A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Poems by Dylan Thomas and Alfred Tennyson preface the book and support the entire narrative. The symbolism of the Tennyson poem proves critical to Cassia's growing understanding of the rebellion she seeks to join. Books and the arts, essentially those banned by the Society, are treated with reverence.
For these teens, resignation means death. At this stage of the story, they have little choice but to fight on -- and to do so requires the difficult task of looking out for their own interests while working as a team. They're acutely aware that every action has consequences, and that the most meaningful relationships can be the most complicated ones.
Positive Role Models
Cassia, Ky, and the companions they meet along the way are brave and spirited. Trust isn't easy for any of them, but they find the courage to put their faith in each other (some more than others). Cassia and Ky aren't hardened by the violence they witness; they remain empathetic throughout.
Violence & Scariness
This book is much more brutal than the series opener, putting readers in the thick of the violence alluded to earlier. It opens with Ky disposing of the body of a boy who died of thirst. Children sent the Outer Provinces are effectively given a death sentence, facing lack of food and water and deadly attacks. A friend of Ky's is killed in an explosion; Cassia and her companion find a plain covered with burned bodies after an attack. Condie doesn't linger on these scenes, but they recur often to underscore the severity of the teens' situation and the stakes.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mostly kissing. Cassia and Ky slip off alone for a night together, but that's all the detail given -- readers can infer what they will. There's also the strong suggestion that a young boy and a young girl have sex, but again, nothing explicit.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book is much more violent than its predecessor. The violence can be gruesome, including a scene with dozens of charred bodies after an attack. Young children, orphaned or taken from their families, are put into extraordinary peril by the Society that supposedly is caring for them.
Is It Any Good?
Told from the alternating viewpoints of Ky and Cassia, this is the journey stage of the saga, and while the getting-there can be plodding, there's much to discover on the way. The tone is very different from the first book, set in the polished, controlled Borough. The action -- and there's a lot of it -- is now in the wild Outer Provinces, where the Society uses its undesirables as cannon fodder. Away from Society oversight, the love story that blossomed in Matched grows thorny: Cassia and Ky had united against the Society's plans for them, but now they grapple with conflicting desires.
Ally Condie continues to write with a poetic voice, returning often to the poems that preface the novel. Yet after all the drama of the journey, the hurried conclusion is emotionally flat. Crossed is unlikely to seduce new readers, but fans will be fascinated by the farmers and their caves stuffed with treasured books, clues to the Society's sinister workings, and Xander's tantalizing secret.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.