Friday, January 13, 2012

The Society Strikes Back

Ah, second book syndrome. Has any trilogy escaped it? You start with a standalone story of fighting for survival against all odds. At the end, success--with a strong hint that there are bigger battles to be fought.

Then we get the sophomore slump, where little battles are fought and the Really Big Battle is set up for us.  Things don't really let loose till the final book, where there are showdowns and world changes and a neat little wrap up.

I'm really looking forward to that third book in Ally Condie's Matched series.  The second, Crossed, was good, kept me reading, no problems, but the Society wasn't really in it at all, except as whispers in the background.  And come on, this is all about Man--well, Teenaged Girl--vs. Society.

The story, in general, is that Cassia sets out to find Ky, who's been basically deported to the Outer Provinces.  We also get alternating chapters from Ky's point of view, where the role of the "colonists" in the Outer Provinces is one giant step below cannon fodder.  Ky and Cassia both end up on the run through nature (there are canyons--I'm thinking American Southwest), looking for each other, afraid of the Society, trying to learn more about the folks who live outside it--the Rising, the Farmers.

We learn a bit more about Ky's history.  We learn a LOT about how True Love makes you pine for your beloved, and how being with them makes everything feel right, and how remembering hard things makes you feel, and hoping makes you feel, and wondering makes you feel, and thinking makes you feel.  There's a lot of feeling, is what I'm saying.

What there's very little of is any real driver.  The characters keep running because they're so afraid of being caught, but as far as I can tell pretty much nobody is looking for them.  There are occasional dead bodies to imply that the ante is being upped, but I don't quite get where they came from.  Ky's fears, while probably normal, seem kind of lame to me.  Cassia's attempts to stop thinking like a Citizen are worth something, but there just aren't that many of them.

What the book did is set a lot of expectations for the next one.  The whole book was about getting elements into place--the movements and characters and expectations.  The stage is now set for the third book to be action packed, either with explosions and running or with delicate political maneuvering.  I'll take either one, because I just spent a lot more time than I needed to on the setup.

I also have some predictions about the Enemy that I won't make explicitly, but that I want credit for calling as early as the first book, thank you.

Basically, while I don't regret reading it, most of what I have to say about this book is that there's no there there.  It's an opening act.  I'm waiting for the headliner.

1 comment:

Linden said...

I'm with you. I read this book over the weekend, while nursing a hangover from too much red wine. I zoomed through it, but was much more interested in the first (Matched) and third book to come. I did have a lot of paranoid thoughts about how much the Society really knew during their adventure. And why the title? Is it because they are star-crossed lovers? Is there a double-cross? Crossing the canyons?