been trying to live off the grid and away from the Society. Xander is missing, or at least somewhere in the background. Ky and Cassia do find a weird stash of Society stuff and a treasure trove of things smuggled out by the Rising people, but not much happens in this story. (I know people complained about the part in HP7: The Deathly Hallows where it felt like Harry, Ron, and Hermione were camping for 6 months and sitting around in the woods trying to figure out what to do. It was kind of that feeling, except we know and LOVE Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and at least they are on a clear quest. I didn’t feel like I knew Cassia, Ky, and Xander enough to root for them a whole lot here.)
Book 3, Reached, is the one I struggled with the most. It’s hefty at just over 500 pages. Now we have 3-way alternating chapters and everyone is separated again…until they aren’t. This was confusing because the whole book is written in the same voice and I kept getting confused between the two boys. Here is where the book takes an unexpected turn for me, and the plot becomes about a virus, immunizations, a plague, a mutation virus, and a cure. This book was slow. It took a long time, hundreds of pages, to get interesting for me. I read this while my students did their silent reading and it led to some good discussions on what to do when you don’t really like a book. What kept me going was the fact that the book was divided into parts and I kept hoping that the next part would be the one that was suddenly better. Even in the end, you still don’t have all of your questions answered. My final verdict: meh.
So, I say this. Read these books (at least the first one) if you liked The Hunger Games, The Giver, Uglies, or any other dystopian-futuristic-rebellion-type stories. Also read these if you are an aspiring writer, not so much for the story, but because Allie Condie does have a particularly beautiful way of writing about nature and colors. There were some really nice passages in these books, but her elaborate writing slowed down the action instead of serving to move the plot along.
Matched is AR level 4.8 and is worth 13 points.
Crossed is AR level 4.2 and is worth 12 points.
Reached is AR level 4.6 and is worth 16 points.
These AR levels seem low for the story content, especially for Reached, where the information about The Plague gets very clinical. The romance is very sterile though, just like The Society wants it. Ha ha!