Ally has seven chapters left to make good on a story. I know it won’t happen, you know it won’t happen but we can all hope. I do wonder if Ally cared about this book when she wrote it. Was this a long labor of love she focused her free time on? Eschewing nights out drinking with friends and missing sleep so she could bang out a few more sentences? Feeling the itch in her fingers when she was too far from a keyboard and hating her friends and family for dragging her out of the house? It sure as hell doesn’t feel like it.
Oh I don’t doubt Ally spent a lot of time slapping keys during epileptic fits between reruns of True Blood. Just as I’m sure Chris really did spend well over a year writing each of his bricks. But I don’t get the feeling either of them give a crap about their characters or setting. It just feels like they decided, one day, that they could write and because no one ever told them no, they did it. And because they’ve never been told they’re shit authors, they think they’ve done fine once they’re completed. Then, unlike a lot of failed writers sitting in Starbucks revising their stream of consciousness, time travel, steam punk gothic romance with zombies, they managed to beat the odds and get published.
Now their mind is set and they think they’re real authors. Once that happens there’s no way in hell that they’ll get any better at what they do. They’ll just contentedly churn out the same lazy tripe until their publisher stops sending them checks.
This chapter continues from the last one, with Cassia and Ky heading back down the hill. This time they don’t stop so Cassia can wonder about her feelings for three quarters of the chapter before trying to bait us with a cliffhanger. They see some white figures through the trees and they both just know they’re “Officials”.
When they get to the clearing, Cassia stops to wonder about Officer Generic who’s been in charge of babysitting them. She says that it doesn’t seem fitting to have someone of his rank keeping an eye on such a simple project. Exactly what rank is he again, Ally? How is this societies’ military structured? Is it based on the western ranks, names and traditions? Do they have a code of honor, are they corrupt or are they part of the ruling class? Are all members of the military called “Officer” by civilians?
As Officer Generic isn’t important, Cassia focuses on the “Officials”. They’re there to continue her sorting test. This time, they’re going to run a simulation where a young boy of eleven, who’s spent his entire conscious life living under the stairs and yearning for something better into the proper house to nurture his abilities. Cassia will, of course, put him in the one with the snake because snakes are green and that’s her favorite color.
We don’t get off the air train at the City Hall stop, or at any of the other stops in the City proper. We keep going. More and more blue-clothed workers climb on, laughing and talking. One of them cuffs Ky on the shoulder and Ky laughs. I don’t see any other Officials or anyone else wearing student plainclothes like me. The four of us sit together in the sea of blue, the train twisting and turning like a river running, and I know it’s hard to fight against a current as strong as the Society.
No, Cassia, you don’t. You’ve done nothing to “fight” “the Society”. Reading a poem is not fighting nor is sneaking to your dad’s workplace to burn it. Falling for Ky is not fighting either, anymore than a couple in an arranged marriage having affairs isn’t bucking the system.
They arrive at the same place Ky works and Cassia goes in through the front, for some reason, while Ky and everyone goes in through the back. This doesn’t make sense, as they process garbage. The front should be where all the employees come and go, especially since this is a state run facility. It’s not like they need a nice foyer for prospective clients to wait in. But sure, they have a main entrance that Cassia goes into. Fine. She’s too good to walk in with the common folk.
They tell Cassia it’s the food distribution facility and she’s there so they can see if she can make things more efficient. Really? And here I thought you asked Cassia along because you wanted a slice of key lime pie. Cassia says she understands. You shouldn’t lie like that, Cassia, it isn’t polite.
“Then let’s get started.” She pushes open the doors and another Official comes to greet us. He’s apparently the Official in charge of this building, and the orange and yellow bars on his shirt mean he’s involved in one of the most important Departments of all, the Nutrition Department. “How many do you have today?” he asks, and I realize that I’m not the only one taking the test and completing real-life sorts here. The thought makes me relax a little.
This is the first time Ally has mentioned anything about insignia, or markings and what significance they have. And just like Chris telling us about Gabby’s standard in the very last book. It’s too little too late and it will just warrant ceaseless mocking by me. To be fair, I was going to do that anyway.
Cassia describes the plant that Ky works in and it’s supposed to be drab and horrible. Basically all the food that everyone gets delivered, via tube, comes from and goes back to a centralized place. For no apparent reason, the workers only get thin rubber gloves and they still get burned by the freshly washed dishes. I guess the government doesn’t see the value in not having constantly injured workers because that would impair their ability to be evil.
At first, Cassia starts throwing around ideas—and I use that word in the loosest sense—of how to make the place more efficient. Generic Official, no relation to Officer Generic, tells Cassia that they don’t need her ideas. She says that they’re already going to cut free time and run overtime so they can direct people away to other projects. They just want Cassia to sort the people.
I feel sick.
Oh, I’m sorry Cassia. I didn’t see you up there on that horse. It’s just so damn tall. This coming from someone who was perfectly comfortable being “sorted” and matched to a life partner by a complete stranger. Generic Official says that the workers are all wearing numbers and it will be Cassia’s job to watch who is most efficient and make note. They say that her decisions will hold and then they tell her they want to see how she does when she knows there will be consequences. Which is part of the test that shouldn’t be revealed but then again, I’m not an evil government.
Cassia asks herself what would Ky do? Probably write whiny poetry about how sad he is when it rains. She calms down and being to see “patterns” and does her job. Skip forward to where she says that it’s disturbing how good she is at it. That would be the Dunning-Kruger effect, Cassia. She says she knows it’s a good one and she’s sorted them all except for one who’s exactly in the middle.
Cassia says that it’s like he’s sending her a message because no one else has mastered the art of appearing average. Unless Ky is the avatar of mediocrity and is merely there to fill in roles where there isn’t an average sad sap with no vision. Cassia doesn’t know which group to put him in because the efficient group gets to leave to a new mystery job while the others stay.
Generic Official wanders back in and uses her plot convenient telepathy to know what Cassia is having trouble with. She says that it’s always hard to sort those in the middle and starts quoting statistics about how food workers don’t live as long. She says that mostly aberrations work with the food and they don’t die as early as before “the Society” or the people in the boonies and blah blah blah. Suddenly Cassia is granted a burst of knowledge out of the blue.
Why do so many Aberrations work in food cleanup?
They poison the food for the elderly.
Clearly, Cassia. It’s so incredibly stupid that the only reason she’s right is because the author demands it. Otherwise the evil government wouldn’t be evil enough. So Cassia decides to sort Ky into the upper group so he can get away from the horrible working conditions and maybe live a bit longer. Too bad “the Society” has decided that the most efficient workers must be dissected to find out how and why. Ky will be sliced, diced and put on display at the university.
Fast forward to the next day where Ky and Cassia are on the hill. Now they’re talking about colors. Whoa now, Ally. I don’t think I can take a frank discussion on the merits of which color will best suit Cassia’s accent wall. It’s actually Ally packing in symbolism so hard you can hear the story creaking at the seams. Ky talks about how the colors in the metro areas are bland and the only real ones are out in the country. Then he says that everyone thinks green is the color of spring but the actual color of rebirth is red. Of course for that to mean anything someone would have to get hurt.
“Cassia asks herself what would Ky do? Probably write whiny poetry about how sad he is when it rains.” –That, or draw pictures of himself. Maybe he’d draw pictures of himself writing whiny poetry.
As far as the story goes, though, something tells me that it definitely requires a sequel or two. Let me just check to see . . .
Yep, first book of a trilogy. Hooray!
If Cassia ends up being the mother of the new world order, i’ll take that red pill now.
Unfortunately, is there any chance she *wouldn’t* be? If not exactly the mother, she’d have to be involved somehow . . .
Just as long as it doesn’t turn out that her love for Ky brings the entire government to it’s knees. But I’ve got the feeling Ally won’t allow Cassia’s love to be anything less than government toppling.