Chapters: summertime–4.6%

Summary: summertime

Titus, Link, and Marty vacation on one of Jupiter’s moons. They later party on Earth, where people are now losing their hair and more skin. Titus, who is now dating Quendy, realizes he only buys things to be cool, but that he can never keep up with trends.

Summary: the deep

Titus’s father returns home from a corporate team-building event where he and his colleagues went whale hunting. As he broadcasts the experience, no one is fazed to see a gruesome death of a whale. Titus receives a message from Violet’s father, revealing that her body and system have completely stopped working. He then flies to her house amid falling black snow and news of apocalyptic scenes like unexplained, underground explosions in New Jersey. When Titus arrives, Violet’s father directs him to a room where Violet lies.

Summary: 4.6%

Titus sees Violet on a bed, completely pale, fully incapacitated, and covered in discs. Her father details the final moments before Violet’s body stopped working, and tells Titus that, despite not wanting to get Violet a feed, he realized not having one would put her at a disadvantage. Violet’s father grows angry at Titus for the way he treated his daughter, then sends him memories of Violet gagging and thrashing. He berates Titus, too, saying Americans are only interested in consuming products, and not how they are produced or what happens to them once discarded. Violet’s father then ridicules Titus, telling him to go play foosball and be with the “Eloi,” though he refuses to explain who that is. He swears at Titus and then apologizes to the nonresponsive Violet, asking if she heard his words. Back at his home, Titus strips naked and orders a slew of the same pants before emerging in the early morning to watch the sun rise. 

Summary: 4.6%

Titus visits Violet’s home again. Though she is fully incapacitated and appears dead, her feed rating is at 4.6 percent. He asks if she can hear him and relays current news, including the Global Alliance is threatening war and that riots are spreading throughout America. He tells her, too, about an ancient Japanese saying about life and death. Titus then tells Violet there is one story he plans to keep telling her. That story, he says, is her, and he wants to tell it so that she will remember herself when she wakes up. Titus begins crying as he tells the story. It is worded like a clichéd feedcast, but its details are specific to Titus and Violet and their time together during America’s final days. Ultimately, Titus says, as a screen shows Violet’s heart is still beating, albeit barely, they learn something important about love and how to resist the feed. The chapter, and novel, end with an ad on the feed for Blue-Jean Warehouse’s Final Sales Event and a recurring, fading message that “Everything must go.”

Analysis: Chapters: summertime–4.6%

Titus’s vacation on Io, one of Jupiter’s moons, in “summertime” again speaks to how entitled he is. That Titus chooses to vacation there also shows how distant he is become, both figuratively and literally, regarding Violet’s failing health and the dire state of Earth. His detachment and indifference aren’t merely a result of his lifelong connection to the feed, though. They also stem from his upbringing by equally detached and indifferent parents. In “the deep,” when Titus’s father returns home from a corporate team building event where he and his colleagues killed a whale, no one in Titus’s family is fazed by the gruesome death, or that the planet’s last whales need to be covered in protective coating to survive in the sea. The family’s lack of reaction to the killing, and even Titus’s mother’s gruesome lesions, are chilling signs of how deep in denial they are, even amid clear signs that their world is collapsing. Such signs are reinforced as Titus flies to Violet’s home and sees black snow falling while news speaks of riots and explosions. 

In the first of two chapters titled “4.6%,” angry words from Violet’s father finally shake Titus. As Violet lies completely incapacitated and, apparently dead, on a floating bed, Violet’s father makes it clear that Titus simply consumed and discarded her as if she were just another product. His reference to the Eloi in H.G. Wells’s novel, The Time Machine, is also apt: In Wells’s disturbing vision of the far future, the Eloi were a lazy, uninformed species descended from the idle rich and raised as food for a second species, the Morlocks. Violet’s father’s reference recalls Violet’s own words in “our duty to the party,” where she told Titus and his friends they are being consumed by corporations. Almost on cue, Titus later orders countless items from the feed. Although ambiguous, his act may represent that he is now completely given in to the feed, deciding that any resistance is futile. Then again, his act may simply stem from utter desperation and despair. Either way, when he is done and steps outside, he’s clearly displeased with the world he sees.   

Like Titus’s shopping spree, much of the conclusion of feed is ambiguous and open to interpretation. For example, whether Violet is dead or in a coma is unclear. In the second chapter titled “4.6%,” when Titus tells her stories so she will remember herself when she wakes up, it is also unclear if he believes such an awakening might come for her in death or if he believes she might be revived on Earth. And although it is true that the story he tells Violet about their relationship sounds like a vapid, clichéd feedcast, its details suggest that Titus might have finally opened his eyes to the truth and learned to become more human. In fact, for the first time, Titus begins to cry as he tells Violet their story where they learned the importance of love, and to resist the feed, amid America’s final days. Whether Titus will continue to resist is uncertain. Also uncertain is whether other resistors still have time to make changes needed to save their world, or if it is instead too late. Such uncertainty, however, is intentional. Just as Violet’s father demanded that Titus look up who the Eloi were, author M.T. Anderson is inviting readers not only to think and ask critical questions about Violet and Titus’s world, but also our own. In doing so, he is also inviting readers to acknowledge our own situation, and see the imperative of resisting rampant consumerism, unchecked corporate power, and environmental destruction before it is too late.