Last time, multiple povs god why.
We’re back to Tris, who’s got a good idea going by playing the “Why the fuck are you even putting me on trial?” card, with a touch of “How was I supposed to know I wasn’t supposed to do that?” In another book, one more interested in politics and words, Tris would use the trial to turn this back on Evelyn.
Why is Evelyn angry that everyone knows this information? Does everyone also know that Jeanine, horrible leader of a horrible faction we all hate, attacked Abnegation and started this slaughterfest specifically to keep it from being revealed?
Hey surviving Candor, that’s right, not only were you used as zombie pawns but it was done to suppress the truth. The truth of why we’re here, the truth of what’s beyond this place, and all the truths of the world that were lost when our ancestors came to this place.
And you’re right, we do need to ask what we owe these people. Is it their fault, Factionless, that you were kept starving in slums? Did they tell us to do it when they made this place? But then, what if they didn’t? What if it was the fault of the factions and they can tell us who to really hold accountable? I think we have some questions for them to answer, don’t you?
Dauntless: Don’t be a pussy.
But that is not this book. This book, Tris just claims that she thought Marcus was working for them. Evelyn clearly considers arguing that Tris couldn’t be this stupid, but then realizes that no, sounds legit. Also, Tris admits her gun-phobia to give her greater plausibility.
and her voice gets even quieter, so that I can barely hear her. “I was Abnegation. I have known the truth far longer than you have, Beatrice Prior. I don’t know how you’re getting away with this, but I promise you, you will not have a place in my new world, especially not with my son.”
And again, in another book, this is something you should repeat loudly, because you’re under truth serum and no one will think you’re just making up what she just visibly whispered in your ear. Even if you don’t get the obvious fact that this wouldn’t help her case with anyone else, the fact she’s hissing it so the rest can’t hear is a good enough tipoff right there. Admittedly, in such a book no one would make such a stupid mistake in the first place.
Plus, the fact that yeah, all of the Abnegation adults totally knew this makes the whole last book a farce. Any surviving Abnegation member could’ve just opened their damn mouth. This isn’t even incompatible with the plot – it’d have given Erudite a motivation to murder chunks of Abnegation and to wipe them out when the first attempt failed, and then Marcus could choke out while dying that Jeanine killed them all to hide the truth. Bonus: Tobias insisting this is just his dad’s final stab at dickery would actually look irrational in that situation, as opposed to 100% on the nose given Marcus’ coy, “Oh I can’t possibly tell you the information I likely memorized, you’ll have to go get it, can’t tell you what it is or what you’re even looking for, also it’s so important you don’t even know oh but I can’t tell you how it’s important either, by the way your mom saved you rather than the data so it’s sort of your fault and also if you think about it both your dead parents were willing to die for this but you probably aren’t huh and after they died to help you too. Not that I care because you’re totally meaningless to me, little girl.”
I also like how the book is doing that old fanfic trope of making the woman evil by having her hate the OTP. I don’t think there’s been any reason at all why she feels like this. She’s loathed Tris + Tobias since the very start, because she is evil and evil people don’t approve of the author’s OTP.
So, she’s free. Tris says that she is in fact free-free, as in, she’s going to blow this joint and go meet the outside world soon.
The guards did tell me a few things about the new factionless order this morning. Former faction members are required to move closer to Erudite headquarters and mix, no more than four members of a particular faction in each dwelling. We have to mix our clothing, too. I was given a yellow Amity shirt and black Candor pants earlier as a result of that particular edict.
Truly, Evilyn is the greatest monster imaginable.
I’m not sure how this fits with the fact that last book, she said Amity would exist as their slave farmers. Oh no she’s gone with equality?
For a moment I feel relieved that everyone I care about will be out of prison by tonight. But then I remember that Caleb is still there, because he was a well-known lackey of Jeanine Matthews, and the factionless will never exonerate him.
Also because he is objectively guilty. You’re regretting that your brother won’t be let free because, sadly, people know he doesn’t deserve to be and furthermore can’t be trusted not to sabotage and hurt people further. That is literally what you are doing here, Tris.
But just how far they will go to destroy the mark Jeanine Matthews left on this city, I don’t know.
Tris, he is evil. He is objectively evil. For all your ~tricksy woman~ hatred of Jeanine, the fact here is, he was in a better position than Jeanine to know that murdering/enslaving Abnegation was wrong and that more generally the things Erudite said about them were lies. You then fought to protect his life, and he repaid that by fucking you, personally, over.
I don’t care, I think. But even as I think it, I know it’s a lie. He’s still my brother.
If we’re going on genetic relatedness, surely the part where, in addition to fucking over a faction’s worth of people, he specifically betrayed every member of his family (twice for his sister!) is relevant?
We end finding out Tobias left a message saying to meet her at a particular place later.
And then we go to Tobias.
MY MOTHER ALWAYS sits on the edges of things—chairs, ledges, tables—as if she suspects she will have to flee in an instant.
I usually see this trope popping up with your cutely damaged girl protagonists. Author, being older, may be more familiar with the high positioned temptress, explaining why it’s being attached to Evilyn.
Speaking of, she’s accusing her son of insufficient loyalty and he’s saying he really sorry.
I thought telling Evelyn that I broke up with Tris would make it easier for my mother to trust me, and I was right—she has been warmer, more open, ever since I told that lie.
I wonder if we’re going down the regular overcontrolling mother route here or if her issues with his girlfriend are meant to come off as vaguely incestual as they do. It’s just how personal she seems to be taking it.
She wants him to say he’s in agreement about staying, and he dodges the question by saying he’s scared of the unknown. She accepts this and says she hears there’s a rebel faction building.
“The kind that wants to leave the city,” she says. “They released some kind of manifesto this morning. They call themselves the Allegiant.” When she sees my confused look, she adds, “Because they’re allied with the original purpose of our city, see?”
They are also pro-factions in general, which would appear to mean that whenever Tris adopts this new title drop, she’ll be in favor of staying in factions despite that being obviously evil.
With the factions dismantled, part of me has felt like a man released from a long imprisonment. I don’t have to evaluate whether every thought I have or choice I make fits into a narrow ideology. I don’t want the factions back.
But Evelyn hasn’t liberated us like she thinks—she’s just made us all factionless. She’s afraid of what we would choose, if we were given actual freedom.
Of course she is! Your population chose not-freedom! They have since brainwashed every generation into believing not-freedom is the only right choice! She has liberated the fuck out of your city. Sometimes part of liberation is forcing people to not put the damn shackles back on. Societies that like freedom always have some sort of freedom-limiting rules to prevent obviously bad choices that enslave people. This is how it works.
Here’s a question for everyone: is America’s current system of allowing vaccination to be a choice an expression of our devotion to freedom, or a sign our current political system is too broken to protect our freedoms?
Both of them proceed to ignore the obvious fact that this is a “rebellion” whose only point of interest in going the fuck away to discuss what should be done. Evilyn is going to control them, but no not with simulations because Jeanine did that.
I will never resort to simulations to get my way. Death would be better.”
Tobias is rightly horrified but before we get too upset about her murder plans, let’s remember the simulations were functionally murdering you and puppetting around your corpse. As I don’t think it’s that much bigger an offence to use your corpse in particular to do stuff you don’t want, I’m just going to say they’re the same thing and call it a day. (It’d have been different if Jeanine had played up the fact she’d be using them to do things they find abhorrent to torment people pre-takeover, but she seemed to get everyone by surprise. Each time, somehow.)
There are plenty of reasons she would tell me. To test me. To catch me. To feed me false information. I know what my mother is—she is someone for whom the end of a thing justifies the means of getting there, the same as my father, and the same, sometimes, as me.
Remember, everyone: the real villain is the battered wife. Incidentally, she’s the dark skinned one. Just putting that out there.
Anyway he promises to find these evil allegiant. It’s a shame people weren’t talking more about insurgents last time or he could pick up on the fact that every time he hears about a thing, it’s a thing Tris is.
Back to our soon to be allegiant, Tris meets up with him and Tobias says her plan went perfect and no one bothered with further questioning. This doesn’t even have to be a plothole! Say the serum is in limited supply what with the collapse of their society and then it’d actually make sense to try to pick the minimum number of people for questioning.
Unfortunately, this is still YA, which means there must be stupid romance scenes. Today it’s #60, “I realized that we’ve never been on an actual date.” Which he literally says word for word.
For the record, they have been on actual dates in the sense that they did things together as a couple before the attack. In fact, they did this multiple times! But YA cliche demands it happen anyway.
“Before you, I only went on group dates, and they were usually a disaster. They always ended up with Zeke making out with whatever girl he intended to make out with, and me sitting in awkward silence with some girl that I had somehow offended in some way early on.”
Tris isn’t like those other girls!
He takes out a small bottle with clear, bubbling liquid in it, and as he twists open the cap, says, “I stole it from the Erudite kitchens. Apparently it’s delicious.”
He pours some in each cup, and I take a sip. Whatever it is, it’s sweet as syrup and lemon-flavored and makes me cringe a little.
I refuse to believe that someone’s first exposure to carbonation would just describe the non-carbonated features of it. Have you ever seen a kid take their first sip of one? Unless the bit about cringing is supposed to be that and not related to either of the previous ones, in which case terrible writing especially when there’s no way you would’ve noticed the carbonation last.
They try to talk about things. Tris says she knows now that suicide is bad. Also, lying bad, buuuut…
I know I want to be honest with you. But . . . but I can’t do that, I won’t do it, if you won’t trust me, or if you talk to me in that condescending way you sometimes do—”
So yeah, she’s saying she will lie to him if he’s condescending. I don’t know what to make of this.
The lying vs trust thing could stand to be articulated better, but she does have a point – he refused to take anything she said seriously, forcing her to go behind her back. I’m surprised she hasn’t yet pointed out that she didn’t want to hide her actions with Marcus but every time she brought the subject up he insisted Marcus was lying and she was wrong, and oh look. Instead, she gets upset about how when she was having thing-that-is-PTSD-they-don’t-recognize, she needed support rather than condescension, which seems both true and unreasonable – she was doing things that were a bad idea. He could’ve been more supportive about it, but being supportive only would’ve been enabling the suicidal thing she admits was bad.
Of course, the fact they’re fumbling around unaware that her brain literally has some glitches in it right now explains why she can’t explain any better than “reason didn’t matter I just wanted support” but…not only has the book chosen to not definitively identify it as PTSD, it refuses to even have anyone remark on how weird her behavior has been. We know from history that people are capable of recognizing a subset of weird behavior that is PTSD and just didn’t understand it, and we also know this is taking place in our future where there was no reason to lose our basic understanding of brain disorders.
I guess the author could say she has no real obligation to what the reader takes out of this, but it just bothers me that if you aren’t already assuming Tris has PTSD and have a reasonable grasp of what that is, you’re seeing a girl insist that reason is meaningless and she just demands support. And Tris seems to come out the winner of that part of the argument, despite the fact it’s a horrible standard to hold someone to. And ultimately…what exactly is added by no one knowing what PTSD is? It’s not like we have any real cure for it – we barely even know how to handle it. Someone saying she has PTSD and giving us enough background to understand that some of Tris’ behavior will be irrational because of mental illness (and some of Tobias’ behavior as well) could be done without really changing anything – relationship problems don’t vanish just because you have a slightly better understanding of what’s going on.
“I’m sorry I lied to you,” I say. “I really am.”
“Well,” he says. “I didn’t mean to make you feel like I didn’t respect you.”
I don’t think the author intended me to take from this that she’s apologizing for what she actually did, and he’s apologizing for how she happened to interpret his actions rather than admitting he wasn’t respecting her and apologizing for that. Even if you skip over the condescending about her suicide thing bit, where it’s really understandable someone would act like this, the bigger problem is that he consistently blew off her advice and insisted he knew better, and also the part where the end of the book proved he’d been wrong each time he did so. In contrast, Tris was wrong precisely once, when she claimed she wasn’t suicidal, which I think we can all agree is a far more understandable error in judgement.
I guess it’s really just disappointing. This is far better than the other relationships I’ve seen, but it means the best I’ll get is flawed people trying to communicate in a relationship and never an actually healthy relationship.
They finish their soda, saying it’s not really that great compared to cake and then wonder what the Abnegation treat would’ve been had they a treat at all, so yes, the factions are so devoted to each getting a hat they literally each get a single treat.
“Sometimes I think I believe everything they taught us,” he says. “But obviously not, since I’m sitting here holding your hand right now without having married you first.”
“What do the Dauntless teach about . . . that?” I say, nodding to our hands.
“What do the Dauntless teach, hmm.” He smirks. “Do whatever you want, but use protection, is what they teach.”
That must be a holdover from old Dauntless, because current Dauntless clearly has no interest in any other sort of protections.
“I think I’d like to find a middle ground for myself,” he says. “To find that place between what I want and what I think is wise.”
That’s like saying you’re pro-choice but personally pro-life, do you not get that “what you want” can include “what you think is wise”?
What really just happened is the author wants to remind everyone that while getting married before handholding is excessive, casual sex is objectively wrong and “have sex but use protection” is not wise.
Then they make out.
“It’s getting more difficult to be wise,” he says, laughing into my ear.
I smile at him. “I think that’s how it’s supposed to be.”
I will grant that while the connection between sex and bad idea is silly, as morals go generally discouraging kids from fucking is very far from the worst and the author’s managed an impressive dance around actually saying casual sex is for godless whores who will never be loved.
We jump then to Tobias’ head in the future. He tells us that yesterday, he eavesdropped on his mom after she sent him out and there’s some sort of “demonstration” coming up. Instead of wondering if this will involve a lot of blood or what, he just focuses on wondering why it’s a secret from him and if this means she doesn’t trust him. He doesn’t seem to consider the possibility she just doesn’t like telling people things and sticks to need-to-know levels of info. She may well trust him more than anyone else and yet see no reason to tell him about everything she does, especially if she doesn’t trust anyone totally.
Then a riot starts outside as the factionless have chosen precisely now to get mad at the existence of the bowls from the choosing ceremony.
The huge, man-sized faction bowls from the Choosing Ceremony are turned on their sides, their contents spilling across the road, coals and glass and stone and earth and water all mingling together.
I am now really disappointed the movie didn’t make them enormous.
I remember slicing into my palm to add my blood to the coals, my first act of defiance against my father. I remember the surge of power inside me, and the rush of relief. Escape. These bowls were my escape.
Right but factionlessness would’ve done it for you too. Plus according to the scene retelling, you were planning to escape that escape.
I have to stop myself from running at him. He can’t destroy it, not that bowl, not the Choosing Ceremony, not the symbol of my triumph. Those things should not be destroyed.
They totally should. What is it with modern dystopias and their absolute refusal to accept destroying those dystopias is good?
An Erudite guy who clearly, clearly did not get the rational actions memo tries to stop Edward from taking a sledgehammer to these things, gets clipped by it and goes down, prompting the rioting to turn into multi-faction chaos. The man is trampled and someone shoots Edward in the chaos.
Tris and Christina crouch next to the Erudite man with the shattered shoulder. His face is bloody and his clothes are dirty with footprints. His combed Erudite hair is tousled. He isn’t moving.
A few feet away from him, Edward lies in a pool of his own blood. The bullet hit him in the gut. There are other people on the ground too, people I don’t recognize, people who got trampled or shot. I suspect the bullets were meant for Edward and Edward alone—the others were just bystanders.
I look around wildly but I don’t see the shooter. Whoever it was seems to have dissolved into the crowd.
I drop the sledgehammer next to the dented bowl and kneel beside Edward
Tris checks the Erudite guy for a pulse and then they mutually ignore the other people on the ground too, people I don’t recognize in favor of dragging Edward off to the hospital.
The symbols of our old way of life, destroyed—a man dead, others injured—and for what?
For nothing. For Evelyn’s empty, narrow vision: a city where factions are wrenched away from people against their will. She wanted us to have more than five choices. Now we have none.
I know for sure, then, that I can’t be her ally, and I never could have.
But really, what does it say about us as a society that we aren’t merely cynical in assuming one dystopia will naturally be replaced by the next but insist that the replacement dystopia will be vastly worse, so much that you should fight to return to it?
The endless whining about how Evilyn’s oppressing the poor factioners just brings to mind this book my father’s been reading about how the South lost the Civil War only to turn around and win the Reconstruction War. It was so hard for the privileged people to lose the stuff they had.
Tobias explains that it’s all Evilyn’s fault. This must be the demonstration she was talking about, and he’s also absolutely sure that she knew it would be a bloody disaster because Making a big statement about the factions was more important to her than safety or the potential loss of lives and he should’ve expected as much.
When she gets there, she’s honestly concerned for his safety, which throws Tobias, and then they mourn Edward, who was kind of terrible and, from a reader’s POV, just flat out annoying with how he kept hogging the spotlight for no reason.
Tobias asks why she didn’t tell him about this and she says she didn’t know, and it’s obvious she’s lying because it’s not like there’s any way a hothead who’s been a major figure in the factionless could possibly have acted on his own, and they sit together and mourn longer.