Crossed, the much anticipated sequel to Matched, picks up shortly after Matched leaves off with Cassia working in the fields to try to get to Ky. She spends quite a bit of time there looking for the best opportunity to get to the outer provinces, where she believes Ky is, but is slowly losing hope of finding one. Cassia is about to be moved to another assignment when she receives a visit from Xander, her lifelong friend and actual match assigned to her by The Society. Xander is also who helped set her on her way on this journey to find Ky armed with a large stash of blue pills.
Cassia is allowed to have a supervised outing with Xander, since he's really her match, and during this outing she finds an archivist who trades with her some information about "The Pilot". This Pilot will be key throughout the whole book as it represents the leader of The Rising, the rebellion that is taking place against The Society. She finds a way to make it to the outer Provinces and goes on a personal mission to find Ky whatever it takes while taking with her a girl she met at her previous assignment, Indie.
In the meantime, Ky is dealing with the fact that he is being sent by the Society from Village to Village as a decoy in order to fool the enemy (the Rising) into thinking that there are actually villagers living there. He knows they aren't fooling anyone though because they are getting fired upon and tons of them are dying, from being fired upon and also from not having any way of defending themselves. They are sitting ducks in hostile territory. Ky had been lucky so far by staying alive and devised a plan to escape into The Carving, a mountainous territory with canyons where he believes lives a community of farmers independent from The Society.
The book focuses on Cassia and Ky's journey, to find each other first, through basically the same territory. They both find themselves in The Carving finding clues about where the other might be. When they finally do find each other, the book's focus changes on how the plan to get out of there and what their plans are for the future. Secrets are revealed, unlikely relationships are formed, and shocking revelations are found hiding in The Carving. The story is told from alternating viewpoints, from Cassia to Ky, which I really enjoyed. It was nice seeing things from Ky's perspective after reading Matched which was all from Cassia's point of view.
I cannot say, however, that I was happy with the way the book ended. I know that there is another book in the series which I am looking forward to reading, especially after the way things were left off in Crossed. It's not much of a cliffhanger but rather a disappointing decision that is made that really angered me. I felt like the characters had gone through way too much for this lapse in judgement to take place. I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say that you won't look at Cassia the same way after that.
The sequel to MATCHED, if any of you were concerned, is just as good as the original. Condie's writing is so crisp and clear that the book just flows along, and her characters continue to be vivid, real people who you root for and (even more importantly) believe in. There are no sitcom-esque misunderstandings, but people having normal, natural conversations, keeping secrets that need to be kept, revealing secrets when they think the time is right. That, I think, is the true appeal of these books. The characters are so real, their dialogue is so real, and that you can fully believe that this is our own future we are seeing, frightening and strange as it is.
I loved the stark cleanliness of the Society in MATCHED, and now in CROSSED we see the flipside: the wilds where the castoffs are struggling to survive. This change of scene keeps the storyline fresh, and introduces a whole new set of challenges: Cassia has learned that she cannot trust the Society, but can she trust the rebels, either? Now that I've seen both options, I'm very excited to find out where book three will land Cassia, Ky, and Xander. (And does Cassia really need to choose between them? C'mon, Ally, it's the future!)