Crossed opens with Ky, a change in the narration style of Matched. We move through the story as Cassia does what she promised to do – find Ky. The narration switches between the two characters’ minds, letting the reader get to know Ky better than we have known him yet. Ky goes out to “fight” for the Society – with dummy weapons, no support, and no chance of survival. Cassia works at a camp, moving from location to location, but soon headed back to Central. She must decide what she will do to really find Ky, and Ky must decide what he would do to survive.
It took me two weeks to read the book, partly because I have had no time. But also because Crossed suffers from middle-book lag. I wanted to love it, believe me. Ky’s narration was good, but at times felt too similar to Cassia’s. Some of the events in the book were gripping and moving, the language still grabbed me. And yet, it wasn’t enough to keep me reading late into the night.
One thing about Crossed is that Cassia has literally crossed a line – she has chosen to leave the Society in order to find Ky. This means leaving Xander, leaving her family, and leaving her once-comfortable life for the complete unknown. Instead of the gentle movement towards something as in Matched, Cassia basically runs towards her decisions. She does not wait to hop on an air ship that might take her closer to Ky. She does not flinch in wanting to join the Rising, despite Ky’s reservations. While it might seem odd that there was a big character shift in Cassia, this merely reflects the changes she made during Matched.
We are still getting to know Ky, so I find that it’s hard to judge just how much he has grown from book to book. He certainly has to make some hard decisions in this one, but I am still not sure how I feel about him. I suppose Condie would want the reader to waffle about the boys much like Cassia does, but I wanted more foundation to their story. His true background, however, was heartbreaking. And I can see that Cassia, coming from a world where no one creates anything, loves Ky because all he does is create.
Overall, the book was a good companion, but lacking in zest. I also felt that there were too many similarities to The Hunger Games, especially Catching Fire. While none of these kids are the “face” of the Rising, Ky’s hesitance resembles Katniss’s. The small picture we get of the Rising also appears far too close to District 13. It’s hard to make these dystopian novels different from each other, and I understand that we’re always going to compare to something that came first. Matched had done a good job of being different, but Crossed follows too closely to already-tread territory.
I liked the book and felt that it built upon its story and its own mythology. The real problem lies in the fact that it’s a middle of the trilogy, and so things are being set up for the final “showdown”, if you will. I hope that the as-yet-untitled third chapter will prove to be better and a fitting conclusion.