Quotes Room S-Z and #

Welcome to the Quotes Room S-Z and #.

"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 S to Z; then you have titles with numbers. 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!



 None of this would exist without Bob. The laughing, smiling cosplayers living out their movie fantasies, becoming their favourite characters, living as heroes for a day. Bob had provided an escape for them, Jack realised. A safe place. This wasn’t about using nostalgia as a shield, it was about celebrating the things that defined them, the characters that spoke to their heart’s truth, the things that made them different and unique and powerful in their own special way. It united them.
Bob would have loved it.

SPOILER ALERT: I have expunged the killer's name and a few details from the first paragraph below, but it's still very revealing, so read it at your own risk. I always use a code to mask the spoilers in my reviews, but it's a pain in the ass if you have to edit the post for some reason, since the code gets messed up when you enter the page again under certain conditions; that's why I decided not to use it in this page, which I edit from time to time. Sorry for any inconvenience.

There's a universe where that night happens just like in this one - [...] - except they find my body and they catch him. The police interrogate him in a small dingy room with his parents and a lawyer at his side, and he cries as he says, "I didn't mean to hurt her, I didn't mean it, I swear, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it." News articles talk about what a surprise it is, that such a nice young man could do such a thing. Surely it was an accident. They mourn his lost potential, his lost track scholarship, how tragic it is that one night ruined his entire life. They write articles and have meetings warning teenage girls about the dangers of drinking and partying. Nobody writes articles telling teenage boys not to stalk and kill girls who don't like their stupid adolescent poetry. Maybe they mourn me, as an afterthought, but I'm already gone. It's too late for me to matter.

They speculate that I was chosen because I'm unmarried and childless, and is it even fair to make a decision based on a lifestyle choice they all suspect is unnatural anyway, and they argue whether it's ethical to send a woman into space for so long with the radiation and risk of infertility, but I don't care, I don't care, I'm too busy to care in the months before the launch, too busy to do more than endure their stupid questions and give carefully vetted replies, firm, quotable, sharp but not offensive, never offensive, and I always smile, and then there are preliminary tests, and there is lift-off, and in the final moments of the countdown I wow not to look back, not even a glance, not until the earth is no more than a distant blue speck I don't know that I'll ever see again.


I never noticed it when I was an org - that's part of being an org, having the luxury not to notice anything - but some emotions are more inside your head than others. Happy, that's a brain feeling. But sad? That's in the body. In the gut and the throat and the jaw. Anxious too. Worried. Nervous. All the feelings your brain would escape from if it could. So your body grabs hold and doesn't let go. Org minds can go to as many happy places as they want, but their bodies always drag them back down to sweaty palm-ville.

Whenever we went flying, when I stood at the edge of the sky, beneath the fear of falling, of crashing, there was the taste of something else, the fear that nothing would happen, that I would feel nothing, that the rush of speed, the terror of gravity, would be such old news that the drop would offer no release. It happened eventually, it always happened. Everything we tried got tired, and we would move on to something else. The waterfall. The cliffs. The plane. Maybe even the dreamers. Eventually, perhaps, we would run out of ideas and options and be left with nothing to jolt us into a moment of genuine release. We would be dead inside, for real this time, machines from the inside out.

"You're a copy," he [Jude] pointed out. "Feels real, though, doesn't it?"
I am what I remember, I told myself. I am what I think. How I think.
And all that was bits of electronic data, coded into a computer. It didn't matter if the data was in my head or on a server. It didn't matter which head the data was in, or how many times it had been duplicated. Maybe I wasn't an exact copy of the old Lia Kahn, because you always lost something going from analog to digital, from org to mech. But the next me would be just as mechanical as this one. The next me would be a perfect replication. The next me would be me.

Just us. Not machines built by human hands, not minds whirring with data. Not eyes that didn't blink or hearts that didn't beat. Not bodies that didn't move the way bodies were supposed to move, not skin that didn't feel the way skin was supposed to feel. Not something ugly, not something wrong.
Just him, his arms, strong. His skin, soft. His lips, cold. His eyes on my body, not turning away.
Just me, folded up in his arms. The sensation of his hands, the pressure, the temperature, the properties of closeness, the elements of touch, not like it used to be - not like it mattered.
Not pain, not passion, not abandon. Just a promise.
Just us.

Natural is hell, I'd preached to the mech recruits, believing every word, willing myself to believe, and here it was pinned beneath me, words made real. And here, beneath me, the corollary I'd willed myself to forget: Natural is hell. But hell is life.


The man looks at me oddly, brow furrowed, like he's no longer sure what I'm doing in his car. I know that look, too. That's the look a man gives a girl when he picked her up hoping for sex without strings, and has suddenly realized that sex without strings isn't always a good idea. I don't normally get that look until after the fucking ends, when they decide that "a pretty girl like you" who does the things I'll do must be nothing but a whore. Styles change, music gets hard to listen to, and hemlines bounce up and down like kids on a trampoline, but hypocrisy is the one thing that never goes out of style.


I am Umbrella on a day with no rain. I am as blank as a piece of white paper in a world with no pencils. While this may sound dramatic and silly, it's comforting to me so I don't care how it sounds. The whole world thinks sixteen-year-old girls are dramatic and silly anyway. But really we're not. Not even when we change our names to Umbrella.

If someone asked me to draw anything right now, I wouldn't be able to do it. My hands do not work. [...]
My hands ran out of art.
I am simply Umbrella. I am the layer between the light rain and a human walking down Spruce Street talking into her phone, maybe finding out her cat just threw up on the new Berber carpet. I am the barrier between the bullshit that falls from the sky and the humans who do not want bullshit on their pantsuit. In eight days of riding around, that's what I've discovered. It's raining bullshit. Probably all the time.

Here's  what I think. I think we're really smart when we're young. Ten-year-old Sarah is smarter than I am because I'm six years older. Twenty-three-year-old Sarah is dumber than me because I'm sixteen. [...] If I could be anyone for the rest of my life, I would be a little kid.

Twenty-three-year-old Sarah is sarcastic because she doesn't take me seriously. I'm a sixteen-year-old girl. Silly and dramatic. Pretty much nobody on Earth takes me seriously. And yet, on the inside I know there is something wrong enough that someone should be taking it seriously. Maybe it starts with me. Maybe I have to take it seriously first.

The Social showed me I was fine every time I logged on. Everyone else groaning about their colds, their grades, their parents, their stomach flu [...].
On the Social, there is no such thing as an original idea. Not even about original ideas.
On the Social, it's raining bullshit.
By the time I got to high school I got this rush of adrenaline every time I posted and then I'd erase the post before anyone could see it. [...] Even back then, before I knew it rained bullshit, before the art club fissure, before the pear, I couldn't tell if I was funny or not. Even back then, I knew I was sitting too still to be an artist and I doubted the whole trick. That's what I saw. A trick. Every time I logged on I felt duped into having to be a snowflake.

I feel this burr in my chest, right behind the top of my sternum. It's where my tears live. They never come out. Maybe my muse is there, too. Stuck on a burr in my sternum.

"Good," they [Sarah's parents] say in unison. And then they look annoyed that they said something in unison. Then they fake smile at each other, but I'm starting to understand that smiling is really just another way of baring one's teeth.

[Sarah's mum:] Chet isn't here. Chet was never here. I married him when I didn't fully understand how he would disappear because he only knew the men he saw around him. Abusive father. The sportscasters on the TV. The annoying weatherman on CBS. The guys he works with who watch porn all weekend.
He says, "At least I don't hit you."
He says, "At least I'm not jerking off to porn."
He says, "I wish I could show you how much I love you."
I wish he could, too. If the weatherman just shrugged all the time, would anyone know what the weather was going to be? Would he say, "I wish I could tell you what the weather could be," and still manage to keep his job?

The piano is electronic. The house was always too small for an upright. The house was always too small for a lot of things. Maybe that's why Bruce moved out and never came back. Maybe the house is too small for any of us to be who we are.

But now it's been so long that if I bring it up, I'll look like a girl who can't let go of things. Teenage girls always have to let go of things. If we bring up anything, people say we're bitches who can't just drop it.

[Sarah's mum:] I never get to listen. I never get to stop and figure out this puzzle. I don't have a table big enough to fit the puzzle.
If I could listen to the quiet for just a day. If I could listen closely to the quiet for just an hour, I could figure everything out. I'd make a plan. I'd know what to do.
A complete stranger looked at me today and said, "You are living a lie, Helen."
Why did it take a complete stranger to get me to hear this? The noise. The noise. The noise.

I don't know why I'm sorry. I don't know why I'm scared to make my mother angry. My emotions are smaller than they should be. I'm the one who should be angry, but I'm cranky or upset. As if a sixteen-year-old can't be angry for real.

Look. This isn't a temper tantrum. I'm not some teenager you can blow off because you made a myth about teenagers being dramatic. You go work hard on something you love. And you find it in the trash like it's garbage. Tell me how you feel. Tell me what's missing when you're done. I can tell you what's missing. You. You are missing.

I do have more memories of Cameron, things I know for sure, good and bad. Like:
[...] How us being together all the time made us a bigger target, the whole of our exile being greater than the sum of our outcast part.

I'd read in a magazine that the very act of smiling stimulates endorphins, which rush in and make you feel better even when you're faking it.
[...] "What's the matter?" He gave me his patented Ethan look [...]
I flexed my endorphin-producing muscles in a smile. "Nothing".

[...] I had no proof that he was dead, and I never had.[...]
My most convincing evidence was that I'd never heard anything from or about Cameron again, and I believed he would have contacted me if there was any way he could, but he hadn't.
Until now. [...]
A note to a dead person, from a dead person.

I tried not to be upset [...] or feel let down everytime the phone rang and it wasn't him; even with his letter and apology and explanation, I still felt a pinch of hurt from time to time.
More of an ache, really, a stretching of my heart in the general direction of California.

In the end, I decide that the mark we've left on each other is the color and shape of love. That's the unfinished business between us.
Because love, love is never finished.
It circles and circles, the memories out of order and not always complete. There's one I always come back to: me and Cameron Quick, lying on the ground in an aspen grove on a golden fall day, the aspen leaves clattering and quaking the way they do. Cameron turning to me, reaching out a small and dirty hand, which I take and do not let go.

[...] the people you hang with online don’t know how much your day sucked and are always happy to see you and share a laugh. And oftentimes a laugh makes the hurt go away.

I’ve learned, as you will, that there are really no “ordinary” kids, just ordinary lives. Every kid has a hero inside, depending on the circumstances. And we have other things inside us, too. Not all of them so great.
If you decide you like a girl when you’re fifteen, your options are limited. You can’t ask her “out on a date,” which is what older guys do to get around having to say, “I like you.” The stuff that your parents suggest, like, “Why don’t you ask her to work on a school project with you,” is just way too stupid. And despite what adults may think, kids my age are totally aware of their place in the whole man-woman, “birds and the bees” thing, so even if what you really want to do is put your arms around her and squeeze her and maybe kiss her, it’s not like you can say, “Hey, _______, you wanna hook up?” Fifteen is an impossible age for romance.

And it occurred to me, standing there in that bleak, cavernous space, that nobody is ever just one thing: villain or hero, dirtbag or prince. If the multiverse was about choices, and all possible choices were being made, then we might be all those things and everything in between. And that brought up a
question that my dad would’ve loved to discuss: what’s the right moral choice in a multiverse? What good was it to make the right choice in this one if somewhere else I made the wrong one? Did they cancel each other out, or was it the average of all choices, the ‘sum over histories,’ that determined if you were a good person or not?
I went back to the Duke for an answer: we can only live in one at a time, and try to make the best choices there and then.

And then the truth of something Youseff had said hit me: this was happening all the time, to everyone. With every choice, a ‘switch’ was flipped and we merged into a new world. But it happened invisibly and mostly, unconsciously. We—the four of us, and Gordon, and Hartun— had been allowed to put our hands on the switches: a kind of manual override. We’d been allowed to look under the skin of the universe to see how it worked, but we’d been shown the switches in a form we could recognize, just like the ancient gods had shown themselves in human form even though they weren’t human at all. That was why the switch could be on the wall, a telephone pole, a Gameboy, or a cell phone. Those were just representations of something much weirder and more abstract. Something our brains weren’t wired to handle yet.

When you’re a kid, you feel things you don’t have words for yet. Kids don’t talk like philosophers, but that doesn’t mean they can’t think like them.


[Ethan:] Why can't I do something without thinking of the fourteen thousand ways that I can mess up?


[From the play staged in the novel]. [Reed:] But there's no need to call names.
[Lola:] But names are what we are, aren't they? "Terrorist", that's your name for me, that's why you can stick me in this hole and torment me, because by calling me that name what you're really saying is that I'm no one worthy, I'm bad, in fact I'm even worse than bad: I'm wrong. [...]
What you're doing is killing people, Reed, be very clear about that. First you give them a name that makes them easy to kill [...]

It's like gay is a room, and everything - who I love, who I am, the world, sex, everything - is in that room. And before anything else can happen I have to open the door, and walk in.


For some people, life begins too far behind the starting line to have any hope of crossing the finish.

It’s easy to forget there’s a world beyond what you grew up in.
Maybe it’s because of the slowness of youth. How days last weeks, summers an eternity of scabbed knees and dirt-covered feet, powered by the sun that becomes a dictator of the sky.  But every year the world spins a little faster and seconds shave off each minute until eternities are mere moments we forgot to enjoy.
Those early years though, maybe they pass slower so we can build our view of the world. We creep through the passage of time so we can take in the details, constructing the size of our stage, our main characters, our antagonist. By the time we assume our role, the lights are down, the curtain set to be drawn. Once we’re in the play, it’s too late to change the stage.

That’s the other thing people on the outside can’t see. Finding a new stage means leaving your cast members behind. They may not be much, but they were there for you, weren’t they? They understood when others couldn’t. With them, you aren’t a fraud trying to fit into a world that will always be foreign. And those people on the outside, the ones who shake their heads and wonder why we all just don’t leave the theater — they don’t understand the doors are locked. Not just from the outside. From the inside too.

Our truths change. They stretch and split as we grow, the shedding of them leaving us raw and exposed. If we’re lucky, we’re surrounded by love in those moments when our tender flesh is still rebuilding. If we’re not, we grow scars.


You see a machine that plays the part she was built to play. You see a dead girl walking. You see a freak, a transgression, a sin, a hero. You see a mech; you see a skinner. You see what you want to see.
You don't see me.

Here's the thing about perfect kisses.
They're worth crap.
Fun, maybe. But it's not like they mean anything. All that melting into another person, lips fusing, souls meeting, romantic garbage? Trust me, your soul is not sitting in your tongue, waiting to take an all-expenses-paid vacation into some loser's mouth.
You want a metric that matters, a way to measure exactly how much of a person belongs to you?
Try the perfect hug.

Did every relationship turn into a clichรฉ? I resented the triteness of it almost as much as I resented the girl on the bed.

But relationships had been different when I was an org. Even when it was someone who'd barely mattered, there'd been a need, a charge beneath the surface when we were together, a vacuum when we were apart. Reasoning was beside the point. The point was the fever, needing the weight of his arms around you, needing flesh, needing to crawl inside him, to lose everything, even yourself - especially yourself - in the joining of body to body, skin to skin.
It was different now, because I was different now. The body was a body, and, for all pratical purposes, it was a rental. It didn't come equipped with needs. I wanted, but that was different. That was in my head, and was rational [...].

But gradually, the meaning became clear, and as I took in the words, the laboratory transformed itself in my imagination. I saw vats of clear fluid lining the walls, and suspended inside of them, gray, pulpy masses with wires snaking in and out. Brains, isolated and nurtured, synapses firing, alive and dead all at once. Imprisoned. I saw a mad scientist's laboratory, death defied, life abominated, nature possessed. I saw myself, and I saw the men who owned me.
I saw the machines. And they were real.

Pride, dignity - invisible things, imaginary things, like the self, like the soul. They distort reality; they get in the way. But they still matter.
[...] We had died and come back to life; we were copies who'd found realities in each other. We were machines who'd found love. The circumstances were extraordinary. How could the end be so damn ordinary?

Not dead.
Not gone.
Delete. Verb, meaning: to eradicate, obliterate, wipe away.
To expunge. To remove.
To erase.
It had been erased.
It, the file, the ones and zeros that had comprised a life.

"You shouldn't have come," he whispered.
I didn't say anything.
"I hate you," he said.
I put my arms around him, and he let me, and, dry-eyed and heartless and mechanical, we held each other up.

So what do you do?
What do you do when there's nothing to do next? When it's over, when whatever rage and panic drove you from one moment to the next disappears, and there's no more must do this, must go there, must save him?
[...] What do you do when today ends and you know tomorrow will open on a world in which he's dead? Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, until he's a thing that once happened, a thing you used to know.
People use words like "unthinkable". But what do you do when the unthinkable happens, and refusing to believe it won't bring him back?
How can anything seem unthinkable anymore, when you're a machine, a living impossibility, a stack of memories in a head-shaped box, when you, the real you, died almost two years ago, just like he did?
How could you be stupid enough to forget that the unthinkable happens all the time?
Happens to you.

It sounded like she was talking me down off the edge of a cliff. I wanted to believe her, but there was no way that anything could ever be all right again. Obviously there wasn't a hell or I would've been magically transported there instantaneously. Or maybe this was hell. Maybe heaven was innocence, limbo was ignorance, and hell was fiery illumination.

"Being brave isn't about not being scared. Being brave is what you do despite being scared," Trevor said.

It was a primal scream. An infinite howl of emotion, caught by the slate-gray clouds that thundered toward me. As I screamed, the ugly things that were sitting on my soul hitched a ride out into the storm.

My body smacked the water. Thoughts scattered like a handful of beads dropped on a bare wood floor. I gasped for air and the current rushed in. My throat burned. Panic, thrashing, spots of light exploding in my head. Everything went blue. Surrender.

It was a single moment of optimism, hanging between life and death. It seemed that perfection only existed on the edge of a knife, a place too fragile and sharp to find balance for more than an instant.




[Violet:] When people decide there's ugliness inside you, they'll be looking to find it on your face.
Plus the practical matters too, which made casting her as the enemy fit kind of nicely, in a world where people with sad home lives were the ones to do sad, bad things.

[Violet:] I'm an empty tunnel that meets a dead end.

[Amber:] People can't move on until the finger is pointed, and the gavel's come down. This is called closure, and it's also called justice, and they are not always the same thing.

[Amber:] But, from our vantage point, from our place of wisdom and experience and occasional regret, she looked nothing like the rumours made her out to be, so much so that I began to wonder if they'd been mistaken. If they'd caught the wrong girl.

[Amber:] Maybe, long ago, we used to be good. Maybe all little girls are good in the beginning. There might even be pictures of us from those easy days, when we wore braids and colorful barrettes, and played in sandboxes and on swing sets, if we knew days so easy or wore such barrettes. There was a photo of me in a red-checked shirt and two braids at the neighborhood park. I had a raised shovel and had lost a tooth, but I smiled anyway. My mother used to have that photo in a frame. But something happened to us between then and now. Something threw sand in our eyes, ground it in, and we couldn't get it out. We still can't.

[Amber:] My mind flashed me a single picture in the dark of our cell: It was an orange truck being licked by an orange ball of flames. And then my mind went orange and closed itself up.

[Violet:] Forever and always, Harmony and Rachel hated me [...] and they'd skank-cough at me, so if Miss Willows was nearby, it'd sound like they were regular-coughing, and then they'd take the best spots on the barre along the wall.
Outside, to the oblivious eyes – adult eyes are always oblivious – they were the practically perfect ballerinas everyone expected them to be. [...] "Girls," she'd say, to all four of us, like we were the same, "good energy today."

[Violet:] I left without telling Ori. She was still onstage. She had other things to do. She was out there, effortlessly being brilliant, and I was in the wings, trying so hard at being me.

[Amber:] The pot itself was enormous, large enough to cook a human stew. The spoon was as long as a hunting spear. My arm ached, and parts of my face pulsed, and one of my eyes wouldn't open all the way. Somehow, nobody in the kitchen noticed. They saw what they wanted to see. Outside, in the world beyond Aurora Hills, I'd heard it's even worse.

Talent is great, but persistence is totally underrated.

I was 99.9 percent sure I had a soul. But 0.1 percent can keep you up at night.

The Beatles sang that all you need is love. It would be nice if that were true. But, like everyone, they wanted a lot more than love alone; they wanted wealth and glory and freedom and peace. They wanted to travel; they wanted to investigate their spirituality; they wanted their children to be happy and safe. Love is a good start, but we need more than that to get through.


► It took most of [name redacted to avoid spoilers]'s attention to keep herself from interrupting, pointing out how it was funny how "real" history seemed to be all about white men doing important things while everyone else barely existed except when they needed to be shown the errors of their ways.






It was as if the buildings were brooding, the village was dreaming, and we were just a solitary thought passing through its mind.

It might have been nothing more than a bizarre coincidence, but maybe "coincidence" was a name given to things by people who just haven't spotted a connection yet.

[Mr.Peterson:] "I don't wan't to be upgraded. I don't want to become one of those things. I want to remember my son. If you want to give up, become one of them because it's easier, then go ahead. But difficult is good. It's what makes us human."

My room was stripped bare.
Stripped right back to the wallpaper.
Nothing of me remained there.
In just a few short hours I had been carefully Photoshopped out of my own family.
Out of my own life.

In darker moments I wonder how many have gone before us, previous versions, skipping upgrades and being forgotten by everyone.
Having families and carrying on their outdated lives.
Generation after generation hanging on, still here, unseen by even the 0.4.
The 0.3.
The 0.2.
The 0.1.
I wonder if they are here too, forgotten as each new version overwrites the old. I wonder if we share this world with the direct descendants of Neanderthals, Homo Erectus, protohumans. I wonder if they are still here, just hidden from view by the algorithms and code of our programmers.
I think it's likely, but it brings little comfort to know that there are others like us.
If anything, it makes it worse.
We're not unique.
We're just another layer of junk in the landfill of upgraded humanity.

Our world is the world that exists in the crack of yours. We can look out through those cracks and see you, but you see us only rarely, out of the corner of your eye, for the briefest of instants, and then we're gone.
When your world moved on, it left us right here.
And you forgot about us.
Forgotten? Yes.
Unimportant? No.
Because we know the truth about you.
About the way things were.
About the way things changed.
About the way things are.

I ended up spending most of the evening reading an actual book on my LinkPad. The process of reading a book takes a while to get used to. It's so slow and laborious. But once you get into it, once you forget the way you're reading and concentrate on what you're reading, it becomes a really unique experience. You have to work to draw meaning from it rather than having a meaning given to you, which is the only way we receive information these days.
It doesn't tell you how to think.

I think that the Link itself is born from nothing more than a pressing need for us to connect. It's part of an instinct to reach out and share information, no matter how trivial or dull, just so we can feel like we are a part of a group, a set, a community.
We need to feel like we belong.
The Link provides us with all the connections we need. So much so that we pretty much let it run our lives for us now.
It's how we make sense of the world. So we look for patterns and linkages, because without them the world is a senseless blur.
Never mind that most of the time we're linking up with people we'll never actually meet: sharing memories and secrets and updates with strangers just so we don't have to feel so alone in the world, just so we can connect, even if the connection doesn't really mean anything at all.
And then, just today, I discover that everything is connected anyway.

The Naylor silos - where Annette Birnie finally learned to fit in, and it only cost her her humanity.

At the end of the tunnel was another crater, a pit sunk even deeper into the earth.
Deeper and deeper into the underworld.
The geography of despair. 


  1. where did you get the 1.4 quotes from? do you know the page? I've been looking for it for ages but i cant find it (the quote where he explains the link) if you could help me that would be wonderful, thank you so much! I'm not actually sure if you can comment back because I've never commented anything but i hope this goes through :)

    1. Hi,
      the link quote is from ch. 14 (pp. 229-230) in the Egmont edition (the one with the alternate title The Future We Left Behind).
      Thanks for visiting!


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