In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky – taken by the Society to his certain death – only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.
Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander – who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart – change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.
I ended up liking this one more than Matched! The Society is sending Aberrations to the abandoned Outer Provinces as decoys for the Enemy. They’re being killed in droves. That is more like it! Show me my dystopia! Ky has been at one of those villages for something like eleven days? And that’s a lot, considering most kids don’t last more than a week. Cassia manages to sneak into a transport and is taken to a village not far from Ky’s. (And as an aside, when I reviewed Matched, I said I didn’t really understand Cassia’s job, but this book made it clearer. So, points for that.)
First things first, the dual narration. I don’t mind it. It doesn’t bother me and I sort of enjoy being in Ky’s head. You know how I feel about male narrators. And what I really like about being in Ky’s head is that he’s from the Outer Provinces, so he knows the land and you can really feel how the landscape affects him. He thinks of his parents a lot, and he thinks a lot about words. Words are so important in this series, and I really love the emphasis the characters place upon having their ownwords. I also like that Cassia and Indie debate the literal significance of that Tennyson poem like it’s a prophecy. The Pilot is real, and he or she leads the Rising, though Tennyson wasn’t referring to any earthly pilot. In my Catholic high school, we learned the Pilot was God. It’s really interesting to see Cassia’s philosophic abilities emerge, because I thought she was kind of boring the first time around. And maybe through no fault of her own, considering how the Society kept her oppressed.
I like the new characters that are introduced as well. Vick is hard, but a natural leader who tries to help even while acting like he’s not the leader. Indie is strong and also knows the Outer Provinces, at least a little better than Cassia. Indie even attempts to run away when the Officers make their first appearance at the camp she and Cassia occupy. She’s a survivor, and I don’t think Cassia could have managed in the Carvings without her. At first, I thought it was strange that Ky, with all this knowledge and ability, was surviving simply to find Cassia. I mean, they’re seventeen, right? And they didn’t know each other very long. I know a lot of us have trouble imagining true love lasting forever when the players are only teenagers. I know I wouldn’t want to be married to my high school boyfriend. But then I thought about it, and this is post-apocalyptic. It’s the end of the world, and these kids have experienced things we never have and never will. Circumstances make it so they can’t relate to or be with anyone else, because no one else understand them, no one gets it. It’s Lena and Ethan, Peeta and Katniss, Logan Echolls and Veronica Mars, Deuce and Fade, Janie and Cabel, Four and Tris. There can’t be anyone else. No one else has seen what they’ve seen. I think Cassia and Ky fit in here too.
I loved learning about Ky and Vick and Indie (though Indie loses me in the end). It was fascinating for me, and I think that is one of the reasons I liked this book so much more than its predecessor. There was less emphasis on Cassia and Ky and more on the world and what shaped the characters. While I like Ky and enjoy his romance with Cassia, I am more interested in how they interact with the world and how they want to change it. I think that’s why I love The Hunger Games too, because there was romance, yes, but the Capitol was what was on everyone’s minds, and the romance had to take a backseat. Maybe I just don’t like too much romance in my dystopia, I don’t know. But I will tell you this: when the inevitable reunion happened, I got goose bumps. I think Condie really set this book up right.
I can’t really talk about the ending, though it caused me to send ALL CAPS EMAILS to Ashley, who doesn’t even care about this series. I liked this one so much more than Matched because of Ky. I noticed a lot of people at GoodReads are not happy about where this book went, and I think that’s because this book is very much about travel and introspection. So while people die and there’s fighting, this is more about Ky and his backstory and how he overcomes his past. This is what the first book should have been. So maybe that’s why I like it so much. I recommend this one, of course, but don’t expect crazy adventures or sexy times in this one.