PRAISE FOR ALLY CONDIE’S Atlantia:
“Utterly captivating. A heroine unlike any I’d met before, a setting I’d never glimpsed, a story I’d never imagined. Atlantia is fresh, wild, and engrossing. I love Ally Condie.” —SHANNON HALE, award-winning, bestselling author of Austenland and Dangerous
“A gorgeous, crumbling underwater world, a murder mystery, a sweet romance, a sinister plot, long-protected secrets . . . they’re all here! But what made us love this new stand-alone from talented Ally Condie? Rio. She’s a strong, brave, self-sacrificing heroine who never gives up.”—Justine Magazine
“Condie brings tremendous depth to her world-building, finding terrific details in a culture created both to help people survive, and to perhaps keep them under control.” —Salt Lake City Weekly
“A fast-paced fantasy adventure tale in a richly drawn dystopian future . . . this is a title that’s sure to be immensely popular with teens.” —School Library Journal
“Each mystery leads into another, and Condie keeps readers guessing to the end.” —Shelf Awareness
PRAISE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL BESTELLING MATCHED TRILOGY:
“This futuristic fable of love and free will asks: Can there be freedom without choice? The tale of Cassia’s journey from acceptance to rebellion will draw you in and leave you wanting more.” —CASSANDRA CLARE, New York Times–bestselling author of The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments series
“A superb dystopian romance.” —The Wall Street Journal
“The hottest YA title to hit bookstores since The Hunger Games.” —Entertainment Weekly
“A fierce, unforgettable page-turner.” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“Condie’s enthralling and twisty dystopian plot is well served by her intriguing characters and fine writing. . . . Cassia’s metamorphosis is gripping and satisfying.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“Condie’s prose is immediate and unadorned, with sudden pings of lush lyricism [and] reveals seeming to arrive on almost every page.” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“Distinct . . . authentic . . . poetic.”—School Library Journal
ALSO BY ALLY CONDIE:
DUTTON CHILDREN’S BOOKS
PENGUIN YOUNG READERS GROUP
AN IMPRINT OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, LLC
375 HUDSON STREET
NEW YORK, NY 10014
Copyright © 2016 by Allyson Braithwaite Condie
Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
CIP data is available.
Edited by Julie Strauss-Gabel
Cover Illustration © 2016 Jennifer Bricking
Jacket Design by Theresa Evangelista
For my hometown, Cedar City, Utah, and in memory of my grandparents Alice and Royden Braithwaite
Praise for Ally Condie
Also By Ally Condie
ACT I Chapter 1
ACT II Chapter 1
ACT III Chapter 1
About the Author
Our new house had a blue door. The rest of the house was painted white and shingled gray.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” my mother asked.
She climbed out of the car first and then my younger brother, Miles, and then me.
“Don’t you think this is the perfect place to end the summer?” Mom wanted to know.
We were spending the rest of the summer in Iron Creek, a small town in a high desert, the kind with pine trees and snow in the winter. It got hot in the day and cold at night. When a thunderstorm, all black and gray and blue, did come rolling in, you could see it a mile away.
I knew that stars would come out and rain would fall and that the days would be hot and long. I knew I’d make sandwiches for Miles and wash dishes with my mom. I knew I would do all of that and summer would be the same and never the same.
Last summer we had a dad and a brother and then they were gone.
We did not see it coming.
One of the things Miles and I whisper-worried about at night was that our mom could fall in love again.
It didn’t seem like it would happen because she’d loved my father so much, but we had learned from the accident that anything could happen. Anything bad, anyway.
Mom didn’t end up falling in love with a person, but she did fall in love with a house. We were in Iron Creek in June, visiting our grandparents—my mom’s parents—when she saw the FOR SALE sign while she was out for a drive. She came home and whispered to Gram and Papa, and then they went with her to see the house while Miles and I stayed with our uncle Nick and his wife. Two weeks later, Mom used some of the money from when my dad died, the life insurance money, to buy the house. Since she’s a teacher and didn’t have to go back to work until the end of August, she decided we would spend the rest of th
e summer in Iron Creek and all the summers after that. She planned to rent out the house to college students during the school year. We weren’t really rich enough to have two houses.
“It will be good for us to be around family more,” she said. “Next summer we can stay for the whole time.”
We didn’t fight her about it. We liked our grandparents. We liked our uncle and our aunt. They had known our dad and our brother Ben. They had some of the same memories we did. Sometimes they even brought things up, like, “Remember when your dad went out in the kayak at Aspen Lake and he flipped over and we had to save him in our paddleboat?” and we would all start laughing because we had the same picture in our minds, my dad with his sunglasses dangling from one ear and his hair all wet. And they knew that Ben’s favorite kind of ice cream wasn’t ice cream at all, it was rainbow sherbet, and he always ate green first, and so when I saw it in my grandma’s freezer once and I started crying they didn’t even ask why and I think I saw my uncle Nick, my mom’s brother, crying too.
“Well,” Mom said, “let’s go inside and choose rooms before we start unpacking.”
“Me first!” said Miles.
They went in the house and I sat down on the steps.
The wind came through the trees, which were very old and very tall. I heard an ice-cream truck a few streets over, and kids playing in other yards.
And then a boy rode past on a bike. The boy wore old clothes. Not worn-out old, old-fashioned. He was dressed like a peasant. He had on a ruffly blouse and pants that ended right under his knees and a hat with a feather and he was my age. He didn’t glance over at me. He looked happy.
Sad, I thought. That’s so sad. He’s weird and he doesn’t even know it.
Actually, it’s better not to know it. My brother Ben was different and he knew.
The trees sounded loud as a waterfall above me. “We’re so lucky,” Mom kept telling us when she bought the house. “The trees on the property have been there for fifty years. They’re beautiful. Not many like them in the whole town.”
I think she noticed the trees because my dad always loved trees.
We bought the house from a family who had lived in Iron Creek for generations, the Wainwrights. The kids had all moved away but one of them came back to sell the house when his mother died. He didn’t want to live in it, but he was also kind of weird about selling it. When he ran into my mother at the realtor’s office, he told her, “It will always be the Wainwright home.”
My mother said she nodded at him like she agreed but she didn’t waste any time having the velvety green carpet torn up and the hardwood floors underneath sanded and varnished.
“I want the heart and the bones to stay the same,” she said. “Anything else, we can change. We live here now.”
She also had the front door painted blue.
I heard that blue front door open behind me and Mom came out. “Hey, Cedar,” she said.
“Miles picked his room,” Mom said. “There are still two left. Want to go next?”
Shouldn’t you go next? I wanted to ask, but it didn’t matter. Her room could be as small as ours now because she didn’t have to share.
“Sure,” I said, because I knew she wanted me to say Sure.
Inside, the house was empty, no furniture yet. Living room to the right, stairs in front of me. “Want to look around downstairs first?” Mom asked, because Miles and I hadn’t spent time here yet, but I shook my head and started climbing. When I got to the top of the steps, I stopped.
“Isn’t it fun?” she asked. “I left these the way they were. I couldn’t help it.”
Each bedroom door was painted a different color. One yellow, one purple, one green. The bathroom door was painted red. “Are the rooms inside the same colors?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “Only the doors. Each room has something special about it, though.”
Right then the green door opened. “I picked this one,” Miles said, sticking his head out. “It has a big, big closet. Like a hideout. For me.” Miles was eight, young enough to still care about hideouts.
“So green is gone,” Mom said.
I didn’t care which room I had but I knew she wanted me to pick.
“I’ll do this one,” I said, pointing to the purple door at the end of the hall.
“You can check them both first,” Mom said.
“No,” I said, “I’m fine. Unless you wanted purple?”
“I like them both,” Mom said. “The yellow room has a window seat. The purple room has a diamond window.”
That settled it. I knew Mom had always liked window seats and our real house, up in a suburb of Salt Lake City four hours away, was newish and beige and had no window seats anywhere.
“Purple,” I said. “It’s like a rainbow up here.”
“That’s what made me want to paint the front door blue,” Mom said. “It was the only color that was missing.”
Lots of colors were missing. Pink. Orange. Brown. Gray. But I didn’t say that.
It turned out that a diamond window was not a window shaped like a diamond, which is what I assumed it would be. It was a big, regular-shaped window that opened outward, but instead of having two big panes of glass it had lots of small panes of glass, and those were diamond shaped. I couldn’t see out clearly because of all the shapes and that bugged me, so I opened up the window. The wind in the trees was relentless. It sounded like an ocean outside my window so I closed it again.
Because of that stupid window, it felt like the house was a fly with those eyes that have a million parts. And it was looking at me.
I’d picked the wrong room. I should have done yellow.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move. Something big, and black, and outside my window.
It was in the tree. I took a step closer. And then closer again.
The thing stretched its wings and settled. I could see that much, even though the window made it smeary and bleary and in diamonds.
I took another step.
I wanted to open the window to see what the thing was, but I also didn’t want it to fly in.
Another step. The thing outside the window turned its head.
The purple door slammed open behind me and I spun around to see Miles. “Come on!” he said. “Gram and Papa and Uncle Nick and Aunt Kate are here! They’re going to help us unpack!”
I looked back at the window but this time it only showed me trees. Something had looked away.
“What room would Ben have picked?” Miles asked at breakfast the next day.
Ben loved blue, he would have picked blue for sure, but there was no blue room.
And then I knew the real reason we had a blue front door.
“Maybe mine,” I said. “Purple is closest to blue.”
“Maybe not to Ben,” Miles said, and he was right. You could never be sure how Ben would see things. He had his own kind of logic.
We were getting better at talking about Ben, but not much. Better because we did talk about him but also there was so much more to say and we were all still too fragile to say it.
After lunch I sat outside and I saw the boy on the bike ride by again, and he didn’t see me that time either. And he still had on the same clothes and he still looked happy.
Next day, same thing all over again. Boy, bike, clothes, happy.
In my family we never call people names because sometimes people used to call Ben names and we all hated that. When he was younger he didn’t notice so much, but when he was nine, the year he died, he noticed every single time. You’d see his eyes flicker. He’d take it in. And then who knew what he’d do with it. Or how it made him feel.
Here is something bad about me.
I call people names in my head sometimes.
I don’t do it to be mean.
I do it to label.
But I know names-to-label are bad too. Names-to-be-mean are worse, but both are bad.
Here’s the name I called the boy in my head:
“Look,” Miles said. “I found this in my closet.” He dragged something into the middle of my bedroom. Outside, the wind blew and the sky had gone dark. A thunderstorm was moving in.
It was a box of old board games.
“Remember,” I said, “you may play these games, but they will always be Wainwright board games.”
We spread the games out on the floor. Outside the trees went crazy. The storm was almost here.
“Your room is noisy,” Miles said.
“I know,” I said. “It’s the trees.”
“You could ask Mom to trade rooms,” Miles said.
But he knew I wouldn’t do that. He knew I wouldn’t ask Mom for anything I didn’t really, really need. We both tried to be good for her and she tried to be patient with us. Sometimes I thought of the three of us as pencils with the erasers scrubbed down to the end, and the next swipe across the paper would tear through the page and make a scree sound across the desk.
It turned out most of the games were missing parts. But there was a very old version of Life that had everything in it. We played a few rounds before we got bored.
“Is there anything else in your closet?” I asked Miles.
“A box of old dolls,” Miles said. “They’re all broken up. Arms and legs sticking out. Eyes that won’t close anymore.”
“Are you serious?”
“No,” he said. “There’s only a box of old clothes. Like dress-up clothes. And some shoes. The shoes are gross. They’re all curly.”
“Show me,” I said.
He was right. The shoes were disgusting. They looked like elf shoes, twisted up and pointy. And the dress-up clothes smelled musty. They all seemed like they were from our parents’ era, except one shiny blue dress that was fancier than the rest and probably older. It had fur on the cuffs and the collar. I couldn’t tell if the fur was real or fake. I hung that dress up in Miles’s closet so it wouldn’t be so wrinkled. It was kind of pretty.