Allegiant Chapter 18: Fourbias
Fourbias is stressed about Marcus’ upcoming trial, but finds an out when Tris asks if some random dude can conduct some tests on Fourbias’ genes because basically he’s semi-Divergent.
“Well, this guy I met—Matthew is his name—works in one of the labs here, and he says they would be interested in looking at our genetic material for research,” she says. “And he asked about you, specifically, because you’re sort of an anomaly.”
“Apparently you display some Divergent characteristics and you don’t display others,” she says. “I don’t know. He’s just curious about it. You don’t have to do it.”
So to summarise, Fourbias is not Divergent as fuck like Tris, but still Divergent enough to be of interest. In other words, he’s still just a regular dude like all of these fucking people (Divergent or not) appear to be.
Fourbias agrees to the testing simply because he wants an excuse to avoid watching Marcus’ trial. This would make sense if Tris had given one specific hour that Matthew was free to conduct these tests. What if he has a very important meeting at that time and isn’t free? How presumptuous, Fourbias.
Tori’s brother comes into the dining hall all excited to see Tori again, but finds out she’s actually dead. Try hard to care. I mean really fucking hard. I bet you can’t. Fourbias sure can’t.
I didn’t go back for her. I should have—of all the people in our party, I knew Tori best, knew how tightly her hands squeezed the tattoo needle and how her laugh sounded rough, like it had been scraped with sandpaper.
He supposedly knew her best, and his best were just random facts that anyone could have surmized who had gotten a tattoo from Tori or had heard her laugh. [Matthew says: Case in point: these are all bits of surface-level characterization that show up on first drafts on bar napkins] That is a terribly low standard of knowing someone. I mean, if that’s all it takes, I’m basically best friends with Tina Fey because I know she often wears glasses, but sometimes she doesn’t. Best friend knowledge!
Matthew shows up, and there’s a split second where it sounds like Fourbias is threatened because Tris didn’t warn him that Matthew wasn’t “a crusty old scientist.” Though I feel like that’s something that doesn’t need to be pre-explained at all. I would never be like, “You sure need to meet my friend Jack. Jack isn’t like a football player with brown hair, though, just to be clear.” [Matthew says: Wouldn’t it be weirder if she had? Like, “Hey, come meet my new friend from the labs! He’s a hunk!”]
Matthew sticks out his hand. “Hi. It’s nice to meet you. I’m Matthew.”
“Tobias,” I say, because “Four” sounds strange here, where people would never identify themselves by how many fears they have. “You too.”
Strongly agree. But also why haven’t we met anyone else from Dauntless who identifies them by how many fears they have? Because it’s stupid in any society, that’s why.
They head off to go do some tests, which I find really odd given Tris has had all of zero moments to inform Matthew that Fourbias has even consented to the tests, but okay.
Veronica Roth has so little to say anymore, that she is providing details like this:
The compound is thick with people this morning, all dressed in green or dark blue uniforms that pool around the ankles or stop several inches above the shoe, depending on the height of the person.
BUT LIKE WHAT WAS THEIR SHOE SIZE? MORE DETAIL PLEEZE!!!!
Matthew then explains how gates used to work at airports in the olden days, but now they’ve ripped up all the chairs in the waiting areas and turned them into labs instead.
He also explains a little more about serums. He talks about how it helps the people in the experiments…control the experiments. I find this confusing, because who is supposed to know they’re in an experiment in order to control it…within the experiment? Matthew talks a bit more about Abnegation’s memory serum:
“And then the Erudite continued to work on them, to perfect them. Including your brother. To be honest, we got some of our serum developments from them, by observing them in the control room. Only they didn’t do much with the memory serum—the Abnegation serum. We did a lot more with that, since it’s our greatest weapon.”
“A weapon,” Tris repeats.
“Well, it arms the cities against their own rebellions, for one thing—erase people’s memories and there’s no need to kill them; they just forget what they were fighting about. And we can also use it against rebels from the fringe, which is about an hour from here. Sometimes fringe dwellers try to raid, and the memory serum stops them without killing them.”
Sure, book, please keep believing that the more you over-explain things to me, the more I believe this series isn’t completely idiotic. Who are these rebels from the fringe? Who are the fringe dwellers? [Matthew says: I was going to make a snarky joke about how this thing they described as “their greatest weapon” is TOTALLY NOT GOING TO SHOW UP AND CAUSE PROBLEMS LATER, except given the way the narrative’s been meandering aimlessly lately, I sort of wouldn’t be surprised if it actually didn’t, which is probably worse.]
There’s a ton more over-explanation about how they’re going to read Tris and Four’s genes and why the choosing ceremony happens. If you’re aware during the ceremony, it means you’re Divergent/genetically healed. Except when it doesn’t:
Matthew continues, “The only problem with the genetic tracker is that being aware during simulations and resisting serums doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is Divergent, it’s just a strong correlation. Sometimes people will be aware during simulations or be able to resist serums even if they still have damaged genes.” He shrugs.
Can’t anything in this fucking series just be exactly what it claims to be? Why does there always have to be a qualifer or a needless complication for every god damned thing? I swear, it’ll be like, “This memory test is 100% accurate. Except if you’ve eaten chocolate cake 20 minutes beforehand. Then we’re not sure at all!!!” I could be way off base, but that’s how I’m feeling about this series at the moment. Except if I’ve just consumed chocolate cake, and then it’s anyone’s guess.
Anyway, long story short, Matthew wants to know if Fourbias is actually Divergent or not. [Matthew says: Wow, it’s weird to see that in print, since it does not remotely apply to me.] I’m sure none of you care at all and I certainly don’t. Because who cares one way or the other? [Matthew says: It also doesn’t matter one way or the other, since things can be Divergent or not Divergent but SEEM Divergent now, but not in the way that things would not be Divergent but seem Divergent earlier on because the story was just shitty and confusing.]
Also, we’ve just met one of the lab technicians, Nita, who was part of another experiment. She ended up in O’Hare after her experiment ended eight years ago. I apologize for my part in introducing to you to yet another minor character.
“And your city, it didn’t have factions?” Tris says.
“No, it was the control group—it helped them to figure out that the factions were actually effective by comparison. It had a lot of rules, though—curfew, wake-up times, safety regulations. No weapons allowed. Stuff like that.”
“Well, a few of the people inside still knew how to make weapons. They made a bomb—you know, an explosive—and set it off in the government building,” she says. “Lots of people died. And after that, the Bureau decided our experiment was a failure. They erased the memories of the bombers and relocated the rest of us. I’m one of the only ones who wanted to come here”
Why did they only erase the memories of the bombers and not everyone involved? [Matthew says: How does the control group bombing itself merit a failure, but an experimental group committing systematic mass genocide not count as a failure?]
Nita also explains that they haven’t shut the Chicago experiment down because…it’s been sort of successful? [Matthew says: How many times am I gonna have to repeat this whole systematic mass genocide thing?] It basically just sounds like they don’t want to admit defeat, which is like when your boss gets you to start a project everyone knows is pointless and then refuses to give up on it and everyone who wants to kiss his ass tries to interpret the results in the most generous way possible to make everyone feel like maybe it wasn’t a total failure.
[Matthew says: Because this book can’t help itself, it explains some more science that it immediately gets wrong:
“when our predecessors at the Bureau inserted ‘corrected’ genes into your ancestors, they also included a genetic tracker [that] shows us that a person has achieved genetic healing. In this case, the genetic tracker is awareness during simulations— it’s something we can easily test for”
So far so good, but this is Divergent, so…
“The only problem with the genetic tracker is that being aware during simulations and resisting serums doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is Divergent, it’s just a strong correlation.”
THEN IT’S NOT A GENETIC TRACKER. This is Ariel’s chocolate cake point all over again, except for undergrad-level biology, which is sort of not how that works.]
They look at Tris’ healed genes, and remind us that she is Divergent as fuck. But Fourbias’ genes are not healed, and thus he is not Divergent as fuck. Fourbias feels really sad because he’s “damaged” still, and I wish I could gently remind him that this actually doesn’t seem to mean anything at all, so who cares? Even Tris is on my side here:
“So you’re telling me this affects nothing,” I say. “The truth affects nothing.”
“What truth?” she says. “These people tell you there’s something wrong with your genes, and you just believe it?”
Fourbias runs off to be alone, and Nita follows him and asks if they can meet later in secret.
“And . . . no offense to your girl or anything, but you might not want to bring her.”
“Why?” I say.
“She’s a GP—genetically pure. So she can’t understand that—well, it’s hard to explain. Just trust me, okay? She’s better off staying away for a little while.”
Tobias immediately agrees with no hesitation, which I find very off-putting. Shouldn’t he at least consider whether he should start keeping secrets from Tris five minutes after they super duper swore never to keep secrets again?