“I did not open my eyes. I didn’t want to be distracted. My mind gave me the words I needed, and the tone that would convey what I couldn’t say without using many words.”
That’s on the first page of chapter 3 after the idiots realize she’s awake. The writing style in this book is so bad it hurts. This chapter is even more exposition and back story, only this time instead of Wanderer eavesdropping she’s actually part of the conversation. The problem is this is the third chapter of exposition and all it does is continue to raise questions I know she’s never going to give us good answers to. Like how the fuck did this invasion even start if all of the parasites need to be surgically implanted?! Did one of the see weeds detach and grow opposable thumbs?!
Whatever. I’ll get into more of the terrible science in this book when she starts talking about bats, but for now let’s progress through this shit shall we?
Wanderer asks if they gave her a defective unit, thinking they stuffed her in a brain damaged corpse since she’s having so much trouble accessing the host’s memories. The seeker gets all offended claiming that that was a limit even they wouldn’t cross. Which implies they do a lot of horrible things, this just isn’t one of them. Again with the transparent villainy. Try a little subtlety would you Meyer? She even fucking hisses. Not kidding:
“Of course not, Wanderer,” the man said reassuringly. “Even a Seeker would stop at some things.”
The Seeker gasped again. Hissed, my memory corrected.
When she says that she has blank spots in her memory the seeker argues with her saying that the scans were fine and implying she’s a horrible liar who’s hiding something, to which Wanderer takes offense and goes on, again, about how weird it is to feel negative emotions because humans are the only species ever that ever felt anything other than the emotions expressed in songs for stoned hippies. Fords interrupts before a cat fight can break out asking her what’s missing and Wanderer says she was looking for the memories the Seeker wanted.
“Though there was no sound, there was a change. The atmosphere, which had gone tense at my accusation, relaxed. I wondered how I knew this. I had a strange sensation that I was somehow receiving more than my five senses were giving me–almost a feeling that there was another sense, on the fringes, not quite harnessed. Intuition? That was almost the right word. As if any creature needed more than five senses.”
Do I really have to talk about this shit again? Meyer’s knows less about science than my 4 year old niece. Intuition isn’t a sense. She’s picking up a combination of low level sounds, smells and movement of air. None of which is strong enough to consciously pick up on, but the nerve endings still register it and your brain still interprets it. Arguments can be made that there are other senses, sharks for instance have a sense that is designed to detect electromagnetism, and migratory birds have an internal compass, humans may have a sense we haven’t named yet. This is not an example of that. This adds to my theory that Wanderer is secretly just a lucky moron, not the special snowflake they keep calling her. Also; if she was already unfamiliar with the concept of ‘smell’ why did she not talk about how pointless a fifth sense is? And if she’s able to recognize the usefulness of smell immediately, why wouldn’t she understand why being able to gauge the tenure of the atmosphere around you would be helpful? Apparently she’s never been a prey animal. Or a predator that hunts prey animals. Or fights for territory, food or mates. And I would like to remind my dear readers that bears, spiders and bats all do that to varying degrees, and they were on Wanderers list.
Fords says some memory issues aren’t a surprise, and the seeker explains that humans that were aware of the infestation before being infected tended to have varying degrees of success fighting off the implantation. This raises the question of why this isn’t an incredibly common issue. Wouldn’t most humans after the initial wave have known about the aliens and thus resisted? Or did they just kill the adults and take the kids? And if they did that where the fuck do they get off calling themselves peaceful? And if they didn’t do that, how the fuck did they manage this invasion without this being a common issue? The implantation process seems to require surgery, so that seems to imply that even if they started out by abducting surgeons and implanting them then just pretending to be regular humans while implanting more souls in their patients, how the hell did they implant the first parasites without the humans resisting? If you were abducted by aliens (I’m going to be generous and assume they weren’t detached see weeds and thus hands for surgery, because otherwise we will be discussing this bullshit all day long. We’re already going to be coming back to the fucking see weeds later.) wouldn’t you be aware of what was happening for long enough to be able to freak out when you felt the parasite accessing your brain? Wouldn’t your last memory before the insertion involve a level of dread and fear and panic that would cause just as much stress to the parasite as this hosts experience? Seems to me her emotions weren’t that horrifying. She didn’t seem to be that scared. She seemed to me to be resigned, not fearful or even terribly angry.
I can’t imagine how anyone that had any level of awareness of what was going on wouldn’t flood the parasite with powerful emotions. How they wouldn’t struggle and scream and panic. If you felt an alien parasite taking over your brain how would you feel? I’d try and fight it off… Wouldn’t necessarily know how but I would certainly try. I’d be using the voice in my head that processes my subconscious thoughts into conscious ones I can actually actively think about to curse at the parasite and struggle to find a way to stab myself in the frontal lobe to try and kill it… Well, actually if at this point no humans had ever done brain surgery to find out where the things attach I’d probably go for the brain stem and guarantee I die, but it also dies with me, but you get the point. I would sooner die than live as a puppet to an alien parasite controlling my every move, interacting with all my loved ones pretending to be me. No one but me gets to be me dammit.
I could continue talking about that for a very long time so onto the rest of the chapter before I get too boring and you all run away. We get a tiny bit of information about how the parasites connect to the host. They apparently have 1008 (odd number…) tendrils they bind to the host’s brain. This would be sufficient to connect to key parts of one section of the brain, but not all. If she’s small enough to be inserted through a small hole in the neck and make it up to the front of the brain without doing significant tissue damage on her way up, she would have to be very very small. I suppose she could be long and skinny, but then she wouldn’t have to specify that she makes her way to the center of thought because her body could encapsulate the entire brain. But if it’s that big how could they take over the bodies of smaller species? Not to mention that something taking up that much space would have to displace the liquid in your skull that protects your brain from impacts meaning all you would have to do to kill a parasite big enough to connect to your entire brain would be to run really fast then stop, and the parasite would become like a bug hitting the windshield of your car only inside your skull. SO I’m left with the image of a small parasite, no bigger than a quarter, (which would imply the flower, spider and bat she’d been in the past must have been MASSIVE) trying to connect from the frontal lobe to the visual cortex and autonomic nervous system in the brain stem. Feel free to peruse the image below to see why that wouldn’t work.
So if you’re an alien parasite that is only big enough to take over one portion of the human brain, which portion do you take over? The one with conscious thought but no access to sensory input, the speech center, the motor center, or the unconscious organ control, or do you attach to the brain stem where you can also connect to the visual cortex, language center, and at least some control over motor functions? Gee. I wonder.
I’m sick of explaining how Meyer didn’t so much as do a google search to write this book, what’s next?
Light. Bright, painful. I closed my eyes again. The last light I had seen had been filtered through a hundred ocean fathoms. But these eyes had seen brighter and could handle it. I opened them narrowly, keeping my eyelashes feathered over the breach.
“Would you like me to turn down the lights?”
“No, Healer. My eyes will adjust.”
“Very good,” he said, and I understood that his approval was meant for my casual use of the possessive.
Oh good! Something I can laugh at instead! Remember how in Chapter 2 I mentioned that I still imagined her being face down on the operating table since they never said any different? She’s finally opening her eyes, so I get to imagine her, face down, nose squished against the table, opening her eyes and grumpily explaining that she can do this on her own! God! Yeah, I imagine Wanderer to be a dumbass teenager. Given her level of naiveté it seems appropriate. Also, maybe it’s because I don’t have long girly eye lashes, but I can’t ‘feather’ mine… That’s not even the purpose of eye lashes. They aren’t supposed to cover your eyes to protect against light, they keep shit out of your eyes. They curve up, not down. Whatever, it’s just more of her bullshit flowery narrative that The Llama keeps calling out for its pretention. Meyer, you may be rich, but you suck as a writer.
As she looks around, Wanderer comments that the hospital walls are the colour of vomit and says it’s a bad choice.
The walls were light green–a calming color, but also the color of sickness. A poor choice, in my quickly formed opinion.
She then gets all excited about the colour red. Apparently it’s an uncommon colour she doesn’t get to see very often. It’s been a while since I’ve learned about light colour wave lengths and their visibility, so I did a quick google search and confirmed that nocturnal animals (and presumably animals living in low light level areas like that fucking see weed…) have poor to non-existent colour vision, so I’ll have to concede this one if her life before the weeds was the bat. But I do get to point out that that would mean that all the other colours would be just as fresh to her.
She describes the Seeker as somehow both easily missed and a ‘darkness in the bright room’ which seems to contradict. I tend to notice things that seem out of place a lot faster than things that seem to fit. She described just about everything in the room as friendly and calming and shades of light blues and greens, but then describes the Seeker as small but covered in black from ‘chin to wrist’ (she never mentions pants, so I take the opening to presume she isn’t wearing any. You don’t get to be hyper descriptive about some things and then leave other details to the imagination! It doesn’t work that way!) Oh, and the evil seeker is also darker skinned than the ‘kind healer’. Of course she is. I think that the host is going to be African American, don’t you?
Fords tells her that the memory problems are rare because there are so few adult hosts left to be used. This implies that when there were more adults than children, the memory problems would have been common and Wanderers troubles would have been expected and not at all strange. CONSISTENCY!
Fords also tells her that it was odd that she chose an adult since humans have shorter life spans than she’s used to. She did say that the see weeds live a long time, but let’s go over the rest that we can actually put numbers to shall we? Bats: longest life span; 40 years. Bears: longest life span; 35 years. Spiders: longest life span; 2 years. Flowers: average life span; one season. Humans: longest life span; 123, average life span; 75. Advantage; humans. And that’s before you even toss in the fact that they can heal a body that hurtled down an elevator shaft in only 10 days without any broken bones, brain or organ damage. You add the alien’s healing abilities and who knows how long humans could live.
Wanderer wants to know if/when this has happened before and Fords tells her the story of Kevin. A parasite who’s previous life was on the planet of the bats. And it is at this point that I nearly rage quit the book.
“This was only the soul’s second life. He came from Blind World.”
“Blind World?” I asked, cocking my head to the side reflexively.
“Oh, sorry, you wouldn’t know our nicknames. This was one of yours, though, was it not?” He pulled a device from his pocket, a computer, and scanned quickly. “Yes, your seventh planet. In the eighty-first sector.”
“Blind World?” I said again, my voice now disapproving.
“Yes, well, some who have lived there prefer to call it the Singing World.”
I nodded slowly. I liked that better.
“And some who’ve never been there call it Planet of the Bats,” the Seeker muttered.
BATS. AREN’T. BLIND. Okay, so, since I first read this I’ve had a little time to calm down, and it has occurred to me that they aren’t actually bats, but an alien species that resembles bats, so when they adopted English they called them bats since it was the closest equivalent. BUT that does NOT explain why they are BLIND. OKAY, let’s start out here with yet another lesson in evolution. I’m going to make this as simple as I can so I don’t go on forever on this. Assuming they live in caves and alcoves and hunt at night as most bat species do on Earth allowing for the comparison (the bitch Wanderer calls bats ugly a sentence later, which implies they don’t look the same, but since the one she was was blind how the fuck would she know? Also fuck her, bats are adorable.) this implies that an entire species of nocturnal hunters not only evolved without a sense of sight, but also without a sense of SMELL since the dumbass said she’s never experienced SMELL before. Bats use sound to locate prey and obstacles, yes, but they also use smell as a VERY important tool to help them distinguish between things that there echolocation simply can’t pick up on (since with only one sense to guide you to your prey it wouldn’t take long for the prey to evolve ways to counter you) and to help them pick mates, and distinguish their youngins from each other. And to help tell when other bats around them are sick. Smell is very important is what I’m trying to say here.
But this still raises even more questions. If Wanderer is unaccustomed to violence, chances are the ‘bats’ on the ‘singing world’ are herbivorous right? Fruit bats are not nocturnal. Fruit requires light to grow. There are no species on Earth that evolved to live in sunlight that do not have sight. None. Why? Because that would be stupid. And stupid evolutionary mutations don’t tend to last very long. Also; smell would be even MORE important to an herbivorous animal than one that eats bugs.
Anyway, back to Kevin. Kevin’s soul’s name was ‘racing song’ which was his bat name. This raises questions. Stay with me here; if it’s weird for them to take on the host’s name, why would he have a bat name? Why wouldn’t they all have soul names that stay with them no matter how many bodies they switch to? Why would Wanderer need a new name now instead of having had one since she was… born? I still don’t know how these things procreate so I don’t know if ‘born’ is the right word or not. But anyway, Kevin was called Racing Song at first, but decided he wanted to be Kevin instead. And instead of being a singer since his last life was on singing world (again, if taking on traits of your host is so weird, why is he expected to continue the traits from his past life that were influenced by the host?!) he decided to be a mechanic.
Kevin eventually went to the doctor complaining of black outs, and it turned out that Kevin the parasite was being beaten down by Kevin the brain who wanted his fucking body back goddammit! So Kevin the brain started taking over more and more frequently and got really violent with everyone and they had to kill him and relocate the parasite into a child. Which just, the whole imagery so far has come off as a little rapey (forcibly inserting something against your will, it sounds a little rapey…) so doing that to a child feels extra wrong. Especially since Fords said children were ‘pliable’ earlier in the chapter. They’re taking over the host bodies, giving birth to children they don’t love, inserting alien parasites into their brains while they’re too young to understand that that kills everything they are and could have been. And we’re still supposed to believe that only the Seeker is evil, not the entire species. I don’t have, nor do I WANT kids, but I do have a niece, and I am very fond of The Llama’s son (who, at 3, also knows more about science than Meyer) and I would personally rip the parasites from the brains of anyone that came near them.
This section does confirm though that the host never actually ceases to be capable of individual thought and continues to live, trapped inside a body they can’t control. Yup, truly loving and kind parasites.
They finally give a little more information about how Wanderer ‘chose’ to come here and ‘chose’ an adult host despite them constantly saying they couldn’t ask her and she couldn’t choose. Apparently they get pamphlets. But if she was a see weed last, that communicates only with other see weeds via telepathy, she would have no concept of a written language, and there would be no way to either communicate this information to her or get her choice FROM her without someone who was human being inserted into the see weeds, telling her about it, then leaving, which they call an abhorrent act. Apparently ‘skipping’ from one host to another is an incredibly shameful and cruel thing to do. You stay in your host till it dies then you move on to a new one. They don’t explain why that would be cruel. I assume when they leave the host can take back over and is then left with all the missing time and the knowledge of what they did while they weren’t in control of themselves and often commit suicide. But if that was the case then they would know the trauma they’re inflicting on their hosts and wouldn’t be able to call themselves benevolent, so maybe Meyer will give a less self-aware answer later.
They do refer to the information passed around as ‘recruitment propaganda’ though. ‘Recruitment propaganda’ on Earth is used to refer to two main things; the military, and cults. I’ll just leave you with that thought.
This is already way longer than it should be and there’s still a third of this chapter left to go, so I’ll try and hurry this up a bit.
Wanderer starts going over the memories of the host with Fords and the Seeker and other than one thing, it’s really not terribly interesting. The Host wandered the country from woodland camp to woodland camp, headed to Chicago looking for her cousin Sharon and a band of insurgents, but by the time this body was healed and Wanderer was placed in it, it was already too late for the Seeker to get to the meeting place and catch them which fills the Host with glee. This takes pretty much the remainder of the chapter to go over and, again, there is only one part of it that I find interesting, the host’s name:
“Her name was Melanie Stryder.”
Why do I find that interesting? Because the author’s name is Stephanie Meyer. Who wants to bet that Meyer has a cousin named Karen?! Oh Meyer; your author insert is showing.
Anyway, the only other name we get is to generic chisel-jaw from Chapter 1 whose name is Jared and Melanie takes over long enough to cackle with glee at the fact that the aliens are too late to steal him from her.
I’m pretty sure at this point we’re supposed to like Wanderer and Fords, hate Seeker, and sympathize with Melanie, I feel none of those things towards any of them. Seeker is too cliché to bring out a reaction in me stronger than an eye roll, Wanderer comes off as really fucking stupid, Fords is just boring, and Melanie has only been experienced from the emotion of hate at this point so she still kind of feels like a villain, despite the fact that what she’s fighting for is possession of her own body. I did say that I would commit gruesome acts of murder myself in this scenario, but I sure as hell wouldn’t expect to be seen as a hero. She comes off as being a jaded person who at this point has been running and fighting for her life so long she’s less human than animal. In reality she would feel rage far more than ‘love’ and rage would be the emotion that let her overcome the parasite, especially if the parasite isn’t used to it. The book says it’s all about love being stronger than anything, but Kevin’s story proved rage can overcome them, and so far that’s all this host has going for her too. Spite, rage, pain, determination. If this story was being written by a COMPETENT story teller it would be about inner strength not love. Any love story would just be part of the story, not the focus of it.
Anyway, that’s the end of the chapter compressed into a few paragraphs because it doesn’t seem terribly relevant or interesting and neither answers many questions nor raises many new ones. It is generic back story exposition meant to tug at your heart strings and make you like the host body but it fails to do that.
See you next time if I don’t find a way to set ebooks on fire without destroying the reader.
P.S. if anyone knows how to make all of my gifs animate instead of just some of them feel free to leave a comment letting me know…