Dystopian novels have become one of my favorite genres of fiction. I think it takes so much imagination and creative energy to invent entire worlds with their own set of rules. This particular book reminded me of another favorite dystopian novel of mine, Lois Lowry's The Giver. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Lowry's work inspired some of the framework of Condie's dystopian world. Let me break the first book, Matched, down for you: A young girl named Cassia lives in a society (ironically called "the Society") where every part of her life is controlled and planned for her, including whom she will be matched with for life. Life in the Society seems pretty easy, if you enjoy being a mindless puppet with zero ambition. Food, activities, occupation, everything is decided for Cassia and her personal choices are limited. Most people have become complacent with this way of living. For most of them, it's the only way they've ever known. Everything seems pretty perfect, until there's a glitch in Cassia's results at her Match banquet and she becomes aware of an outcast named Ky. She doesn't understand the way she feels for this boy; a way she could never feel about her best friend Xander, who happens to be her match. Her grandfather also ignites her curiosity about what lies outside of the constrictions of the Society before he dies. She begins to question everything as the world she knows starts crumbling away. Rumors of an uprising against the Society and the existence of a mysterious hero start to emerge. The first book leaves you guessing and wanting more.
The second book, Crossed, covers the next part of Cassia's journey to becoming independent from the Society. Her character is much stronger and more aware in this book. I found her adventure through the Carving really exciting. However, the emphasis on Ky's past was a little over-the-top for me. I really started feeling like I was too old to be reading the series about half-way through this book. Everyone loves a sensitive guy, but Ky's character was so overly emotional about his past that it was hard to empathize with him anymore. The author really beats you over the head with his sob story. The journey ended on an exciting note, with a new society on the verge and the characters being a part of it. You are still left wondering who the mysterious hero known as "the Pilot", will be.
I recently finished the third book in the series, Reached. This book was written entirely different from the previous two in that it was told from the alternating perspectives of Cassia, Xander, and Ky. This was really interesting in that it gives you more insight into Xander and Ky's characters. I don't want to give too much away in case you planned on reading the series, but I will say that I really enjoyed how the author tied together so many loose ends from the previous books. I had forgotten many of the mysteries since the last book but she reintroduced them and connected everything together so that it ended really well. I think it would have been really awesome to have Cassia find out that her grandfather actually escaped to the "Otherlands" instead of dying, though!
In all, the trilogy began as very character driven and ended very plot driven. The second and third books were overly political and harder for me to get into. I stuck it out for the characters, in all honesty. It feels good to finish another trilogy and I'm satisfied with how it ended.
On a page-turner scale I would give this trilogy a 6 out of 10. If you can muddle through some of the melodrama and politics, there is a sweet and interesting story there.
Stay tuned, next I'll be reviewing Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi!