A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
There's good stuff in Reached for both poets and scientists. As in the earlier books, works of art underpin key plot points and drive the characters' growth. Ally Condie lists the painting and poems referenced in the story in an author's note, a wonderful prompt for kids who are hungry for more. She also gives a primer on the biology of viruses, describing -- with fictional liberties, of course -- how immunizations work, how viruses change, and how scientists struggle to stay a step ahead.
The difference between right and wrong is rarely black and white. The characters learn to be comfortable with ambiguity. They find their faith and beliefs constantly challenged, and they learn to balance trust with skepticism.
Positive Role Models
Confronted with difficult choices, the three young protagonists often act for the greater good and put their personal desires aside. Cassia proves smart and resourceful, and Xander makes tremendous sacrifices to try to help the sick. Ky sometimes seems to have tunnel vision, desperate to run away with Cassia beyond the reach of the Society or the Rising, but he, too, grows to take a wider view.
Violence & Scariness
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 offscreen. And there's a fleeting, hinted threat of sexual violence against a secondary character.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There are a few brief kisses.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the plot of Reached centers on efforts to control a mutating virus. Victims become "still," in a coma-like state, and many die, sometimes in a rather grisly fashion. But the focus is on moral and philosophical questions: the chance of doing wrong even when you're trying to do right, the quandary of whether the end justifies the means, and the risks and rewards of love and faith.
Is It Any Good?
The pace picks up here, with threads of a medical thriller entwined in the engaging tale of rebellion, love, and longing. But it's the quieter thoughts that stick: Cassia's meditation on the purpose of creating, the ways the symbolic power of a poem can shift and change, the choices and challenges that complicate the desire to do good, and what makes a life well lived.
Matched was told from Cassia's perspective, and the second book, Crossed, shifted between Cassia and Ky. Reached adds a third narrative voice: that of Xander, whose absence was keenly felt in the middle book. At first he sounds confident but naive; his evolution from earnest soldier into a bruised but wiser young man is one of the more interesting narrative threads.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.