My dad once said to me, "You give a lot of books three stars." I do.
This is a review for the entire trilogy.
Like most trilogies, I liked the first book (Matched) best. The third book (Reached) is all right, and the second book (Crossed) is a bridge to get from the first to the third.
The whole series is very typical of the YA dystopian genre. The Society in Condie’s world borrows heavily from the world Lois Lowry creates in The Giver. The story contains the (now) usual YA dystopian elements of a teen within the society realizing that everything is not quite right in her seemingly perfect world and, of course, a love triangle.
Condie is a better writer than most, so I was willing to forgive the derivative nature of her work. If you’re not a fan of dystopian YA novels though, I would steer clear of this one.
Matched is rather boring and if it were a standalone novel, I wouldn’t recommend it. I would actually recommend treating all three books as if they were one. They are long, but very quick reads. Even though I felt like I knew Condie’s Society from other stories, I was still interested to see what happened to her characters. The weakest part for me, throughout the series, was the love triangle.
The second book was the weakest for me. At the beginning, the intrigue is high. The story picks up after a mild cliffhanger in the first book. Crossed employs a shifting POV, the chapters alternating between Cassia and Ky’s perspectives. This creates some interesting ironic drama as each finds out more about the Society. But nothing really comes from the early set up and the novel really starts dragging by the middle. There is far too much introspection from both Cassia and Ky, and much too much poetry for my tastes.
The last book, Reached, is interesting. Every question I had was answered in this book. However, there was too much telling and not enough showing. I noticed this particularly when it comes to the minor characters. Indie was one of my favorites, and I thought she was one of the most interesting parts of Crossed. However, in Reached she isn’t shown doing that much, even though she has a rather large part to play. This is probably partly because she doesn’t narrate any of the story herself. We're forced to only hear about/see her from the eyes of the other characters who love to tell us how good/mysterious/strong/whatever she is, without showing us what she’s doing in the Rising.
I read Reached the slowest, even though I liked it more than Crossed. I held out hope that the love triangle would get interesting. I often found myself rooting for Xander, just in the hopes that that part of the story would become more interesting, but it never did. The story didn’t gain anything from the love triangle subplot, and the story might have functioned better without it.
All in all, if you like YA dystopian novels, I would recommend the Matched series. It’s well-written, and sometimes it’s nice to live in a world of predictability.