Crossed by Ally Condie is the sequel to Matched. Unlike the first book, this one is set in the Outer Provinces on the farthest frontiers away from the Society. Maybe it’s the setting, but this book had a completely different feel than the first one. In Matched there were some chilling glimpses of what happened behind the curtains of the Society, but this book directly shows the cruelty and violence of which the Society is capable. Maybe that is part of the reason I didn’t like this sequel as well as the original, I prefer the subtler threats of the first book and trying to figure out how far the Society was willing to go to achieve its goals. Also, this book seemed to be focused more on escape, I liked in the first book that the main characters were rebelling from the Society from within the Society, that to me was more exciting and risky even than the physical dangers of the wilderness in this book. The menace just seems a bit too far removed.
This new story follows Cassia as she does whatever she must to try to find Ky. Along the way she meets an Aberration named India. The first half of the book is devoted to Cassia’s search. In the meantime, Ky has his own storyline independent of Cassia, unaware that she is trying to find him. He is one of the decoys, young boys sent out by the Society to impersonate villagers, but really just used for bait to draw the fire of the rebels. These chapters about Ky and another boy he bonds with, Vik, reminded me of the movie “Platoon.” Things are grim enough that it causes the reader to have doubts about the character of Ky, it’s hard to understand that after everything he has experienced that he is so reluctant to find the Pilot and become a part of the rebellion. His only plan seems to be to contact or find Cassia, but where does he think they can go if they are able to come together again? Although Ky seemed like the better choice for Cassia in the first book, in this second book Xander, her match, does seem like the Society in this particular instance was right. I don’t know if this was the author’s clever intent, but Xander who seemed to be the almost too safe choice, starts looking more interesting as the book progresses, even if he only appears in the action briefly. It’s not just me who feels this way; Cassia herself appears to have some doubts about Ky and about what she wants from her life.
The fact that this book is the second book within a trilogy puts it in a tough position. The first book in a trilogy is always exciting because it introduces a world and its characters. The second book usually serves to further the plot and either develop the same characters or introduce new ones. The third book picks up steam as it races along toward the climax and conclusion of the story. So for the purpose this book serves, it’s ok, but I didn’t find myself staying up late to read it through. I am looking forward to the final book in the series to see what choices each of the main characters makes about their futures, how the love triangle is resolved and to learn more about the Pilot and the resistance.