Ally Condie’s novel Matched was one of first books I read when getting into dystopian fiction. It brought together elements that I thought were so striking – unlike in The Hunger Games where there is clearly something wrong with a government that forces children to kill each other, Matched presented readers with the Society, a system which on the surface gives the appearance of truly looking out for the best interests of citizens. If you trust in the system and follow the rules, then the Society will take care of you.
Except, things were not as they appeared. Through the eyes of Cassia, a seventeen year old girl, we start to learn that her perfect world is far from perfect. She begins to realize she wants what was taken away generations before her – the right to make choices for herself, including to be with the boy she’s fallen in love with, Ky.
Crossed, the second novel in this trilogy, picks up several months after where the first book left off. Cassia has made her way to the Outer Provinces, searching for Ky. However, thoughts of Xander, her best friend from home and the boy she was matched with to marry, are never too far from her mind either. But Ky has managed to escape the rough work camps and Cassia follows. New characters are introduced who are parts of their respective journeys, and while her longing to be with him remains, her desire to find and join the Rising, the group fighting to bring down the Society, is growing. The time is coming when she will soon have to choose not only between these two boys, but between love and the cause she believes in.
Condie continues to spin a story that keeps readers captivated. This time around, readers not only got to experience events from Cassia’s eyes, but Ky’s as well which was an interesting twist that I really enjoyed. The imagery was rich and I had no trouble visualizing the canyons Cassia and Ky are struggling to survive in. Readers also learn more about Ky’s mysterious past, why exactly his family was removed from Citizen status, and where his loyalties lie. Since the first book focused on what the Society can control, I loved learning about what’s being done to try to stop it this time around.
My biggest criticism, however, was the pace of the story. In this way, the novel does seem to suffer what is commonly referred to as "second book syndrome" where in the world of trilogies, the second book feels a bit like filler until the third and final installment, where all of the tied up loose ends and answers come along. The whole book takes place over the course of a few days, no more than 10 at max, but it didn’t feel like a whole lot was really going on to advance the plot in that time. This book was definitely more about character and history development, which is fine, but patience is imperative.
That being said, I’m even more excited now for Reached, the final installment in the trilogy due out November of this year.
Comments welcome and, as always, happy reading.