Ruby, what was running through your mind when you arrived at Thurmond?
A lot of it is a fog, you know? I didn't really understand where we were going or why, and the soldiers that were with us refused to tell us anything. I think, you know, the intensity of my fear kept a lot of fragmented thoughts from coming together and realizing that all of this was related to the kids dying. Mostly, I was thinking about Grams coming to get me, about how tired and hungry I was, and trying to keep my head down to avoid being punished. I wish I could say I was brave, or that I was trying to figure out how to run away once the bus brought us into camp, but it just wouldn't be true.
Ruby, after you got to Thurmond you told a lie about your classification almost immediately. Do you regret this decision? Why or why not?
No. Sometimes I regret lying to my friends about it later, but it kept me alive and out of the PSFs and camp controllers' focus. The lie was almost impossible to keep up at times, and I came close to breaking down over it any number of times, but... all I had to do was see the way the PSFs treated the Oranges, how, to them, they were less than human, and I would force myself to dig deep and push on. After they took the Oranges out of the camps and "disappeared" them, I knew I'd have to keep the lie up my whole life.
What advice do you have for a kid who knows he or she is about to be sent to a camp? What would you say to a parent who is about to lose their child to the system?
To the kids, I'd say: keep your head down, stay out of trouble, and don't rise to a PSF trying to bait you to act out. To the parents about to lose their kid, I'd say: fight harder. Find a way.
Let’s play a word association game. When you hear “Liam,” “Zu” and “Chubs” what word comes to mind for each person? What word do you think they would use to describe you?
I'm not sure what the others would say about me--except maybe Chubs. Is there one word that sums up "hopeless pain in my ass"?
With everything you are dealing with, where do you find the strength to get through each day?
If you had asked me this a few months ago, I would have said I don't have strength, not the kind any of you would admire. Like I said before, I wouldn't change my decision to lie about my abilities, but shrinking back in fear at every shadow and letting my friend Sam stand up and fight my battles for me still makes me so ashamed I feel it in me like a constant ache. I was only motivated by wanting to live, and only then because I was terrified of the alternative. I don't know that there's much strength in that. Definitely not a lot of courage, at least.
But now... I'm finding more and more courage every day, and it's been a surprise, even to me. My life has so totally changed now that I have a responsibility to others. They've given me a purpose, and I'm finally starting to feel like... okay, maybe this sounds stupid, but I feel like I might be able to work towards growing into someone I'd admire. Knowing that they're not afraid of me makes me feel less afraid of myself. I would do anything and everything to help them and protect them--without any hesitation, no matter how dangerous.
Ruby, if you came face-to-face with your parents, what would you say to them? What would you say to Grams?
You know, I used to fantasize about this a lot. A lot. I'd imagine how sorry they'd be, how they'd try to make it up to me once they learned what they put me through. But once I realized the role I'd played in all this, it seemed like the bulk of the blame was with me. I'm not saying that I would try apologizing and asking for their forgiveness, I'm not even sure I'd be able to say anything to them or Grams at all. It's been six years. As much as I love them, they're almost strangers to me now.
What would people be the most surprised to learn about you?
When I was nine, my dad--a police officer--took me into the station with him one afternoon to pick someone up. While I was there, a really nice woman came up and introduced herself. I asked her if she was a police officer and she explained she was an FBI agent and what the difference was. For whatever reason (probably because I was nine and had no idea what was the job was actually like), I got really excited about the idea of going to a special academy and working all around the U.S. I decided right then and there that was what I wanted to be when I grew up. Somehow, though, I don't think the government will be hiring me anytime soon...
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.
When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.
When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.
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