Last time on Matched.com, villain monologue for some reason.
Now, Cassia finds Xander waiting for her outside her house. She sees he’s still hurt and decides that even still it’s for the best the red pill didn’t do anything about that because it was true. There were nicer ways of doing it, but yeah, you’ve got the general sentiment. Shame no one ever claimed the point of the red pill was to insulate people from harsh truths in the first place.
They sit together and she says it feels really good to be with him. Sadly, we still don’t get any coherent explanation about the difference between sexual interest and nonsexual love, and so that’s probably just going to stall at her saying she loves the two differently, with it never clear if she just loves Ky more or if she never felt that way toward Xander in the first place.
I might come back, but I won’t live here again. Once you’ve been Relocated, you don’t return except to visit. Clean breaks are best.
In what universe is returning to visit a clean break?
Xander tells him the red pill doesn’t work on him. Or Ky. Wow, the author’s just flailing around like an idiot now.
In a different book, what would be happening here is that the red pill doesn’t work on anyone, but everyone pretends it does because they know the red pill is the nice way the society has of dealing with problems, and they don’t want to find out what the other ways might be. But in this one, contrivance just happens.
Xander explains that once he dared Ky to take the red pill because he was jealous of Cassia’s interest in Ky, despite the fact she barely noticed him for most of their childhood and also despite the fact everyone suspects the pill is a suicide pill. I guess one love interest not being terrible is more than we can hope for.
Worse, by “dare” he means he saw Ky had an artifact and blackmailed him into getting the pills to take. Ky retaliates by stealing the pills from Xander’s parents and getting them in trouble.
That’s when he told me that you don’t play with other people’s lives.” Xander seems ashamed, remembering. “And then he told me that we could start over if I wanted. All we had to do was take the red tablets, one for each of us. He promised me we wouldn’t get hurt.”
“That’s cruel of him, too,” I say in shock, but to my surprise Xander disagrees with me.
“He knew the tablets didn’t work on him; I don’t know how, but he did. He thought they would work on me. He thought I wouldn’t remember how horrible I’d been and that I’d be able to start clean.”
Unless this all took place within twelve hours, all that’d happen is Xander demanding he get the pills again. And if it did, maybe Ky’s really trying to erase the memory of the artifact. Regardless, I’m not sure how Ky expects his morality lecture to have any impact.
Presumably Ky knows because they tried to erase his memory of what happened to his village, although I’d think they’d notice it didn’t work and, upon noticing, realize Ky was too much of a liability.
This would all work so much better if it were just Xander. This is his private memory and Ky doesn’t even know awful he was, because when they took the pills Ky forgot everything and Xander didn’t.
Cassia references the whole problem by wondering how many people are immune, and Xander says probably lots, after all, she’s one. She says not really, but for all we know she is immune too and just doesn’t know it.
Reminiscing time over, Xander gives her a bag of stuff for when she inevitably commits suicide by trying to find Ky. He’s stolen a bunch of blue pills from work, and yes, come to think of it, that sure is a plot hole. The Society controls society by controlling the food, but they also manufacture pills that can be used to stay alive instead of food. So why were those idiots trying to grow wild carrot when all they need to do is hijack a pill shipment?
Cassia realizes it never even occurred to her to wonder if Xander betrayed her and goes on a bit more about the prisoner’s dilemma. At least she restrains herself from bringing up Sisyphus again.
She asks Xander how to use the compass, and he has a little temper tantrum about why should he help her to leave and find Ky, because I don’t fucking know, the author forgot the previous paragraphs for a moment.
Some more emo. He asks if she’d have chosen him ever, and she says yes, she could have.
“We could still end up together,” he says. “After all this.”
I would actually be interested in reading that sequel, but it probably wouldn’t be a sequel to a book with the sort of true love bullshit this one has going on.
it’s about making our own choices,” I tell him. “That’s the point. Isn’t it? This is bigger than us now.”
Sadly, no, it doesn’t seem like it is.
Your society has so many worse issues than choosing which boy you want to kiss most! Hell, your society has so many bigger issues than even choice.
Cassia asks how many other times people took the red tablet. He says just once.
“They don’t use it much on citizens. I was sure they’d make us take it after the Markhams’ son died, but they didn’t. But, one day, I’m pretty sure everyone in the Borough took it.”
“I’m not positive,” he says. “I didn’t actually see you do it. I don’t know.”
Well if she doesn’t remember, that’s a pretty good clue.
Naturally he refuses to say what happened, because this book spites upon good writing, and naturally Cassia just accepts that, because same.
Anyway, chatter and chatter and then Xander wants to kiss her one last time and she thinks it’d be nice but doesn’t want to be unfaithful to Ky because suddenly that’s a thing that matters to her so they hug instead.
Then it’s time for them to leave.
As the four of us walk to the air-train stop, neighbors and friends come out to say good-bye and wish us well. They know we’re being Relocated but they don’t know why; it isn’t considered polite to ask.
So volunteer it.
There’s no sign officials have real power. They have handcuffs and gags, not guns or riot gear. The pill only works within twelve hours, so if you tell them now and the officials don’t hear about it in time, they’ll know for good.
Stop letting them assume relocation is being done for good reasons. Stop letting them assume disappearances are for good reason. Tell everyone what happened to Ky and his family. Climb on one of those trainers full of nothing but workers and tell everyone that there’s a war you’re losing and to tell it to everyone they meet. Tell them they’re murdering the elderly and the aberrations. Tell them the farmlands are trying to rebel.
Chapter after chapter you’ve complained about wanting your words to fork lightning. You want that?
None of that happens. Cassia instead says that their borough is being renamed from Mapletree to Garden, since the maple trees have been cut down. She says when she was a kid it was called Stony and had stone paths. She makes the jump to assuming the renamings mean something bad happened, because I guess otherwise they wouldn’t have renamed the place that no longer had maple trees, and wonders what it was.
When other people left, where did they really go?
If you think it matters, then tell everyone where Ky really went now.
But no. She climbs onto the train as quiet as everyone else.
On the trainer, she says a few rows of young women about my age going on a work detail for a few months. I watch these girls with interest; they are girls who did not get work positions and therefore will float around wherever they are needed for a time.
That’s interesting, but like everything else in the story, the fact itself is floating around devoid of context. How common is this? Will they all be assigned a permanent job later, or do a lot of them keep being sent around? Can people with jobs be reassigned to this kind of thing if they’re no longer needed? Are they more common recently as the society gets stretched and needs to move its resources around more precisely, or are they no more common than they ever were?
I catch myself glancing over at them more than I should. We’re supposed to keep to ourselves.
And for some reason you’re doing what you’re supposed to.
Instead, her dad strikes up a conversation about how he doesn’t remember yesterday but he knows the Markhams leaving upset her. Cassia decides that’s nowhere near dangerous enough conversation.
I glance over at my sleeping mother. “Why didn’t they use a red tablet on her? Then we wouldn’t have had to leave.”
Her dad doesn’t even ask how she knows about this.
“Those are only for extreme circumstances. This isn’t one of them.”
Because they have a perfect mindwipe pill that’s apparently harmless enough to feed it to officials all the time, but it’s better to lose a whole family of workers than use it when someone sees the wrong thing.
“I’m a sorter by nature, Cassia,” he says. “All the information adds up to something being wrong. The way they took the artifacts. Your mother’s trips to the other Arboretums. The gap in my memory from yesterday. Something is wrong. They are losing a war and I can’t tell who it’s against—people on the inside or people on the outside. But there are signs of cracking.”
Shame Cassia apparently isn’t one, since she doesn’t pick up on this, though she reminds us Ky was bright enough to notice.
Of course, we still have no idea why they took the artifacts. The closest to an explanation is the one thing everything else weird was blamed on, the official fucking with Cassia for the science lulz, and that seems quite a stretch.
Her dad also mentions that, by the way, he noticed she was in love with Ky. But not the fact she was on quarter rations for two months. Anyway, so he says he knows she’ll want to go find him.
I glance over at my mother. Her eyes are open now. She looks at me with love and understanding, and I realize: She knows what my father did. She knows what I want. She knows and even though she would not destroy a tissue sample or love someone who was not her Match, she still loves us, even though we have done those things.
Of course, it remains for the father to actually do stuff while the mother just sits there being loving and understanding.
My father has always broken the rules for those he loves, just as my mother has always kept them for the same reason.
Remember Cassia’s big evidence for this is that one time her mother who works with flowers had a flower blossom, therefore her dad must have broken the rules to get it. You can really see her keen mind at work.
Anyway, her dad says that they can’t make things right for her, but they can support her totally doomed effort to chase one boy because she finds him marginally more appealing than the other boy she also loves, because good parents support their children’s suicide pacts.
And we end the chapter before they explain how they’re planning this idiocy.