A dystopian, totalitarian state known as the Society, in an unknown future year.
Narrator and Point of View
Whereas Cassia narrated Matched alone, and shared her perspective with Ky’s in Crossed, in Reached, the narrative is approached equally from three sides. Xander joining the others as the physic at the center of the plague, while Ky is the fighter on the outside, and Cassia sits in between, sorting and trying to keep up. This creates a more multifaceted narration, a crucial literary device given the complicated nature of Reached’s plot.
Tone and Mood
Whereas Matched started out lightheartedly, the tone of Reached begins with more of the tension of Crossed as the onslaught of the Plague begins. The tone grows somewhat lighter in the early days of the Rising's rise to power, as things appear to be looking up. However, when the mutation occurs, things grow dark quickly until people are dying left and right and there is great fear and desperation for help from all parties.
Protagonist and Antagonist
The story's three main protagonists are Cassia Reyes, Xander Carrow, and Ky Markham. The antagonist begins as the totalitarian Society that they're fighting against and becomes the merciless, mutated virus that threatens to exterminate large portions of the Provinces' populations.
While Reached's plot begins with the problem of overthrowing the totalitarian Society, the story's major conflict ends up being the fight against a mercilessly spreading mutated virus created by the Society and utilized by the Rising to maintain power over the Provinces of the Society. On a personal level, Cassia, Xander, and Ky each wish for their freedom of expression, choice, love, and life, all of which sit at the horizon just beyond curing the virus and establishing order within the Provinces again.
Though there are a few places where one could argue Reached peaks in tension, Chapter 51 provides one of the best examples when the Pilot comes hurdling into the village square, interrupting Xander’s potential death sentence to profess his desperation for a cure. This not only acts as a saving grace for Xander, but also demonstrates the climax of fear and chaos that the situation within the Provinces has reached.
There are many instances of foreshadowing in Reached, but none is more salient that Cassia's discovery that the Emily Dickinson poem "I did not reach thee" ends with a phrase about death usurping one's Premium. This is a point of great anxiety for Cassia, who originally felt much admiration for the poem, and speaks to the possibility of a potentially great loss in her future.
At the end of Chapter 14, Xander announces, "We have a mutation on our hands" (p. 173). This could be considered a great understatement, as the mutation ultimately becomes the book's largest and most deadly antagonist. It's not just on their hands, but all over their bodies, in their water supply, and spreading to thousands upon thousands of bodies throughout the Provinces.
As Reached is the third installment in the Matched trilogy, there are many allusions to events in the prequels that the reader would need to have read to understand. These include Cassia not savoring her last bite of Matching Banquet cake, accidentally killing the boy in the Carving with the blue tablets, Cassia and Ky developing their relationship along the slopes of the Hill in Oria, among countless others.
Reached is full of red imagery, beginning with the very first paragraph about the sun coming up and turning the earth red. The silk dress that Cassia wears under her plainclothes is red, as is the rose she has Ky focus on as he goes still, the bloodshed as people infected with the mutation begin to die, the fresh roots of plants, and the general color of new beginnings and rebirth.
Metonymy and Synecdoche
A good example of metonymy in Reached would be the way Condie refers to the different forms of power over the Provinces as the "Society" and the "Rising." These entities are usually substitutes for the people that comprise them, since they themselves do not actually exist, but are rather the sums of actions and ideas created and carried out by people.
There are many times when the Society and Rising themselves are personified, with phrases characterizing them as merciful or manipulative, helpful or hurtful. Though the entities themselves do not act or think—the people that comprise them do—they are nevertheless used as substitutes when describing attacks carried out, decisions made, and power transfers that in fact are the result of the actions of people.
Reached Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Reached is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.