Reached by Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books
Publishing Date: November 2012
Genre: young adult, dystopian
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.
Cassia, Xander, and Ky are all members of the Rising. Ky flies planes filled with medical kits and cures for the Plague that has consumed the Society. Xander is a medic that administers the cure within the Society. Cassia continues to sort, a vague position still left unexplained, and trade with other Rising members. The three eventually team up to help the Pilot fully, when a deeper issue begins to concern both the Rising and the Society they once loved.
I deeply wanted to love this. Matched was a favorite. I loved the Brave New World concept, the use of pills to calm or forget things, a Society that only allots a certain amount of knowledge so that the people will not be overwhelmed with needless facts. I enjoyed the language: simple, cut and dry, very much like the Society Cassia lived in. Unfortunately, this did not meet my expectations after Matched and Crossed (which I also loved for its gritty politics and on-edge fight-or-flight feel). I was disappointed with this last installment.
The flaws in the book point to the perspectives, the writing style, and the meekness of the Rising’s plot. Condie overwhelms the reader with three perspectives: Cassia, Ky, and now Xander. Xander and Ky had distinct voices — excellent when writing from two different male perspectives, as it can be a bit of a challenge — that kept the reader updated on the events about the Rising in that same dry tone from the first book. Xander is, unbelievably, a high-ranking medical staff, and Ky is, also unbelievably, one of the best fighter pilots the Rising as ever seen. Despite this, their point of view within Society walls and on the outskirts of Society help create a rounded story. Cassia’s perspective, however, was dripping with poetry. It was beautifully lyrical, but there were so many illusions and strange references that it made me fear for her sanity. I could not understand what exactly was going on from her end of the Rising, other than a desire to create a culture through art once again. Her mentality also came into question for every single reference she made to keeping silks and papers against her skin underneath all of her uniforms, or tacking sheets of paper covered in poetry onto tree branches. Really? Cassia, you do not sound stable.
As for the plot, there was no power behind the propaganda. The Rising simply swooped in to save the day, bringing a cure for the Society’s Plague. And then what? There was no fight. No struggles were made from the Society. And yet the book dragged over 500 pages when nearly 200 of it could have been cut. I felt no emotion, no anticipation, no concern or worry for any of the characters. Everything I had hoped for, considering the success and tension from Matched and Crossed, was left to dust.
For the sake of the series, I gave this book two stars for “it was okay.”