In the thirteenth chapter of Melting Stones, Evvy comes to realize just how complicated of a predicament she is in. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Melting Stones.
I want to make it very clear that in a similar situation, I wouldn’t have a goddamn clue what to do here. I don’t think Pierce is losing sight of the fact that Evvy and Luvo did the best they could with a shitty situation either, and the truth is that… well, there’s no good outcome. This isn’t about making a choice between right and wrong; Melting Stones is now hinging on the choice between “supremely awful” and “catastrophically awful.”
Evvy made a decision – and was backed by Luvo – that would buy enough time for the people of Starns to get off the island safely. I think she deserves praise and admiration for that. At the same time, Pierce floods the book with an inevitable dread, and it was impossible for me to think of anything else during this specific chapter. Evvy and Luvo did what they could, and in the process, they may have made this a far more harrowing situation. It sucks, but that’s the reality of this! And it’s not even the sole thing in this chapter that causes tension.
I am very thankful for what transpires here because it’s so honest, but it also HURTS EVERY CELL IN MY BODY. Nory and Evvy have a bitter argument here over pride and perception, and it’s deeply uncomfortable for all parties involved. It doesn’t help that what spawns is it is terrible all by itself. We don’t know when Mount Grace will erupt, and it’s no longer a matter of if it will explain. It’s just when. So when the cart breaks down, it means I have to start worrying about the delay that this causes. If they aren’t leaving for the ships until dawn, does that mean Mount Grace might explode before then?
Look, even Evvy acknowledges through her narration that she made a misstep here. Out of frustration with the Oswin kids, she yells at them for overpacking. Nory’s response is exactly what it should be:
“It is not junk!” Nory stared up at me. Her eyes looked like blue-gray ice in the winter sun. “What do you know? I bet you’ve never done without in your life! I’ll bet you never had to run from anywhere with just the rags on your back! Every one of us has left our whole lives behind more than once, so don’t you preach! We have to save what we can!”
Of course, the irony is that Evvy definitely knows what this is like. So why would she say something like this? Why would she be so insensitive? I think that her exhaustion and irritation plays a part in that, but there’s some more insight provided by the text. First of all, she’s not in her home. She’s not running away from Discipline and having to decide what to leave or what to take. It’s easier for her to detach from the emotional weight of this act for Nory and her family, even though she knows exactly what this situation feels like. Hell, Luvo quietly reminds her that she wouldn’t let go of her cats when she escaped years earlier.
But I think this is also related to her sense of self-preservation as well. Part of that is the immediate urge to get the hell off Starns. I don’t blame anyone for wanting to survive that. There’s also a way she protects her emotional well-being throughout this, too, and that explains why she’s unwilling to view these people as empathetically as she might normally do so. Evvy has lost a lot over the years, and in that sense, she reminds me more of Tris than Briar. She protects herself by refusing to connect with anyone else. That even includes animals! And I don’t think there’s anything in that to criticize because trauma presents itself so differently in people. Still, I think that Evvy did need to be reminded of what this experience was like so that she’d stop lashing out at people trying desperately to preserve their livelihood.
After such a brutally uncomfortable scene, Pierce doesn’t really let us rest before reminding us that everything is still awful. There are far more people in Moharrin than Evvy expected. They’ve all got to wait until dawn to continue the evacuation, and that’s only if nothing else goes wrong. And then what? Who’s to say that what Luvo and Evvy did won’t backfire and take out the entire Battle Islands? How do you warn the other islands about evacuation if you have to admit that you may have caused it???
Bah, maybe I should listen to Briar. Too many “ifs” in that paragraph. I can’t help it, though. I genuinely don’t know how this is going to be resolved because I keep seeing the same end: the volcano explodes. It’s just a matter of when that happens and where these characters are when that happens.
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