Review: Crossed by Ally Condie

Crossed (Matched series #2)
Ally Condie

Dutton Juvenile (2011)
384 pages
YA / Dystopia / Adventure / Romance

Purchase it from Amazon here

I’m going to attempt to be rational about this book and write a fair and balanced review.  This is going to be difficult, however, because I just finished it and all I want to write is “OMG I LOVE THIS BOOK!” over and over again with excessive amounts of exclamation marks and yet I know the book has problems.  Crossed is the sequel to Matched, a book I read earlier in the year that I enjoyed, but was one of those books I loved more the farther away I got from it.  I didn’t do it any favors by reading it right after The Hunger Games series either.  The more I thought about the world building, the concepts Condie put inside, and the potential for character growth beyond the stock YA cast, the more I enjoyed MatchedI mean, I gave it a B- in my initial review.

This is not the case with Crossed.  I’m on the verge of breaking things in frustration of not having the third book.  Yes, I had a few issues here and there that might have been fixed for the finished version, but OMG I LOVE THIS BOOK!

Warning: Spoilers for Matched ahead

I finished my review of Matched with the following words:

I'm left with a lot of questions, mostly background and about all the things that are only hinted at with passing comments.  I want to know more about the global situation.  I want more world building.  I want more Ky being awesome.

And guess what?  Ally Condie gave me everything I wanted and so much more.  There’s background and world building, views of life outside the Society, the absolutely horrible things the Society is capable of, and above all else, a lot more of Ky being awesome because half of the story is told by Ky.

By the end of Matched, Cassia – our plucky female protagonist – was on her way to a work program with the intent of sneaking out of the Society to find Ky, who had been ripped from his bed in the middle of the night and shipped off to what is essentially boot camp for death.  Crossed picks up a few months later when Cassia is almost done with her work program and desperate for a way out to find Ky.  He is currently acting as a decoy farmer in an outer province, helping the Society divert the enemy (cleverly referred to as the Enemy) in some long-standing war.  Essentially he’s living in an abandoned village with other people deemed not worthy, waiting for a bomb to blow him up.

A lot of convenient plot devices occur and Cassia finds herself in the outer provinces with a boy who knew Ky and promises to help her on her way to find him.  Adventure ensues.  People are dramatic.  A lot of poetry is thought about.  In context, I should not really like this book.  It’s romance-y.  Everyone is pining after each other.  And yet…

For a book that doesn’t take place in any of the Society world I found so fascinating, this book hooked me from the beginning and didn’t let me go.  I was horrified by what Ky had to go through, anxious to see when Cassia and Ky would be reunited (I stayed up until 1am one night in hopes I would be able to reach their reunion before I went to sleep), and eager to see what happened after.  The rebellion alluded to in Matched acts as a strong catalyst in Crossed, driving the action of the story once the inevitable reunion is made.  Also, can I say how glad I am that the separation wasn’t dragged out for the entire book?  That was a huge relief.

Condie’s writing is significantly more impactful and more poetic than in the first book.  I didn’t find any issues with too much repetition that had bothered me in Matched.  I found myself reading entire pages over again, not because of I didn’t comprehend the context, but because I found the language to flow so well.  I think, combined with the growth in Cassia’s character and the narrative strategy of using two narrators, this is the reason I enjoyed Crossed so much.

I did, however, have a couple of instances when everyone was being so cryptic that I couldn’t figure out if I should know what they were all being cryptic about (as though it was something from book one) or be out in the dark with Cassia.  I also am a little unclear of the motives of Xander and how what he does as an off-screen character poses as a danger to Cassia and Ky’s relationship.  Above all the new female character – Indie – rarely did things that made any sense to me.

Yet despite all that, I found that I really enjoyed the book.  I found it exciting and engaging and so full of potential for book three.  Cassia grew a backbone and became a character I was interested in.  Ky might not have been as awesome as he was in Matched, but he grew as a character, his background and motivation filled in.  His emo was showing for a bit, especially toward the end, which I would have preferred less of, but it didn’t dampen my enjoyment.  I am solidly in support of Cassia and Ky.  Xander who?

This review is awful.  On paper this book should have annoyed me and yet I’m left with all the hand-flapping crazy excitement I had when finishing Ashes (though without the shocked WTF?! feeling).  I know that in retrospect I shouldn’t like this book so much, but I do.  The cognitive dissonance is threatening a brain meltdown.  Which is why I can’t give it an A, but I can give it a:

 

B+

Some narrative issues, but really engaging storytelling; some predictable and convenient plot points, but character development makes up for it; might not like it if you’re not into poetry

 

POTENTIAL GIANT SPOILER SPECULATION
I have a strong suspicion that this “Enemy” the Society is fighting is just the Society finding a way to kill all its unwanted citizens.  The rebellion killing farmers doesn’t make sense and I haven’t seen a third player in this game.

 

I received a copy of this from the publisher after stalking their booth at Comic Con.  Despite the wishy-washy love of this post, it’s an honest review and all my own opinion.