Wither, Ch6

Last time on oh my god this is horrible, we found out Rose is the one who convinced Linden to kidnap girls to rape.

Chapter Six opens with Cecily saying she wants to play a game. Jenna tells her to go do that, and Cecily insists she means a real game.

She looks to me for help, but the only game I know is the one where my brother and I set noise traps in the kitchen and try to survive the night intact. And when I was taken by Gatherers, I sort of lost.

Oh come off it, Rhine. You were raised by first gen parents who had time and money enough to burn to send you to regular school, don’t try to tell me your life has been nothing but a struggle to survive. If anyone wouldn’t know about games it’s poor Cecily raised in an orphanage, since we know orphans have no time to play because they’re busy trying to get into your house to find scraps just so they don’t starve to death.

Rhine is hanging out looking at the orange blossoms and saying her brother wouldn’t believe it.

Manhattan is full of gasping, shriveled weeds that grow from the asphalt.

It is not!

Plants are fucking awesome. They shatter solid concrete. Asphalt? Asphalt? You think that’s going to stop them, something soft enough human fingers can bend it? Have you seen what asphalt sidewalks turn into after a couple years of tree growth?

What’s left of Manhattan should be in a constant battle to keep the plants from destroying even more of their infrastructure. Especially because, as I mentioned, the place doesn’t lack for water.

Also, does the author not realize New York has a giant park where plants grow? Where the hell do you even get the idea that cities radiate anti-plant energy?

Cecily isn’t giving up. She’s that desperate for someone to just interact with her. So she directly asks Rhine if Rhine knows any games at all, and Rhine thinks that the only game she knows is the telephone game she played.

And she refuses to say it.

Rhine has been refusing to say things for a while, but this is the first time we see that, for all the author’s been justifying it in the past as her being “defiant”, it’s just that this is how the author likes to write. Because Cecily isn’t a servant who’s part of the system keeping Rhine trapped, she’s not the rapist who bought them, she’s a thirteen year old girl in the same situation Rhine is but Rhine treats her with the same disdain – more, in fact, since she’s happy to make excuses for the others.

Cecily gives up in the face of Rhine’s stonewalling and leaves to look for something to do.

“Poor kid,” Jenna says, and rolls her eyes toward me for a moment. Then she returns to her book. “She doesn’t even understand what kind of place this is.”

Jenna continues to be the only person who recognizes what’s going on and shows any deserved sympathy for others. And she has more of an excuse than Rhine for not engaging Cecily, given we’ve been told she’s in a depressed stupor.

But forget about all that, what matters is Gabriel with the pretty blue eyes comes and they talk about boats for a while.

You know, Gabriel doesn’t make much sense. Little kids are clearly capable of doing complex tasks, so why would you need a teenager to do things as basic as delivering meals to captives? Keeping teenage boys away from your harem is just basic sense. You don’t want to give this love interest stuff any chance.

Suddenly, Rose dies! Linden screams at everyone to leave, so Rhine…follows the help into the elevator. Good going Rhine! He’s distracted, now’s your chance.

There’s nothing for me to do but follow Gabriel to the kitchen; I’d get lost going anywhere else. I sit on a counter, nibbling on grapes while the cooks and the servers talk as they go about their work.?


I guess you could just sit there.

Despite what Rhine says there isn’t any sense she actually wants out. She just wants to go where she pleases and I guess be able to hang out with her brother again.

It’s like my cat. She hates it when I close the door, and as soon as I do she gets off my bed and tries to claw it open and leave. But if I leave it open she’s happy to stay on my bed for hours on end.

Rhine should not behave like a pet cat.

Anyway, Gabriel warns her that the servants hated Rose so she’s not going to hear anything good about her here.

the head cook shrieks, “My soup isn’t hot enough! Oh, now it’s too hot!” and makes dramatic spitting noises as a few others burst into a riot of laughter.

This is a stock scene for something with aristocracy. But the author’s missing that the context changes things.

Someone dying is not going to be sweetness and light. In Rose’s particular case, we’ve been told a lot of her rage toward servants was that they forced her to take medication, with Rhine even mentioning that she has no problem doing things like convincing Rose to go back to bed when she’s tired because Rose knows Rhine isn’t going to stuff pills down her throat as soon as she does. The servants aren’t just disregarding her wishes, which is already enough to hate them, they’re making her final days more miserable. Of course she’s going to be nasty to them.

Illness also messes with your senses, so someone sick probably would be very sensitive to normally minor issues with their food. And you can’t excuse this by saying the servants have no idea about that, because all of them should have seen other people die of the same disease. When your parents or children died like this, you’d be sympathetic to anyone else going through the same thing.

In addition, it’s not clear if Rose was a prisoner or not, but signs have started pointing toward yes despite the fact she apparently loved Linden a great deal. In that case it’s understandable she’d resent the servants who are part of what’s keeping her trapped.

And unlike in your normal aristocracy, these servants have a lot more rights and freedoms even as the women have far fewer. If this were feudal times, the servants really would have little say or choice in their employment. Victorian, and the women at least would have had few other options. But there’s no sign that these servants are anything but modern day ones.

Gabriel says they have crates of the candy Rose liked and gives her a bag of them.

I can smell their sugar, the artificial dyes.

You can’t smell artificial dye. You’re smelling the artificial flavors. Technically, the artificial smells, but taste and smell are far more interlocked than smell and color.

The head cook, who’s yet another first generation because fuck sense, finally notices she’s down there and says that shouldn’t she be up on her floor before Linden notices.

Rhine says Linden doesn’t notice her. Let’s all cry a single crystalline tear for her.

Gabriel tells her no, that’s not true! But Rhine doesn’t believe it! Even though Linden specifically picked her because of her eyes and possibly also because she looks like his now-dead wife. How could he be interested in her???????? She’s just someone beautiful with extremely special eyes who’s so valuable someone paid for her to be kidnapped!

Also Gabriel is transparently uncomfortable telling her this, because he has a secret crush on her. Hopefully Linden is as terrible at reading people as Rhine, otherwise this won’t end well.

Someone opens a door and Rhine sees the outside. She continues to just stand around. Well, she does tell us that she now realizes that only the wives’ floor requires keycards and codes, but she doesn’t actually try to run now that she realizes she can. She does ask Gabriel if he’s allowed outside, though, and he says yes but just yardwork and it’s all so boring.

Gabriel says he’s never actually seen the end of the grounds. So do they kidnap servants like they kidnap wives? And yet if so why on earth wouldn’t they just use the extra girls as servants?

“A whole world of trouble is what’s out there for you, blondie,” the head cook says. “Your place is up on that frilly floor of yours, lounging in satin sheets and painting your toenails.

The kidnapping and rape aspect continues to be completely ignored in favor of romance tropes where the only reason to want to leave is that you’re chafing unreasonably at the normal restrictions on women.

“Come on,” Gabriel says. “I’ll take you back up.”

…And she goes.

Cecily is playing cat’s cradle when she goes up. She demands to know why Rhine was hanging out with a servant. Rhine just focuses on hiding the bag of candy, despite having no reason to think she can’t just ask for more if Cecily eats some.

Cecily keeps trying to talk. Rhine is in her room and apparently they can’t enter each other’s rooms without permission, which she states as if this is just an established rule but the book has made it clear girls don’t know how the whole wife thing works at all in advance, so the idea there’s known etiquette is hard to believe and it’s just as hard to believe they sat down and worked out a roommate agreement – or, for that matter, that a thirteen year old girl desperate to talk would scrupulously follow it instead of automatically following Rhine across the threshold.

Point is, Rhine just keeps ignoring her. Cecily says that now Linden can visit them! Rhine doesn’t care. Cecily says Linden is still in the room with Rose. Rhine continues not caring.

Cecily lingers for a while in the doorway, idly twisting in ways that make her skirt ripple.
“I didn’t tell our husband that you went off with that attendant,” she says. “I could have, but I didn’t.”

And then she leaves. Rhine still doesn’t say anything.

I just feel so bad for Cecily.

Imagine. You’re thirteen. You’re chosen out of a lineup and the rest of the people are killed. Then you’re locked up again with only three other people who ignore you, and the person who picked you – the only reason you’re not dead – isn’t interested in you any longer.

But Rhine just stays in her room.

Then Linden comes that night.

“Rhine?” he says softly, just a shadow in my doorway.
It’s late and I have been lying alone in the darkness for hours, steeling myself against what I knew from the start would be a long awful night.

You probably think she means the fact Linden will show up to rape her. You’re wrong.

Though she’s gone, I have been listening for the sound of Rose at the end of the hall, yelling at an attendant, calling for me to come brush her hair and talk to her about the world. The silence is maddening, and perhaps that’s why, rather than feigning sleep or denying him, I open the sheets for Linden.

This is an awful, awful book.

But Linden doesn’t end up fucking her, because our heroine has to remain a pure innocent little virgin madonna for a while longer. When he goes to kiss her he starts crying and then he just sobs on her chest for a while as Rhine thinks she understands and it’s so hard being him.

Later, Gabriel shows up with breakfast and is all hurt because he thinks she had sex with Linden, because way to blame her for this asshole, and Rhine is all BUT WHY WOULD HE CARE? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. COULD IT BE HE’S UPSET LINDEN MOVED ON SO FAST FROM ROSE? BUT WHY WOULD HE CARE ABOUT THAT WHEN HE NEVER LIKED ROSE? BEEP BEEP I AM A ROBOT.

Linden’s still asleep so she gets up quietly and decides now is the best moment to start snacking on the candy. The candy his wife ate constantly and that has a strong, distinctive smell.

Rhine tells us a bit about New York, which for some reason decided to pave over every inch of the beaches and also all the fish are unsafe to eat.

fishermen catch them for sport and throw them back.

Except there are also starving orphans, and as I kept harping on back with the Hunger Games, starving people will eat stuff that isn’t safe because they’re starving.

So she thinks about the ocean. Somewhere beneath it lie the ruins of colorful Japan, and Rose’s favorite, India, the nations that could not survive.

Considering there’s really no way to read the description of what happened to the world without coming to the conclusion America purposefully destroyed everyone else, phrasing it as if it’s their fault for not being good enough is fucked up.

Anyway, Rhine wonders if Linden has ever seen the ocean. Again, Rhine, he managed to leave just fine to collect you and the others and condemn the rest.

I wonder if he knows that this colorful paradise is a lie.

I think part of the problem here is the author seems to think that somehow fucking up the human genome means fucking up all of the ecology of America. Okay, gardens in particular are always going to be unnatural things, but that’s because it’s the definition of a garden, a thing which is different than what plants do if they’re left alone. But plants and flowers and ponds as things themselves still exist just fine without us.

She wonders if Rose ever left either. I hope that now she’s someplace with thriving islands and continents

Well, since they’re all exploded I guess they’d be in the afterlife too.

Then, inevitably, Linden wakes up and thinks she’s Rose.

A part of me feels sorry for him, but stronger than my pity is my hatred.

So you say, but that sure wasn’t the case last night. I’m going to make a bet that every time she actually does something, it’s going to be her pity being stronger than hate, and then we’ll be treated to a half dozen of these statements later when it doesn’t matter and it’s just her thinking things “defiantly”.

He asks about the candy. She lies and says Rose gave it to her.

The night is over, and I won’t be his solace any longer. In the night when we were both vulnerable, I was more forgiving, but now in the daylight everything is clear again. I’m still his prisoner.
But I can’t be completely cold. I can’t let my contempt show if he’s ever to trust me.

And she proceeds to act normally. She asks if he can swim because she can see a pool. He says no for some reason. But he says he’ll take her down so she can because the pool is really awesome and she’s never seen anything like it.

He asks if she’ll sit with him.

I wonder if Linden is aware of the unfair power he has over me. If I express even a fraction of my disgust, I’ll never leave this floor again in my life. I have no choice but to oblige.
I find a comfortable in-between by carrying my breakfast tray to the bed.

And I’m right about my guess of actions not matching her internal monologue when “a comfortable in-between” turns out to involve cajoling him to eat and then handfeeding him blueberries.

Very blue blueberries. I wonder if these berries were grown in one of the many gardens, if this is what fruit used to look like before it started being harvested in chemical soil.

The author just has no fucking clue.

Everything is chemicals. If you mean specifically artificial pesticides and fertilizers, no, the super blue blueberries you see in the supermarket these days are very chemical. Naturally grown plants tend not to look super perfect, that’s why doing things unnaturally pays so well for farmers.

Also modern big blueberries are mostly a hybrid variety between lowbush wild blueberries and the super-tall rabbiteye blueberries. They’re totally unnatural. And the color of blueberries varies based on the cultivar. Some are light blue. Some are dark blue. Natural depends on what’s natural for the plant! There is no platonic ideal of a blueberry that we’re violating by using chemicals!

Perhaps it’s the grief, the pink swollen skin around his eyes that makes him seem harmless. Even kind.

There’s a weird issue I see in books sometimes where you’re told things are generally X, but only every shown Y, and the author thinks as long as they keep saying “but usually it’s X” that’s good enough.

Here, the book keeps saying that suddenly, Rhine thinks he looks like a nice person. But it never says anything else. Rhine is always just suddenly realizing how harmless or frail or sad or kind Linden is.

She makes him eat her breakfast bite by bite. The Cecily knocks on the door.

What’s this word? A-M-N-I-O-C-E-N-T-E-S-I-S.”

Cecily apparently was never taught phonics. Excitedly, she explains that it’s how you test babies for birth defects, did Rhine know that?!

“That’s nice,” I say.


So Cecily says that there’s a robin’s nest outside her window and Rhine should come out so she can see the eggs!

She’s rarely interested in seeing me, but I’ve noticed she doesn’t like when doors are closed to her.

This would be the same issue. The book has done nothing but show Cecily trying to get anyone to acknowledge she exists for a minute. She wants Rhine to read words to her. She wants someone to play a game with her. She wants to tell people about what she’s reading. She wants someone to talk to about the fact Linden is ignoring them, and will he maybe stop ignoring them, she thinks maybe he’ll stop ignoring them soon what do you think?

Rhine just tells her she’ll look at the damn eggs after she gets dressed. Then she takes a very long time getting dressed. Luckily Linden leaves while she’s brushing her hair and before she actually takes a bath. She tells us the bath is awesome. Then she puts on clothes and tells us about how great her tailored clothes are. Child labor sure is awesome.

By the time she finally leaves her room Cecily isn’t around. Jenna explains Governor Linden took her to the garden.

Rhine wants to know why she always says “Governor Linden” instead of Linden like they’re supposed to now that they’re married.

“Because I hate him,” she says.
There’s no malice in the words, no dramatic outburst, but something in her gray eyes says she means it. I look around us to be sure nobody heard her. The room is empty.
“I understand,” I say. “But maybe it’ll be easier to humor him. Maybe we’ll get more freedom.”

Jenna doesn’t care.

I can see the severity of the bags under her eyes. Her cheeks are hollow and sharp. A few weeks ago in her wedding dress she had been forlorn but pretty. Now she seems emaciated and years older. The smell on her is like cinnamon bath soap and vomit.

Rhine tells us that oh, they’re so similar and we share this hell. But they aren’t, are they? Because Jenna’s actually suffering, while Rhine is just occasionally angry. Rhine says she understands, but she doesn’t, not at all.

Jenna wanders off into the library to find a book. Rhine follows her as Jenna slowly breaks down and thinks about how the library smell reminds her of burying things in the garden.

I know my sister wife Jenna is not like Cecily, who grew up in an orphanage and now feels honored to be a wealthy Governor’s bride. No. She’s like me, who has lost something precious, who has buried things of her own.

She really, really isn’t, Rhine. Because unlike you she doesn’t think Linden is secretly kind. She doesn’t think this place would be great if only she could come and go as she pleases. And I don’t think she’s sad because she had to bury awesome things her parents owned because she was worried about orphans stealing them to buy food to eat.

For a moment, Rhine considers sharing her plan to escape. But unlike how she nearly blurted it out to Gabriel, it immediately occurs to her that Jenna, the only one who seems to actually get how horrible this place is, can’t be trusted.

what’s to stop her from betraying me

Betraying what? That you want to leave? They already know. And Jenna doesn’t want anything they could offer for her to betray you. Because none of them get to leave, no matter what they do to each other.

Then Cecily returns in a huff because Linden just talked about the garden and didn’t even kiss her!

Rhine thinks about how Linden likes to think about faraway places and that’s just like how she passes the time after he kidnapped her by reading books about faraway places!

A pang of something rushes through me—what is it? Pity? Sympathy? Understanding?
Whatever it is, it’s unwelcome. I have no cause to identify with Linden Ashby. I have no cause to feel anything for him at all.

You have been doing nothing but pitying, understanding and feeling sympathy for this jackass. I agree you have no cause for it, but why the hell do you keep acting like each instance is the only time?

Cecily is still upset and says she knows he spent the night with Rhine. Instead of reassuring Cecily about it…

“I thought what happened in our own bedrooms was supposed to be private,” I manage.

Cecily isn’t put off.

“So did you consummate?” She leans in. “Was it absolutely magical? I bet it was.”

And again, instead of reassuring Cecily that no, Linden didn’t pick Rhine and it’s okay, he doesn’t love Rhine more than her, and maybe saying something about Cecily’s views on sex so she can get a more adult perspective before it’s too late, Rhine yells at her that it’s none of her business and gets all flustered.

Because Gabriel’s still standing there, it’s so important Gabriel keep thinking she had sex with the guy. I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason she’s doing this, because there’s no reason not to cut off the discussion by saying it didn’t happen if she’s so uncomfortable.

Jenna looks out from behind her book, curious and maybe amused. Cecily is beaming, asking me all sorts of personal questions that spin and spin around in my head until I can’t stand to look at her. I can’t stand to look at either of these girls, who offer no friendship, no solace, and who would never appreciate the things Linden was talking about anyway. What do they care about the North Star? One has dug a safe little grave for herself in centuries-old tomes, and the other is perfectly happy to remain trapped. I am nothing like them

Rhine is just an awful, awful person.

Jenna’s offered friendship. She’s the one who initiated their conversations, who touched her hand when they were being led down for supper after being made ready to be raped at any time. And she’s utterly miserable – it’s clear she can’t sleep or keep food down. That’s more than just being defeatist.

Cecily’s trying to be her friend too. She wants to talk, she wants to play games, and she didn’t tell Linden, whose approval she’s so desperate for, that Rhine left. If she’s perfectly happy to remain trapped, maybe you should ask yourself just how horrible her life was before this, or blame the fact she was told this was normal.

But no, the ungrateful bitches just don’t appreciate Linden! So fuck them! Rhine’s so much better than they are because she talks about how much she wants to leave and never does jack about it, and then she moons over smart sweet kind fragile-boned Linden-chan.

So she rushes off to hang out with her buddy Gabriel, because he’s so different than the dumb girls.

“I hate it here. I hate everything about this place. I—” My voice breaks.

Rhine is finally having a breakdown, and it’s apparently over the fact Cecily asks her questions about sex. Because getting raped is fine, but talking about S-E-X out loud is disgusting.

So she starts crying, and Gabriel hangs out with her in the elevator. He says it’s fine because they’ll assume he’s just dealing with Cecily.

Sassy, demanding little Cecily is quickly taking Rose’s place among the help as least favorite wife.

Yes, that sassy little kidnapped thirteen year old future rape victim. You know, people who aren’t assholes would recognize that if she’s acting badly maybe it has something to do with her circumstances. But why let that get in the way of hating the kidnapped thirteen year old your employer bought in order to rape? Bitch just doesn’t know how good she’s got it.

Point is, clearly Gabriel is awesome and so sympathetic and understanding and Rhine should totally confess all her secrets to him.

She tells him about her brother, and how her parents died four years ago.

It was easy for him to find factory work that paid well. But I had so little skill, I was practically useless

Bear in mind she’s talking about a pair of twelve year olds. Somehow, she’s unskilled and weak compared to her brother. Because she’s a girl, I guess. So she only gets the phone jobs and those pay almost nothing. Even though those are presumably secretary jobs that require the ability to read and write and probably basic math too, which is going to be far more in demand than the ability to move boxes given almost no one bothers to educate their kids.

But anyway, they had money but not as much as before, so she saw this ad for testing and showed up. Even though earlier she said there was only one research lab in the city and it was destroyed. But apparently this ad was offering a ton of money, even though this is obviously a buyer’s market since starving orphans can’t demand a fair price. So she shows up intending to sell bone marrow, realizes the room’s full of other girls, and that’s how she got caught.

I fought,” I say, my fingers automatically curling like claws. “I scratched, bit, kicked.

It’s interesting this is only brought up now, six chapters in. It’s like the author knows her character should be fighting, but doesn’t want it to actually happen, so it’s confined to after the fact mentions.

She tells Gabriel about how horrible it was. Gabriel stands there. He is super sympathetic though because he gave her a handkerchief for her sobbing, and that’s more important than working for the guy who did this. (Who carries handkerchiefs these days?)

Then she hears something like a gunshot, and for some reason the elevator suddenly starts shaking and the lights flicker, then when the doors open they’re on the wrong floor.

This one is darker and sterile-smelling. Neon lights are struggling on the ceiling, and in the floor tiles I can see the dim reflection of our shoes before each step lands.

That’s suitably creepy. But Rhine is coming off as really dumb. She’s already gone down the elevator to a dimly lit hallway that smelled like cleaning products. It was where Linden’s scary doctor daddy waited.

Gabriel says it must have been a storm, because those cause the elevators to automatically go to the basement for safety reasons. He explains that on the coast they get a lot of those, but it’s fine, if it was a hurricane or anything really dangerous there’d be an alarm.

Hurricane. From somewhere deep in my mind comes a television image of wind spinning angrily, destroying houses. It’s always the houses that go, sometimes bits of a fence or an uprooted tree, a shrieking heroine in a prairie dress

That’s a tornado.

I don’t know if this is supposed to be Rhine being stupid or what. Why would she know about Japan but not tornadoes? Or does the author not know the difference between the two?

Gabriel’s all nervous because apparently people aren’t supposed to be in the basement. Then why the fuck are the elevators set to go to the basement and then open up their doors? If it’s just a matter of dropping the elevator to ground level for safety, that can be done with the doors kept closed.

He tries to open the doors again and go back in, but it doesn’t respond to the card. Instead of figuring this means the elevator won’t work until the power stabalizes or someone hits an all-clear button somewhere, Gabriel figures they should wander around to try to find the other elevator. So now he’s like a cat too. “Oh, it’s raining out the front door? Let me out through the back instead, then. It won’t be raining there.”

Rhine starts to get panicky, rambles internally about gatherers for a while, and finally recognizes the place from when she was brought down before.

This is where the doctor was, the afternoon before the wedding.

I don’t know if I mentioned this, but she manages not to look at the doctor beyond mentioning he’s “a man” at the time. He’s presumably Vaughn. I have no idea why it’s handled like this, just like I have no idea why it takes her forever to even recognize the place.

Gabriel says that what she said earlier was horrible. And he says he understands, and Rhine falls over herself to agree that yes she knows his situation is just like hers and she bets Vaughn beat him didn’t he omg this is EXACTLY like what’s happening to her and it’s her fault for leaving her room when she shouldn’t have but Gabriel is SO AWESOME because he says that she really shouldn’t have gotten locked up in the first place! I assume later Gabriel says that maybe beating people to death is wrong, he supposes.

Thus prompted, Rhine to goes off on an extended internal monologue about how he’s awesome and her friend and she wants to know more about him and she wants to tell him everything about her – My real, unmarried self, my self from before I ever saw the inside of this mansion—when I lived in a dangerous place but I had my freedom and I was happy with it.

Yes, that’s the book’s ideal of the tension here. Safety but confined vs in danger but free. Never mind that the danger was only getting caught and taken to a place like this, or that she’s currently in danger of being raped. Those things don’t count.

Before she can spill more of her guts to Gabriel, he hears someone coming and drags her into one of the dark side-hallways. See, this? This is why you don’t do scary mood lighting for your secret underground lab. Well, that and all the eyestrain.

There are voices getting closer. “—cremation isn’t possible, of course—”
“Shame to destroy that poor girl.” A sigh; a tsk tsk.
“It’s for the greater good, if it will save lives.”

They’re dressed in biohazard suits for some reason, and even more confusing, Rhine says that she recognizes them as being what her parents wore to work. Even though her parents were researching a virus that they couldn’t find any sign of its existence and also was already in everyone.

And they’re wheeling Rose’s body! DUN DUN DU wait why is this a big deal?

Okay, so from context, that would mean “that poor girl” they’re talking about “destroying” is “Rose” who is “kind of too dead to give a fuck”. I realize that many people still do care a lot about the treatment of dead bodies, but I’m not one of them and I’d appreciate fiction occasionally recognizing you can’t expect everyone to automatically gasp and agree it’s so wrong that they’re going to cut up a corpse for science. So what if they dissect her? People get dissected all the damn time. Get back to me when they raise her as a shambling undead monstrosity, and we can have a discussion about whether or not said undead monstrosity is powered by dragging back her immortal soul or if it’s effectively no different from a robot made of meat and you should stop whining about it.


  1. Fool says:
    Wow, this book is so messed up. What is wrong with this author? It’s like she completely forgets about the actual premise and setting for the sake of her generic romance subplot 80% of the time, and botches her premise catastrophically when she does remember.
    1. Farla says:
      I think the romance is the premise, and what we think is the premise is actually a fake premise to disguise that.
      1. Fool says:
        Yeah. That’s just…augh. What is wrong with this author. How does she not see how messed up that is.
  2. Random Reader says:
    Okay, I’m curious. That offshoot information you gave us on blue berries was informative (and new to me at least), but it made me curious. Do you look up every bit the book mentions that sounds flimsy, or did you just know that off the top of your head? Not that those two things are mutually exclusive.

    I think the only part of this that made me stop and stare was: I can’t stand to look at either of these girls… who would never appreciate the things Linden was talking about anyway. … One has dug a safe little grave for herself in centuries-old tomes, and the other is perfectly happy to remain trapped. I am nothing like them.

    I’m speechless. How can you type this if you have any kind of grasp on what your character’s mindset is? She’s basically saying that (ignoring the friendship thing that, as you pointed out, fails as well) she resents Jenna and Cecily for not being “able to appreciate” all the stimulating conversation their captor can provide. And then, right after that, she resents them for giving in and not wanting to escape like she obviously does. I read that right, didn’t I? She dislikes them for not being able to chat with Linden and/or care about his ideas properly, but also she dislikes them for not disliking the situation (which he at least played a huge role in putting them in) enough to try to escape.
    There’s really no way for them to win like that, is there?


    1. Farla says:
      I knew about blueberries because I grow some, actually! Because store-bought blueberries are awful.

      There’s really no way for them to win like that, is there?

      No, see, it’s not that they should do either one, it’s that they should do both. They should want to leave but also appreciate what a sensitive, intelligent woobie he is and be interested in all the stuff he says while they’re stuck there.

  3. Savanah says:
     WOW! Hunger Games could be messed up sometimes, but this book is pure evil! How can anyone read this and think: Great work! Let’s publish it!
    1. Farla says:
      This is actually pretty common stuff for romance novels. It’s just usually they’re set in the past or something. This is a historical romance novel IN SPACE FUTURE DISTOPIA. It’s like printing money.
      1. purplekitte says:
        My current theory is that’s it’s actually set in space on a different planet and it’s some sort of bizarre alien experiment into stupidity, and everything Rhine knows about history is wrong.
        1. Farla says:
          So it’s basically the modern Gor.
  4. Act says:
    So, I posted a comment from my phone yesterday but it never showed up, FYI. 

    I had two points:

    1) This book was deigned to make money. Dystopia is a hot seller right now, and my educated guess is that the author really wanted to write a gothic romance but someone told her (or she realized) that dystopia would get her published. That’s the reason the author seems to forget the premise and that the worldbuilding is so shoddy: she really doesn’t care, and the romance *is* the premise. The actual implications don’t matter. A publisher is a company, and if they think it’s going to sell there’s only so much an editorial staff can do to fix something this shitty.

    2) I was thinking about the whole ridiculous “the only land mass left FOREVER U GUISE thing,” and… has plate tectonics just completely stopped? No new land masses are forming? They’ve somehow permanently stopped the Earth’s geological processes?

    1. Maimh says:
      2) Seriously, all that mass should go somewhere. And not just that, think about the Himalaya, how the heck did they manage to remove that without at least pushing North America south of the equator.
      1. Farla says:
        The virus did it!
    2. Niesse says:
      Once you’ve got the continents gone, it would take a long time for new ones to form. (Although stopping plate tectonics is only a little less plausible than destroying ALL THE LAND. ALL OF IT.)
      1. Farla says:
        It depends on how gone they are. If they’re just barely covered by water or peeking out in too-small-to-see spots, a big volcano going off should remake a chunk of land. Volcanic islands usually take about forever because they’re starting on the ocean floor.

        And if the continents aren’t just leveled but are leveled to the point they’re where the current ocean floor is…how the hell do you do something like that?

        1. Niesse says:
          I think we’re putting more thought into this than the author ever did. I think we’re putting more thought into this each than the author did.

          You’re right, though, I was thinking continental drift when I should have been thinking eruptions. My mistake.

          1. actonthat says:
            Seriously. And what’s the minimum of thought you put into something before you aren’t registering the fact that when you sit in the bathtub the water level goes up?
    3. Farla says:
      Hm, maybe your phone loaded the mobile site somehow? Or just didn’t load Disqus properly.

      I think this is more than a distopia thing, it’s got a lot of very Hunger Games notes. First person, random servants who strip you naked, going on about how awesome you look, makeup as empowering…

      1. Niesse says:
        Present tense, skeevy love triangle, refusing to blame the perpetrator….
    4. Eva Rinaldi says:
      More importantly, why are they paving over or polluting land when this is all the land ever? Because good farmland, fishing land, etc. should be valuable to all humans ever unless they’re genetically engineering cows or something.
      1. Farla says:
        Because something something the world is unnatural something dystopia.

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