A friend gave me Ally Condie’s Crossed to read. After forty pages I put it down and I’m going to try and understand why, not for Mrs. Condie’s benefit—I don’t worry about her, I think she’s a brilliant writer and my little humph I think not will not hurt her career in the slightest—but for my own writer-self. Why do readers put down a book mid-way? Why do viewers abandon a TV show they once loved? I’m sure there’s a zillion answers to these questions, but I’m going to focus on my personal reasons for putting aside Crossed.
I really enjoyed Condie’s MATCHED, but my daughter did not. The prose is lovely, I said. The whole thing is cliché, Natalie responded. And when I thought about it, Natalie was right. One girl, two boys, one approved, one forbidden, the girl loves them both.
I hate love triangles. I know they work for Stephanies Meyer and Plum, but having lived with teenagers for the last fifteen years and having been one once myself, I also know that when the typical teenie is gaga for a boy she doesn’t look right or left. She’s listening for HIS footsteps. She’s waiting for HIS call. Just the scent of HIM puts a spin in her tail. Everybody else is about as important as gum stuck on the bottom of her shoe. Just ask her long suffering and often neglected best friend. (Come on, we all know this! Why do we let young adult authors convince us it can possibly be otherwise?)
And then there’s the evolved society that in its righteous desire to create a utopia went power hungry south. I loved the Hunger Games. I read it in one sitting--didn't eat, sleep and tried not to pee--and when I was done I had to change my shirt because that book made me sweat. And Catching Fire, when I came to the end, made me swear. I barely endured Mockingjay and loved nothing but about the last two pages. I don’t think I’ll ever read another dystopian novel.
And that’s not Mrs. Condie’s fault, because, as I said, I think her prose is lovely, but I just don’t want to read about tortured teenagers. Teenagers torture themselves enough already in real life—I don’t want to read about it for fun. Because for me…it’s just not fun.
And that’s why I put down Allie Condie’s Crossed.