Last time, the best thing to ever happen happened.
I WATCH VAUGHN scoop his son into his arms the way he probably did when Linden was small. I watch unresponsive limbs hanging slack, an open, motionless mouth that once told me “I love you.”
I too feel this is a good time to remember what a manipulative liar he was.
Rhine ends up falling to her knees, presumably because she’s so overwhelmed by how great this is.
he’s telling Reed that he’s never, never going to let him see the children again. The children he’s talking about are Cecily, Bowen, and me.
That can’t be right. Maybe he’s talking about Linden and Bowen and how Reed won’t ever even see the body again.
Reed is broken. He says nothing. He’s in his kitchen surrounded by mason jars, where watermelons and sprouts are growing beautifully
Further suggesting that the author really does not understand watermelons are a vine, the fruit doesn’t just grow directly out of the ground.
He has always been the one to make things live while his brother was the wrong one. His brother was the one who killed and prodded and destroyed. That was the way it always was, who they always were.
As so often in this book, the attempt to reinforce evil pushes me in the opposite direction.
There are times when you can say that yes, the kid was always a bit off, and while you’re horrified to hear that he had a room full of corpses stitched together into interesting shapes and several skin outfits, you can’t say you’re exactly surprised.
But you generally want some substance, like that time he killed the neighbor’s cat, and not what sounds abusive, like how your mom always knew you were the good one. Especially coupled with how Rhine insisted he was the true evil without any evidence, it makes it sound like everyone’s just always assumed he was evil until he gave up and went with it.
Cecily has made herself disappear. There’s no lock on the door of the upstairs bedroom, so she barricaded it with the dresser.
That’s not what “made herself disappear” means. That’s barricading herself in her room. Nothing subtle about it. And why does she feel the need to actually block the door. What does she think will happen? I wonder if she expects to be killed next.
She didn’t even come out for Bowen, who was wailing for the better part of a half hour
This would suggest fear over grief – grief shouldn’t make her stay away from her kid.
[Elle] really is a skilled caregiver; she can open a textbook about air conditioner models and pretend to be reading from it, pointing to the pictures as she makes up a story about angels and falling stars. I was listening to her earlier, her young voice coming down the stairs as I focused on a crack in the ceiling. It took me away from the ugliness in my head for a while.
Christ, Rhine. You’re seventeen, she’s eight. Take the baby instead of marveling how her childhood has been so thoroughly destroyed she’s a high quality slave.
Evil Mad Scientist arrives again, and Cecily is there on the stairs in seconds, which means she must have unbarricaded the door already, but why?
She leaves with Elle.
We don’t say good-bye to Reed, but I look over my shoulder and see him in the kitchen, staring through the table. This isn’t his fault. I want to tell him that. I want to believe that the same way that I want to forget that I was the one who should have been sitting in the copilot’s seat, and that the blood on the windshield should have been mine.
But as always, she just doesn’t. Eh, at least it’s happening to an asshole this time. Also even for Rhine that’s ridiculous reaching.
“What will happen to us?” she says breathlessly. “I gave Linden everything I had.”
“Don’t be foolish, Cecily,” Vaughn says. “You had nothing to give. You were nothing then, and you’re nothing now.” He closes the door on us.
Which serves to beg the question of why bother to get her.
Rhine thinks this isn’t true and she should say so, then as always goes on to remain silent. She also thinks she shouldn’t mention Gabriel in case Evil Mad Scientist murders him too, so you know, why even go back at this point? What’s the point? If she’s got any worth herself, she could try to stay with Reed and see if she could negotiate a trade. If she doesn’t, going back just means she’ll be killed too.
She ends up sent to the wives floor and entering her old room because of course she does. When Cecily finishes screaming she goes to Rhine’s room to cry and sleep in her bed instead. Eventually Rhine starts crying too and thinks about how she loves him so much. Eventually, they cry themselves out and Cecily asks about the twin stories because Rhine’s lost her parents already.
The last time I told her about the twins, she betrayed my trust.
The last time you told her about the twins, she didn’t know they were anything but stories. Also, my money is still on listening devices as just being so obvious, because he said he knows because you told Cecily, not because Cecily told him. Anyway, Rhine advises her that feelings can’t kill you, so suck it up.
“I can’t breathe,” she says, gripping the railing of our wedding gazebo. Her words are fast and tight.
I stand beside her, all sympathy and guilt, remembering a day when I thought this demanding child of a bride was incapable of feelings.
“You are breathing,” I tell her.
So Rhine tells us that she finally understands morals, but not in the sense she actually comforts Cecily now. She goes on to say she knows how Cecily feels, and Cecily rightfully says that no, no she does not. This is extremely true! Rhine has both a brother and boyfriend left, and while she loathes using it, a much better education that allows her to get the few safer jobs girls can have. And she’s still a marriageable virgin. Cecily has nothing but a dependant child.
It takes her such a long time to understand that her lungs and heart and blood are going to keep working.
I don’t think she’s being that literal, Rhine.
I tell her a final story about the twins. The one whose grief drove him to set the country ablaze. And the one who found a way to love her captor.
Rhine you are the worst character.
The next day, Evil Mad Scientist digs his son’s grave, and Rhine says evidently her speculation that he’d dissect the guy was wrong. Probably mostly because he’s already got his cure. Rhine goes on about how sad she is and how special he was. Shut up, Rhine.
Later, while she’s hanging out in the place she supposedly wanted to escape, someone comes to tell her Evil Mad Scientist wants her.
“Where are you taking her?” she asks the attendant.
He doesn’t know how to answer her in a way that’s safe. She is prone to temper tantrums
Rhine has already forgotten yet again her bit about realizing Cecily has actual feelings and is now bitching at how annoying it is Cecily feels reasonable concern for her. She tries to get Cecily to shut up by saying she’ll just be downstairs a minute.
She shakes her head furiously, barricades the waiting elevator with her body. “No,” she says. “Rhine, please, no, no. I know that you won’t come back.”
“Cecily,” I snap. I want to comfort her, but I am too exhausted.
You are so horrible.
Rhine then shoves Cecily out of the way and shoves Cecily off again when she throws herself at Rhine again, and they manage to slip onto the elevator.
“Thank you.” The attendant sighs, exasperated. “Something else, that one. She’s too much to handle most days.”
“This morning she watched from a window as her husband was buried,” I say. “What did you do this morning?”
This is amazing.
Rhine doesn’t point out that Cecily is scared for her own wellbeing and acting rationally, because that would mean Cecily didn’t deserve the disdain she heaps on the poor girl. But she’s always up for being smug at someone low ranked, so she enjoys putting the attendant in their place by saying Cecily has an emotional excuse for her completely irrational behavior.
Her brother meets up with her to express disdain that she cares about a male other than him.
My brother was never especially good with compassion. His idea of helping is to find the quickest way to overcome the loss, and I’m not quite ready.
As with the deceased rapist, that wasn’t helping, that was just trying to make you shut up.
Anyway, Evil Mad Scientist sends her brother on ahead before renegotiating to establish she has something he wants (Rhine’s not clear what) and he’s still got her boyfriend. Rhine does not note that he doesn’t want her brother to hear but just meekly agrees. Then they go to Hawaii again. Evil Mad Scientist has pills to dope them up, and Rhine’s happy to take them. Some sort of thing happens. She wakes up properly and apparently that’s it, whatever experiment involved jamming a tube down her throat led to fixing the formulas to create perfect cure.
Being drugged stupid, Rhine’s easily able to see the problem:“I thought none of the cures were universal.” so Rowan explains:
“We think this one is,” he says.
It just is counts as an explanation, right?
It’s basically the author saying shut up bored now. Then Rhine finds out she’s been unconscious a week, which means Rapist-chan’s been dead a week, so she starts crying and her brother’s upset because who cares, cure! Rhine counters with the fact she doesn’t care, which he should already know because she established her insane pro-“naturalist” tendencies back in book one.
Apparently the cure means illness and cancer and being hurt by poison will be true again, so it sounds like it’s just returning them to baseline human, which you could do by just taking the regular people from Hawaii. Considering she recognizes them as Hawaiians, maybe the issue is there were no white people left to clone and they decided they’d rather kids be dead at twenty than have Pacific Islander skin? I mean, how else would we have Rhine’s pretty gold hair if they’d done that? Dye?!
The bigger concern would be that this would have some horrible side effects on the next generation, and given Rhine’s nearly eighteen and apparently the cure still works, that’s not too worrying because they can cure most of the population after they have kids until they’re sure it’s safe.
There are already studies being planned to test the results of a new generation conceiving with a partner that wasn’t born with the virus.
They never tried this before? Holy shit. No wonder no one’s been able to solve this. That this appears to just be a curiosity suggests I’m right about not wanting the bloodline in the main population.
And then there is the matter of certainty. The virus wouldn’t have affected us until after my twentieth birthday and Rowan’s twenty-fifth. There are fifty other participants in the study who vary in age, but we will all have to survive that fatal year before there’s even going to be talk of starting to make these findings public.
Ooor you could just start giving it to people who are twenty/twenty-five, given they have nothing to lose.
Oh, also they won’t be allowed to stay in Hawaii because it’s too expensive, but also they can’t go to the public, so they’ll be sent back while under the observation of the doctor. So she’s getting locked up again.
He’ll have to leave his friends behind, but he doesn’t even think enough of them to mention it. Maybe that’s why Bee stared at me with such contempt—she knew that for me, Rowan would abandon any life he had built elsewhere.
Actually he was already doing all this without you being there.
While hanging out in the luxurious prison, Rhine is still sad the rapist is dead and says it was so much better back when she was here to be a sex slave but now she doesn’t have a husband :(((((
Rhine doesn’t know why she keeps whining.
“I’m still weak, you mean.”
“You were never weak,” he says. “Just empathetic. I’ve always worried about you. It’s dangerous to become attached to anyone in our world.
When people say they aren’t empathetic and don’t think it’s good to have attachments to everyone, that should be a clue there’s something wrong.
“I just hate to see you like this,” he says. “Isn’t there anything I can do?”
You could murder Vaughn. You could free Gabriel. You could help repair the damage that’s been done to our home.
Rhine’s excuse for silence today is that she’s sure their conversations are recorded. Just as sure as she is that Cecily deliberately betrayed her by repeating the twin stories. I’m not clear how she thinks Evil Mad Scientist overhearing would matter, either.
Rhine finishes with a bunch of nonsense about how she’s sure he just knows something’s wrong, that she’s sure he knows the room is bugged, that she’s sure he’s going to help her somehow.
Back at the mansion, Rowan gets a room on the guest floor (because you can’t mix boys and girls or they’ll get raped). Rhine gets a new key card that’ll let her access that too while blissfully ignoring the fact Cecily probably thinks she’s dead. While she plans to show her brother around, first she has to go beg for Gabriel because Rhine made the mistake of not actually bargaining when she was with Uncle Perfect. Evil Mad Scientist grouches about how she isn’t even pretending to grieve.
I’ve been angry with Vaughn before, but now I want very much to take a swing at him, and I really think that I could.
Ordering a dozen or two girls murdered? That bit was no biggie.
Anyway he just says yet again that sure, he’ll do what he promised, but also she needs to stfu because it’s rude to ask so soon. Or else he’ll be mad.
She goes back to her brother and takes him on the tour rather than saying what just happened. She thinks Rose and Linden may have “found each other” in the grove of “oranges” that can handle snowdrifts, and when an orange rolls over to her she says hello because she thinks it’s them. Rhine has finally snapped.
Rowan says, “We could talk now. We’re alone out here. No walls.”
“There are always walls,” I say.
But not enough to stop her most annoying behavior.
Finally they go inside. She finds Cecily sleeping on her bed.
“Cecily,” I whisper, and sit on the edge of the bed.
She flinches and opens her eyes.
“Rhine?” Her voice is scratchy. “Rhine!” She sits upright. “Where have you been? Nobody would tell me anything. They wouldn’t even talk to me.”
Rhine just says wow, Cecily looks like shit. Why Cecily looks like shit is a topic avoided because it might suggest maybe fooling around all day talking to oranges wasn’t the nicest thing. She just focuses on making Cecily look better for supper with Evil Mad Scientist, who Cecily, who’s never been a suicide cultest like Rhine, is terrified of. She asks if he blames her.
“I think he blames Reed, and himself.”
“He should blame me,” she says.
Rhine continues to be shit at conforting anyone. Instead, she tells Cecily to focus on what outfit she’ll wear.
As they head down, Rhine channels Katniss and decides to focus on their reflections and what they look like, which is strong and determined. But not too strong:
We have been the victims and the witnesses.
And never, ever the agents.
Rhine says Cecily can meet her brother. Cecily says she loves Rhine, and Rhine replies by what I can only imagine is rote with the same. Evil Mad Scientist claims Bowen as soon as they arrive. He and Cecily are snappish at each other. Then he announces the cure that only one person in the room doesn’t know.
“It’s best not to overcomplicate it for our Cecily,” Vaughn tells Rowan. “She never has been very good with the how and the why of things.”
I guess he assumes that Rowan, who only knows Rhine, will believe this about any other girl he’s shown. Cecily tries to avoid asking any questions and making him mad, but does ask if they’ll be staying.
“For now the project is top secret. Nobody who knows about it will be leaving here. The twins will remain in these walls for years, most likely. Perhaps for the rest of their lives.”
This seems like the secret plan is to never release the cure and just save the children of the rich. But Rhine never has been very good with the how and the why of things, so she picks something else entirely:
Vaughn calling us “the twins” is an entirely new violation somehow. Maybe even the worst one yet. Even Rowan casts a displeased stare when Vaughn isn’t looking.
Yes that is definitely the problem and not the part about the cure being kept secret for at least seven more years (if he’s referring to “the rest of their lives” assuming it doesn’t work”) up to for eternity (if he means their cured lifespans).
Cecily asks about Bowen and is told he’ll be cured. Evil Mad Scientist doesn’t volunteer the extra information that also she’ll be cured which apparently proves she’ll be left to die. It’s obviously what the author is going for, but since he’s barely talking and only even says Bowen will be cured at prompting, it really doesn’t mean anything. It’s just the fact he obviously plans to let everyone die that means she’s screwed.
Well, this should be the end but it is not. For some reason the final book breaks the 27 chapter thing. Join me tomorrow for the final four chapters and perhaps more celebratory kitties.