While staying true to the science fiction and romance at the core of Matched (2010) and Crossed (2011), the trilogy’s breathless finale blossoms into a medical thriller too, adding breadth and resonance.
Cassia, Ky and Xander are far apart. Ky unenthusiastically flies air ships for the Rising, an enigmatic organization poised to overturn the Society. The Rising sends Cassia to work from the inside, so she sorts data for the Society, awaits the Rising’s instruction and trades poetry underground. Xander’s a Society medical Official who uses his position to subtly immunize infants against the forced-forgetfulness tablets that the Society regularly gives adults. The three take turns narrating in first-person present, revealing tantalizing information gaps: What does one character wonder while another knows? What do readers not know yet? A plague breaks out, mutates and becomes a pandemic—which aspects were intentional, and on whose part? Poems (Tennyson, Dickinson, Thomas) and a painting (Sargent) figure heavily and beautifully on both symbolic and literal levels. Is the Rising trustworthy? Can a living human also be an archetype? Condie’s prose is immediate and unadorned, with sudden pings of lush lyricism. Her protagonists are no run-of-the-mill romance triangle, her forms of activism (art, medicine) rich. Each character is differently strong and differently wounded.
With reveals seeming to arrive on almost every page, prepare to stay up all night. (author’s note referencing poems and paintings) (Science fiction/romance. 13 & up)