Chapter 12: June
The martial arts skills that June learned at Drake come in handy during the Skiz fight. She is about to beat Kaede when she pulls out a hidden knife and stabs June in the side. June manages to pin Kaede to the ground anyway and is declared the victor. However, she knows that her wound is too serious for her to participate in another fight, so she tries to run away. A few gamblers chase her and try to force her back into the ring. June is about to pass out when someone sets off a dust bomb. In the confusion, Day grabs her hand and leads her out of the ring.
Chapter 13: Day
Day and Tess bring June to an abandoned library. June refuses to give her name, so they just refer to her as the Girl. Day also chooses not to reveal his name, since he’s a wanted criminal. June and Day are very attracted to each other, but they’re also suspicious of the other’s motives. When Tess goes to get water, June tells Day a fake life story. She claims to have grown up in the Tanagashi sector, where she learned to fight by watching police trainees. She says she came to the Lake sector to scavenge.
That night, Day goes to check on his family. Although his mother and John are healthy, Eden has become sicker. Day overhears them discussing how the plague suppressant is no longer enough; Eden needs a cure immediately. As he prepares to go back to the library, Day notices another metal plate in his family’s backyard, similar to the one he and Tess found under the pier. He doesn’t remember seeing this when he played there as a child. The number 2544 is painted on it.
Chapter 14: June
When June wakes the next morning, she notices that Day went somewhere during the night. She begins to notice that he has some suspicious characteristics. Day seems to have old injuries on his leg and arm, and the dust bomb he used during the Skiz fight was more sophisticated than something a normal street urchin could make or buy.
She excuses herself to bathe and calls Thomas, who has been very worried about her. She tells him about her wound but insists she can continue with the assignment. Day, Tess, and June go into town to scavenge. June begins to enjoy their company. When her wound starts hurting, Day changes her bandages and the two have an intimate moment. He suggests that June join the group - with June’s fighting abilities, they could make great profits from Skiz fights. However, June promises to move on the next day.
Chapter 15: Day
Day reveals that he almost kissed June while changing her bandages. He tries to focus on raising money for Eden and disrupting the Republic’s war effort, but he can’t stop thinking about June.
Chapter 16: June
June and Day drink nectar wine in an alley. June asks what he is saving money for, but Day avoids the question and kisses her passionately. They admit that they’re attracted to each other. As the wine catches up with Day, he gets ready to go to bed and unconsciously grabs at his neck, where the pendant used to be. June sees this and remembers the pendant Day left at the hospital, which she carries in her pocket. She realizes his identity.
Chapter 17: Day
Day thinks June has fallen asleep, so he sneaks out to check on his family. He gives John the money he’s scrounged up and explains that he almost has enough for a cure. Although Eden is getting worse, John thinks he can survive a few more weeks. John offers to help Day scavenge for money, but Day turns him down because it’s too dangerous for John to be caught on the streets missing work.
As Day and June begin to fall in love, Lu highlights the parallels between them. Although they have very different backgrounds, both of them have similar motivations. June and Day both value their siblings deeply. Now that we know more about Tess, it is clear that her relationship with Day is similar to June’s relationship with Metias. Both pairs were forced to grow closer in order to cope with difficult circumstances. In both situations, the older boy mentors the younger girl. Like Metias, Day teaches his younger "sister" survival skills that will help her live independently after they are separated.
Marie Lu continues to include small details about the Republic that mirror our own world. For example, note the law that all families must have a portrait of the Elector Primo in their house. During Mao Zedong’s rule in China, all people were required to display a picture of their leader in their homes. Lu’s family survived the Cultural Revolution, and facts like this might well have inspired the details of daily life in the Republic.
In this section, June’s experiences begin to change her. When she first went undercover in the poor Lake sector, she looked down on the people around her and had trouble empathizing with them. Although Metias had told her about the importance of having empathy for people who are less fortunate, June was not able to take this lesson seriously because she had never experienced life in a poor sector. Her time in the Republic has been largely sheltered.
Now that she has interacted with poor people, she begins to understand their lives and feel compassion for them. “I still can’t get used to the crumbling walls, the lines of worn clothing hanging from the balconies” she explains, “but at the very least, my disdain has faded. I think back with some shame on the night of Metias’s funeral, when I’d left a giant steak untouched on my plate, without a second thought” (127). Throughout the novel, June will continue to feel this sense of discomfort with her own privilege. Ultimately, this discomfort will lead her to embrace Day’s anti-Republic views.
These chapters also illustrate the way that emotions can cloud a person’s judgment. Day and June are both extremely intelligent, but their attraction to each other prevents them from becoming suspicious about the other’s identity. June finds several clues that her host is actually Day, but she ignores them longer than she normally would because she has feelings for him. Lu suggests that these kinds of intense feelings - like those her young readership experiences in adolescence - can be both good and bad. Although they endanger Day and June and blind them to potential danger, they also allow each character to experience fulfillment and growth that they otherwise wouldn’t.