Crossed

Crossed – Ally Condie

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Crossed coverCrossed 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.

Rating: 7/10

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Oh the Joy of Reading

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Joy of ReadingA few days ago, I was frustrated.  I was frustrated that I was so busy that I barely had time to write for NaNoWriMo.  I was frustrated that I had so little time to read.  I was worried that neglecting my reading, and in turn, this blog, would cause me to be apathetic towards reading.  If I only were to push myself, I would read and learn and grow.  Somewhere in that thought, I realized that I could never become disillusioned to reading.

I might not be able to spend every spare hour of my day with a nose in my book, but I have always found time.  For instance, Ally Condie’s Crossed was released ten days ago.  Ten days.  How ridiculous that I am not yet finished, and I even started it the day it was delivered to my Kindle.  But I have only had time to read during my lunch hours at work, and even those are not always available to me.  Sometimes I have lunch with my mother, other times with coworkers, friends, or I must run errands in that hour.  And so my reading gets neglected.

As I opened my Kindle and began to read Crossed the other day (edging towards 60% finished), I realized that I do not care how fast I read.  I do not care how many books I am reading in a month, or if I sometimes take longer to finish one.  I care only that I am reading.  Every day I drive to work, I listen to an audiobook.  A story that will make that 25 minutes in the car to work a little less dull.  When I am not lucky enough to socialize during my lunch, I can sit at my desk and be whisked away to another world where worries cannot touch me.

Have you ever noticed that?  That with a good book you suddenly forget all about the stresses in your life?  For me, books have led me on countless adventures, allowing my imagination to take control, if only for that hour a day.  How sad is life without a book to fill those empty gaps that nothing else could satisfy.

I probably thought more of this because of Crossed.  The sequel to Matched, we are now outside of the Society and its control, but Cassia still marvels in others’ ability to create something beautiful.  The freedom to create has given us the freedom of imagination.  We will not all be best-selling authors.  While some of us may want to be an author some day, we can all delight in the written word.  We can all be affected, moved, and changed because of words someone had the courage to record.

I’ve never known any trouble that an hour’s reading didn’t assuage.  ~Charles de Secondat

A Few Musings . . . .

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  • Did you know that with a full-time, regular hours job that it is hard to read a whole lot of books?  Don’t get me wrong, I actually really like my job, I like being challenged and I like stretching my talents.  But if someone were to come up to me and offer me enough to live on to read and critique books all day, I would be a very happy camper.
  • A lot of people are talking about eBooks and whether or not they are “killing” the publishing industry.  I feel my Twitter feed is usually crammed with this debate, blog post after blog post.  I have to say, I’m not really sure what I think.  I’m a traditionalist, I will always want to own hard copies of books, but I love the portability of eBooks.  It is also easier to hide those “guilty pleasure” books you’re ashamed you’ve read but still enjoy if you can hide them on your Kindle, instead of a book shelf for all to see.  (That was a clumsy sentence, but I am too tired to figure out how to fix it.  Fake gold star if you can do better in the comments!)  I will ruminate on the eBook vs. hard copy and probably post about it here soon.  The post will contain no statistical analysis, as I am allergic to numbers.
  • I like “Castle” and it always improves my Monday nights.  I would also like to follow cops around, but feel no desire to examine the dead bodies.
  • I would also like to get back into academic writing.  As I type this, I realize that I have weird hobbies.
  • The National Book Award nominees were announced last week.  If you are a book nerd, you’ve heard about the Shine debacle.  I have not read Shine, or any books by its author Lauren Myracle.  The short version is the judges and NBA press officials had a phone miscommunication.  The judges said Chime (by Franny Billingsley) but the press officials heard Shine.  Why there wasn’t an emailed, faxed, and typed version of the list sent to the press officials is completely unknown and was a stupid mistake to make.  Shine was announced as a nominee, then Chime was added as a sixth nominee (in the Young Person’s Literature category), and then Myracle was asked to withdraw Shine from the competition.  How completely rude, misguided, hurtful, insulting, and childish on the part of the judges.  Author Libba Bray sounds off(warning: contains strong language)
  • NaNoWriMo is approaching.  I am undecided whether or not I will be trying to read and write 50,000 words during November and spending Thanksgiving with the Scottish fiance.  Obviously, Scottish fiance comes first (though both Crossed and The Impossible Dead come out during November . . . .).
  • Speaking of The Impossible Dead, I am highly annoyed that I have to wait a month to read it when the UK can already get their hands on a copy.  I am unsure whether or not if I purchased a Kindle edition via amazon.co.uk if they would deliver said book to my Kindle in the US.  I am tempted to try, but it would be a waste of pounds if it did not go through.  The other possibility is have the Scottish fiance bring a copy with him when he visits next month, at which point I would get the book a few days early at least.  I also prefer UK editions of UK books, simply because the Britishisms and Scottishisms are not edited out.  This American at least can understand them.

    Slains Castle
    A side view of Slains Castle
  • Halloween is coming, so I am planning on reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula for the first time.  This is also inspired by my visiting Slains Castle in Aberdeen last year.  This was supposedly the location that inspired the work.