Crossed by Ally Condie

Goodreads: Crossed
Series: Matched #2

Note: The summary may contain spoilers for those who have not read Matched.

Summary: The Society has sent Ky to the Outer Provinces as punishment for his daring to love Cassia Reyes, a girl matched by the computer system with a different boy as her future spouse.  Cassia knows that the Society has sent him to certain death.  Desperate to save him, Cassia sets out in search of Ky, hoping that she can convince him to join the resistance against the Society.

Review: Crossed is sure to please fans of Matched as Ally Condie gives readers, for the first time, a glimpse into Ky’s mind.  There we find all the courage, perseverance, and sensitivity we expect from the boy who stole Cassia’s heart.  In a book lacking much plot (or at least much logical plot) and focusing almost exclusively on romance, the character development and the way in which characters interact with each other and respond to their environment easily proves the most engaging part of the trilogy.

Condie, however, unfortunately switches between Ky’s perspective and that of Cassia, and the two do not have distinct narrative voices.  This makes it difficult to determine the speaker during certain sections of the text when the two travel the same ground and thus experience much the same thing.  Several times I found myself flipping back to the start of the chapter in order to check whose story I was reading.  The inability for readers to distinguish between the two protagonists betrays a lack of personality and character for both, which surprised me immensely as I had considered Ky much more mature and knowledgeable than Cassia, who has hitherto proven mostly an infatuated schoolgirl.

The lack of sound plot also disturbed me as Cassia sets out in search of her boyfriend with no other plan than finding him.  She has little strategy to start with and no designs as to what she will do once she finds him.  The Society has dropped him in the middle of the wilderness, so staying out there with him does not really count as an option.  Fortunately, hints of a resistance movement just happen to reach Cassia’s ears, so, on a bit of whim, she decides to join it—assuming she can find it.  Maybe someone really would be desperate enough or irrational enough to do all this, but I had trouble accepting the idea that her parents and her best friend would approve and abet the wild goose chase.

I do, however, acknowledge Condie’s daring and originality in suggesting that the resistance movement, like the Society, may not be everything its members would like others to believe.  In dystopian novels, whoever fights against the reigning power is usually undoubtedly good.  Whether it is the ends of the resistance or their means that trouble some of the characters Condie has not yet revealed, but the final installment of the trilogy promises to be both exciting and surprising.

Published: 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

Goodreads: Matched
Series: Matched #1

Summary: Cassia Reyes lives in a Society where everything is decided for her—what clothes she wears, what food she eats, and even what man she marries.  The Society informs Cassia that the computer system has chosen her childhood friend Xander as her future spouse, but when she views the digital card containing his personal information, another face flashes onto the screen: her mysterious neighbor Ky.  Torn between her love for Xander and her newfound love for Ky, Cassia begins to question a life without choices and to dream of a future where she has the freedom to express herself.

Review: Even as the young adult market sees an increasing number of dystopian novels hit the shelves, Matched feels refreshing and unique.  Its setting does not immediately strike the reader, or the characters, as a society gone wrong.  Rather, like the culture in Lois Lowry’s The Giver, the society portrayed is supposed to be ideal.  Humanity has eliminated sickness; provided everyone with jobs; and ensured that all citizens have food, clothing, and shelter.  Pain has essentially been eliminated.  Since citizens no longer have choices, they cannot make mistakes.  They cannot marry someone with whom they are not compatible and they cannot go into a profession at which they will not excel.  Society has even attempted to eliminate the suffering of aging and death by mandating that all citizens at a certain age take poison.  Theoretically, if everyone knows the exact day of their deaths and of their families’, the pain generated by the surprise loss of a loved one disappears.  As Cassia comes to understand the limitations imposed upon her and her society, however, she begins to wonder whether pain not be a risk worth taking in exchange for freedom.

Matched, however, may considered more properly a romance than a dystopian.  Cassia only begins to question the Society when it steps between her and the boy she wants to pursue.  She accepts almost unthinkingly all other aspects of the Society: its restriction on entertainment, its destruction of art and literature, its mandate that her grandfather die.  Concern about such actions forms only a sidenote in her thoughts.  Presumably, if the Society were to allow her to choose her own future spouse, Cassia would stop worrying about these other issues altogether.  She is literally consumed by thoughts of boys and romance, and is prepared to sacrifice almost anything to be with the boy with whom she is infatuated. Continue reading