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Titus, Link, and Marty malfunction via a site that delivers an intense trip. At a mall, they hide in a dressing room, where Violet chats Titus, sensing he’s in mal. She tells him about recent news where Central Americans died due to toxic pollution attributed to the U.S., and reports that the Global Alliance has stated that U.S. corporations must be stopped before they destroy the Earth. Violet scolds Titus for malfunctioning amid this news and her condition. Titus heads to her home as feed news focuses on a statement from the Global Alliance declaring Earth’s survival depends on the dismantling of American corporations. Titus tells Violet he will help fulfill her life list, but she says she’s in mourning because of the news, adding that her father will now tell her whatever she wants to know. Titus says she asked if there is a soul and then falls asleep on her lawn while news plays.
Violet sends Titus her memories from that morning. He feels what Violet felt as her body failed, and she fell down a staircase and received a response from FeedTech. Nina, her customer service rep, informed her that FeedTech denied her petition to pay for her service repairs. FeedTech also failed to inspire any corporate sponsors to do the same. Nina tells her that no one felt she was a worthy investment due to her odd customer profile generated during her random shopping sprees. Nina tells Violet that FeedTech might change its mind if she can help Violet shop over the next six months and create an attractive consumer portrait, but Violet refuses.
Titus wakes with a headache, either from Violet’s falling memory or from malfunctioning, that the feed cures. Violet then asks if Titus feels better, and he says he cannot feel anything.
Violet messages Titus that she has been listening to requiems. She is afraid she will lose more memories, so she sends many of them to Titus. He deletes them, though, and doesn’t reply to a later chat regarding weekend plans. Instead, he goes to bed and just lies there.
Violet visits Titus. He pretends he didn’t receive her memories or messages. Violet tells Titus she is headed to the mountains to truly experience life. Titus lies that he cannot go, but then agrees to. As they fly there, Violet says she dreams of living without the feed, but that it can’t be shut off right now, given that it is connected to her basic functions. Violet adds that due to her recent purchases of requiem masses, her profile has been sketched, and though she is still trying to resist, FeedTech is winning.
Titus and Violet arrive in a mountain town and see mountains covered with cables and the town filled with concrete. At their hotel, Violet tells Titus she has never had sex and wants to experience it with him. He thinks of her dying, though, and is turned off, then breaks up with her. Violet says everyone is born alone now and that she didn’t want to die alone. Titus tells Violet she put too much pressure on him, that he only wanted to date for a bit while she was looking for something eternal. He criticizes her for wanting to be with “magic Mr. Normal Dumbass.” Violet then questions if he knows why the Global Alliance is aiming weapons at the U.S. or that the Earth is dying. She criticizes him, and others, for their ignorance. On the ride home, Violet’s hand goes limp. Titus receives a banner from Weatherbee & Crotch and orders a jersey.
Violet messages Titus to say she loves him. She says she doesn’t think he’s dumb, but someone people can learn from. She tells him that change is always possible until time runs out.
In the chapter “82.4%,” Titus says he feels like he is in a trance, and in “76.3%,” sets out to keep it that way. Although he has opted not to malfunction with Marty and Link on previous occasions, he now initiates the experience with them. His escape could not be more poorly timed, however: The news of the deaths of the Central Americans sends Violet into mourning and signals a significant change in her father, who perhaps senses the end is now near and decides to tell her whatever she wants to know. Titus, though, keeps turning his eyes from reality. Even when Violet sends him her memory with its pain and anguish, and he experiences real empathy for the first time in the novel, Titus tells Violet he cannot feel anything.
As the world appears to inch closer to its end, so too does Violet, and their fates begin to blend. It is no wonder, then, that Violet’s current obsessions are morbid. As Violet feels her life slipping, she sends her memories to Titus to preserve her identity and past. Still in his trance, though, Titus coldly deletes them and remains detached. What’s more, he breaks up with her in “54.1%” as she attempts to live out one of her life goals of spending a weekend with him in the mountains. His reason for doing so is telling: He was only looking for a short-term relationship. Or, in other words, something quick, fleeting, disposable, and shallow, like everything else in his world. Titus was not prepared to feel, evolve, love, lose, or see the truth about the state of the world. And now that he has, he is mostly concerned with finding ways to escape and tranquilize himself. Even as Violet’s hand goes limp on their flight home, Titus is driven to purchase a jersey: Consumption is not only king, but also his drug of choice, and seems to numb all.
As Titus breaks up with Violet, he also criticizes her for wanting to be with “magic Mr. Normal Dumbass.” Although it is true that Violet gravitated to Titus in part because he represented normality to her, she doesn’t think he’s dumb. From the start, Violet saw something different, something promising, about Titus. It is why she chose to be with him, why she asked if he had resist the feed with her, and why she messages to say she loves him. Violet’s message also includes a powerful warning about being able to change, until it is too late, a warning that is meant to resound beyond Titus’s mind. By now, careful readers will see the haunting parallels between the world of feed and their own regarding consumerism, corporate power, data mining, and environmental destruction, and will recall that author M.T. Anderson dedicated the novel “to all those who resist the feed.” Violet’s warning is as much for Titus and his world as it is for our own.