We Find Out What Is Outside of “The Society” in Ally Condie’s Crossed.

Ally Condie’s Crossed is written in two voices. The chapters flip back and forth between Ky and Cassia doing the talking. Ky has been banished to the Outer Provinces to act as a decoy. His main purpose is to act as a target for the faceless enemy. Cassia is also outside of Central doing a series of trainings before she beings her final post. In a moment where the Society kidnaps Abberations from Cassia’s work camp, she makes her escape, pretending to be one of the Abberations. Her only thought is of finding Ky. They hide from the society in a series of canyons known as The Carving. Ky knows them well because his father used to trade with the farmers who lived in the canyons. We learn much more about Ky’s past, his family and the community where he lived. We also learn that Xander has a secret that could change the way Cassia feels about him. There are many more questions that arise in this book. Who are the farmers and what happened to them? Why does The Society have a hidden chamber in the canyon? Who is this enemy that keeps firing on the Outer Provinces? But mostly, who is the real bad guy? I found this book a little harder to follow. The back and forth of the characters could be a little confusing and you have to pay close attention to the details while you are reading. The love triangle is still going strong. Cassia still loves them both and is no closer to choosing between them. I am looking forward to seeing this story wrapped up in the third book and hope it will be a satisfying ending.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

How does Cassia’s talent for sorting help her survive?

Talk about her relationship with Xander. Why do you think he is helping her to escape to find Ky?

Talk about how her feelings differ about Ky and Xander.

Which would you choose? To go across the plains, stay in the Carving, or join the Rising?

Who do you think is the real enemy?

Discuss “the pilot.” Who out of the group would make a great pilot? Share the story of Sisyphus.

Discuss this passage. “People run deep and complicated like rivers, hold their shape and are carved upon like stone.”

What do you think will happen in book 3?

Romantic Follow Up With Plenty Of Dragon Action In Vanish

Vanish is Sophie Jordan’s follow up to Firelight. It picks up right where Firelight left off. Cassian is taking Jacinda, Tamra and her mother back to the pride. Jacinda is forced to leave Will behind. But the big surprise is Tamra’s manifestation. She is not only a dragon, but has an amazing power of her own that rivals Jacinda’s fire breathing. Once they are back at the pride, Tamra, who once invisible in the eyes of the pride is now a prized member. She even has Cassian’s attention, the boy she’s had a crush on since forever. Jacinda is slowing getting back into life in the pride. She is watched closely and her mother seems to be fading. They are separated from Tamra. Tamra is living with the pride’s only other “shader”, which is a power that erases human’s memories. She erased Will’s on the night Cassian came for them. Jacinda is dealing with the painful loss of Will and the possibility he may not remember what happened that night. Jacinda must choose to accept her place in the pride or find a way to escape and be with Will. Choice is the main theme of this book. There is plenty of action and romance to keep reader’s attention. It was a worthy sequel. I really enjoyed it, especially learning more about Tamra and Cassian as characters. The third book in the series, Hidden, is expected to be published in 2012.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Much of this book is about choice. Talk about a difficult decision you’ve had to make.

Talk about the differences between Cassian and Will. Which would you choose?

Talk about the different powers of Tamra and Jacinda. How does their relationship change when Tamra starts to manifest?

What makes Will different from his family? How do you think the dragon blood plays a part?

Is Jacinda’s personal happiness more important that the safety of the pride?

Talk about Jacinda’s relationship with Miriam.

How did Jacinda’s relationship change with Az?