“I think of all the things he can do—write, carve, paint—and suddenly, watching him stand in the dark at the edge of the empty settlement, something powerful washes over me. There is no place for someone like him in the Society, I think, for someone who can create. He can do so many things of incomparable value, things no one else can do, and the Society doesn’t care about that at all.”
Cassia has gotten her parents permission to seek Ky.They, after all, understand love. Her chance to make her way to the Outer Provinces, where she hopes to find Ky after he’s been arrested by the Society’s Officials, comes just as she is going to be transferred from a labor camp to her final work destination.
But Ky isn’t in the Outer Provinces. He’s being used as a decoy to draw fire from the Enemy, a position that the Society promises will only last six month. And then he will no longer be an Aberration but be admitted to normalcy and back into the Society. The thing is that no decoy has ever lasted six months. They are all killed under enemy fire. So Ky, too, needs to figure out how to escape and seek Cassia.
With both of our protagonists on the run, we readers enter a world far from the Society of the first book in this series (Matched, reviewed here). The center of this trilogy takes us through the Carvings and the Outer Provinces, full both with the stark beauty of nature and danger. Ally Condie, the author, said that she based the wilderness beyond the Society on her Southern Utah environment, and if you’ve ever been to any of Utah’s National Parks, you’ll perfectly picture the setting—caves, canyons, tight passages through sandstone.
A cast of new characters—Eli, Indie, Vick, Hunter—helps draw us into this primitive world. We still have the red, green, and blue pills of the Society’s calming, dying, forgetting, and surviving. But Ky and Cassie are both wondering about the larger questions that being on the run evokes: Is staying in the Society and having a chance at a second life worth it? If someone breaks free and takes her chances with death, will she also have the chance to play a part in the choices that affect her life? How finally, do we sort information and decide?
Crossed is best read after Matched. It’s a nice set up for the final showdown that we expect in the third book. I highly recommend this series to fans of The Hunger Games who are wondering what they can read now. As one student told me yesterday, she liked the dystopian future of The Hunger Games, but it’s one of her favorite books because of the romance. The same can be said of the Matched series. Cassia’s match, Xander, the third member of the love triangle, figures into Crossed.
Just a little side note: Crossed has a lot of good one-liners, quotable quotes. Here’s one that has me thinking about what will happen in the final book: “Because in the end you can’t always choose what to keep. You can only choose how you let it go.”