Crossed by Ally Condie
2.5 of 5 stars
Told in alternating viewpoints, Cassia and Ky make their way in the rough Outer Provinces as they try to find their way back to one another and discover more about themselves, their futures, and their place in Society’s world.
It’s beautiful and it’s real, but our time together could be as fleeting as snow on the plateau. We can either try to change everything or just make the most of whatever time we have.
This was my second time reading through this book, and I can’t help but feel the same sense of letdown as I felt when I read it the first time. There were definitely things I enjoyed; I liked reading about Ky’s background, and seeing things from his perspective should have been really interesting. Some of the writing is beautiful, lyrical, and poetic, and in the first book this worked really well as a foil to the sterile world of Society, but out in the Outer Provinces, the obsession with poetry (especially Cassia’s) is a little overdone.
Other downsides… for one, Cassia and Ky’s voices sound nearly identical. This wasn’t so much of a problem when they were apart, but once they’re experiencing the same story line, I found it confusing, and more than once picked up the book in the middle of the chapter and found myself reading it with the wrong narrator in mind. Confusing! I had previously liked their relationship for its openness and honesty, but there was far too much lying and secret-keeping in this book, and I found myself rooting for Xander, despite his absence from this novel, merely based on Ky’s shortcomings. The plot also falls into the typical second-book-of-a-trilogy pitfall where it essentially has no story aside from setting the reader up for the third book. Irritating!
Oh, and my crazy novel 3 prediction: [highlight for spoiler: I’m guessing that Ky dared Xander to put his name into the Matching pool; I’d even venture a guess that they both KNEW that Cassia was going to be Matched with both of them, which would explain a comment Ky makes in book 3 about how anxious he was about the Matching, and would explain why Xander was so upset that Cassia chose Ky (as he says in book 1.]
Overall: Essential for the story arc of the series, but disappointing as a stand-alone novel.
Matched by Ally Condie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A glitch in Society’s Matching system shows Cassia two potential matches: Xander, her best friend, and Ky, a quiet boy through whose friendship Cassia realizes that Society may not be as wonderful as she has always thought.
If I had kept the poems from Grandfather, I’d be riding on a flood that I couldn’t stop… But it is as though the rain outside pours on me, too, eroding my relief and leaving only regret: The poems are gone, and I can never get them back.
In anticipation for the release of the third book in the Matched series today, I’ve started re-reading the previous books to refresh my memory. Fortunately, I found that I enjoyed Matched even more the second time around than I did at first. Like in many dystopians, the main features of Cassia’s society are efficiency and control, and the author sets this up nicely, in a way that you can see how Society can be both comforting and terrifying. Cassia’s rebellion, which begins when her Grandfather gives her forbidden poetry, is one that comes gradually and with much trepidation, as does her admiration for Ky. I liked that even though determining Cassia’s Match sets the stage for the novel, the plot and conflict revolves around something deeper and more important than just what boy she picks.
If you’ve read some of my other reviews, you’ll know I’m not a fan of the YA love triangles, and I hate how this one jerks you around, but the greater point is not Ky or Xander, but that Cassia wants the right to be able to choose who she marries, and that message comes through clearly, and we know that when she does pick, the choice will be hers alone. This novel isn’t fast-paced, and there’s a lot happening without ever really feeling like a lot is happening, but it’s all important for the setup of Cassia’s choices and the trilogy as a whole.
Overall: A typical YA dystopian, but among that genre, this is one of the best-written.