Quotes Room A-F


Welcome to the Quotes Room A-F.

"It's such a pleasure to write down splendid words -

almost as though one were inventing them".

(Rupert Hart-Davis)



This page features a portion of my favourite quotes from the novels reviewed on this blog. The books are listed by titles, in alphabetical order, from A to F. Every title is also linked to its respective review. Of course, this is an ever-growing project, so be sure to check it out from time to time. (Basically, every time I review a new book, I'm going to add quotes if I find any of its sentences inspiring or witty). Enjoy!

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!


A


ABSENT (KATIE WILLIAMS)

The weight of it hits me, and I curl up, wishing I could sink lower than the ground, down into the earth, down through the layers of sediment and silt and bedrock until my spirit puffs to ash in the Earth's core. It feels like maybe I could, if I wanted to enough.
Except I can't. Because even though [XXX] was a coward, he doesn't deserve to die. Because [XXX] could hurt someone else next, someone I care about, like Usha or Wes, or even someone I don't care about, some pious biblical or nodding pony or smug well-rounder. I don't want anyone else to be hurt. I want them to have a chance at life, even if I don't anymore. I want them to have a chance because I don't.


THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX (MARY E. PEARSON)

Are the details of our lives who we are, or is it owning those details that makes the difference?

For the first time, I am aware that I don't have a wildy beating heart - only the memory of one. But the memory is enough. My thoughts beat out of control.

Souls, if there is such a thing, are nourished and mended here. I case of error they can't be uploaded like the whole Boston curriculum - there are no spares in case one is lost. Souls are given only once.
I walk up the three steps to the altar and step over the small railing that separates the masses from all that is sacred. I am trespassing, but I can't stop. I wait to feel something. But who knows what a soul feels like?

It hadn't occurred to me that I could suddenly blink into nothingness like a crashed computer with not even two years used up on my shelf life.

Dane, fully flesh and blood, but one hundred percent of nothing.
[...] Besides the revulsion running through me, I feel something unexpected - gratitude. He's shown me how empty a one hundred percent human being can be. Percentages can be defective.

Maybe I was eager for a fall, the thing I feared most. I had been easing toward it, testing the water, not sure what I wanted, except not to be everything I knew I wasn't.

Sometime tomorrow Kara's and Locke's futures will be cemented, and I will become something less than genuine, like the first in a numbered series of art prints. Kara, Locke and me, forgotten in a storage facility.



Her [i.e.: Mom's] family was supposed to form a circle. Now we walk around like a photograph that my dad's been cut out of.

Those towns aren't any less haunted than the others. They're just better liars.

Someone is following me. The sensation is so acute that I can actually feel my eyes try to slip through my skull and part the hair on the back of my head.

It's her. She's flickering in and out like an image on a computer screen, some dark specter trying to fight her way out of the video and into reality.

The house is waiting. [...] I know it's dumb, but I can't help but feel like it's watching, and maybe smiling, grinning at our childish attempts to stop it, laughing off its foundation as we shake chicken feet in its direction.
 

B


THE BAD RESCUE OF DEVON STREETER [RIVEN] (B.C. JOHNSON)

A hard black ribbon threaded between the hills.
It was a long road for a tired girl.
She couldn't decide which voice in her head was the loudest. When she felt maudlin, she wondered which voice was her own.
It wasn't always easy to keep track of. She remembered that she used to love writing. Asking questions. Providing answers. Her favorite word was “why.” Her next favorite word was “how.”
She loved warm sunlight. Cold rain. The earthy living smell of the wilderness.
Whenever she lost track of herself, when the chorus of voices crescendoed into chattering catastrophe, she listened for the little girl screaming questions at the top of her lungs.
“Sirine?” an outside voice asked. A real voice.
I am Sirine, a voice popped out of the chorus, brittle and jagged.
You are Sirine, another voice called. It rang truer.
“What?” she said.
Her focus dilated, and the surroundings locked into reality. She remembered where she was. Who she was supposed to be.
Her brothers and sisters, those who followed Set and Sorrow, stared at her with rapture on their faces. Their thoughts, those who still had their own thoughts, crashed around in the echo chamber of her mind.
She tried to remember what it had been like to have only one mind.
It must've been so quiet.

He [i.e.: Ahern] drew her [i.e.: Devon] in tighter, until she felt every curve of her body fitting perfectly into every plane of his. Her hands slipped up his face, into his hair, where she grabbed handfuls of his black locks and pulled his face harder into hers. Their lips clashed, teeth and tongue. They were devouring each other, happily, with wild abandon and yet keen, impenetrable loneliness.
She could feel it in him, as she could feel it in herself. The alone.
They tore at each other's clothes, and they sank into the sand, and the waves crashed and the birds screamed and the sun drank the ocean.

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station sits on the ocean, a rambling run of concrete buildings. A pair of spherical structures make up the cooling towers of Generators 2 and 3, known colloquially by their mammary-likeness. Behind them, the Pacific Ocean churns and rolls as it always has, and will always do.
The last of humanity, as far as the residents know, has found refuge here. Nuclear power, the pinnacle of human technology, has created a perfect bubble to protect its residents from the horrors of the Mergelands. A place of monsters and magics and things from the Distance, the Mergelands are no place for the unprepared. Reality doesn't work how you want it to, out there.
They call it S.O.N.G.S, as they've done since well before the Merge.
[...]
No one is ready for the collapse of civilization. Even after two years, there is nothing there but people trying to do their best.
Well. That's not entirely true.
For the most part, however, for the most part - they're trying.
[...]
A girl with orange hair, freckles, and black-framed glasses is sitting on the porch, barely filling an old swing. She is reading, her mind is away, and she's glad of it.
[...]
Her left eye is a soft water-color blue. Her right eye is milky-white, shot through with spiraling red lines. If you didn't look close enough, they might be strange blood vessels.
If you didn't look close.
A voice drifts down the path.
The girl springs to her feet and runs barefoot up the driveway.
"Mom!" Devon screamed. "Mom!"

They [i.e: Devon and Bloom] stared at each other. He looked into her ruined right eye, milky and swirling with red lines. She must have stared right into his brilliant golden eyes. For a long time, they didn't move, trying to absorb everything. Maybe she was trying to picture their childhood, maybe their last adventure, with the green flash and the Shades and the stupid heroics.
"Hungry?" Devon said, finally. Her lips pulled into her patented half smirk.
"Starving."
"Green made steak."
"Bless the Lord and pass the beef."
They toddled out of the bathroom, arm in arm.
They whispered old jokes, and laughed, and when they came into the kitchen the others stared at them and saw one person where there had been two.



The fear of her just walking away felt silver and sharp, with a blade that was bigger than my body could take.

I hate it when Seemy's mad at me. It makes me wish I could fly away from myself, away from this body that is an open sore for her salted anger, this body that changes without her love. But I can't fly away. I stand next to her and grow larger and uglier and stupider every minute she ignores me. It is good she's not looking at me. I don't want her to see what I really am when I'm not disguised by her friendship.

Fears flickers electric and hot from the top of my head to the soft soles of my feet. I can almost smell myself burning.
I am not where I'm supposed to be.

The fact was that I lived in fear of people looking at me, and at the same time all I wanted to do was stand out.

I used to think that Mom and Dad getting back together was the thing I wanted most in the world. And then I met Seemy and I knew I had never truly wanted anything before, not the way I wanted her to be my friend. It was a want and a wish and a prayer and a hope that came from the same place that makes you believe in Santa, or that monsters disappear when you hide under the covers.


C



D


DEADGIRL (B.C. JOHNSON)

I enjoyed history because it was real life without all the boring parts. Edited for maximum excitement.

The preparations for the night went in a blur. Hair, makeup. The skirt Benny talked about, the boots. I didn't care about the source of the fashion advice anymore. I didn't care about anything. I was the center of the universe - I was a flaring star in the night, burning brighter as I neared the explosive finale I had no comprehension of.

I had no more tears to cry, I realized. Nothing but the slow pulse of my blood leaking out onto a dirty parking space. Then I went cold. Then I died.
Light. Welling. Heat.
Fire.
Hell?
No.
Warm.
Content?
Drained away.
Drained away like a gas tank, like a pile of firewood.
A hungry flame took everything in its greedy mouth and swallowed it whole.
My eyes fluttered open again.
"What?" I whispered.

"Lucy," Mom said, and to my surprise, stood up. She walked over to where I was pacing and put her hands on my shoulders.
"I know what's going on, Lucy."
My heart stopped. Packed its things. Ran away.

[...] If doggies went to Doggy Heaven, little girls went to Little Girl Heaven. There weren't any mean boys in Little Girl Heaven, and there definitely wasn't homework or chores or broccoli. The idea worked for me - I guess it works for all of us. It lends life a pleasant symmetry.
My idea of Heaven evolved, as I did. Suddenly maybe Little Girl Heaven had a few boys in it, anyway. Okay, maybe it had a lot of boys in it. The homework and the chores thing pretty much stayed the same. It wasn't a place I thought about often. I don't think many fifteen-year-olds think of Heaven very often. Death doesn't even have your address when you're fifteen. Or at least, it only has the address of a small, unfortunate group. The rest of us float along, wrapped in a forgivable sense of immortality.
[...] now. I didn't have Little Girl Heaven...I didn't even have Doggy Heaven - which I always secretly hoped was right next door to Little Girl Heaven, and that there was some kind of policy on visitation rights.
Now I'd fade away. I'd cease to be. Forever.
I felt colder than I'd ever felt before.



Warmth poured off of his skin, out of his eyes and his mouth, and even as I tried not to take any, it flowed into me. There weren't thoughts, or words, or even sentiments or memories. It was just heat, raw naked essence cut from his soul. It wasn't a part of his soul, but it came out from it, generated by it, and it tasted like strawberry gold.
He fumbled at something, and plastic ripped, and he made sure he was careful. I double checked.
I groaned, and stared at the ceiling, and when I lowered myself onto him, I felt a raw electric shock burst through me.
We moved together. Our bodies and our eyes never left each other, and when the world went critical mass and melted down into a white hot sun, and then to fractured shards of light, our eyes never left.
They never left.



Carly and I pretend to be recovering from a sickness we don't have. But when no one believes you, you become the liar they think you are.

Anywhere that freedom is an option is automatically better than being locked behind a pristine door, forgotten in a neat little cage.
I'm sorry, I really do try not to get angry. Carly says anger is a weapon, but sometimes I think it's just another cage.

For now, my nights are full of nothings, and Carly's days are full of everythings.

Some people say that night blooms. I've always said that it cuts. Like a guillotine. I guess the sun heals the wounds?
"Tell the living that I was never one of you. When you find this note, my throat will be a bloody red smile."
You can say I have a flare for melodrama. But it really was a cry for help.

I was her big sister. I would make everything right again. I would take a world that had become bent and confusing overnight and smooth out all of the wrinkles. Her hope is a noose around my neck.

The door closed. I didn't get a chance to say, 'I love you', so I said it to the closed door. The words, spoken but unheard, fell to the floor where they shattered like glass. Everything so fragile, and I love her so much. That, I think, is fragile too.

Because, Dee, I'm the thing in the dark, just like the Viking used to tell me. I'm the creature coming up from the basement, the thing under the bed. I have nothing to fear in the dark. I am the dark.
I am afraid.

I screamed at them all.
Everything so hard, everything so fast. Winding up, not down.
Nothing muted, soft and safe. Everything there, so real and sharp!

What happens when a kite loses its string?

There was the roof, rain, thunder - someone carrying me away and my heart broke that I had lost my chance to fly.

My mind climbed out of the window...They think they can cage me? My nails could be broken and bloody, but what would that matter? My body is a tool.

The rooms inside the Dead House are endless. The corridors go on and on. The darkness deepens, thickens, grows denser and heavier the farther I explore. And, Dee, I am beginning to feel it. The house itself. As though it were a part of me that had just awakened.
I seek solace in that dark hiding place and I know they will never find me if I choose to stay. I laugh in their faces.
So screw you, Lansing. You can't get me in here.
I can hear the dead ocean.

The Dead House talks to me; on and on, around we go. It whispers in my ear so I don't hear the doctors; it tells me things, and it makes me smile. I sleep and I sleep and I won't ever wake. Soon they won't be able to find me at all.

But lying is a habit, and it's addictive. You lie. It breeds. You lie again. It grows. And one day you wake up and realise that everyone around you has this weird idea about who you are, and you don't recognise the person they're describing. You don't understand why they're treating you the way they do.
Or not treating you.
It's like you have a cancer.

I ran for the door but the corridor changed, stretching on and on; my cries echoed and carried forever. Always the door stood, tiny and hopelessly appealing, at the very end. A speck of hope the house knew I couldn't stop seeking. I ran for days, weeks, centuries. I died and revived and still the door stood, waiting.

Those dicks forced me back into the Dead House, and now it has something. It got a bite out of me as I ran, a little shadow of a bite, but it will have a piece of me forever.

I got to my feet, and the room opened out before me, from the deep umbra into the dim main room of the house, which creaked and subtly moved so I couldn't focus on any one object. Once a picture frame, empty, now a light fixture, dusty. Once an armchair, warped, now a rickety table, released and forgotten.

These are what my thoughts sound like.
Have you ever heard glass sing? It's so beautiful. Delicate, crystalline - it's a sound you think should be relegated to the happiest places and the friendliest gestures.
I heard glass splintering...no, not even glass, really. It's too soft for that. More like the glass equivalent of toffee...more like...a mirror. A mirror, squeaking and snapping as it splinters and begins to break. On and on.
Chip...crack...squeak...
A plastic sound, not quite real, but real enough to cut if you grab too hard. And I always do, so I always bleed.
These are what my thoughts sound like.

I don't know any more. I didn't know! I don't and didn't know anything! I was in a room of mirrors, each one bent and distrorted, none of them true but all of them accurate, and all of them laughing glassy laughs that screamed and shattered all around me.




She had tried to make sure they knew there were a hundred, a thousand, a million different ways to be a girl, and that all of them were valid, and that neither of them was doing anything wrong. She had tried.

Most of the teachers thought that she [i.e.: Jacqueline] was smarter than she let on, but virtually none of them could get her to show it. She was too afraid of getting dirty, of pencil smudges on her fingers and chalk dust on her cashmere sweaters. It was almost like she was afraid her mind was like a dress that couldn't be washed, and she didn't want to dirty it with facts she might not approve of later.

The girls still shared a room; the girls were still friends, for all that space between them was a minefield of resentment and resignation, always primed to explode. Every year, it got harder to remember that once they had been a closed unit, that neither of them had chosen the pattern of their life. Everything had been assigned. They didn't matter. Like bonsai being trained into shape by an assiduous gardener, they were growing into the geometry of their parents' desires, and it was pushing them further and further away from one another. One day, perhaps, one of them would reach across the gulf and find that there was no one there.
Neither of them was sure what they would do when that happened.

It was an uncomfortable thing, feeling like their parents weren't doing what was best for them; like the house, this vast, perfectly organized house, with its clean, artfully decorated rooms, was pressing the life out of them one inch at a time. If they didn't find a way out, they were going to become paper dolls, flat and faceless and ready to be dressed however their parents wanted them to be.

Some adventures begin easily. It is not hard, after all, to be sucked up by a tornado or pushed through a particularly porous mirror; there is no skill involved in being swept away by a great wave or pulled down a rabbit hole. Some adventures require nothing more than a willing heart and the ability to trip over the cracks in the world.
Other adventures must be committed to before they have even properly begun. How else will they know the worthy from the unworthy, if they do not require a certain amount of effort on the part of the ones who would undertake them? Some adventures are cruel, because it is the only way they know to be kind.

No one had ever thought to ask her [i.e.: Jacqueline] to be smart, which was good, in the grand scheme of things: her mother would have been much more likely to ask her to be a little foolish, because foolish girls were more tractable than stubbornly clever ones. Cleverness was a boy's attribute, and would only get in the way of sitting quietly and being mindful.
Jacqueline had found cleverness all of her own, teasing it out of the silences she found herself marooned in, using it to fill the gaps naturally created by a life lived being good, and stiil, and patient. She was only twelve years old. There were limits to the things she knew. And yet...

When people heard that she [i.e.: Jillian] had a twin, they were always quick to say how nice that had to be, having a best friend from birth. She had never been able to figure out how to tell them how wrong they were. Having a twin meant always having someone to be compared to and fall short of, someone who was under no obligation to like you - and wouldn't, most of the time, because emotional attachments were dangerous.

The newest things about her [i.e.: Jack] were her glasses, the lenses milled and shaped in Dr. Bleak's lab, set into bent-wire frames. Without them, the world was slightly fuzzy around the edges - not a terrible thing, given how brutal this world could sometimes be, but not the best of attributes in a scientist. So she wore her glasses, and she saw things as they were, sharp and bright and unforgiving.

E



Loneliness and mystery hum through me. I feel like I just woke up in a dark room that has no clock. And even worse: no people. Where is everyone I knew when I was alive? Who are they, and do they miss me? What if I'm in Hell? Maybe instead of fire and brimstone, hell is just the feeling of loneliness. I don't remember much about being alive. I don't even remember my name. But loneliness being hell? That much I remember.



[Nancy]: "Why are there so many more girls than there are boys?"
"Because 'boys will be boys' is a self-fulfilling prophecy," said Lundy. "They're too loud, on the whole, to be easily misplaced or overlooked; when they disappear from the home, parents send search parties to dredge them out of swamps and drag them away from frog ponds. It's not innate. It's learned. But it protects them from the doors, keeps them safe at home. Call it irony, if you like, but we spend so much time waiting for our boys to stray that they never have the opportunity. We notice the silence of men. We depend upon the silence of women."
"Oh," said Nancy. It made sense, in a terrible way. Most of the boys she'd known were noisy creatures, encouraged to be so by their parents and friends. Even when they were naturally quiet, they forced themselves to be loud, to avoid censure and mockery. How many of them could have slipped through an old wardrobe or into a rabbit's den and simply disappeared without sending up a thousand alarms? They would have been found and dragged back home before they reached the first enchanted mirror or climbed the first forbidden tower.


F



Dr. Gatsbro is a collector. Are we part of his collection? Like stolen paintings that can't be shown to anyone? Only for private viewing?

But we're not who we once were. We've changed. Especially Kara. Was it all those years of being trapped in a six-inch cube that changed us? Or maybe after so long, parts of us simply dissolved away. Could that happen? Or maybe parts of us just gave up, parts like hope and connection.

There are a lot of moments we imagine. We play them over and over in our minds, trying to orchestrate our movements and words to perfection. Or maybe it's just that I've lived inside of my head more than any other person in the history of the world. Maybe none of us can really predict how we will act at any given moment. Maybe we're all at the mercy of circumstance in spite of our well-laid plans.

[Jenna]: "There are all kinds of friends you make in life. Allys is very dear to me, more like family. But there's something different about someone who spreads their wings with you. That's what we did, didn't we?"

[Dot]: "Escape is not about moving from one place to another. It's about becoming more."

[Jenna and Locke]: "All I know is that no one wants to die. As long as people can think up new ways to preserve life, they will."
"With varying degrees of success."
She nods. "Yes, but then, even people who are whole wear their humanity with varying degrees of success, don't they?"

[Jenna]: "Change doesn't happen overnight - it's molded by people who don't give up."



“The Actuator is just a manifestation of our many obsessions. People find little ideas to latch onto and they never allow anything to challenge them. Everybody thinks they have the best model of the world in their heads. We all walk around thinking we have a pretty good idea of what’s going on. And like everybody else in the world, we live our lives as best we can inside the simple constructions we have decided represent our truth."
“What’s real? Is the way we see the world real? Are these ridiculous steam powered cars real? Is the dragon real? Or are we just seeing a warped image of real cars? How can any of us know if the models we build in our heads are anything like reality?"
“We just grab some stuff out of the mix and claim it as truth. We find some fulfillment and hold onto it so tight that we’ll never let go.”



Maybe I wasn't programmed to want. Maybe that was just something else lost, like running, like music. Something else that had slipped through the cracks of their scanning and modeling. Maybe it was one of those intangibles - like a soul, like free will - that didn't exist, not physically, and so wasn't supposed to exist at all.

I was standing. I was spinning. I was lying on my back. I floated in the sky. Stars shot from my fingertips. Trees bowed at my feet. I was leaping on a cliff, I was in the water, in a whirlpool, sucked below. I was drowning. I was flying.
I was in the black. But the colors shimmered. They exploded from the dark. I was color. I was light. I pulsed green, I sang out purple, I screamed red. I cried blue. The monsters swarmed out of the deep. Spider tentacles and red eyes, and they wanted me to die, and I wanted to die, and I was death, black and empty, bottomless, null.
I would destroy them. I would destroy them all.
It began at the center of me, at the center of it all, small and warm and glowing, a sun, and it swelled. It grew. I tingled with its warmth. There were no words, not for this. This was beyond words. This was cool grass brushing a bare neck. This was dark-chocolate ice cream melting on a tongue. This was his body, heavy on mine, his breath in my mouth, his skin on my skin. It was everything. It was life.
It was over.

I was alive. In my own unique, mechanical way, maybe. But alive. And I was going to stay that way for the foreseeable future. They would age, they would die. I would live.
There were too many people too afraid of what I'd become. I wasn't going to be one of them. Not anymore.

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