I picked up this book for really one reason. I am always intrigued by stories set in futuristic worlds where machines and computers rule our lives. I am interested because it hits close to home in this day and age or because I like to see people fight this system. I love to see people defy an oppressive world, and even if they don’t always win I like to see them fight with everything that they have. I love dystopian type novels where people consciously fight against a system that they know isn’t right.
This story had that element of someone fighting the systems but is was more a tragic love story and a coming of age story. There is no big fight that changes the way the world works for everyone. The only real change we see is in our main character Titus. Whether he takes action after the novel ends we will never know. But a fire is ignited inside of this young man and that is what is most important. By the end this lost teenager is ready to move forward, he has a reason and drive to begin to fight.
Titus is a teenager living in a world where almost everyone has a “feed,” directly put into their head. Computers are with you at all times. In this world you can chat someone by just thinking about them. TV runs inside your head.The feeds are integrated into every aspect of your body, which is where the major conflict comes from for this story. Take your current Smartphone and have it implanted directly into your brain and you have what the feed is like.
Titus comes from a wealthy family. He has had a feed ever since he could remember. On a vacation on the moon he meets Violet. Violet is the opposite of Titus. She is poor, she has none of the privileges that Titus has come to see as routine. Her mother left her family and her father is very anti-corporation and a tad bit detached from reality (or it would seem). Violet got her feed late in life, because her parents were told she would have to have it to live in this world. A hacker breaks down their feeds for a time and leaves them vulnerable. Violet’s feed is damaged permanently. Over the course of the novel we watch as Violet deteriorates. The feed breaking is like cancer, it slowly destroys her body, leaving her helpless.
Titus is our main character and our narrator. We watch as he not only tries to deal with Violet essentially dying but we also struggle with him coming to terms with the failures of the world he lives in and trusts. Up until his trip to the moon and meeting Violet he lived a perfectly simple life. His parents paid for everything and his feed kept him connected to the world, very simple and safe. He didn’t have to do much of anything for himself.
Then he falls for Violet and she changes how he sees the world. First she shows him how to defy the feed. Violet constantly shops around, shows interested in items but never actually buys anything. She tries to keep the feed from getting a real hold on her. She doesn’t want them to be able to control her. She doesn’t want them to determine what she wants, how she acts and what she knows.
Titus finds it amusing at first but once Violet’s feed starts shutting down and her body starts breaking, it is no longer a joke. Because of this act of defiance no one will help Violet get the help she needs. Violet petitions for free repairs but is denied because the corporations (that run everything), can’t get a handle on her. She isn’t seen as a “reliable investment” (Anderson, 247). This is a turning point for Titus. He sees just how out of control his world is. Because a corporation can’t get sales from you, you don’t deserve to live (essentially).
Titus cuts off contact with Violet after they have a major fight about what they mean to each other and what is happening to Violet. Titus feels Violet is getting too serious. He tells her, “I didn’t sign up to go out with you forever when you’re dead,” (Anderson, 274). Titus is a kid, who wants to stays locked in his ignorant bubble. Violet’s life is ending and the last thing she wants to do is pretend everything is perfect. Titus can’t handle that mentality. He can’t handle knowing that the world is at war, that they are all losing their skin and are being destroyed by corporations That is a lot for a teenager to handle.
I loved how this all dealt with everything in such a real and believable manner. A teenager, especially a privileged one, isn’t going to change their out-look on life so easily. Teenagers are stubborn and the last thing they want is to be told how big and scary the world truly is. Reality about life is the last thing they want to deal with. In a world where you can escape into the feed it makes sense for Titus to hide and run away from Violet and her problems.
He ignores her because he doesn’t know what to do or say. She is right, he knows this but he doesn’t want to know it. He doesn’t want his life to be upturned and confusing. He wants to be able to move forward without having to question every move he makes. Violet makes him wonder what is real, what he doesn’t know about the world and if the feed is something that should be feared. Violet is dying because of a very broken system and he doesn’t know what to do or where to turn.
It ends with him realizing the truth about this corrupt system. He cries as he tells her their story. A story about an ignorant man meeting a woman who shows him the truth and the man realizing that he has to fight the feed. The last words are from an advertisement that says, “Everything must go.” For Titus this means moving away from this reliance on the feed and to stop letting it rule his life. He couldn’t save Violet but you get a feeling that he is determined not to let this ever happen to anyone else. His friends are falling apart before his eyes and now he has the fire inside of him to fight for them. He watched the feed destroy this girl he might have loved and he that motivated him to fight this system.