22 May 2013

Book Talk

Crossed - Ally Condie

I loved this book a lot more than I did Matched. Maybe it was because Matched was a bit something and nothing.
Having said that, I do know why I feel that way. The emptiness, for lack of a better word, of the story in Matched reflects the way that the Society has made life become. It feels like people are just going through the motions until they have an Event or a Banquet. Even the part with the Hill - they have to 'steal time' from the Society because anything other than mundane is frowned upon, which is reflected in the writing style. Or maybe it's just the way I remember it. The Society parts come back really.. FLAT. There is no other way to describe it. But the parts with the hidden papers and the secret letters in the mud, they are so alive and show the contrast between controlled life and lived life.
I don't know whether that was intentional or not, but it's very clever. Makes me want to read Matched again, just so I can appreciate it.

But, I'm not here to talk about Matched!
I finally finished Crossed this morning. I read until I couldn't keep my eyes open late last night, which took me from 50% to 87%. I was so close to finishing, but it was 4am and I thought I'd wait until the morning. As I was going, I made some notes about what I was thinking, but I made so many notes that this is going to be a long read. It all seems so relevant in my sleep-deprived mind!

I was so impressed with this book, but there were some things that pulled me out of my trance. It's in a completely different setting, and for me the lack of Society interference was unnerving and uncharacteristic of this world which is so closely monitored. The storyline is much more my speed: it was a real adventure, not just a mental one. The characters were not as predictable as I thought, but the potential for more was there. Truly, though, I cannot wait to read  Reached and I'm going to start it tonight!

I made a few links to books I've read in the past, like the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld and The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan. "'Do not go gentle.' 'No,' she agrees, her voice, her skin soft in that good night." This exchange reminded me so much of the one between Raver and Marnie. "Moon-good beautiful." I love that book, but I'll save it for a Thursday.

So, we start where Cassia left off, in one of the work camps. She is struggling with how to reach Ky, when Xander comes to visit her. It is an official Match visit, of which I didn't realise the significance of what he said until this second.
They go on a date to the museum, and even though she is with Xander, she tries to find Ky by trading with an Archivist. It seems quite sad that she is using her friend like that, but she only sees him as a means to an end, I think. She wouldn't have been allowed to the museum without him.
And then she trades one of her two big items for help to find Ky.
Was it the compass, which will take her to Ky, or was it the cache of tablets, which Xander gave her to survive?
Obviously, it's going to be the compass. This obviously makes Xander really happy when he realises, since it looks like a sign that she's choosing him, but really she's choosing her. So when they say goodbye, he says "I don't think so," which I thought was one of those soppy, It's-never-really-goodbye, but in reality it's so much more than that. And I'll tell you about it further in.

I liked that Cassia didn't realise what she was doing by going to the Border Provence's, and her new 'friend' Indie had to explain it to her. She's trying to sort (get it?) out who she is and who she wants to be. "You aren't only looking for a boy. You're looking for something else, too." But Cassia blindly thinks she is just looking for Ky, when Ky symbolises all the things she wants to find. He is Hope, he is Love, he is Change. He is the catalyst that changes her from monotonous Cassia Reyes to someone that thinks outside of the box, that knows her grandfather is right when he tells her she's strong enough to go without the pills. I really liked how strong she became, and that rounded out her character. At points I was despairing because she's so Bella-like it made me want to cry, but then at other parts she comes out so deep and it's really lovely. You know it's not her fault though, like when she doesn't know what dancing is. She's just naive because that's how Society want people to be.

When she starts to see the signs that Ky has left for her, I got so excited. I saw it coming, but it still made me upset when she arrived at the cotton village. This is how my thought process worked in that chapter. 'Ohmygosh, she's on the plane. She's going to arrive in like an hour. I bet he leaves before she gets there. Like, just before. He is an idiot.' but really she arrives two days later. It seemed strange that she found her way there so easily by accident. And that when she arrived, someone that shouldn't have known where they went, knew exactly where they went. And which gorge they went into. Even though he didn't and couldn't follow them. This started alarm bells in my head. The whole of the book I am thinking 'there is something wrong with Indie. She is not normal, she is a spy for the Society. Why does Eli keep introducing himself like that, like a spy. He is not normal, he will get them caught.' It just all seemed to easy! None of my fears about spies and liars were even right, they were just complicated characters, or in the case of Eli, just straightforward.
As for the signs, Ky writes 'Cassia' into the bark of a tree, and later leaves a stone compass. Even though Cassia is two days behind, and poisoned!, she still manages to catch up to him! Maybe it's the hope the signs gave her, but on very little food and water, I doubt someone could cover so much distance. She is so focused on Ky, it seems so stupid, and this is what I mean about being Bella-like. In chapter 18 she says something about the apples and how they make her want to "bring some to Ky as proof that I followed him every step of the way." Is this setting up the Pilot, or that she is still as linear as the Society raised her to be? Love is not blind, and Ky says later (after they have met again) that their love has evolved past what it could have been in the Society. Maybe her single mindedness was just to further the plot.
At the end of the book she says "I didn't know I had this inside of me," and it is so nice to see that she has grown during her time away.

An 'Artifact' necklace I found on Etsy by TreasuresLane. I really wish this was in stock, it's so cute!
There were some good bits of life advice, as well. Something I always do is dwell when I move to a new place. 'Oh, this place isn't as exciting, I can't do this, I want to do that'. In chapter 13, Ky says "Do not pretend one place is like another or look for similarities. Only look for what it is." and it is something that Xander taught him when he made Ky steal the red tablets. Hopefully that'll stay with me when I move to my next new place.
Later in the chapter he muses about how hard the Farmers would have found it to leave their treasures behind. "The information in this cave is priceless, especially in it's original form". I think we forget, sometimes, how important physical objects can be. Especially books, and isn't that the Big Debate? E-books vs real books? Content vs Container?
In my eyes, I don't see the problem with e-books, because I can make notes and highlight important text without ruining the book. I can carry more books with me at a fraction of the weight, which makes for more varied reading. But on the other hand, I want the books. I love the smell and feel and weight of a book in my hand. The sound of the pages is like music. I've said before about my much-wanted library, check out these for good ideas!

Okay, so here is where I get to the spoilers.
Look away now.
No, now.
Alright, it's your choice.

Xander is part of the Rising. That's his secret. I didn't even see it coming til right before the reveal! Because of the cavern full of test tubes, I thought they were going to do an Aeon Flux and have everyone as test tube babies of themselves. I thought Xander was going to say he was the leader of Society, which seems REALLY stupid now that I'm looking back on it. I really was nowhere near the actual secret. Such a good twist. In the note next to this, I wrote 'shows how weak Cassia is', but I think really, Ky not wanting Cassia to go to the Rising shows how weak Ky is, because he can't bring himself to let her go. He thinks that she will leave him and be with Xander in the rebellion, he thinks that's all she wants is to join the Rising. And that is really sad, especially with what she went through to be with him.
Ky does a lot of things that I couldn't predict at the end of the book. Even Cassia notices and remarks that maybe that's why he's an abberation, because they can't predict him. He trades his wiring skills for something in the cavern. Originally, I thought it could be for his dads writing in the ledgers, then I realised that he doesn't like his dad. I never thought it would be for a boat. And the test tube that Eli gives him, I thought it would be Cassia, so he could never really lose her, but it is Vick. That surprised me as well.
It did not, however, surprise me that they have been split up. Again.

It's probably the first time I haven't sought out spoilers for a book in a very long time. I enjoyed the build up.
And that's why I'm going to read Reached straight away, so I do not get distracted and wiki it!
Wish me luck.
And if you want, leave a comment!


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