Thursday, 17 November 2011

Book Review: Crossed by Allie Condie

Crossed (Matched, #2)
Goodreads description

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.

My review

Crossed is the sequel to Matched, which was the first dystopian book I ever read and really got me interested in the genre! It's strange and unfamiliar world where the Society ruled everything in your life captured my imagination and I was rooting for the main character Cassia to step free of this. After enjoying Matched this time last year, I've been eagerly anticipating Crossed to read about the next step on Cassia's journey since then!

Beginning where Matched is left off, we find Ky in the Outer Provinces at a work camp pretending to be farmers to trick a group of people who the Society call the Invaders. Meanwhile Cassia is determined to do anything she can to find him even though it means leaving her family, friends, everything she has ever known and even risking reclassification to chase after him; the boy she loves. The thing that interested me from the start was the dual narrative with alternating chapters told from the point of view and Ky and Cassia that wasn't found in Matched, which I loved because it bought new life to the series and meant I could get to know and identify more with Ky's character. Although sometimes, it was a little hard to tell the difference between the two voices because they weren't as individual as they could have been.

Before I started reading, I had been expecting Crossed to pick up with more action after the scene setting and character building of Matched and was initially a little disappointed with the slow pace where not much seemed to be happening. However, I soon began to realise that a fast paced story wouldn't have done the characters justice or allowed for the beautiful prose full of description, and poems written by the characters that are found instead and make Condie's writing so special and captivating. Example of description:

'In the night, it feels like we’re running fast over the back of some kind of enormous animal, sprinting over its spines and through patches of tall, thin, gold grass that now glimmers like silver fur in the moonlight.” 

 It gave a sense of intimacy with the characters who are not only on a long journey through the canyons on the edge of the Society but are also on their own emotional and developmental journey. Also, it allowed time to give an impression of the world outside of the Society in the danger and splendour of the majestic canyons, contrasting with the safe but restricted Society setting found in Matched.

I particularly enjoyed seeing Cassia  experiencing the freedom, danger and horror of being outside of the Society and truly beginning to see the world the way Ky does instead of walking around with blinkers. Unlike some YA characters in sequels, she stayed authentic and with the same vulnerability and nativity that makes her so appealing and endearing yet developed so much as she faced the danger and uncertainty of the consequences of her rebellious actions. Her relationship with Ky takes on a new dimension where the lingering glances and suspense of whether they can ever be together turns into the longing to be reunited and barriers like differences in what they want to do in the future being placed between them to test their love for each other. It will be interesting to see how the love triangle with Xander plays out in the last book of the trilogy.

The secondary characters of Indie and Eli were introduced too, adding something new to the mix and making up for the loss of characters like Cassia's brother Bram left back in the Society. I wasn't quite sure what to make of Indie, who accompanied Cassia on her quest to find Ky,  because she came across as having a sly, secretive side that made my question her trustworthiness. As for Eli, he's adorable just like Bram in Matched with his cute courage and I hope we'll be seeing more of him in book three!

Matched left me with a lot of questions about the Society and I was really hoping that they would be answered but I turned the last page with most of them still unanswered and new ones formed. For example, the concepts of the Enemy and the Rising is introduced but it is not fully described who they are or what they really do or stand for. There were no huge cliff hangers at the end but no conclusion either, leaving the story perfectly set up for moving ahead with the plot. If Allie Condie intended this to keep readers intrigued to to read the last book in the series, then it certainly worked!

Verdict:  Crossed is a wonderfully written sequel woven with the same imaginative and enchanting prose descriptions that characterised Matched with determination, bravery, danger and love at all costs at its heart. Although, it didn't quite live up to my  high expectations and acts as a stepping stone middle book because the plot isn't driven forward much.  Despite this, I enjoyed it overall and look forward to reading the resolution for the characters in the final book- fans of Matched should definitely read it!

Rating: 3 stars

 Crossed is released in the UK on the 24th October. Thanks to Penguin UK for providing me a review copy of Crossed.