Being as this is a book that get’s filed under “romance”, what would you think the focus of the story is? I mean, Ally is clearly not giving us much detail about “the Society”. Cassia’s personality is still MIA and everyone else is flatter than a cutout run through a ringer. So naturally it should mean that the romance, and all the details thereof, should be filling in everywhere else, right? It’s like how no one watches Die Hard because John Maclane has a huge character arc. And yet Ally decides those details are rather unimportant and shoves this at us to start the chapter.
Our time together feels like a storm, like wild wind and rain, like something too big to handle but too powerful to escape. It blows around me and tangles my hair, leaves water on my face, makes me know that I am alive, alive, alive. There are moments of calm and pause as there are in every storm, and moments when our words fork lightning, at least for each other.
She has to tell us that their romance is a wild storm. Ally, if you ever wonder why people say you suck and you’re not raking in the praise this is why. The fact you don’t expect the audience to participate in the storytelling, says a lot about you as an author. Plus it’s just lazy as hell. Not that Ally is averse to lazy storytelling as shown by this exchange between Ky and Cassia(after they go up the hill, of course).
“There are people who call themselves Archivists,” Ky says. “Back when the Hundred Committee made their selections, the Archivists knew the works that didn’t get selected would become a commodity. So they saved some of them. The Archivists have illegal ports, ones they’ve built themselves, for storing things. They saved the Thomas poem I brought you.”
I like how the “good guys” are just as dumb as the villains. ‘What should we call ourselves?’ ‘Meh. Names are hard. Let’s just capitalize a noun and call it good.’ And I like how Ky could only “afford” to buy her a single stanza from these “Archivists”. I’d think if they were handing out a poem they’d give him the whole thing instead of hoarding it. Unless they’re greedy, which makes them just as bad as the government and maybe worse.
Ky puts his hand on my arm. “Cassia. The Archivists aren’t altruistic. They saw a commodity and they did what they could to preserve it. Anyone can have it who’s willing to pay, but their prices are high.” He stops as though he’s revealed too much—that this poem cost him something.
Gee, what could it have cost him? Probably the same thing that it cost Eragon to get help from that magic tree, that mystical, nebulous cost which will be revealed sometime in the future as nothing at all. Cassia asks what he paid, Ky says not to worry about it and Cassia immediately assumes he traded his compass for it. Which is stupid in so many levels that it hurts.
Why would they take a compass in payment? If they have information predating the new order—I get sick of saying “the Society”—then what value does a compass hold? Who can they trade it to and for what? If anything, they should have offered to trade poem for poem and that’s why Ky only got a small part, because he doesn’t know the whole poem. That way Cassia would have contributed something, even weakly, to the plot.
Ky says he’s trying to get her to understand that they’re not evil or good or any better than the “Officials”. That must be Ally pretending there’s such thing as a moral grey area here. Cassia asks how she can find them and gives her directions that I swear I’ve done in at least one RPG. She has to go to some museum, because no one goes there, and stand in one place for awhile. Then someone will come over and ask if she wants to hear about history and all she has to do is say yes. This will mean she wants to talk to an “Archivist”. Cassia wants to know how Ky knows this.
He shakes his head. “It’s better if I don’t tell you.”
‘It’s perfectly fine if I tell you something that could get me and a large number of other people in trouble but telling you how I know is just too dangerous.’ Makes sense to me Ky! Cassia asks what happens if someone who goes there really does want to know the history of “the Oria Province”. Ky just laughs and says that won’t happen because no one here wants to know anything about the past. Which is a crock, there has to have been one person who just loves history who showed up wanting to know all about the corn belt of Futureland.
‘Would you like to hear the history of the Oria Province?’ ‘You bet I would! Wait, where are you taking me? The exhibits are back that way.’ ‘Uh, we’re going to see an Archivist.’ ‘A what? I just want to hear about the founding of the grain belt and the first people to breed cows!’ ‘Wow, that’s a first. Why don’t you just forget that part? Then we’ll go back and talk about mills.’ ‘Yay! Don’t skimp on the pebble mills. Those are my favorite.’
Then Ally decides she wants to take a shot at music.
We hurry on, hands still touching through the branches. I hear Ky humming a piece of one of the Hundred Songs, the one we heard together. “I love that one,” I say, and he nods. “The woman who sings it has such a beautiful voice.”
“If only it were real,” he says.
That’s right, all the singers they see are completely fake. Cassia argue that she has to be singing because she can hear her breathe. Huh? How close do these people get to the performers? Ky says that’s not her singing because it’s too perfect and he’s heard real people singing. Because if anyone is that good you should be immediately suspicious of them and believe that they’re a tool being used to control your mind. By…singing really well.
Then Ky stops and asks if she’s memorized the poem he got her yet. This means they needs to destroy it, lest the firemen find it. She looks at it one more time, then decides to bury part of it while tearing the rest into little bits and throwing it to the wind. Angered by her littering, the corpse of a missing code enforcement officer rises up, writes Cassia a citation for it and then admonishes her and Ky for dirtying the only nice park they have left before returning to eternal slumber.
Flash…forward? I’m not really sure since Ally screwed the tense like a dog before being neutered. It’s just a few paragraphs inset that starts “another time”. Ky asks her about her banquet and Cassia wonders if this is him asking about Xander.
“Not about Xander,” he says, reading my mind and smiling that smile I love. Even now, when he smiles more often, I am still greedy for it. Sometimes, I reach out and touch his lips with my hand when he does it. I do that now, feel them move as he says, “About you.”
‘Uh, why are you rubbing you hands on my lips?’ ‘Because I love your smile.’ ‘That’s nice.’ ‘I’m going to wear your face.’ So she talks about her banquet and how nervous she was and blah blah blah. Maybe this book was written as a non-medicinal sleep aid. The constant droning the characters do is extremely hypnotic.
Ky asks about her dress and she says it was green. Then she says he’s never seen her in anything but brown or black. He says he has seen her in green, among the trees around them which are green. Then we skip to “the next day”. It really doesn’t matter, Ally, which day it is. This is clearly not a fast paced thriller with a ticking clock, we don’t need to count the days.
Cassia asks Ky why he was crying at the show the other day. Being as the characters all share a hive mind, Ky knows exactly what she’s talking about. Because it’s not like he could have cried at any other movie at some point. He says that he couldn’t help it because it could have been footage from his own village. Cassia is shocked to know that they weren’t actors on screen and that she actually witnessed a snuff film. Which is the first thing Ally’s evil government has done which is mildly heinous. So bravo to them for finally popping their evil cherry. And this is Cassia’s reaction.
That’s what I think when I drop a cracker on the floor, quickly followed by ‘better call the dog over so it can clean up.’ It’s ok to curse, Ally, this is an extreme moment and the young adults that make up your audience have probably heard a curse word or two.
As Ky has set the mood by telling Cassia about the death of his family, Cassia tells him to close his eyes. She writes her confession of love in the dirt and tells him he can look. There’s one second where Cassia is a human being because she feels awkward after telling him. She tells him he doesn’t have to write it back, he says he doesn’t want to and instead says it to her.
Lightning. Once it has forked, hot-white, from sky to earth, there is no going back.
Right, because until you guys said that, everything was good. That’s why the evil government agents started sniffing around your garbage cans, watching your windows and generally making threats, Cassia. Then she wonders what it would be like to kiss him and they almost do when they’re interrupted by the sound of the whistle. She says they’re safe, for now. As if the author would ever let you come to harm, Cassia. If only.
it’s awfully nice of the govt to let these two keep hiking alone together after all the trouble the officials are being put through to keep tabs and threaten them.
I wonder if that how they deal with rebellions as well. ‘Now you stay away from those guns or there’s going to be trouble. No, bad citizen. You put that gun down, don’t you load it, don’t you dare load it. Ok, now stop pointing at me and don’t you dare pull the trigger…’