I recently finished reading the Matched trilogy by Ally Condie.
And, as I mentioned in my last post, it was a bit like coming home to my favorite genre. I truly loved this trilogy, and I couldn’t think of a better way to share the love than to review each of the three books on my blog. So, settle in kiddos, this one might be a little long.
Please note that there will be spoilers in the blurbs for Crossed and Reached, so if you haven’t read the entire trilogy, I highly recommend stopping after the review for the first book, Matched. I will post another warning before the blurb for Crossed.
Also, the playlists in this blog post are a mix of the songs that Ally Condie said she listened to when writing the trilogy and my own song choices.
In the Society, officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one…until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.
Matched is a story for right now and storytelling with the resonance of a classic
I loved this book. I devoured it in under twenty-four hours and it was just deliciously painful and heartbreaking. I felt for all of the characters and the world was just beautiful and and and—
Okay, let’s get slightly more organized than whatever that *points up* was.
Plot: I love dystopia, but this plot felt so fresh. It felt more intimate that a lot of other dystopia stories because it was focused on the characters, not the big plot points. I knew why everything mattered to them and it progressed perfectly and it just…it broke me, you guys. I’m not kidding when I say that the very first thing I did after finishing Matched was getting on Amazon to order the other two books.
Characters: Cassia was a beautiful protagonist. I know that some people say she’s boring and not relatable, but I didn’t feel that way at all. I thought she was a beautifully written character who was so conflicted and just wanted everyone to be happy and live their fairy tale life. As for Xander, I immediately loved him. He was such a good friend to Cassia and I absolutely devoured their every interaction. At least, until Ky showed up and stole my little, fragile heart. Ky was so precious, you guys. He was so broken and flawed and ughhhhhh, I love him a lot, okay?
My absolute favorite thing about the characters was that the love triangle was actually comprised of two healthy, and non-toxic love interests. Cassia is torn between her best friend, Xander, and the mysterious Ky. But like, both guys would actually be a healthy choice for her? Which is really odd for a dystopian romance story?? Because I just go into it expecting that at least one of the guys is going to be toxic???? So, from the very bottom of my heart, THANK YOU ALLY CONDIE, FOR CREATING A LOVE TRIANGLE WHERE BOTH OF THE LOVE INTERESTS ARE HEALTHY AND WOULD BE A GOOD CHOICE FOR THE PROTAGONIST. It makes it so much more painful for the reader because you could realistically see Cassia with EITHER GUY, which just intensifies the already intense stakes.
Final Thoughts: I basically just love this book with my whole heart. ALSO THE POETRY. *heart eyes* The poetry was one of my favorite parts of the entire trilogy, but especially in this book. It was woven into the story in such a wholesome and heartfelt way, I wanted to cry every time I saw it.
Content Review (taken from Common Sense Media)
Violence: References to violence are minimal. The Society is at war in the distant Outer Provinces, but in Cassie’s world that’s the stuff of occasional rumor. There are some references to villagers killed in the Outer Provinces, and one story of a boy who was murdered. Citizens die peacefully on their 80th birthdays.
Sex: For a story with a strong romantic undercurrent, there’s not much sexual content other than a few kisses.
“Every minute you spend with someone gives them a part of your life and takes part of theirs.“
“Growing apart doesn’t change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I’m glad for that.”
“Is falling in love with someone’s story the same thing as falling in love with the person himself?”
Listen to my Matched playlist
If you have not read past the first book, Matched, I highly suggest stopping here until you do. There are spoilers for the rest of the trilogy from here on out.
The Society chooses everything.
The books you read.
The music you listen to.
The person you love.
Yet for Cassia the rules have changed. Ky has been taken and she will sacrifice everything to find him.
And when Cassia discovers Ky has escaped to the wild frontiers beyond the Society there is hope.
But on the edge of society nothing is as it seems…
A rebellion is rising.
And a tangled web of lies and double-crosses could destroy everything.
Plot: I didn’t love this one quite as much as I loved the plot of Matched. However, it held my attention and had me wanting to know what happened next, which I rarely find with sequels. I was amazed at how Condie could create so much tension and suspense within scenes that, outside of this context, would be really, really boring. It was such a basic external plot that normally, I’d be yawning and bored out of my mind. But somehow, Condie spun everything in such a way that I was turning pages frantically, trying to figure out what would happen and how the characters would react. Overall, I’d say it was, quite possibly, the best sequel I’ve ever read.
Characters: Cassia was broken in this one. She hit some really low points and it hurt to be there beside her. But, it was also a blessing because she is such a good role model for younger readers (although I don’t recommend this trilogy for readers under 14 because it does deal with some traumatic situations). Cassia has the hope of a child, which is something that I really relate to, and she absolutely refuses to believe that there won’t one day be a resolution to the big mess that the Society has become.
We didn’t get to see a ton of Xander in this book, but when we did, just wow. He hits hard, and I can’t say anything more because spoilers.
WE GOT KY’S POINT OF VIEW IN THIS ONE. I loved how Condie started with Cassia’s POV in Matched and then integrated Ky’s into the sequel. It wasn’t as jarring as POV shifts usually are for me, which was really nice. It was also fun to get to see how Ky thought about things that happened in Matched, which we’ve only ever seen from Cassia’s POV before.
Anyway, Ky was a little soft boy in this one and I was SO here for it.
Final Thoughts: Honestly, I enjoyed this one A LOT more than I thought I would. Sequels are usually where a trilogy is made or breaks for me: if I lose interest, I’ll probably read the third book book because I need resolution, but I’m just not into it anymore, y’know? So, I was really happy when I found myself reading like a mad woman because I JUST HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED NEXT.
The Content Review (taken from Common Sense Media)
Violence: This book is much more brutal than the series opener, putting readers in the thick of the violence alluded to earlier. It opens with Ky disposing of the body of a boy who died of thirst. Children sent the Outer Provinces are effectively given a death sentence, facing lack of food and water and deadly attacks. A [side character] is killed in an explosion; Cassia and her companion find a plain covered with burned bodies after an attack. Condie doesn’t linger on these scenes, but they recur often to underscore the severity of the teens’ situation and the stakes.
Sex: Mostly kissing. Cassia and Ky slip off alone for a night together, but that’s all the detail given — readers can infer what they will. There’s also the strong suggestion that a young boy and a young girl have sex, but again, nothing explicit.
“Because in the end, you can’t always choose what to keep. You can only choose how you let go.”
“You wouldn’t think that you can forget but sometimes you can—for a moment or two. I’ve never been able to decide if I think that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Forgetting let’s you live without the pain for a moment but remembering hurts harder.”
“When you first love, you look blind and you see it all as the glorious, beloved whole, or a beautiful sum of beautiful parts. But when you see the one you love as pieces, as whys—why he walks like this, why he closes his eyes like that—you can love those parts, too, and it’s a love at once more complicated and more complete.”
Listen to my Crossed playlist
After leaving Society to desperately seek 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 is assigned undercover in Central city, Ky outside the borders, an airship pilot with Indie. Xander is a medic, with a secret. All too soon, everything shifts again.
Plot: I’m not gonna lie, this one felt a little weird to read, since we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic. So, I could kind of understand the anxiety that basically all of the characters felt about the plague… *has flashback to me laughing like a mad woman when I found out that the third book featured the plague and that I was reading it in 2021 because IRONY*
I was also impressed with how well written the plague was. Like, Condie DID HER RESEARCH, because there was never even one moment that I thought, “this is so unrealistic, this would never happen.”*
Characters: Cassia’s transformation in this book was breathtaking. I loved how we got to watch her grow over the course of these three books… It was really beautiful, and I just love her to pieces.
Xander literally became a man in Reached. He grew so much and I was so proud of him and how he learned to be the man that he needed to become…not the man that Cassia needed him to be. He learned how to be his own person and really came into his own, and I’m honored to have been part of his journey.
Ky, my baby. He came a long way by the end of this book. And I have too many feelings, so don’t make me try to put them into words because I CAN’T!
ALSO, can we just talk about how we got ALL THREE OF THEIR POVS IN THIS BOOK? Like I was so happy to see inside of all three of their heads, it was beyond satisfying.
Final Thoughts: It was the perfect ending to a beautiful trilogy. Condie tied up the loose ends in a way that satisfied me and I was really happy with the growth of all the characters. It was a bittersweet kind of ending, because people were ultimately lost in the journey, but that’s also what made it feel real to me: Nobody got out unscathed. Every single person in the story was impacted, in some way, by the events that transpired and people they met. Everybody had scars at the end…but those scars don’t define them…instead they are a reminder of who they have become.
*I mean, it could just be that I lived through 2020, where LITERALLY ANYTHING FELT PLAUSIBLE.
The Content Review (taken from Common Sense Media)
Violence: Some deaths from the Plague are a little grisly. A character is accused of killing someone and faces execution. Several characters die, but the deaths occur off-screen. And there’s a fleeting, hinted threat of sexual violence against a secondary character.
Sex: There are a few brief kisses.
“And it strikes me that this is how writing anything is, really. A collaboration between you who gives the words and they who take them and find meaning in them, or put music behind them, or turn them aside because they were not what was needed.”
“If you let hope inside, it takes you over. It feeds on your insides and uses your bones to climb and grow. Eventually it becomes the thing that is your bones, that holds you together. Holds you up until you don’t know how to live without it anymore. To pull it out of you would kill you entirely.”
“When we fall in love the first time, we don’t know anything. We risk a lot less than we do if we choose to love again. There’s something extraordinary about the first time falling.”
Listen to my Reached playlist
Have you read the Matched trilogy? If so, which book was your favorite? Did you ship Cassia with Xander or with Ky? Let’s talk all things Matched in the comments!