Praise Joel, the plot has arrived. But the recap is shorter than usual, because the chapter is a shorter one, and also super repetitive.
Cy has just told Rory that his feelings for her are why he shouldn’t come back from wherever it is he’s going. Which is outer space. I’m just going to keep on insisting that this is how it is until we actually find out that he’s an alien because I believe in my heart that he is.
We were strangers in the beginning.
Everyone is strangers “in the beginning.” Because they don’t know each other. This is not as profound as I think it’s supposed to be.
It had taken me weeks to get Cy to warm up to me. He was only the third person I’d trusted since that horrible night.
Okay, but…we still have no idea why that is. What has made Rory so trusting of him? He hugged her. He vomited pizza. But her very first opinion of him, her foundation of her understanding of who he is and what he’s about, was that he was coming to steal her job. Which makes it even harder to believe that she, who trusts no one, inexplicably trusts a person she already distrusted in the first place.
When he was around, the urge to be next to him was overwhelming. If he didn’t come back, I wasn’t sure what that would mean, but it didn’t feel right.
Again…where is this urge? She has the odd thought about him, but the only time we see this clawing need to be near him is when she’s already near him. We’re supposed to believe she has this wild obsession with him that’s the result of some sexual tension they both feel, but it’s never demonstrated. Just, I thought about Cy and how much I couldn’t stop thinking of Cy. Then I went and did some other stuff and had sex with Benji.
It was all so confusing, and no matter how much I tried to make sense of it in my head, the more confusing it became.
You and me both, sister.
Cy tells Rory that the reason he can’t explain everything to her is because, say it with me, he wants to protect her. And she tells him, say it with me, she doesn’t need to be protected.
“Oh, I know. You’re fully capable of handling things yourself. But not this time, Rory.” He pulled his hands out of his pockets and gripped my arms firmly. “Not this time. And not Benji Reynolds. Stay away from him, Rory. He’s not who you think he is.” Desperation glossed over his eyes.
“Then who is he?”
Cy looked away. “That is exactly what is so frustrating about this situation. I can’t tell you with risking saying too much.”
Actually, what’s frustrating about this situation is that we’ve read this same conversation over and over and it never moves the plot forward. Writing Tip: Eventually, you have to reveal the goddamn plot twist.
“You’re not really leaving. Not for good, I mean.”
So, yes, he’s not really leaving?
“No.” I shook my head and then laughed the horrid feeling in my gut away. “No. I don’t believe you.”
So…he is leaving?
“You…you can’t just let someone care about you and then go away.”
…except for when you’re mad at them because they’ve talked to a girl you don’t like back in chapter three or four.
Rory asks if Cy has feelings for her, and he says:
“Of course I do. I care about you very much. I always have.”
He told her he has feelings for her, I said, “Bitch, where?” He told her, “I always have,” I said, “Bitch, where?”
Seriously, we saw him give her a hug, and beat up a guy who assaulted her at a party. We are supposed to be feeling stirring romantic tension and the pain of impending separation of two characters I assume we’re supposed to be rooting for. Instead, I’m sitting here going, “You’ve known each other two months, wtf is this always shit?” and “Do you have any documentation to verify these feelings?” Because I haven’t seen any of this. We have spent more time alone with Rory and Benji than we have with Rory and Cy, and in several of their early scenes, Rory and Cy barely spoke.
Then Cy drops a bombshell: he’s “betrothed” to someone back in “Egypt.” He tells Rory that she would love his fiancé (because Rory so loves other women, especially ones she feels she is in romantic competition with), and that Rory reminds him of her. Man, poor Cy.
“In some ways, yes. In others, you’re so different.
Like, their entire personalities, I would hope.
“You make me feel things that I’ve never…but none of that matters. I care for you very deeply as a friend, Rory. Sometimes, I feel that’s incorrect, that I feel more than that, but that’s wrong. I didn’t know it was possible to care for someone like this who wasn’t my betrothed. I love you, Rory, as a friend, very much. Too much.” He reached for me, but I pulled away. “I want all good things for you. I want you to be happy. I want you to heal.”
This makes Rory screech to a halt, because now she knows that he knows about what happened to her parents. She calls him on it, and demands to know how he knows. She asks if Dr. Z told him, but he didn’t.
“You were spending time with the specimen. I took it upon myself to learn everything about your background. It was important for me to know who you were. If you could be trusted.”
“Since when does someone get a background check to be around a rock? What are you not telling me, Cy? Because you know far more about me than you should. I’ve been patient, but if you’re really going to leave here and never come back, you owe me the truth. What do you know that night?”
So, here’s the thing. Cy knowing that Rory’s parents were murdered? Doesn’t prove that she’s trustworthy. And bringing it up? Is extremely unfair. She didn’t tell him about it, so why would he think it was something she was willing to talk about?
But I’m kind of thinking that background checks are probably necessary if you’re going to work in a lab with a heretofore unknown element that landed on earth from space, but that’s because you’d be, you know, working with the government in Area 51 or whatever.
Because this entire back-and-forth of tell-me-stuff-no-I-can’t-tell-you-stuff will never end, Cy keeps being evasive while Rory keeps saying he has to tell her. When she gets angry and tries to leave, he says:
“Rory…you are the bravest being that I know. I’m not sure I could have survived something like that, physically or mentally. I’ve seen a lot of things. War. Death. But to watch such brutality waged against your loved ones and to suffer in that way is–”
Who the fuck keeps going on and on about someone’s past trauma when they obviously don’t want you to know about it in the first fucking place?
But notice his wording: “You are the bravest being.” BEING.
Rory leaves the lab, once again without any explicit answers that would move the story forward. She encounters the elevator that triggered her PTSD in an earlier chapter. The doors open at her floor and she tries to make herself get on, but she can’t. It’s literally the first moment of strength and bravery we’ve seen Rory display in this entire book that isn’t explicitly described as brave and strong by the author. So, thanks, author, for trusting us enough to realize that considering taking the elevator is a huge step forward for Rory.
Also, thanks for putting any character development into the story at all. It only took ten chapters.
Rory forgot her keys, so she has to go back to the lab.
The elevator dinged as I passed, but I ignored it. After a few seconds, the cables squealed, and the elevator lurched and rumbled as it climbed again. The moment I took the first step down, the few lights that illuminated the lobby went dark, and the elevator went silent, coming to a stop between floors. Something invisible, in my mind, had kept me out of elevators for over two years. If it weren’t for my maddening aversion, I could have been stuck in there.
You know what might have been more helpful, Rory? If you’d realized that the elevator operating on its own, when you know the building is empty, might be a sign that something weird is going on.
She uses her cell phone as a flashlight, but halfway down the stairs, she hears a door open:
Feet, many feet, shuffled quietly down the hall. I couldn’t fathom who would be in the building this late at night but myself, Cyrus, and possibly Dr. Z, but something told me that I didn’t want to be caught by whoever it was.
So like, what was your first clue, Rory? The fact that the CIA is after you guys? That Cy told you some spooky shit? That the elevator was operating by itself and then there’s this sudden blackout? Also, the fact that the CIA is after you guys? HOW DO YOU KEEP FORGETTING ABOUT THE CIA?
Rory runs into another lab, because she doesn’t have her keys to unlock the one she works in:
There was a large Plexiglas window separating the unlocked lab from Dr. Zorba’s. Cy was standing at my desk, scrolling the mouse with one hand and making notes with the other. A few lights were on in the lab. He was using backup power.
I’m not going to ding McGuire for this, because I do it all the time and I really don’t have a huge problem with it in reading or writing, but I promised to give you guys writing tips, and here’s one. Writing Tip: The first sentence is an example of passive voice; “There was a large Plexiglass window separating” is passive, “A large Plexiglass window separated” would be active voice.
But like I said, I don’t really care about it. Maybe because it’s in first person, and people tend to think in passive voice. Anyway, just a note, in case you were wondering what the difference is.
Rory tries to warn Cy, but it’s too late:
The heavy metal door of Dr. Z’s lab blew open, and a dozen or more men dressed in black and armed with semiautomatic rifles flowed into the room. I slid to the floor and pressed my back against the wall. Alone, in the dark, I wasn’t sure if I should stay hidden or make a scene. I could hear Cy demanding to know who they were and why they were in the lab. The men were yelling at him, too, insisting Cy step out from behind his desk with his hands in the air.
I have two questions: why does Rory know they’re semiautomatic? Is she a gun expert, in addition to a martial arts expert? Also, it’s dark, because it’s a blackout, and the lights are running on backup power, so it’s probably like, brownout conditions. Anyway my biggest tick here is that Rory isn’t sure if she should make a scene. Uh…why would you do that? You’re the only one who’s witnessed what’s going on. If you stay hidden, you can go for help. The choice here is pretty obvious.
My mind fought to stay in the present, but the yelling and the sound of panic in Cy’s voice brought me back to the night when they’d murdered the people I loved most–including who I used to be.
I actually laughed out loud at this, because Rory lists herself as one of the people she’d loved the most. While I’ll totally fine with people loving themselves, we’ve seen Rory as such a selfish character, this was perfect. But seriously, here’s an issue. She says “they” murdered the people she loved, and the reader doesn’t know if she means the people with guns who’ve rushed into the lab or what. I assume not, but then the confusion continues:
I thought about how much fear I had seen in their eyes, and I knew it mirrored my own. I hadn’t been afraid like that since. Why would I? I couldn’t be killed. I had died with my eyes on my mother until my lids became too heavy to hold open. The men who had been laughing while doodling on my skin with the tip of their knives had faded to the background while my warm blood had spread out on the carpet beneath me. It had pooled, blanketing me and soaking my hair. The warmth had made it easy to let go, so I did.
1. Died is kind of a past tense and pretty final thing. You can’t die until something. You just die. End of story. She could have been dying with her eyes on her mother, but she couldn’t have died until her eyelids were too heavy.
2. The carpet had blanketed you and soaked your hair?
3. Bleeding to death doesn’t make you warm.
At least we’re going to get some info on what the fuck Rory meant by not being able to die:
After a time, I had awoken in a silent hotel room. No maniacal laugher, no sounds of sharp metal penetrating flesh, no crying or begging, no breathing–not even my own. When my eyes had opened, a curvy red pond lay between my mother and me. She hadn’t fallen asleep as I did. She’d died as she lived–with her eyes wide open, watching over me.
My breath had returned then.
AHHHHH THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING! You either fell asleep, or you died. This is a science fiction novel. If you say you can’t die, you need to be fucking specific about this shit. You can say the character died, then say that she’d fallen asleep. WHY IS THIS BOOK LIKE THIS?!
No one could explain it. Not even me. They’d said I must have passed out, that it was impossible that I had come back to life without medical intervention, and I’d just imagined floating over my own body, watching them carve me like a tree trunk. Even when they couldn’t explain how I’d lived despite losing a lethal amount of blood or how I had made it across the hall to call for help, they’d still refused to admit I’d died. But I was dead, and then I wasn’t.
Okay, but none of this actually explains that she can’t be killed. She lost a lot of blood. She had a near death experience. Then she was alive again. All that means is that she died that time. Not that she can never be killed. Also, if Rory is truly immortal, we needed to know that a lot earlier than ten chapters in. Because right now, this book feels like the author remembered she had to put some science fiction into it at the last minute.
The guys with the guns take Cy away, and steal the space rock. After they’re gone, the lights come back on.
I stood up in the empty lab, in shock, afraid, but only for a moment. If someone had seen my family and me get taken away or heard our cries and helped, my parents might be alive today. Sydney might be experiencing KIT with me. She could have found a boyfriend, fallen in love, and gotten married. Because no one had helped us, the man she would have married would be kept waiting. The children she was supposed to have would never exist. And entire line of people was wiped out, descendants of one of the most amazing people I’d ever met.
Then, I wondered if that was ever her purpose. Maybe she was put on this earth to teach me to be strong, to show compassion for those who were victims of the same heartless sons of bitches that killed her, and to compel her brother, Sam–who was active military and a cop–to teach me how to defend myself, things he wanted to teach her but never made the time.
What the fuck, Rory? Your friend died horribly so you could get a life lesson? What the fuck kind of self-centered bullshit is that? She died violently, ending the potential lives of other people, so her brother would teach you how to defend yourself? What the fuck even is this line of reasoning?
Sitting there, on the floor and alone, I finally had my answers.
Can the answer be when you sat back down again? Because you were standing just a minute ago.
The death of my parents and Sydney left me with the guilt and grief that would empower me to get off that floor. I was drawn to Cy because he would need a savior, and I was the perfect person to save Cyrus. I had nothing to be afraid of. Death couldn’t touch me.
Okay, but you still don’t know if you’re immortal. Again, you just know that you miraculously survived something. How difficult would it have been to mention an unsuccessful suicide attempt or something that proves to Rory and to the reader that she can’t die?
Rory decides that she’s going to go off and rescue Cy, but when she gets to the parking lot, the guys in black are already peeling off with him. She thinks about calling Dr. Z for help, but decides against it, because his phone could be bugged. She knows she can’t call the police, because the guys who kidnapped Cy probably aren’t going to be worried about the police. She’s also worried that they might have taken Benji, because she doesn’t see him or his car. So she decides to run to Dr. Z’s house instead, and the chapter ends.
Raise your hand if you’re excited that something plotty has showed up.