Cassia lives in the dystopian Society where all decisions, including her romantic partner, are made for her based on statistical data gathered about her personality and genetics. Cassia is matched with her BFF, Xander, but the microcard with his data also contains the face of another boy, Ky. Circumstances throw Cassia and Ky together and they slowly fall in love– against the wishes of the Society. Cassia must decide whether to trust the Society or whether she is willing to risk everything to choose for herself.
I listened this this on audiobook, read by Kate Simses and must start by saying this was an excellent audio-read. Simses actually sounded like a 17 year old girl and her voice really matched Cassia’s changing attitudes. In the beginning of the story, she sounds innocent, breathy, and dreamy– like a teenager who has yet to be disillusioned by the world around her and awaits falling in love and starting a career. By the end, though, there is more of a sharpness or desperation to her voice, matching Cassia’s increasingly frustrating situation.
I enjoyed this book because the Society was an interesting dystopia and because Cassia was a pretty interesting character to follow. Although there wasn’t a whole lot of action or fighting or war or anything in this book, Cassia is a strong, courageous character. She fights in a much quieter way that I liked seeing after reading a lot of very violent dystopias. She learns to write in a society that only uses computers. She memorizes poems that are outside of the Society’s 100 poems list. (The Society has only 100 approved poems, along with 100 approved songs, paintings, etc.) She falls in love with someone she isn’t allowed to. Her rebellions are small, but they mean something much more. She is choosing for herself and that is the biggest no-no in the Society. It seems far more real to me that Cassia would start with small rebellions like these before moving on to outright revolution and Society-toppling.
In general, I am not a huge fan of love triangles, but this one did not bother me really. Cassia is not choosing between Xander and Ky. She is choosing between what the Society says is good for her and what she wants for herself. Cassia never would have chosen Xander, but for the Society telling her to. She loves Xander as a friend and doesn’t seem all that eager to have to change this attitude to a more romantic one, once she discovers she has feelings for Ky. So really, I didn’t think this was much of a love triangle. Cassia worries about hurting Xander’s feelings, but she doesn’t really angst on about her feelings for him (or if she did I tuned it out).
While I enjoyed listening to this book, I’m in no hurry to get to the sequels. I have heard that the second book, Crossed, was a bit of a disappointment and I am not left feeling like I must find out what happens next. Whenever the final segment of the trilogy, Reached, comes out, I’ll decide whether or not I really want to finish out the trilogy.