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Review: Crossed by Ally Condie

Summary: This is the second book in the trilogy that began with Matched. Cassia winds up in the Outer Provinces as she searches for Ky, the boy who taught her to write and helped her to dream. He’s also the boy she’s in love with, despite her deep feelings for her friend Xander. Far from the Society, which is dangerous but familiar, Cassia braves the desert frontier with the help of her friend Indie. Meanwhile, Ky is also trying to find Cassia as he faces some dark memories from his past. On their journeys, both Cassia and Ky must make difficult choices about truth, love, and their own futures.

Review: I really liked Matched, and in fact, I counted it among my favorite books from last year. It took me quite a long time to get around to reading Crossed, and in the meantime I had been getting negative vibes about it from reviews. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was better than I expected it to be, although neither was it particularly outstanding.

First of all, there’s a big change in the setting. The previous book took place in the slick, futuristic Society, while Crossed is more of a survival story in the rugged desert. The landscape is harsh and unforgiving, yet Cassia and Ky both find a certain kind of beauty in it. I feel this sums the book up as a whole. Dystopian fiction is dark by nature, with the characters often finding themselves in terrible situations. Crossed is appropriately serious as the characters face the concept of death and inner demons, yet they always choose to hope instead of turning to despair.

Although I was on the edge of my seat for Cassia and Ky to find each other, the book as a whole did seem somehow bland. The characters travel around quite a bit and undergo some introspection, but a curious lack of tension and foreboding meant the plot suffers as a result. There’s also a nagging sense of familiarity: if Matched felt like The Giver, Crossed feels like the Obernewtyn series by Isobelle Carmody.

What does distinguish the book from similar fiction is the author’s style. Condie incorporates poetry into the plot, and her prose is very poetic and beautiful itself. Nevertheless, I was not such a fan of the way Condie switched between perspectives. It was important to hear Ky’s side of the story, but I often had difficulty figuring out who was narrating halfway through a chapter. In addition, the supporting cast of characters is small, but I did not find them very engaging and had difficulty caring that much about them at all.

In short: Though it has an optimistic tone and her lovely prose, Crossed focuses on inner journeys to the extent that the book lacks a gripping plot. I’m hoping this reflects a middle book slump, as I do plan to read Reached to finish the trilogy.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Something better: For a more interesting frontier-style journey, check out Exile, the sequel to Aurelia by Anne Osterlund. As mentioned above, I would also recommend the Obernewtyn series. It’s very long (I haven’t yet finished it – it’s been ongoing since the 1980s) and could use some editing down, but still a good  post-apocalyptic read.

Cover & Title: “Crossed” could have several connotations based on the contents of the novel. I love the set of the three covers as a whole. The cover for Matched is stunning and attracted me to the book in the first place. The significance of green, blue, and red is also very important. I have no clue why they chose that particular pose for the model on the cover of Crossed, though. It looks like something out of an extremely unnatural yoga session…

Where I got the book: Local library

If you look to the sidebar on the right, you may noticed that I recently received the Versatile Blogger Award! I plan to post about this soon (which actually might not be for a few weeks – I’m off to England on Sunday!), but until then: a big thank you to thoughtsonmybookshelf.wordpress.com!

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This entry was posted on May 10, 2012 by in 3 Stars, Books, Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult and tagged , , , .
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