Reached by Ally Condie
I named the first two of this series as among my favorites of 2011, so I was looking forward to the conclusion of the trilogy. In this installment, Cassia is separated from her two suitors, Ky and Xander, as each play different roles in the Rising, a movement aimed at taking down and replacing the repressive Society. The three protagonists take turns narrating as they fight a plague that threatens both the old and the new orders, as well as their own lives and those of their family members. There are more mind games and questions of loyalty as the two factions play the characters off each other and they search for answers in scientific research and in their own memories.
The love triangle is really handled well in this series. It was nice to see the two rivals treating each other with respect, even working to save each others’ lives, rather than sniping at each other and undermining each other or even fist-fighting. If you’ve read the first two books it’s easy to guess who Cassia will end up with. To keep the tension alive, there are a couple minor female characters who take an interest in Ky and Xander. Though this might seem like an easy way out, giving the spurned suitor a consolation prize, the book didn’t turn away from some mature analysis of why Cassia and Xander just wouldn’t have worked out, and why second love can be deeper and stronger than first love.
The writing style is poetic and almost ethereal in Cassia’s chapters. I think if she were the only narrator, it might be too much, but Ky’s and Xander’s sections interject a more blunt, matter-of-fact style so that it feels more balanced and grounded. The final couple pages are really beautifully written, envisioning a happy ending not just for the main characters but for their entire world.