This dystopian romance is the second book in the " Matched" trilogy written by Ally Condie and is published by Dutton Books, a division of Penguin Group.
Crossed is written for ages 12 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Chapters alternate from Ky's and Cassia's perspectives. Crossed begins with Cassia in a work camp for Aberrations, people who are not allowed to marry because they or their families have committed infractions against the government.
There, Cassia meets Indie, another teen girl. When a group of girls, including Indie, leaves the camp on an air ship, Cassia goes with them so she can reach a village in the Outer Provinces. She hopes to find Ky there, the boy she believes is her perfect match.
The Society, the name for the reigning government, routinely imports children into the outer villages to replace those killed by the Enemy. The Society wants the Enemy to believe these villages are occupied by a thriving farming community. Every night, the Enemy's air ship fires on the village so there are few survivors. The occupants come to believe that the Society uses the Enemy's fire to kill off Aberrations. After arriving in the village, Cassia and Indie learn that Ky had been there but had escaped. A boy leads them into an area of canyons and caves called the Carving so they can escape the village and search for Ky.
Ky is intent on returning to the Society to search for Cassia. He escaped the village with two others, Vick and Eli. They find their way into the Carving. Ky, Vick and Eli find an abandoned village that belonged to Anomalies.
They climb to the caves where they find provisions, books and maps collected by Anomalies or farmers, returning to the Carving to shelter for the night. The next morning, Ky awakens to the loud noise of something bombing the nearby river. Eli tells him that Vick had gone out fishing. When the noise stops, they investigate and discover that the Society has bombed the river with spheres of poison. They find Vick dead. After burying Vick, they are about to return to their camp in the Carving when Eli spots Cassia and Indie in the distance.
The teens return to the Carving together. They decide to return to the village. At the village, they see a farmer burying his daughter, and meet a young man named Hunter. Hunter is the sole survivor of the township. They agree to help each other. Hunter says he will help them find the Rising, a group that is rebelling against the Society. In exchange, he wants to take them to the Cavern in the Carving and have them explain what's inside.
The Cavern is filled with thousands of tubes containing human tissue samples. The Society wants to keep these samples so they can recreate each person, if need be. Hunter reacts by smashing the tubes, which sends an alarm to the Society.
The teens flee the Cavern, except for Hunter, who remains a short time longer to continue smashing tubes. They return to one of the caves to gather papers. Since there are only a set list of books people are allowed to read, Archivists will pay or trade well for pages not on the set list. They hope the pages will help them get information that will lead them to the Rising.
Hunter finds a boat that seats only two, but it will help those two reach the Rising quicker. The others have to travel on foot. When Eli chooses to go to the mountains with Hunter to search for other Anomalies and Ky volunteers to go alone on foot, Cassia and Indie travel using the boat.
Members of the Rising find Cassia and Indie on the river, tow them in and interview them to determine how they can best be used. They want Cassia to return to the Society. When Ky arrives, they want him to be an air-ship pilot. Indie's assignment is undetermined. Crossed ends with Cassia situated in Central, trading with Archivists and about to meet an unnamed person.
Hunter reads from a poem that mentions God. He says he doesn't believe in God, though his wife and daughter believed in another life.
Other Belief Systems
Occasional thoughts about luck are expressed, but the Society doesn't believe in luck. Vick says luck is the only thing he believes in. Ky doesn't believe in luck or the Society. He only believes in Cassia.
Cassia imagines that her grandfather hasn't died, but that he floats above everything and sees her in the bottom of the canyon. By morning, she is unsure whether she imagined it or whether it was a dream. Ky and Cassia see angels painted on walls in the village of Anomalies. After finding the charred remains of Anomalies, Cassia remarks that there are no angels present. Ky says some of the farmers believed in angels. When Vick catches a rainbow trout, his girlfriend's parents tell him it is a good omen. But for Vick, a rainbow trout is bad luck.
The farmers all have blue lines chalked on their arms as a way of connecting to each other. The chalk line starts with one person, then transfers to the next, and so on. If there is no one to transfer the line to, then a person places his hand on a rock so the line can connect to something.
D--n is used twice. The violence is largely descriptive with not too many details. The kids often stumble across dead and charred bodies. Ky and Vick bury all the bodies they find. Air ships arrive nightly in the outer villages, gunning down and killing most of the boys. Ky punches Vick in the stomach. Vick says he would like to have a gun and blow away everyone on the air ship. He thinks pieces of them would come down like fireworks.
Cassia and Indie find the body of the boy who helped them find the Carving. His hands have dried blood on them from clawing at a rock wall. Ky and Eli find Vick with his neck broken.
Xander and Cassia hold hands, with Xander's thumb stroking her hand. They kiss each other near but not on their mouths. Cassia recalls a kiss she and Xander shared. Xander's breaths and whispers touch Cassia's neck. Cassia and Ky kiss often and touch. Ky says Cassia's beauty makes him ache. Though sleeping arrangements in the cave are not specified, Cassia tells about how wonderful it is to watch Ky wake, and they share a kiss. Another time, they spend a night together, away from the others, just to focus on each other — talking, kissing and holding each other.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- What does Ky think will happen when a person dies?
- What do you think happens after death?
- How are your thoughts about death the same or different from Ky's thoughts that death will carry him someplace because there is someone to see at the end of this life?
What does the Bible say happens after death?
What is the harm in Ky's holding Cassia as his source of comfort and truth?
To whom do you turn when you need comfort?
- Where do you find truth?
- What driving force sustains Cassia?
- What driving force sustains Ky?
Who or what gives you meaning and purpose?
Ky asks himself the question, How much do we have to show the people we love?
- When you love someone, is it necessary that the person knows every part of your story?
Is it OK to not reveal everything about yourself? Explain.
Cassia ponders the invisible injuries people suffer, ones that mark the heart. She asks, "What is it that keeps us moving?" How would you answer her?
- Have you ever had a catastrophic event?
How did you do to cope?
Ky finally decides to let go of all his failures, pain and guilt — or at least try.
- How do you cope with inevitable failures and self-disappointments?
How do you let go and turn it over to God?
Some of the romantic notions in Crossed lead one to believe that another person you love deeply will complete you.
- How can another person make you feel complete?
- How can others never fully compete you?
From a Christian perspective, how do we understand the idea of Jesus completing us?
Trust is a major issue in Crossed.
- What surprised you about the way Ky lies to Cassia, though he said he loved her deeply?
- How do you know when it is OK to trust another person?
- Tell about a time when your trust in someone was broken.
- What lesson did you learn from it?
Drugs: The Society provides its citizens with a green tablet that produces a false calm. Xander gives Cassia packs of blue pills, intended for survival. But the reader learns from Vick and Indie that the blue pills are poisonous. The Society also makes citizens take a red pill when there is something they want them to forget.
Literary Allusions: "Crossing the Bar" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson is cited throughout, and the following line is emphasized: "I hope to see my Pilot face to face." Characters take it to mean a leader in the Rising. Also, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas is cited.
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