Summary of Chapter 28
The next morning, Indie, Cassia, Ky, and Eli are on the move through the Carving. By dusk, they reach the settlement. Cassia observes the houses, how each differs from the others, likely constructed by their former owners. The four steal into one of them and Cassia observes beautiful paintings on the walls, different from the ones they saw in the cave. She identifies them as depictions of angels. The four then notice a light on in a nearby house, the same one as before.
In the morning, they see a man leave the house carrying what they realize is a young, dead girl dressed in white. Cassia is horrified, having never seen a dead child before. The man places the child beneath a tree and begins digging a grave, singing as he works. Cassia notices that his arms are covered in blue lines. Despite the falling rain, he attempts to mark the child’s skin with the same blue. The rain keeps washing it away, but he persists, and when it stops falling the blue stays. When the man appears finished, Ky decides to confront him and leaves their hiding spot.
Summary of Chapter 29
Ky approaches the man, who defeatedly tells Ky to do what he likes, that the man is “the last” (220). Indie, Cassia, and Eli join Ky. They tell the man they are Aberrations seeking help. He tells them his name is Hunter. When he learns that the four all lived in the Society at some point in the past, he agrees to help them in exchange for an undisclosed favor. Indie wants to know more about the Rising, to which Hunter vaguely hints at having answers if they can help. He asks them if citizens of the Society really live to be 80, doubting why that would seem worth it. He then tells them to return tomorrow and leaves.
That night, Ky watches the others sleep, unable to. When Indie wakes and approaches him, Ky asks what she’s always hiding in her bag. She responds that “there’s nothing to hide,” put off (223). She tells Ky that Cassia dreams of Xander and says his name in her sleep. Ky mulls over his role as Cassia's informal Match, wanting not to lose her. Indie reveals one of Xander’s pieces of paper, which says that he has a secret for Cassia when they next meet. They agree he must be smart to have made it, since his microcard never would’ve said it. Indie thinks Ky knows Xander’s secret. Ky thinks Indie is hiding something, too. She says she thinks Ky has answers about the Rising, and knows why he won’t share them. She returns to bed and Ky releases Xander’s paper to the wind.
Summary of Chapter 30
Cassia wakes and observes a painting in the house that she hadn’t noticed before, one with unidentifiable shapes. Ky tells her that he sees love when he looks at it, that he thinks of many things when he hears her name. They move outside so as not to disturb the sleeping Indie and Eli, and Cassia is impressed with how much green the Carving really holds, particularly near the stream. She observes how at home Ky seems in the settlement, though with too few people to lead.
She also observes more graves like the one Hunter made the day before. Ky explains that a collection of graves is called a graveyard. Cassia asks why they didn’t bury them higher like the hidden books, to which Ky says that the books still have use, whereas the bodies don’t. They discuss the epitaphs on the grave. Cassia is shocked at the number of graves for children, but Ky reminds her that children died in the Society too, like Matthew, the Markham’s child before they adopted Ky. Cassia is surprised that she forgot Matthew’s name entirely, and with it his memory. She observes the name on the grave they watched Hunter make: Sarah. Her epitaph reads, “Suddenly across the June a wind with fingers goes” (232).
Summary of Chapter 31
Hunter appears. Eli asks who Sarah was, and Hunter reveals that she was his daughter. Cassia seems shocked, as people in the Society didn't have children until at least age 24, which Hunter looks barely old enough to even be, though out here it’s different. Hunter tells them that they’ll be climbing to another canyon.
Ky recalls learning the different names and shades of colors as a child, comparing his love for Cassia to learning a whole new color. When the five of them reach the canyon wall, Hunter tells them they’re headed to the Society-made wall that Indie and Cassia discovered earlier in the story, which conceals a cave called the Cavern. He knows what’s inside—though the rest don’t—but wants to know why it’s there. Indie asks about the slew of blue-marked corpses she and Cassia found at the clifftop. Hunter tells them that some of the farmers attempted to fight when Society airships landed up there and were killed. Indie pairs up with Eli and Hunter with Cassia, leaving Ky on his own, and the five climb to the top. When they reach it, they sprint across, a rush that Ky revels in. They climb down into the much narrower canyon, and Hunter shows them a tiny cave with a hidden tunnel entrance to the back of the Cavern.
Summary of Chapter 32
Hunter and the others climb into the crevice. Eli chooses to stay behind, afraid. Worming through the tunnel, Cassia becomes panicked by the tight space until Ky calms her down. They make it through and find themselves in a vast cave full of Society machines. Hunter wants Cassia to identify what they are. She observes them and realizes that they’re cases containing hundreds of thousands of tissue samples, many from people still alive, including Xander and Cassia herself. A sample from Ky is noticeably absent. Eli appears as they observe them, having mustered up the courage to brave the tunnel alone.
Cassia tells Hunter what the tubes are. He takes one from its container and, before anyone can stop him, breaks it, bloodying his hand. Part of Cassia wants to join him in breaking them all. Instead, she observes that the broken sample belonged to someone named Morgan Thurston. When Hunter and Ky press her for more information about them, she becomes upset, shouting that she’s isn’t Xander and doesn’t know about medical things. Indie asks Ky aloud about Xander’s secret, but Ky doesn’t answer, as they all notice a red light flashing on the case that Hunter opened. Cassia fears that the Society is coming for them.
Summary of Chapter 33
Ky yells for Cassia and Indie to go. Indie does immediately, and Cassia follows after telling Ky that they’ll wait for him. Ky tries to convince Hunter to leave, but he refuses. He asks Hunter if the remaining farmers left to join the Rising, but he doesn’t answer. Rather than deter him further, Ky hands Hunter a rock to make breaking the tubes easier and then leaves. He, Cassia, Indie, and Eli traverse back to the other canyon and continue walking. Cassia asks what Indie meant about Xander’s secret, but Ky says he doesn’t know what she’s talking about. They hear no Society ships approaching.
Ky recalls the day he and Xander each took a red tablet and discovered that both of them were immune to their effects. But Ky knows that Xander has a second secret, which he won’t tell Cassia both because he feels Xander should do it, and because knowing it might cause Cassia to choose Xander’s love over his.
Summary of Chapter 34
Cassia notices that Indie is carrying her pack even more carefully now and wonders how the wasp nest survived the tight crevice. She thinks the story of Indie’s mother was strange, but reminds herself to trust Indie. When Ky calls for them to hurry, she notices Indie give him a longing look.
The four trek back into the high cave above the settlement and begin searching through the papers and books as a storm comes pouring down. Cassia is overwhelmed by how much there is to sort, so Ky suggests they look only for words relevant to the Rising or to survival. Cassia finds a heavily-worn, pieced-together book containing the poem from which Hunter took Sarah’s epitaph, as well as another that reminds Cassia of her story with Ky. She reflects momentarily on who she loved first, Ky or Xander. Ky tells her that he knows how to sort, and explains that Patrick, his adopted father, traded an old paper from Ky’s biological father to an Archivist in exchange for an old scribe, a device the Society uses to write, which he and Ky used in silence, out of sight of the family port, to teach Ky how to sort. He traded it in exchange for a poem for Cassia’s birthday before the Officials could find it. Cassia is overwhelmed by the love she feels for him.
Summary of Chapter 35
Ky tries not to panic over being trapped in the cave. Instead, he thinks back to when his father first taught him to write at the age of 5. Ky didn’t want other children to learn; he wanted to be special, the way his father wanted to be the Pilot to be special. His father corrected that he wanted to be the Pilot to help people. Ky recalls passing a paper around to the villagers from his father, telling everyone where and when to meet, a paper his father then burned. The meeting was to discuss how the farmers had refused to join the Rising, though Ky’s father still planned to trade with them.
In real time, Ky notices that Indie has slipped something into her bag that she didn’t reveal.
Ky recalls how his father taught him to fix the wiring on their equipment, which was his father’s occupation, a necessary one since all of their machines were troublesome leftovers from the Society (“just like us,” notes Ky) (267). Ky was a natural at wiring, even making improvements his father didn’t show him.
In real time, Ky finds a ledger detailing farmer trades, including many with his father, which makes him sad. His father was never the Pilot, but wanted to be. He wanted to help so badly that he took things too far and got on the Society’s bad side. After the firing that killed them, Ky notes how it was the Society that saved him, not the Rising. He fears the latter, and who he would be within it.
Ky urges everyone to hurry. Cassia finds something undisclosed that makes her happy. Ky worries that the Rising is the one place he cannot go with her.
Summary of Chapter 36
Ky marks a map with a charcoal pencil while Cassia composes a poem about him (“not for him,” she qualifies) (271). She longs to know more about his mysterious thoughts and feelings. Later, she expresses the need to go outside, feeling frustrated. Ky goes with her and they observe that the dangerous lightning has stopped. Eli has gone to sleep. Ky says that they can move when it’s light. Cassia is frustrated at how poorly she’s been sorting the books and papers, but Ky says that what she’s doing is more than that. Cassia observes the way Ky would never fit into the Society, being able to create and lead and do so many other valuable things that they don’t care about. She asks to hear his entire story. He responds, “My mother painted with water… And my father played with fire” (273).
Analysis of Chapters 28-36
Chapter 29 shows us the first one-on-one interaction between Ky and Indie. They are very much alike—both are hardened, quiet, secretive. Both feel a certain hatred for the Society and behave much like rebels with a cause. And yet they’re also opposed on many fronts. Indie desires to find the Rising, to know more about the Pilot and the rebellion they’re supposedly leading against the Society. Ky, on the other hand, knows much about it already and doe not want to pursue it further. On this point, they seem stringently divided.
In Chapter 31, Ky wishes that red tablets worked on him to save him from the hurt of remembering everything he’s endured (236). This is a unique glimpse into Ky’s more vulnerable side, something we’ve seen relatively little of in his character development up to this point. His wish illustrates the difficulty he feels about rebelling when going with the grain would be so much easier; for him, ignorance would be bliss. Giving into the Society and living entirely by their rules would’ve also made him more like the life partner that Xander once was to Cassia, the one who represented an 80-year-long, Society-monitored life of bliss—though had Ky maintained this weaker mindset, he would’ve never established a relationship with Cassia at all.
In Chapter 32, Cassia makes an important comparison between the Society’s intrusion into the natural formation of the Carving and into her relationship with Ky, noting that “the Society slides in everywhere, snakes in a crack, water dripping against a rock until even the stone has no choice but to hollow and change shape” (244). This moment serves to remind the reader both that the Society violated the privacy of Ky and Cassia’s forbidden romance, and that it continues like a virus to invade and infect all areas where the two want to feel safe, whether that’s in each other’s company or in a canyon miles from even the Outer Provinces. In this way, the Society remains the story’s major antagonist.
Chapter 34 demonstrates Cassia’s split desire to be with Ky and pursue the Rising. She has to remind herself that it is for the former that she came out into the Carving. Nevertheless, she expresses enthusiasm for the idea of a rebellion against the Society at least since trading with the Archivist back in Camas Province, and one could argue even as far back as reading the poem given to her by her grandfather on the Hill.
Chapter 35 allows the first real look into Ky’s thoughts on the Rising and why he doesn’t want to join it, providing a crucial development in his character and the thoughts motivating him. At the core of his aversion to the Rising is his father’s once strong involvement in it, which he deems irrational and blames for the death of his village. Ky would’ve been satisfied with his father doing just enough - i.e., teaching only him to write instead of all the children in the village - but his father desired to make a great impact. Ky’s regret is consistent with his behavior thus far, as he’s established himself during the entirety of the series as his father’s opposite: always one to lay low, to lose even when he could win, and to never show up on anyone’s radar, especially the Society’s. Important to note, though, is that his one exception was fleeing into the Carving to find Cassia, a clear demonstration that she causes behavior in him that his father made him want to avoid. His acknowledgment that he can’t pursue the Rising despite her wishes is a great point of tension both for him personally and for his relationship with Cassia.