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Crossed (Matched Trilogy)

Crossed  - Ally Condie 2.5 starsAlly Condie’s much hyped 2010 release Matched was something of a flash in the pan for me. Although it hit shelves with a great deal of fanfare and marketing to-do, beyond the strikingly pretty cover, I found little to get excited over. My feelings were lukewarm, at best. Crossed proved to be a similarly anti-climatic book for me, although this time I could moderate my pre-reading expectations with my Matched experience. Being in a glass-half-full mood (and not much of a series abandoner, despite my best efforts), I decided to read Crossed to see if it could provoke a stronger response. The answer to that is: marginally. I think that I do prefer the second instalment in this trilogy, but my reservations and opinions formed by the first remain firmly intact. Frankly, Crossed reads like the extended remix version of a written response by Condie to ‘Crossing the Bar’ by Tennyson. As with Matched, poetry features heavily in Crossed and is liberally referenced. To the point where a scene of much urgency and panic is followed up by chapters where the characters sit around and read poetry. ”There’s no time for this now,’ Cassia finally reminds herself, which prompted an incredulous: Do you think?? from me. While Condie writes well, with some genuinely lovely passages, I found that yet again, the writing is weighed down by the pages of introspection and poetic ponderings on love. This literary-equivalent-to-shoegaze approach is not helped by the decidedly vanilla story, the glossing over of some of the “teen” aspects, and the at times somnolent pacing. Crossed is the story of Cassia and Ky’s journey to find each other, after their separation at the end of Matched. Cassia’s determination to be reunited with Ky leads her into the Outer Provinces and beyond, at considerable risk to herself. Given that the plot basically hinges on their “love”, I found myself scratching my head at the ending. It just didn’t seem to make much sense based on their mutual goal of finding each other.But I’m getting ahead of myself. What works better in Crossed, in my opinion, is the setting. While there are still vast blanks left to be puzzled over and filled in where possible by the reader, the natural environment that Crossed takes place in feels more fully fleshed out. The Society itself is not so much at the fore of this story, which makes for less confusion and questions about the worldbuilding. Ky is also a narrator this time around, which provides additional detail and texture to Condie’s world. The problem with this is that at times, I found the voices of Cassia and Ky to be almost indistinguishable. The issues that Ky carries from his past and must confront fail to lend his voice much distinction. While Xander makes a brief personal appearance, his presence is still very much felt throughout Crossed, keeping the love triangle element alive and well. Some new information is revealed, ensuring that the “option” of Xander remains hovering in the background. And to address the “Team” issue – well, at this point: either. As with Matched I have no real investment in either of these characters. Were they real people, I’d happily introduce both of them to my mum. As compelling choices to generate conflict in the story – they still leave me rather cold. Based on my feelings at the end of Crossed, Cassia could choose either one and I would feel the same way. Which is.. not much. Having said this – I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I have an idea of where the romantic plot is heading. If I’m not reading into it too much, there is some foreshadowing that leads me to believe there is a neat and tidy ending on the horizon. I can’t say that Crossed is a bad book. It’s just not a great book. There are good elements here: the tension is increased, the secondary characters more interesting, there is a promise of more action to come. But overall, I still found myself bored and rather unmoved by these characters. There is a certain blandness to this story that prevents me from feeling an emotional connection to it. However, for those who enjoyed Matched more than me – I think it’s likely that Crossed will be a pleasing follow up.