December 11, 2012

Crossed: A Panoramic Review

*Note: This review contains spoilers for Matched (my review here) as well as mild spoilers for Crossed (I have whited the major ones out). You have been warned!

"In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky — taken by the Society to his certain death — only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander — who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart — change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever." (from Goodreads)

Crossed by Ally Condie

My reaction: 

Given how Matched had left off, I spent the first part of Crossed quite anxious for how Ky and Cassia were going to react to each other when they met up again. They do have some relationship issues in this book, but they were understandable, and I appreciated that Ally Condie wasn't afraid to show the nuances in a relationship. The rosy glow has sort of worn off for them, and while they still love each other, they're starting to see each other in a different way and blame one another for certain things.

We also get to see a side of Ky here that we didn't in Matched. At first, I was not a fan of this "new" Ky (and I was even starting to turn Team Xander!). But then the author totally turned it around again, making us understand why Ky is like this, and even showing a little change in him. Spoilers, highlight to read: I was a bit skeptical about his revelation moment (in the rain, no less...a wee bit overly dramatic, perhaps?) but I liked that he recognized on some level that the negativity of his approach to Cassia, the idea of the Rising, and his past (specifically, the deaths of his parents) was making him depressed and basically was self-destructive. He realized that he needs to open up, and be more open-minded to things, in order to be happy (or try to be happy, anyway) and also in order to keep Cassia with him. I think he recognized that he's going to lose her if he keeps on behaving the way he has been. 

The dual narrative throughout was very useful. In the first half, before Cassia and Ky reunite, it works to keep things moving because of the parallels going on. There's also tension stemming from the questions of 'when will they meet up, and what will happen when they do?' In the second half, the dual narrative highlights the differences between what Cassia knows and what Ky does. There's a disconnect in narratives, but since we're getting both of them, there isn't a disconnect for the reader (just for the characters — although admittedly it's a little difficult to remember what one person knows and the other doesn't.) Be warned, though, that Crossed is a lot bleaker than Matched, partly because we see things from Ky's perspective — and he is very depressed and pessimistic in the first part of the story.

Crossed is one of those books where the small things may be purposely glossed over initially but end up being important later on. Ally Condie pulls this off cleverly, although sometimes I would forget and want to flip back to check what they were referring to.

Best aspect: the number of themes that Ally Condie manages to weave into Crossed. Choice, memory, death, meaning, and religion are all brought into the story in some way. There are definite religious undertones here, but it's not over-the-top — you can take from it what you will. They're not forced down your throat. More generally, while it's sometimes obvious that a certain theme is getting spotlighted, it doesn't feel like it's in your face. (In fact, I think it would go against the spirit of Cassia's journey to find knowledge, truth, independence and free will for the author to try to force something on the reader — it would be the antithesis of the "point" of this series!) 

I also loved that she included so much poetry, as I think it really adds something to the story. There's also a nod to some of the old-fashioned things we may have forgotten about — art, dancing, simple beauty — which the author manages to capture brilliantly.

If I could change something... I had some issues with a few of the plot points. For one thing, it seemed like Cassia and Ky were running away from a nebulous enemy, because despite the mentions of Society attacks the threat never actually materialized. It led me to conclude that either the Society isn't concerned with what Cassia and Ky are up to, or they're really not very competent (I would be disappointed if it were the latter, so I'm hoping it's the first reason). I also thought one aspect of the Carving was implausible (spoilers: the Society's secret lair of tubes...what was up with that? Seemed very random.)

Another problem I had concerns the ending of the book and thus is very spoilery: I didn't expect them to find the Rising so easily! It seemed rushed, like the author had to fit the Rising in there before book 3. Such a big deal is made about the Rising, and then it's just there on the other side of the lake? 

And I wish there had a more traditional style of map provided, to give the reader an idea of the scale of the characters' travels. The illustration at the beginning helped me a little, but I still couldn't visualize the canyons and plain very well.

If you haven't read it:
and you're looking for a thoughtful (albeit slow-paced) dystopian series, first read Matched, and then follow it up with this one!

If you have read it:
what are your predictions for Reached? I feel like Crossed raises more questions than it answers — hopefully everything will get resolved in the final book of the trilogy...

Just one more thing I want to mention:
In a way, the worldbuilding is still somewhat vague in this book, but I think that's kind of the point. There are pros and cons to this: it doesn't feel as vibrant and fleshed-out and real as it would if it were very specific, but at the same time, it feels sort of universal, since the terms being used are generalizable ones like "the Society," "the Rising," and "the Enemy." And Crossed follows conventions of dystopian literature, yes, but the elements pulled from various dystopian books — consciously or unconsciously, I don't know — are used really well here.


"Vick digs next to me. Neither of us talk about the people we won't be able to bury today. The ones who tried to climb to the snow.

Back in the village, I hear the decoys calling to each other and to us. Three more dead here, they cry out, and then fall silent as they look up.

Not one of the decoys who went up to the plateau will be coming back. I find myself hoping the impossible, that at least they quenched their thirst before the fire. That they had mouths full of clean, cold snow when they died." 

Final verdict: 4 shooting stars. Crossed is more about character development and world-building than it is about the big-picture plot. It's quite slow-moving, and I wasn't gripped by it, but I loved the writing. Ally Condie has such a poetic way with words that she can make even a dystopian somehow kind of soothing.


1 comment:

  1. I was pretty bored by this book-I enjoyed Matched a lot but then I felt like not much happened. Poetic writing is definitely not to my taste.


I love comments, so post away!

Related Posts with Thumbnails