QA: What’s the best/worst things about youth?

The Llama intends to break this out into two posts, but I’m on a bit of a time crunch this week so, sorry folks, no extra posts from me.  Though definitely check hers out because they’ll probably be a lot more interesting.

busy

Today’s question is in two parts: “What was the best thing about your youth?  What was the worst?”

I don’t want to go into too much detail about this because a lot of it is kind of hard to explain.  But the best thing about my youth in my mind was the environment in which I was raised.  Despite my parents being religious, one of their most deeply held beliefs is that it’s not your religion that matters, only whether or not you’re a good person.  I was raised with that belief at the very core of my morality, and my parents only associated with people who they considered good people.  Didn’t matter your race, religion, or sexual orientation, your political orientation or income level.  Everyone was held to the same standard.  Do you treat people with respect?  Do you give new people in your life the benefit of the doubt?  Do you stand up for the people you care about?  These are the things that matter in friendship and life in general, and if you can live by them then everything else just makes you interesting.  Gives you a different perspective from us that we want to learn from.

This is how I was raised, and it’s how I live to this day.  It made me the person I am now, and I’m grateful for having been surrounded by so many various types of peoples growing up with so many varying points of view.

The worst part about growing up was that I got picked on.  A lot.  I was the skinny nerdy looking kid who was good in school and the teachers loved.  I had the thick glasses and used the big words and everything.  If I had had a pocket protector I would have been a walking sitcom character.  The fact that I also suffered from depression and issues with anger, not only was I an easy target, but one they found particularly entertaining to pick on.  Over the summer between junior high and high school I gained nearly a foot in height and finally inherited my dad’s miraculous ability to grow and maintain muscle with little to no effort on my part, and the taunts stopped after that for some totally inexplicable reason.

Who'd have ever guessed when you become attractive and strong enough to beat people up that they'd stop picking on you...

Who’d have ever guessed when you become strong enough to beat people up that they’d stop picking on you…

But before then?  For years I was the loser that was picked on so much other kids didn’t even like to be around in case they started getting picked on for associating with me.  I grew angrier and more depressed, developed trust issues and kept things bottled up until I would explode like a land mine you didn’t know was there until you stepped on it and lost a leg by no fault of your own.  The fact that this conflicted so much with my morality, that people in general deserve respect, created a severe conflict in my brain that left me with major issues with guilt that I still struggle with to this day.

I don’t look back on my youth fondly.  I’m glad to have grown up with the morals that I did, and getting to experience as wide a variety of places to live and surrounded by so many different lifestyles and cultures, but there was a lot of negatives.  My family wasn’t terribly supportive of emotional issues, and they expected me to live up to the legacy of the family which on both sides is full of doctorates, entrepreneurs, high ranking public servants of the saving lives varieties (firemen, federal police, military).  Friends of family added to the high expectations, most being successful and highly educated.  All of them had to struggle and fight the odds to get to where they were, so when I encountered issues they were always to simply be overcome on my own.  Suicidal depression at the age of 8 was just to be kept to myself and pushed past because my life was good so I couldn’t possibly understand what it meant to have problems, and there was nothing that I couldn’t deal with on my own because they had it tougher.  And yeah, they did.

I would never argue that my life wasn’t privileged.  But when an 8 year old is contemplating suicide there is clearly something wrong that I needed help with and no one would help me.  I had to push through it on my own. I started to get picked on while I was already bottling up severe emotional issues and I was already feeling that isolated and frustrated.  I wanted to hurt them.  I wanted so badly to beat them to a pulp.  And despite how I looked, I could have.  But I never did, because it went against my moral code.  As my mother told me ‘never throw the first punch, but if someone hits you, hit them back harder.’  (My dad believes violence should only occur if there are zero alternatives, my mom believes you get what you give, even if that’s a punch to the face.) But no one ever hit me, so I never got to hit them back (The one time I did shove a kid it was because he sat his ass on my desk and refused to move while I was trying to get ready for class.  All I did was shove him off my desk.  Probably a little harder than I should have, but he didn’t get hurt.)  That’s probably for the best, I’m sure I would have regretted it if I had.  Especially since I’ve spent most of my life since then attempting to be in control of my anger to specifically avoid escalating fights so no one gets physically or emotionally hurt.

Anyway, my childhood was a long time ago and a really long story.  It’s not something I’m particularly fond of talking about.  I wasn’t a great person when I was younger, and in some ways my circumstances made it worse, in others they made it better.  So overall, I am who I am now because of it, and despite all of my many, many issues, I don’t hate who I am, so, net positive?  Yeah, let’s go with that.

Yeah sureFeel free to tell your own stories, I’d love to hear them and QA is a judgement free zone!  But even if you’re not open to sharing give The Llama’s answer a read!

Advertisements

The Host Review: Dehydrated (Ch 11)

I hate this chapter.  I hate this chapter because it is several pages longer than the last chapter.  And it’s just as bad as everything else in this book there’s just more of it.  Too much of it!  And every last word of it somehow makes me hate Wanderer even more than I already did.

Okay! You were right, you were right!” I said the words out loud. There was no one around to hear me.

I just want to point out that there’s no opening quote there.  Two versions of this book I checked, there’s just no opening quote there.  Also, since it’s a quote and there’s no quotes on their little internal communication methods the ‘I said the words out loud’ thing is entirely unnecessary.  If it said ‘I said the words out loud even though there was no one around to hear me.’ It would make sense to include it, but spaced out like that it just comes off as pointless.

Melanie wasn’t saying “I told you so.” Not in so many words. But I could feel the accusation in her silence.

Melanie can’t say anything.  If she’s thinking it, then Wanderer would know.  If she’s just being silent then she’s probably not thinking anything.  It would take me hours to explain how wrong this is.  She is not an individual trapped in a cage, Wanderer is LITERALLY inside her BRAIN.

I was still unwilling to leave the car, though it was useless to me now. When the gas ran out, I had let it roll forward with the remaining momentum until it took a nosedive into a shallow gorge–a thick rivulet cut by the last big rain. Now I stared out the windshield at the vast, vacant plain and felt my stomach twist with panic.

incredibly-stupid

Please give me the strength to get through this chapter…  OKAY.  Let’s start on this one.  WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS SPECIES?!  How did they treat the planet better without upgrading ANY of the technology?!  They have introduced NOTHING.  They stopped polluting the planet, by, what, still doing everything the exact same way we do?!  WE have alternative energies we just don’t use because of cost and convenience!  They should be able to come in and advance what we’ve already done and then use them because cost is not an issue!  Or what, do they only dedicate their scientists to making vegan options of food that has self-awareness?  The more I read this book the more my comparing them to the privileged vegan assholes in California from a few chapters back seems fitting.

Now onto the part about the crash.  COME ON!  You know you can still steer the fucking thing after the gas runs out right?  And apply the brakes?  Gas has nothing to do with that!  I guess this is the final result of her not paying attention when she drives, but that implies Melanie didn’t either.  She didn’t say ‘hey, look out, there’s a gorge! HIT THE BRAKES!’  She just sat back and let it happen.  Maybe she did it on purpose to teach Wanderer a lesson.

We have to move, Wanderer. It’s only going to get hotter.

If I hadn’t wasted more than a quarter of a tank of gas stubbornly pushing on to the very base of the second landmark–only to find that the third milestone was no longer visible from that vantage and to have to turn around and backtrack–we would have been so much farther down this sandy wash, so much closer to our next goal. Thanks to me, we were going to have to travel on foot now.

Melanie saying it’s only going to get hotter implies it’s before noon.  This means they got to the second landmark, backtracked, and then made it half way to the third landmark from sun up till before noon when they finally ran out of gas.  These markers must not be very far apart.  And I’m guessing she didn’t fuel up before she left either.  I traveled 6 days across Canada this time last year.  I got up before the sun, which would admittedly be later in the day than Arizona (though actually if it’s the start of a second semester for Wanderer it could very well be January, so it could still be about the same time of day) but I would fuel up, head out, and then not stop till about 6 hours later.  When my gas tank was still just below ¾’s empty.  So, the only way this makes sense is if she didn’t bother fueling up before she left, or she drove a LOT further the night before than the text implied.  Or she’s using a gas guzzler, and I already went over why that idea pisses me off to no end so I’m not going to do it again.  Though one last thing before I move on; I love that Wanderer finally admits to being a fuck up.  It brings me joy.

Maleficent gets me...

Maleficent gets me…

I loaded the water, one bottle at a time, into the pack, my motions unnecessarily deliberate; I added the remaining granola bars just as slowly. All the while, Melanie ached for me to hurry. Her impatience made it hard to think, hard to concentrate on anything. Like what was going to happen to us.

No, seriously, Melanie was right.  Get your ass in gear Wanderer.  The desert is not your friend, you don’t want to be trying to find shelter at high noon in the desert.  Though, you know, again, probably January.  So maybe it’s not that bad.  Except that would require things in this book to make some goddamn sense.

the pack wasn’t that heavy when I used my shoulders to lift it.

This line just hurt me so I needed to share it with you all.

This is only a slight exaggeration of my reaction to this line.

This is only a slight exaggeration of my reaction to this line.

She goes on to say Melanie is telling her to cover the cars with plants, but she calls them by name.  One of which is ‘creosote’.  Which while it is a desert bush, most people not from near a desert, if they know the word at all, know it as the dust that clings to the inside of your fireplace, so for a second I was slightly confused.

But what if I want to be found? What if there’s nothing out here but heat and dirt? We have no way to get home!

Home? she questioned, throwing cheerless images at me: the vacant apartment in San Diego, the Seeker’s most obnoxious expression, the dot that marked Tucson on the map… a brief, happier flash of the red canyon that slipped in by accident. Where would that be?

‘Cheerless images’?  Seriously?  What the hell is with the wording in this chapter?  It was bad before but I think it’s actually getting worse!

I followed the wash at first, letting my body fall into its natural long-strided rhythm. It wasn’t the way I walked on the sidewalks to and from the university–it wasn’t my walk at all. But it fit the rugged terrain here and moved me smoothly forward with a speed that surprised me until I got used to it.

You know, you walk through muscle memory.  This is not something you think about.  It’s just what happens.  At least by that age.  When she started walking in this body she would naturally walk the same way her host used to walk.  It’s just what would naturally happen.  She would have to put effort into defying it.

Liar ECard

She’s ignoring Melanie’s advice, which she admitted at the start of the chapter was a bad idea, and wandering into the desert without covering up the car so if Seeker sends out a search party looking for her, they’ll likely find the shiny silver car in the desert reasonably quickly.  So she’s leaving a trail of breadcrumbs.  This is all too specifically pointed out to not come back and bite her in the ass later.

They go on to have a conversation that seems odd and lacking context to me.  Melanie is being very open and emotional as though Wanderer were an old friend.  Wanderer is being slightly antagonistic, basically asking if she had just fizzled out and died like the minds of the other hosts if they hadn’t been so close to where Jamie and Jared were.  Melanie keeps pouring her soul out about how she had to try even though she’s risking their lives because she’s a selfish idiot.

If she were risking her own life I would understand, but she’s not just risking her own life.  Her own life is already forfeit for all intents and purposes.  She’s risking the lives of the two people she loves the most.  Her only family, her only friends, the man she loves.  All for the chance to find them and the chance that they’ll not kill her on sight.  It’s pure selfishness to the worst possible degree.

bad-person

Faith isn’t a familiar concept for me. I don’t know that I buy into it.

Trust, then?

Faith and trust are the same thing.  Really not understanding the difference here.  She’s not talking about god here, she’s talking about having faith that they’ll find Uncle Jeb.  In this context, faith and trust are the same thing.

Wanderer talks about the heat scorching her lungs as she talks.  Well, why the fuck is she talking first of all.  She can, and has been, talking to Melanie in her head, not out loud. She’s just switching back and forth at random for absolutely no reason at all.  More importantly though, any time during the school year it would not be THAT hot.  Unless it’s early September, but that just doesn’t make any damn sense.  It would be hard for me to deal with, I’m Canadian.  She spent years LIVING in the desert.  She was in San Diego for months before this.  The heat at the time of year that makes the most sense for this story to be taking place in, it should be very uncomfortably hot for walking long distances, but not ‘scorch my throat just by breathing’ hot.  Also, she would have damn near frozen to death the night before.  Just pointing that out.

I drank water more often than Melanie wanted me to. She begrudged me every mouthful, threatening me that we would want it much more tomorrow. But I’d already given her so much today that I was in no mood to listen. I drank when I was thirsty, which was most of the time.

Gave Melanie what exactly?  Admission that when you didn’t listen to her you were wrong before you went on to not listen to her again and now are not listening to her again?  Gave her not turning around and killing her family because you don’t want to?  What exactly did you give her Wanderer?!

angst

She has literally taken everything that Melanie has.  Everything Melanie is.  And now she’s only going to find Jamie and Jared because it’s what she wants, not what Melanie wants.  She sure as fuck isn’t doing this to be nice to Melanie.  Melanie is just too happy that they’re going to care that Wanderer is a massively self-centered bitch.

She spends a page complaining about how monotonous the scenery is with monotonous descriptions of the monotonous scenery.  That sentence is almost as monotonous as that page.  She eats the last of her terrible choice of food for a hike before she finally has to face the idea that she has to sleep on the ground.  She gets all uppity about having it.  Melanie says it’s too hot for ‘critters’ to be attracted to her body heat.  News flash, it gets really REALLY cold in the desert at night.  Well, at least compared to how hot it was during the day which would be what your body would be acclimatized to.  The drop is fast and painful.  And, again, unless it’s the height of summer, which would make NO SENSE, it could get down to 10-15 degrees or even colder depending on the time of year… I don’t know what the conversion is in Celsius.  55?  Cold enough that sleeping outside without a blanket would be very uncomfortable after spending the day adjusting to scorching heat.

She gets incredibly girly about the possibility of bugs.  I have no idea why.  She lived out in the open as a see weed.  She likely lived out in the open as a bat.  She WAS one of those ‘critters’ as a spider!  Melanie clearly didn’t have a phobia for her to inherit.  So what the hell?  She’s just whatever Meyer wants her to be at the time.  Melanie is Stephanie, but Wanderer is supposed to be you, dear young adult female reader.  And Stephanie clearly doesn’t think much of you.  I’d be offended if I were you.

As Melanie continues to give her good, valid advice, Wanderer calls her a tyrant.  Because it is totally Melanie’s fault that trudging through the desert is hard.  And that she already drank half their water supply when they’re less than half way through their trek.  Totally Melanie’s fault that Wanderer crashed the car.  All Melanie’s fault that she had no food left.  I’m not exaggerating here:

Melanie’s answering tone made me picture her rolling her eyes. Stop being a baby. Nothing is going to eat you. Now lie down and get some rest. Tomorrow will be harder than today.

“Thanks for the good news,” I grumbled. She was turning into a tyrant. It made me think of the human axiom Give him an inch and he’ll take a mile.

puhlease

She is literally blaming Melanie for the fact that tomorrow is going to suck for them.  She’s calling her a tyrant for telling her she’s being a baby about the bugs.  ‘Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile’ doesn’t even fit this scenario.  She hasn’t given Melanie a fucking thing.  I’m starting to like Melanie a lot more, but it may just be because she’s just better in comparison to Wanderer.

How is there still half a chapter left?!

The next page is her describing her realization of how much water she’s gone through and how sandy she got over night.  She says her mouth is full of sand.  Why?  I’m one of those people who can and has slept anywhere.  I’ve never woken up with sand or dirt inside my mouth.  I’ve fallen asleep in the tub without getting WATER inside my mouth (…long story…).  How?  By having spent a long time sleeping anywhere and everywhere.  You know, like Melanie has.  You adapt.  Part of that adaptation is sleeping with your fucking mouth shut.

It only takes her till noon to get so hungry she’s literally in pain.  Fair or not that seems fast to me.  Melanie’s body should be fairly familiar with the act of going long periods without food, plus she loaded up on high sugar content food the day before.  Wanderer would have had a pattern so yeah, she would definitely start craving foods around meal times, but pain?  By noon?  Not sure I buy it.  Melanie even says she’s gone a lot longer without food and this should be nothing.

The italics conversations are confusing.  Especially since it seems to be entirely arbitrary when it’s italics and when she just thinks like normal narration and Melanie just knows.

When she finally starts to listen to Melanie things start to go smoother.  Melanie cheers her on when she needs it, gives her motivation when she’s starting to lose it, and finally gets her to ration her water supply.  And hey it works!  No shit sherlock

Fancy that.  The one that’s lived in the desert knows more than the one who’s spent her entire human life living in an apartment in the city.  Shock.

Of COURSE she takes all the credit for herself though.  She’s proud of HERSELF for being TOUGH.  She thinks the road that appears is a REWARD for HER strength and endurance.  Yup, Melanie is definitely growing on me.  Wanderer is growing on me too, but as an unwanted fungus I can’t seem to scrape off.

After more unnecessary blathering they find a… grey house.  I have no idea what a grey house would be doing in the middle of the desert.  Anyway, these two discussing whether or not the house is abandoned leads Wanderer to get all emo AGAIN about why she doesn’t fit in with the other souls, and again it’s all Melanie’s fault.  Though she does at least shortly wonder if Melanie is just revealing the real her, so, yay, growth?

While discussing who could be in the house they arrive at the idea that it could be humans and FINALLY someone points out that humans would kill them on site.  I don’t remember which one of them brought it up and I don’t care enough to reread again to remind myself.  This brings up how this hippy species ever beat the war faring peoples of Earth.  Wanderer says it’s because they had stealth and superior numbers, and that no matter how vicious the remaining humans were they were simply out numbered.  But, yeah, no.  Sorry, don’t buy it.  I’ve discussed this in earlier chapters so I won’t bring it up again, just, no.

The shade the dark entry promised drew me forward, trumping my fears with its appeal.

Remember, the house is grey.  Ever get into a dark coloured car that’s been sitting in the sun all day?  Shade doesn’t always mean cool.

So, what I’ve been complaining about all chapter?  How she seems to have zero of the instincts from Melanie?  Apparently when she’s in the house she’s got the heightened senses from paranoia that she claims is a remnant from when Melanie raided houses.  So this is contextual as well.  Everything in this story seems to be plot relevant.  If it doesn’t serve the plot, it doesn’t happen.  If it does serve the plot though, it works the way it’s supposed to.  Makes total sense.  Everything in this story is so very logical.

George-Clooney

After another page of looking around the dilapidated house Wanderer comes across an old newspaper which she notes is from pre-invasion.  She mentions a horrific event of a parent burning their own child to death.  This is supposed to be a sad commentary on humanity as a whole, as

This wasn’t the front page. The horror detailed here was not so hideous as to rate priority coverage.

But… how did that not warrant front page cover?  I think that’s more of a sad commentary on America, not all of humanity.  In Canada, not only would that be front page news, that would be national front page news.  Everyone would know.  Any time a child is murdered here it’s a massive, horrific story and the whole country shares in the grief.  For the sake of my sanity I choose not to believe that Americans are that desensitized that that would not be front page news in at least the local paper.  I think Meyers may be exaggerating this one.

Beneath this was the face of a man wanted for the murders of his wife and two children two years before the print date; the story was about a possible sighting of the man in Mexico. Two people killed and three injured in a drunk-driving accident. A fraud and murder investigation into the alleged suicide of a prominent local banker. A suppressed confession setting an admitted child molester free. House pets found slaughtered in a trash bin.

I cringed, shoving the paper away from me, back into the dark cupboard.

Oh come on.  All in one day?!  Really?!  All of that doesn’t happen in a year in the city I live in and it’s one of the biggest in the country!  That has to be an exaggeration.  Sorry, don’t buy it.  Maybe in the entire country.  Not one city.

Those were the exceptions, not the norm, Melanie thought quietly, trying to keep the fresh horror of my reaction from seeping into her memories of those years and recoloring them.

Can you see how we thought we might be able to do better, though? How we could have supposed that maybe you didn’t deserve all the excellent things of this world?

Can we, the reader, see why you thought that the horrors committed by approximately 1% of the population or less justify subjugating the entire population to a life where they’re the equivalent of a jar?  No.  Go fuck yourself.

Given how many times she's mentioned cacti in this chapter it shouldn't be hard to find one

Given how many times she’s mentioned cacti in this chapter it shouldn’t be hard to find one

Her answer was acidic. If you wanted to cleanse the planet, you could have blown it up.

Despite what your science fiction writers dream, we simply don’t have the technology.

Sorry, but you do.  If you can travel the universe you can destroy all life on Earth.  Probably using the same technology.  Also; still go fuck yourself.

That’s how we realized you were here, you know, she said, thinking of the sickening news headlines again. When the evening news was nothing but inspiring human-interest stories, when pedophiles and junkies were lining up at the hospitals to turn themselves in, when everything morphed into Mayberry, that’s when you tipped your hand.

“What an awful alteration!” I said dryly, turning to the next cupboard.

By that point there still should have been enough humans to turn the tide back in our favour, since unlike them, we’re willing to kill.  And unlike zombies, looking like our loved ones doesn’t give them an advantage.  Just being too close to the alien parasites doesn’t cause us to risk infection.  Being close to them would actually probably make us even angrier and more aggressive to the other parasites that don’t look like the people we love, while tying up the ones that we do and trying to pull the alien slug out of their brain.  Then we would proceed to smash it until nothing was left but silvery pulp in a sea of alien blood.

Look! Melanie urged, pointing a mental finger at three dusty bottles of bleach at the very back of the cupboard.

What do you want bleach for? I asked, already ripping into the cracker box. To throw in someone’s eyes? Or to brain them with the bottle?

To my delight, the crackers, though reduced to crumbs, were still inside their plastic sleeves. I tore one open and started shaking the crumbs into my mouth, swallowing them half chewed. I couldn’t get them into my stomach fast enough.

That middle paragraph there.  The first one of them talking is definitely Wanderer, but the second italics?  Is that Wanderer or Melanie?  I legitimately do not know.  Wanderer shouldn’t be capable of coming up with that kind of violent imagery off the top of her head, but Melanie has seemed, this chapter at least, to be smarter than carrying around heavy jugs of chemicals as a weapon.  Much better off getting a walking stick which doubles as a club.  I thought the paragraph after might add some clarity, but since Melanie doesn’t react and Wanderer doesn’t react, I just do not know.

Wait, maybe, yeah, no I don't know

A little later Melanie does state that her dad used to keep water in old bleach bottles because the bleach kept anything from growing in it.  But I would like to point out that while that might keep the water clean, it sure as hell isn’t going to be something you would want to drink on an already weak stomach.  She’d be puking that water back up.

Wanderer eats THREE SLEEVES of salt topped stale soda crackers.  THREE.  The salt doesn’t help the thirst from the desert so when she gets into the bleach bottles she starts to drink the water, but Melanie reminds her not to waste it.  And then she says she wants solid food?  After THREE SLEEVES of soda crackers?  So many crackers and she’s still hungry?  Sorry, but, no.  Hungry or not, I’m pretty sure one sleeve of crackers is the daily caloric intake required for someone Melanie’s size.  I can pretty much guarantee I’m significantly bigger than she is and I couldn’t eat 3 sleeves of saltines in one sitting.  Especially not without a drink in between.

She says she was hungry and thirsty when she went to bed last night, but she also says she ate all the chips, all the granola bars, all the donuts, and drank more than half of her water supply.  How the fuck did that leave her so hungry and thirsty as to make her uncomfortable all night?  Even walking all day in the desert that doesn’t make sense!  COME ON!

With the sugar energy beginning to buzz through my veins

Sugar energy?  I am aware that crackers are carbs and carbohydrates are a sugar, but they don’t give you a sugar high!  It’s not a buzz!  It’s just ‘I got a second wind thanks to the energy from finally eating’.  Why does she have to make it a sugar high?!

Anyway that’s how the chapter ends.  This chapter was long.  And nothing happened except plot conveniences and Wanderer blaming Melanie for everything and Meyer trying to get the reader to think that Wanderer might have a point so you can allow yourself to not hate her, except I do.  I really fucking hate her and her entire species.  Something really needs to happen to make me hate her less or I don’t know how I’m going to get through this garbage.

About what I'll do if it doesn't get more tolerable

About what I’ll do if it doesn’t get more tolerable

I think the next chapter is shorter, so it’ll be at least easier for me to get through so see you then.

And don’t forget to check out The Llama’s take on this chapter!

The Host Review: Turned (Ch 10)

We’re going to do the comment as I read method again today because after the struggle I had to get through chapter 9 twice, I’m just not willing to do that again.  Let’s hope beyond empirical evidence that this chapter will be decent.  At the very least it’s shorter.

We start this chapter with evidence that if Wanderer ever needed to knock over a bank she wouldn’t get through the doors before getting arrested for suspicious behaviour.  She hasn’t even done anything wrong yet but she hides behind a shelf when someone comes into the store she’s apparently stopped in.

Smoooooth

Smoooooth

The palms of my hands felt cold under a thin sheen of sweat, though the small room was quite hot. The wide windows let in too much sun for the loud and laboring air-conditioning unit to keep up.

…Small room?  It’s a convenience store.  They may not always be huge, and often they’re cramped, but ‘small’ isn’t really a descriptor I would use for a room bigger than my living room.  But I’m nitpicking already.  Let’s focus on the fact that they mastered interstellar space travel but they can’t make a fully functional air conditioner.  I guess that goes with the fact that they don’t use GPS, they still use our small commuter planes, and nothing about them at all so far has seemed technologically advanced.  They have ‘medicine that stops bleeding’ but so do we.  They have cryo chambers, so do we.  They have road maps, we have GPS!  I’m still stuck on that bit from the last chapter…

Which one? I demanded.

The bigger one, she told me.

I grabbed the larger pack of the two available, a canvas sling that looked well able to hold more than I could carry. Then I walked around the corner to where the bottled water was shelved.

This comes immediately after the last thing I quoted.  There is nothing before this that indicates what the hell they’re talking about.  Which one what?  Canvas sling?  What the hell is a canvas sling?  A quick trip to Google tells me that that is one of those ugly little backpacks people take to the beach that aren’t terribly practical for anything that isn’t small and/or soft.

Canvas_Sling_Style_Bag_with_Pockets___Yellow_Blue

She couldn’t just say backpack?  Handbag?  Shoulder bag?  Beach bag?  Laundry bag?  Anything other than ‘canvas sling’?  In a regular backpack the weight of the bottled water they’re clearly about to steal for reasons I can’t understand, would be dispersed over large padded shoulder straps with padding to protect your back from the bottles smacking back and forth with the motion of you running which I assume they will do after they’re done stealing everything.  In the hideous little piece of fabric they grabbed, the weight will be carried by tiny little straps that will dig into her shoulder, and the bottles will hit her as she moves.  A garbage bag would have been a better choice.

We can carry three gallons, she decided. That gives us three days to find them.

A gallon of water a day?  Really?  Does her rental car not have air conditioning to help her cool off?  A gallon a day seems like a lot to sit in a car.  I know it’s the desert, but, air conditioned car!  Oh look, Google tells me an average adult female needs approximately 2.2 litres of water a day in a temperate climate.  There’s about 3.8 litres in a gallon.  It took me 5 seconds to find that out.  Just goes to show how much effort Meyer put into research.

I took a deep breath, trying to tell myself that I wasn’t going along with this. I was simply trying to get more coordinates from her, that was all. When I had the whole story, I would find someone–a different Seeker, maybe, one less repulsive than the one assigned to me–and pass the information along. I was just being thorough, I promised myself.

Exasperation

Remember how ‘souls’ don’t lie?  Apparently that doesn’t include ‘to themselves’.

My awkward attempt to lie to myself was so pathetic that Melanie didn’t pay any attention to it, felt no worry at all. It must be too late for me, as the Seeker had warned. Maybe I should have taken the shuttle.

Oh look she even admits it’s a lie.  Her sucking at it seems to be the only acknowledgement of the fact that this goes against her very nature as a self-aware being.

You’re basically just reading the entire chapter along with me so far by the way.  I have only left out the first 4 lines.  I almost feel like I should go back and find something in those first 4 lines to point out just because I’m a completionist.  I’ll spare you.  I have more nitpicks to do on the rest of the chapter, there’s no need to go backwards!

Too late? I wish! Melanie grumbled. I can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do. I can’t even raise my hand! Her thought was a moan of frustration.

She’s confusing the pronouns here.  She says ‘I can’t make you do anything’, but then refers to it as her own hand.  Does she think of the body as hers or Wanderers?  Oh man I almost tricked myself into thinking I cared for a second…

Almost.  Not quite.

Almost. Not quite.

Despite Melanie’s little outburst, Wanderer describes her as seeming to have just accepted this as a blip.  A minor interruption to her life that she just had to tolerate.  She says this as the narrator, not thinking it at Melanie, yet Melanie apparently snorts at it.  This raises serious questions about how the hell Melanie doesn’t know as much about Wanderer as Wanderer does about Melanie.  Or even more since Wanderer wouldn’t have been prepared to try and block out memories.  She should at the very least have known that Wanderer was going to kill her instead of having to ask.  This is going to be recurring plot hole isn’t it?  Just going to work however it needs to work at the time?  Do I even need to ask that question?

Wanderer picks up a flat of water and nearly falls down because it was bigger than she expected.  I thought she grabbed the backpack to put water in it.  And that they were only going to carry 3 gallons.  She says it’s the biggest flat of water.  The ones I usually see in stores, the average sized ones not large, are 16 bottles of water, 900ml bottles.  That’s about 4 gallons, not 3.  Also; not that heavy.  Certainly not ‘fall down because the weight is too much’ heavy.  Awkward as hell to carry, but since she’s just going to the car, she’ll live.  And if she’s going for a bigger case of water, then, well that’s a lot more than 3 gallons and more than Melanie told her to take so she’d just be stupid.  Still also not fall over levels of heavy though.

Melanie yells at Wanderer for letting them get out of shape.  There’s yet another change in the pronoun usage here as Melanie refers to it as ‘their’ body.  So it has been Melanie’s, Wanderer’s, and now it’s both.  Make up your mind!

Wanderer is amused that Melanie actually called her by name, so she caves and carries the heavy case of water instead of the smaller one.  She has to be told how to lift the water.  WHY?!  WHY IS HOW MUCH INFORMATION SHE GETS FROM MELANIE’S BRAIN CONTEXTUAL?!  She should not have had to have been told that if Melanie would do it naturally!  It would work by muscle memory, it would be as innate as the ability to walk!  If she was in the body of someone who wasn’t used to doing manual labour it would have to be told to her, but Melanie has spent the last 5 years or so carrying heavy loads long distances!

I struggled with the flat of water, wondering how far I could possibly be expected to carry it. I managed to get it to the front register, at least. With great relief, I edged its weight onto the counter. I put the bag on top of the water, and then added a box of granola bars, a roll of doughnuts, and a bag of chips from the closest display.

A roll of donuts?  What the hell is a roll of donuts?

Aaand now Melanie refers to her back as Wanderer’s.  Apparently she will be carrying that water in the backpack.  And just… no dammit.  Just no.  PHYSICS.  I refuse to believe that a healthy person can go from being in great shape, carrying heavy loads while walking and running long distances, to not even being able to carry a case of water 5 feet to the cash register in only a few months just by not exercising regularly.  I refuse to believe that Melanie doesn’t care about the well being of her spine (she says it’s Wanderer’s back because Wanderer buys stuff she doesn’t need and Melanie says it will be too heavy to carry and she’ll hurt herself, but when Wanderer protests, Melanie says it’s her back.) I refuse to accept that they intended to carry a flat of water heavy enough for her to have to struggle to lift it high enough to get it on the counter in a backpack through the desert for 3 days.  And lastly I refuse to accept that they think a flat of water that big is going to fit in a canvas bag!  This is not a video game!  It doesn’t open to a pocket dimension so you can hold infinite stuff!  There is a finite amount of space inside that bag and it is less than the size of those bottles!  Hell, a large proper backpack would probably be mostly full from them, especially if the bottles are an odd shape!

OHMYGOD

Honestly this whole section pisses me off to no end.  She keeps talking about the cashier, and how she took everything to the counter.  The man talks to her.  No prices are quoted, no money changes hands.  There’s a short conversation followed by Wanderer taking everything and leaving.  I don’t know if Meyer just chose not to mention the money changing hands, despite going into depth about everything else, or if they don’t charge for things.  But if they don’t charge for things, why is there a cashier?  Why would you choose to be a cashier if you choose your calling?  I’ve been a cashier, I know some people do it by choice, but the vast majority of them only do it because it’s the best job they can get.  If there’s no money and no need for a cashier, and you can be whatever you want to be, why would you ever choose to be a cashier?  Meyer must have just chose to leave that part out… right?  Please?  I’m going to learn they don’t use money soon aren’t I?

You’re all very creepy, she told me acidly. Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to talk to strangers?

I felt a deep tug of guilt as I answered. There are no strangers among my kind.

LIES!

The class filed out slowly, many of the students taking a minute to chat with one another as they gathered their things. What Kathy had said about friendships ran through my head, but I felt no desire to join any of them. They were strangers.

That quote is from the awful chapter where she blathers on about the fire tasters.

bs

Now that I’ve got that little consistency problem out of the way, why was the exchange creepy?  It was basic small talk most people engage in with a cashier.  She was getting a lot of water, a map, a backpack and some food.  He asked if she was going hiking.  She said the mountains are beautiful.  He asked if she needed directions, she said she’d find it on her own.  That’s creepy?  That’s talking to strangers?  I’ve had more in depth conversations with my cat.  I’ve had lots more in depth conversations with cashiers, cleaners, random people in the airport, random people at the bus stop…  It’s hardly creepy.  Local convenience store clerks often have great advice on places to go actually.

Back to the quote though, why is Wanderer feeling guilt?  I don’t see what would make her feel guilty here.  Is it that she feels bad for deceiving the man?  Because none of what she said was a lie.  Does she feel guilty saying there are no strangers among her people while not being forthcoming?  That makes the most sense so that’s probably not it.  Maybe it’s that she feels guilty for being weird in the eyes of her host.  That seems to fit with the dumbassery in this book.

I can’t get used to not paying for things, she said, changing the subject. What’s the point of scanning them?

Inventory, of course. Is he supposed to remember everything we took when he needs to order more? Besides, what’s the point of money when everyone is perfectly honest? I paused, feeling the guilt again so strongly that it was an actual pain. Everyone but me, of course.

Oh god where do I start with this…

Okay, first point.  I guess this answers why there’s a cashier.  He’s not a cashier, he’s an inventory clerk.  I still don’t understand why one would actively choose that career path when they can be anything they want to be, but to each his own I suppose.  Maybe he really likes arranging shelves.

Second point.  Why can’t he just stock the shelves and then order more when something appears to be getting low?  If this is as small a store as she claims at the start that should be fairly easy to do.  Scanning everything that comes in and out I suppose is rather efficient, but if you didn’t have that part you would only have to check on the store two or three times a day and then put in an order at the end of the day based on what appears to be low.  Or have a scanner on the way out the door.  Anything removed from the store, a scanner at the door registers the RFID tag.  We can do that now with our technology if we really wanted to, but it costs more than the theft it would prevent is worth.  But if they don’t use money, convenience would be more of an issue than cost analysis.

Third point.  WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?!

MAD

MONEY DOES NOT EXIST JUST BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE DICKS GODDAMMIT!  Money is a matter of simplicity.  You put a value on your goods and services.  In a barter system anyone looking to buy your goods or services from you would have to provide you with equivalent goods or services.  It’s much simpler to have a currency based system.  No need to carry around a cart full of corn every time you need to hire someone to fix your engine.  We put value on our goods not because we don’t trust that others will provide us what we need in exchange, but because we worked our asses off for those goods or services dammit!  If someone else wants it we expect to be compensated for our hard work!  It’s how the human brain works.  This is some serious communist bullshit right here.

Can the world exist without a concept of equivalent exchange?  Sure could!  If the species loses the emotions of pride, jealousy, ambition, dominance, anger, fear…

Wanderer gets all emo that she’s not honest, unlike the rest of the species.  Except, again, nothing she said was a lie.  Not one word.  She isn’t even hiding anything.  She’s just feeling guilty because Meyer thinks the inner conflict makes a better story.  It doesn’t.  I might have been able to care if it was one scene of her genuinely struggling after showing her strength of character, but Meyer hasn’t shown us any character of her except that she already goes against everything her species stands for all the time anyway.  She’s constantly going back and forth about everything.  It’s just a constant barrage of ‘oh we’re all so good but I’m different and special but I want to be like them but I want to be different and special oh woe is me!’ and I just do not give a fuck.  She’s not showing signs of a character arc, she’s just repeating a mantra.  She’s not going to grow, she’s not going to change, she’s just going to decide love is better than the prosperity of her entire species because wuv!  I hate ‘the power of love’ stories.  I really really do.  Love does not conquer all.  Love makes you stupid.  It makes you make mistakes like trusting the parasite that’s invaded your brain with the information on where to hunt down and murder your loved ones in a desperate attempt to get back to them.  But let’s get back to this chapter shall we?

Okay, apparently she is taking the car.  What was the concern then about carrying everything and hurting her back?  I’m so confused by this book…

shaking_head_breaking_bad

One of the people working in the store, the store that was super small and doesn’t have use of currency exchange with few customers who would never dream of messing up the displays, because clearly two employees is necessary in that environment, comes out to help her with her things.  He carry’s the bag with the donuts instead of the water.  Gentlemanly.  Melanie gets all freaked out by the niceness again, Wanderer gets guilty that everyone is so nice again.  Mel tells her to look at the map till he goes away, Wanderer genuinely tries to figure out where the hell they are going.

They go over the lines and survey the area until they find something that fits the squiggles, the only thing of which that seems to make sense is the cartographic symbol for mountains.  Everything else is just random squiggles.  They find mountains, which the man in the store had already pointed to, and Melanie is apparently so happy she sings her joy.

excited-adventure-time

I shook my head, bending over the map again. The mountain ridge was so far in the distance I couldn’t guess at the miles between us and it. There was no way I was walking out of this parking lot and into the empty desert unless I had no other option.

Let’s be rational, I suggested, tracing my finger along a thin ribbon on the map, an unnamed road that connected to the freeway a few miles east and then continued in the general direction of the range.

Sure, she agreed complacently. The faster the better.

We found the unpaved road easily. It was just a pale scar of flat dirt through the sparse shrubbery, barely wide enough for one vehicle.

Okay, no, seriously, are they walking or taking the car?  I still have no idea.  She says there’s no way she’s walking out of the parking lot unless she absolutely has to, but she HAS A CAR!  And she is clearly aware of that fact since that’s how she leaves the parking lot!

i-feel-like-im-taking-crazy-pills

They continue driving for the time being.  Wanderer is happy to be away from people she has to lie to, Melanie is happy to be away from people.  She starts saying the names of the various types of cacti.  I’m left to wonder if she learned this growing up or if Meyer is claiming she somehow learned this while on the run.

For a moment, I allowed myself to see the prison that was life without a body. To be carried inside but unable to influence the shape around you. To be trapped. To have no choices.

Isn’t that what being in a cryochamber would be like?  She’s referring to empathy for Melanie, but really that’s exactly what the chambers they transport each other around in would be…  They’re at the whim of whoever is in possession of their container and have no voice with which to express themselves and no control over where or how their container moves.

Melanie and Wanderer bond over their hatred of Seeker.  Much like how I bond with Seeker over our mutual dislike of Wanderer and Melanie.  They picture her getting pissy when they don’t show up in Tucson, heading back to San Diego to see if it was just a ploy to get away from her for a day, then her panic as she realized Wanderer was nowhere to be found.  Except then she goes back to being emo about what she would do long term, still trying to convince herself she’ll eventually go back to her real life.

Look, a dry wash. It’s wide enough for the car–let’s follow it, Melanie insisted.

I’m not sure we’re supposed to go that way yet.

It will be dark soon and we’ll have to stop. You’re wasting time! She was silently shouting in her frustration.

Or saving time, if I’m right. Besides, it’s my time, isn’t it?

She didn’t answer in words. She seemed to stretch inside my mind, reaching back toward the convenient wash.

I don’t understand this exchange.  I don’t care enough to Google what a dry wash is, but I’m confused enough to point it out.  Contextually I would have to assume that a dry wash is a dried up riverbed.  I’ll go with that.  But why are they arguing about where to go?  They have the same directions, but Melanie has more information.  She should be the more reliable one in this scenario.  Oh but wait, Wanderer is the special one in this book, so she’s going to be perfect and infallible.  Alien Jesus, saving the humans from their weaknesses of impatience and dishonesty, and…not talking to strangers…

I want to be sorry for how offensive this is, but I'm just not...

I want to be sorry for how offensive this is, but I’m just not…

The last page of the chapter is spent with them bickering over what to do next.  It ends with them trying to sleep in the car, but the seat doesn’t recline very far and Wanderer is too dumb to think about crawling into the back seat.  It seems that the shocks on the car aren’t good for driving through the desert and that’s why there was all that talk about walking.  But they could just drive slower and get to keep the air conditioning.  Save water and energy, at least until the gas runs out.  Or the battery.  Or whatever it is that they fuel their supposedly greener cars with.  Except there was no mention of anything.  Hydrogen maybe?  It’ll probably turn out to be gas because Meyer will have forgotten by now that they mentioned they stopped raping the planet.

I could have talked about a lot more, but I feel like all my complaints are the same.  Wanderer is dumb.  Wanderer is a bitch.  Melanie should be dumber.  Melanie is a bitch.  The aliens are dicks.  If my reviews start to shrink too much I’ll start squeezing two chapters in per post.  There’s 60 chapters in this book and we’re only on chapter 10, it might help my sanity to do that anyway.  We’ll see how it goes.

Till next time!

Don’t forget to check out The Llama’s take on this chapter too!

QA: Warmest Welcomes

Today’s question is What was the warmest welcome you ever received?

Pretty straight forward question this time.  I don’t really receive a lot of ‘warm welcomes’.  Not because people don’t want me around, but because the people who care enough about me to want to give me a warm welcome know me well enough to know I’m not a big fan of physical affection.  I’m very much like my father in that I feel uncomfortable with public displays of affection and physical affection should be left to the people you love the most and no one else.  Though I take it a step further and don’t even care much for shaking hands, only doing it because I work in business and I’d not make many contacts if I refused to shake hands with people.

This is more or less how it goes when people hug me.

This is more or less how it goes when people hug me.

So because of that discomfort, most of the welcomes I receive are of the more subdued variety, and that’s exactly how I like it.  I know these people love me, I don’t need more than a smile to know that.  But then what’s my story for this question?  Well, it does have one.  I do have an American friend I only get to see when I go down to the states.  We met over the internet and met in person a few years later at a convention.  The first meeting was a little more subdued because I arrived earlier than planned so things got thrown off, but then the next time I went to visit on less neutral ground…  I got tackled at baggage claim.  It’s a good thing I learned impulse control over the years because had someone done that to me a few years ago, well, I also got my dad’s strength, let’s leave it there.  I knew it was coming though, I’d been warned in advance because like I said everyone who knows me knows I don’t like being touched.  And as uncomfortable as it makes me, and as awkward as it was because of that, I will concede that at that moment I felt like I belonged there, and that I was wanted and cared about.  The part of the that wasn’t horrified was happy.

That same friend will be arriving in Canada for the first time this coming Friday!  There will probably be more hugs…  I’ll live.  My dad will be visiting at the same time due to some convenient timing (if he wasn’t here when I was off for a week anyway I wouldn’t be able to see him, and he’s just passing through before going to a new job.  He retired a few years ago but he and my mother decided he wasn’t ready to retire yet.) so my home should be a warm and inviting place once again.  Now I just have to make sure it’s clean…  That has nothing to do with anything, this post was just really short so I thought I’d just continue my thoughts for a bit.

What are the warmest welcomes you remember getting?  Do you share my sentiments about touching?  Think I’m nuts?  How do you make sure that people you’re welcoming feel… welcome?

Check out The Llama’s answer to this question and I’ll talk at you again on Tuesday with more of that awful book!

The Host Review: Discovered (Ch 9)

This is probably going to be a short one today.  Not because the chapter was short, or, you know, good, but because it’s just dull.  Especially after the note chapter 8 ended on, some glimmers of quality, this chapter is a massive let down.  Just not in any especially interesting ways.  On the initial read through of this one I actually found my eyes glazing over and I tried to skip entire sections… The reread to write this was even harder.

barney-bored

The gist of this chapter is more driving, more waffly emoness, and more flashbacks.  Only instead of the flashbacks being better written and more emotional, they’re just as bad as the rest of the book has been so far with no positive aspects to cling to for hope.

I have to admit I was actually genuinely disappointed.  While I’m sure you gathered from my post about chapter 8 there was a lot wrong with it, the bits that were done well were very effective and it had left me hoping that maybe the book would start to get tolerable from that point and it would just be the overarching plot I would have a problem with.  But, then I read chapter 9… My god it was almost literally painful.  So let me share my pain with you all dear readers.

Wanderer speeds along the highway, preparing herself for all the insults she’ll apparently get when she drops this host body.  I don’t think I have to talk yet again about how this species is supposed to be all love and happiness do I?  Yeah, we’ve covered that enough to see the problem here, so I’ll just move on.

I tried to stay clear of the red canyon in her head, but I was there, too. No matter how hard I tried to see the cars zooming beside me, the shuttles gliding in toward the port, the few, fine clouds drifting overhead, I couldn’t pull completely free of her dreams.

Safe!

I memorized Jared’s face from a thousand different angles. I watched Jamie shoot up in a sudden growth spurt, always skin and bones. My arms ached for them both–no, the feeling was sharper than an ache, blade-edged and violent. It was intolerable. I had to get out.

I drove almost blindly along the narrow two-lane freeway.

She does say there are cars on the road.  She said in the last chapter she’s not a terribly experienced driver, and she’s taking her hands off the wheel to reach out, and driving without seeing the road.  The only reason this doesn’t end with a car accident is because killing her would end the book and my torture.

This is essentially how lucky Wanderer is that she's not dead

This is essentially how lucky Wanderer is that she’s not dead

During this scene she also mentions that she’s reading a map sprawled out on the passenger seat.  Why the hell isn’t she using GPS?  They have intergalatic space travel, and all our technology (I think this is from 2009 or 2010…) so we know for certain that they have GPS, yet she’s reading a paper map.  While she’s driving without pulling over.  But I already harped on how unsafe a driver is, I’m going to stick with the technology complaint.  Is she a Luddite space fairing alien?  Or does she just have a death wish?

Soon I would reach a little pit stop at a place called Picacho Peak.

I’m going to show how much of a lame geek I am and admit that I can only read that as Pikachu Peak.  Don’t assume that makes me young though, because I am way too old to be able to justify being a fan of Pokemon.  I just am.  Don’t judge me, it let me laugh at something in this book I will cling to that!  Especially considering they repeat the name of the place ad nauseum in this chapter.  Wanderer mentions the name three times on this page alone, Melanie says it a few times, everyone says it.

Look at how sad he is for being associated with this book!  Meyer should be ashamed of herself for doing this to Pikachu

Look at how sad he is for being associated with this book! Meyer should be ashamed of herself for doing this to Pikachu

Apparently this particular place triggers something for Melanie but Wanderer doesn’t know what so she hits the accelerator seeing if it causes any more reaction to be in the place instead of just near it.  Of course it does, but Wanderer can’t get it out of her, and as a means of distraction, Melanie starts remembering Jared again, because of course we have to have another flashback.

“You look like a dryad hidden here in the trees,” he whispers in my ear. “One of them. So beautiful that you must be fictional.”

‘One of them.’ What does that mean in this context? A dryad?  That seems an awkward thing to say.  He calls her a dryad, then calls her a dryad again?  This whole thing is just awful dialogue.  Every single thing that comes out of anyone’s mouth in this chapter is nothing any real person would actually say.  Just say what he said out loud to yourself.  Without the ‘he whispers in my ear’ part.  How silly does that sound?!

Apparently this flashback is right before she abandons her lover and her brother for the sake of finding someone she doesn’t know for certain exists.  Because of course that makes sense right?  Definitely.  Look, I’m all for family bonds, and she tries to justify this later in the chapter, but in that situation, she’s walking away from the man she loves and not only the only family she knows for certain she has left, but also leaving him without any family if she doesn’t come back.  She is risking abandoning her brother.  She is the closest thing to a mother he has, and has been for years, and she’s walking away on the off chance that her cousin may be uninfected somewhere far away.  It’s ridiculous!  This is what gets people killed in zombie movies!

They're coming to get you Melanie

They’re coming to get you Melanie

“You and I won’t lose each other,” he promises. “I will always find you again.” Being Jared, he cannot be completely serious for more than a heartbeat or two. “No matter how well you hide. I’m unstoppable at hide-and-seek.”

Lamest joke ever.  He’s 29 at this point in the story by the way.  Just felt the need to point that out.  I concede that bad humour is better than just letting the sadness settle in, I just really hate this joke.  Jared still fails to suck.  I await the coming disappointment.

Anyway.  Apparently they’re so comfortable raiding now that they turn on the tv for the weather.  Melanie bitches a little about how their version of the news is just how everything is warm and fuzzy everywhere, but I actually have to point out that while that’s not entertaining, it would certainly make people less likely to hate the world as much as we all do.  It certainly isn’t the main reason we’ve all become cynical bastards but it is a contributing factor.  I’m not a big fan of sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the bad parts of the world, but the problem is the news presents negative stories from all over the world now.  You start to get a skewed view of how much awful there is in the world.  Three murder stories in one night!  Your brain doesn’t process that that was from one city in Canada, a city in Florida and a city Illinois.  You process the information as though all three murders happened right where you live, and that murderers are everywhere!

…I got sidetracked.  God this chapter is boring.  I can’t even stay on point.

My political rant was more interesting.  Can I talk about that for 3000 words instead?  No?  I have to finish the book?  Dammit…

disappointed1

Anyway, the reason they bring up that they had the tv on is because that’s where Melanie saw her cousin.  Apparently she was in the background of a news report walking suspiciously.  Melanie thinks this means she’s not an alien parasite, and that she has to go find her.  Because of course she does.

And I have to go alone. Sharon will run from anyone but me–well, she will run from me, too, but maybe she will pause long enough for me to explain. I am sure I know her secret place.

“And you?” I ask him in a thick voice. I’m not sure I can physically bear this looming goodbye.  “Will you be safe?”

“Neither heaven nor hell can keep me apart from you, Melanie.”

peteshrug

This is supposed to be a big tear jerker moment.  It gets Wanderer crying, it’s definitely meant to make us cry.  I certainly felt no urge to cry at the end of Chapter 8, but I did feel emotion towards it.  This though?  Not a thing.  Not sure whether that says something about me or the writing.  Probably the writing.  It’s just too much.  It’s trying too hard to me.  Every word of this is just screaming unnecessary melodrama.  He could at least go with her to Chicago.  Be there as a quick get-away for her.  There’s justification why she has to enter the secret place without him, but certainly no justification for him to not be close by.  But if they were smart then we wouldn’t have a book, so contrived scenario leading to poorly written sap is what we’re stuck with.

After a short cut to Wanderer crying Melanie switches fast track to a goodbye to Jamie, who at 13 is cuddling up under Melanie’s arm.  When I was 13 and scared, even if there was someone I was willing to tell about it, which was pretty damn rare including both my mother and my big sister, I certainly wouldn’t have curled up under their arms.

Mind you, you can argue that he’s grown up in extenuating circumstances, but considering that that was when he was younger, and he had to struggle for survival, go hungry, count on a 15 year old girl for food, shelter and protection in a world that wanted to hunt him down and destroy his very existence, there is not a chance in hell that this is how this kid would turn out.  He watched his mother and father leave and then their bodies came back without them.  He saw that.  He saw his sister trying so hard to be strong for him while clearly terrified and probably sickly from stress and malnourishment, trying to stay strong to give him some consistency and strength.  He would have known she was being strong for him, and the world was an awful place.  He would be bitter.  He would feel he had to be strong too.  He would never let her do this.  He would be more than just a little scared.  Later in this chapter she explains what happened to her parents.  This is exactly what happened to them.  They left to see relatives and came back as parasites.  He would be angry at her for even suggesting this.  And she’s terrible for putting him through it.

Prince is judging you so harshly he's floating away.

Prince is judging you so harshly he’s floating away.

After that, which was also poorly written and full of garbage dialogue, she jumps right to the memory of after she gets found out.  She’s scrawling a note on a piece of paper.  She’s telling Jared she loves him and Jamie and to not go back to the cabin because her selfish disregard for her little brother made their home of the last several years unsafe taking away his mother-figure and his home, and his safety all in one swoop.  I think this technically makes Melanie a worse person than Wanderer.  Wanderer is still more obnoxious though so I think I still hate her more.

Wanderer yells at Melanie to fuck off.  She tells her that she’s got no choice but to kill Melanie despite that Melanie has successfully made her love Jared and Jamie.  Melanie says she has another option.  Apparently the little flashes of ‘lines’ she was seeing were a road map that she’d given Jared but neither of them knew what it meant.  Melanie didn’t put it together until they saw Pikachu Peak though, which is why it seemed so important.

Melanie very dumbly gives Wanderer the map.  This is stupid, because they fucking hate each other.  She has no reason to trust Wanderer with this information except desperation.  I know the story obviously supports this decision but come on.  They’ve been at each other’s throats since the parasite was inserted!  She was literally on her way to kill Melanie!  Literally!  She told about Jamie!  She told about everything!  Melanie gives up their location on the hope that this alien who hates her and has given up every bit of information she’s gotten so far to the Seeker on the off chance that Wanderer might use the information for good instead of to hunt them down and convert them all.  No, not convert them sorry, murder them because no more adult hosts are being offered.  They’ll all just be slaughtered.

Good job!

Good job!

Without Wanderer agreeing to anything at all, Melanie not only gives her the memory of the lines, but where they came from.  Apparently crazy Uncle Jeb Stryder was a survivalist and knew the aliens were out there.  The entire rest of the chapter is basically just flashbacks to various points in Melanie’s life from just before she goes to Chicago to back when she was little.  It reveals how she lost her parents to the aliens, her mother went first, then Jeb came by and gave them a family album with a bunch of seemingly random lines drawn all over it.  He insists that Melanie follow the lines and that they’ll hold a place for her there.

This sounds like it should be kind of interesting doesn’t it?  Compelling drama, high emotions, intrigue!  That would require this book to be well written.  I assure you we are not that lucky.

Honestly there’s just nothing there worth talking about…  She says ‘Uncle Jeb’ way too many times, she finds multiple ways to refer to her family as nut jobs (that’s one of them) over and over again.  There’s nothing so bad I feel I have to point it out, definitely nothing so compelling I feel I have to point it out.  It’s just boring.  Which is depressing because this should be a tense chapter.  It should be compelling!  This is where Melanie convinces Wanderer to side with her!  To ignore her loyalty to the parasite overminds (I have no idea how their species society functions at all.)  This is where Wanderer chooses love and companionship over loyalty and respect while also choosing to risk her own life as there’s a good chance they would kill her on sight!  It shouldn’t be boring!

Apparently Pikachu Peak is where her family’s ranch is and her dad once told her it was ‘the beginning’ and her crazy uncle told her the lines start at the beginning, so yay riddles.  I don’t know what the lines are.  I know he drew them on the family album and the beginning is the only clue he gave her.  How the hell Jared is supposed to have figured this out without her I have no idea, but Melanie says he must have because he’s smarter than she is.  Except being smarter than you doesn’t help solve a puzzle when you don’t have all the pieces.  I give up questioning the logic this book follows because of course he’ll have figured it out and anyone that believes he may not have has clearly not been reading the same book as me.

Melanie does actually realize she’s an idiot, and Wanderer says ‘well duh, of course I’m going to tell on you.  Moron.’

idiots

“Yes,” I mused aloud. “I have to do my duty.”

Why? she murmured, almost sleepily. What happiness will it bring you?

I didn’t want to argue with her, so I said nothing.

Of course it’s just that she doesn’t want to argue.  Not that she doesn’t have an answer!  She’s perfect you guys!  She’s just trying to avoid a fight that’s all.  She would get so much joy from ratting out the people she’s been forced to love!

Actually seeing how she’s been forced to love them against her will, and it would get rid of Melanie and Seeker, and allow her to move on to a less emotional host where she wouldn’t feel depressed over the loss of emotion because that loss covers sadness, she would probably be a lot happier ratting them out than she would be helping them, but you know, that’s logic.  That’s not a thing that exists in this universe.

The last page and a half is just her struggling with what to do.

It goes something like this.

It goes something like this.

And we all know how it ends so I don’t care.  At all.  But there is one more thing I care enough about to bring up.

My first language, the true language of the soul that was spoken only on our planet of origin, had no word for betrayal or traitor. Or even loyalty –because without the existence of an opposite, the concept had no meaning.

This is something of a pet peeve of mine.  The idea that terms generally considered opposite to each other cannot exist without their ‘opposite’.  It’s not true.  You can be loyal without the possibility of betraying someone.  Just like you can be good without the possibility of being evil.  I’ll try my best to explain.  If everyone in this species is friendly, they can still have specific loyalties.  Say, one pair of the parasites are the best of friends!  They like everyone else, but when all’s said and done, if presented with the choice of saving only one of two people in a fire, for whatever reason there’s only the time/opportunity to save one, they’d likely choose their bestest friend.  That is loyalty.  Choosing to save the other would not necessarily be a betrayal.  Hell, just them being good little worker bees is loyalty to their species.  The concept still has meaning.  It may not be as important, but it still means something.  It doesn’t need the concept of betrayal to exist.  Only to be important.  We have lots of words for things that aren’t important.  Lots of concepts that aren’t important.

I would even argue that it’s still important!  ‘You are a good and loyal friend!  You always pick me for your team in soccer practice!  You are always there for me when I need you!  You put the needs of the species above your own!’ That last one was obviously a dig on Wanderer who is betraying her species for her own desires, justifying it by feeling like she’s betraying Jamie and Jared who she has no responsibility towards.

Have I pointed out recently that I hate Wanderer?  Remember, she’s still not yet admitted that her species does anything wrong.  She’s continued to state that she believes her species deserves the planets they take over.  She states she believes that this is her body, not Melanie’s.  She still hates Melanie!  She believes her species is good and wonderful and doing what’s right.  And she’s betraying them because she fell in love with people she’s never met who are sure to want her dead.  This is supposed to be the choice that’s the right one, and yeah, from our perspective it is.  But from hers it should be morally repugnant.  In terms of showing her character it makes her look awful.

So much shorter this chapter than last… Sorry about that.  This chapter was just boring as the desert Wanderer describes four times.  Because it was so relevant the first time she had to repeat it a few more.  Hopefully chapter 10 has something worth talking about.  Till then I leave you with one last gif!

He's flying away from this awful chapter like I am

He’s flying away from this awful chapter like I am

Don’t forget to check out The Llama’s take on this chapter!

The Host Review: Loved (Ch 8)

We finally get an answer to a question that doesn’t make me angrier than the question itself!  A shuttle is not a bus it’s a plane!

Celebrate now because I suspect that won’t be happening again anytime soon.

Small Confetti

The issues start almost immediately, as per usual.  Apparently Wanderer is afraid to fly, and Seeker is wondering how the hell someone who’s flown through deep space could be afraid of a plane (which they keep calling it a shuttle and I have no idea why…) Wanderer, in her usual defensive tone, explains that she isn’t afraid to fly, she just doesn’t like it because Melanie gets motion sickness in planes.  Except if she gets motion sickness on planes she probably does in cars too.  Most people who suffer from motion sickness problems on planes but not cars only really have issues on the smaller planes when there’s turbulence.  Considering Wanderer stated in her self righteous glory that they stopped raping the planet for resources, I highly doubt they’re using our existing fossil fueled planes and probably brought in new ones.  Considering they’re advanced enough for space travel you’re really meaning to tell me they didn’t solve rocky turbulence?

The Seeker rolled her eyes in disgust. “So take medication! What would you have done if Healer Fords hadn’t relocated to Saint Mary’s? Would you be driving to Chicago?”

Wait… she was looking for flights to Chicago at the end of the last chapter.  This is the third paragraph of the new chapter.  If he’s her healer rather than someone closer by how did she not know already that he was no longer in Chicago?  Why did he relocate?  Plot convenience?  Probably.  Why must everything in this book be done through clumsy exposition rather than having anything be natural in this story?!  We’re on chapter 8 for fuck’s sake we should be done with the exposition dialogue!

Anyway, this is more of Wanderer’s interpretation of Seeker’s expressions not matching what she says.  ‘Disgust’ doesn’t make sense there.  Rolling her eyes because Wanderer is being silly makes sense, but what follows:

“No. But since the option of driving is now reasonable, I will take it. It will be nice to see a bit more of this world. The desert can be stunning –”

“The desert is dead boring.”

It just sounds like normal conversation to me.  Nothing about anything she has said so far in this chapter has had even a little bit of malice with it.  This sounds more like conversations between female best friends in tv shows.  I fail to see the antagonism.  At least not from Seeker.  Wanderer is certainly doing a good job of being ‘disgusted’.

The next thing out of Wanderer’s mouth is a snide remark about wanting to be alone and glaring at Seeker.  Who’s surprised?!  I bet you are!  Oh but of course her own expressions aren’t glares, it’s a ‘pointed look’!  Wanderer’s not the bitch you guys!  It’s all Seeker!

Absolutely

Seeker wants to know why she’s going to Fords instead of a Healer close by, Wanderer says it’s because she’s comfortable with Fords.  Which we all know is code for ‘I hate people and want to meet as few new ones as possible’.

Wanderer goes on to imply that she thinks Seeker is lying to her about the necessity of switching bodies and tells Seeker she knows she’s being manipulated.  Except that makes no fucking sense whatsoever.  I keep coming back to this same point over and over again because Meyer keeps fucking it up; Wanderer is drawing on Melanie’s memories.  Melanie spent IMPORTANT formative years in relative isolation.  She would have no idea whatsoever how to tell when she was being manipulated.  And if these parasites are soooooo nice and sooooooooo trusting and sooooo friendly, it’s not exactly something Wanderer would have encountered much in the last few months would it?  If this was real life instead of a poorly written piece of shit, this would be just severe trust issues and projecting bias, not any genuine knowledge.

We get to learn that Wanderer hasn’t bought anything but the basic necessities over several months and she’s taking pretty much all of it with her on this drive, which will apparently take a whole week?  If anyone’s been paying more attention than I have, where the hell even is she?!  At first I thought she was still in Chicago, then I thought she was in Arizona, but now Seeker said Fords’ is in Tucson, and it’s going to take her several days to get there?  I have no idea where she’s living.  How have we done 8 chapters of exposition and I still know so little about the actual world that the exposition is taking place in?

Oh right, that's why...

Oh right, that’s why…

As Wanderer continues to exposit I get the feeling she doesn’t get motion sick at all, she was just trying to ditch Seeker, knowing she wouldn’t drive with her.  Except that makes no sense.  She says she knew Seeker would be too impatient to drive, she’ll fly, but how does that help her patience?  She either has to wait in Tucson for Wanderer to arrive or wait around… where ever they are, before she leaves to arrive at the same time Wanderer does.  If she hopped in the car with Wanderer she would have plenty of time to grill her and watch for signs of Melanie taking control.

If a new body meant freeing myself of the Seeker… well, that was quite an inducement.

‘Inducement.’  Meyer does know that most people who read her books are teens right?  She keeps using words I’d be willing to bet even she never heard before looking at thesaurus.com.

I had another choice, too. I could abandon this entire world as a failure and move on to a tenth planet. I could work to forget this whole experience. Earth could be just a short blip in my otherwise spotless record.

What the hell is that supposed to mean?  ‘Spotless record’.  Spotless how?  Is existing a job to them?  If she means she’s never skipped, she’d lose that record by taking another body anyway.  If she means staying on each planet for one whole life time, that seems to be an unusual thing, so I don’t see how that would make her ‘record’ spotless.  If she just means she has her own personal goals and this would be a blemish on her own desires skipping to a different body would be that too.  I do not see what’s so significant about jumping planets instead of just bodies.

A new planet? There was a recent acquisition–here on Earth, they were calling the new hosts Dolphins for lack of a better comparison, though they resembled dragonflies more than marine mammals.

Ugh

I need to… compose… myself before I touch this one.

GO FUCK YOURSELF STEPHANIE MEYER.

IF THEY CALL THEM DOLPHINS FOR ‘LACK OF BETTER COMPARISON’ BUT THEY LOOK LIKE FUCKING DRAGONFLIES’, WHY THE FUCK WOULDN’T THEY JUST CALL THEM DRAGONFLIES’?!

Fucking Table Flip

And this raises all fucking KINDS of new questions!  Do the bats on bat world look like iguanas?!  WORDS. HAVE. MEANINGS.

Anyway, she blathers on about how she’s never been as drawn to anywhere as she has been to Earth because of fucking course she is, like I said in the last chapter, this isn’t a goddamn mystery to us there’s 52 chapters left!  It’s hard to build any tension when we all know nothing comes of this and she’s not going to grow as a character either so just. Stop. Talking.  I find Wanderer and her exposition and her pretentious dialogue and her judgmental bitchery repugnant!  Suck it up and get the goddamn plot!

She wonders why Melanie is being quiet.  Wonders if she’s trying to seem like less of a burden so Wanderer will keep her like a pet trying not to pee on the carpet so their master stops getting mad at them, or if she’s trying to prepare herself for Seeker plugging in, or if she’s trying to gather her strength to take over.  Personally I don’t give a shit, but I bet you’re all as shocked by that as I was to see Wanderer be a bitch to Seeker.

This is how surprised we all are I'm sure.

This is how surprised we all are I’m sure.

I have to wonder why she’s had to make multiple trips to and from the car.  I mentioned in one of my Q&A posts that I live and work in different cities.  I spend 6 days a week in a tiny little town living out of a trailer and Saturday after work I drive several hours back to my home where I do my laundry and watch cable and use internet that’s faster than dial-up.  I pick up groceries because the town has terrible selection and even worse prices, and I head back Sunday afternoon.  I also take my cat back and forth with me.  In one trip from my third floor apartment to the parking structure I carry my groceries, my cat, my clothes, my toiletries, my laptop, and anything else I may be taking back and forth with me.  One trip.  Admittedly if I wasn’t so lazy it would be better to do it in 2 since it’s… difficult, but she said she’s only taking enough clothes for a week and she has next to nothing else, so what the hell needed at least 3 trips back and forth from her apartment to the rental car?  Also, why is it important that we know it’s a rental car?

The phone rang as I was stepping out the door, and I turned back to get it, but I was too late. I’d already set the message system to answer on the first ring. I knew what the caller would hear: my vague explanation that I would be out the rest of the semester, and that my classes would be canceled until a replacement could be found. No reason given.

tumblr_inline_mqe1b5FXu11qz4rgp

So, did she not tell her boss?  Did she just decide to up and quit without saying anything?  Does this go back to the whole ‘we don’t have oversight, everyone just does whatever the hell they want’ thing they mentioned in the last chapter?  It’s awfully horrible of her to just quit without even telling her boss.  Especially if she might be back, or might be switching bodies.  She could come back just in her new corpse.  Why can’t she just say she’s taking a few days off, then if she decides to piss off to a new planet she can just call and let her boss, Curt, know?  You remember Curt right?  The guy she said was so nice to her and after Kathy revealed they’d been on the front lines she even said she respected?  Yeah, he’s the one she’s leaving holding the bag.  If that’s what she does to people she likes it’s no wonder she’s never had any friends.

Oh, sorry, no, she did send Curt an email.  Telling him the same thing that’s on her message.  So respectful.  She doesn’t stop to listen to the message because she thinks it’s him and she’s all full of shame because she knows she’s a bitch.

I had the strange feeling that this world–not just Melanie, but the entire orb of the planet–did not want me, no matter how much I wanted it. I just couldn’t seem to get my roots in. I smiled wryly at the thought of roots. This feeling was just superstitious nonsense.

Noooo, roots are not superstitious nonsense.  ‘Roots’ is a colloquialism.  A metaphor.  Not a superstition.  It means you have an attachment somewhere.  She says she can’t seem to get any, but she’s clearly not trying.  She has refused to make friends, she’s not personalized her space, she clearly didn’t like her job, she hasn’t made any effort to root herself.  This doesn’t make me pity her as it’s clearly intended, it makes me hate her more.  Just like the bit in the last chapter about her unwillingness to try to make friends with strangers.  She just comes off as self-pitying for choices she’s actively making that she could easily change.

I’d never had a host that was capable of superstition. It was an interesting sensation. Like knowing you were being watched without being able to find the watcher. It raised goose bumps on the nape of my neck.

Do I have to explain why superstitions happen?  Apparently I do.  Other animals are capable of superstition too.  Why?  Because any species capable of intelligence is capable of it!  It’s simple correlation = causation.  A crow drops a nut in traffic and the cars passing by crack the shell.  The crow rightfully makes the connection that dropping a nut into traffic is an easier way to break the shell than bashing it against rocks.  This is what learning is.  Sometimes it’s wrong.  But hey, it keeps working!  So it sticks.  People or animals keep assuming that whatever they were doing when the desired outcome happened, that’s what caused the outcome.  Any intelligent species would be capable of superstition.  Humans would not be the only one.  AND ROOTS AREN’T A SUPERSTITION DAMMIT.

Sneer

I shut the door firmly behind me but did not touch the obsolete locks. No one would disturb this place until I returned or it was given to someone new.

Why is this paragraph here?  This is an entire paragraph.  There is no reference to the locks before or after it.  What purpose does this serve?  WHY DO YOU KEEP WASTING OUR TIME WITH THIS IRRELEVANT BULLSHIT?!

“Maybe… ,” she said, raising her voice to almost a shout so that I could hear her over the engine noise and through the closed window, “maybe I’ll try it your way. Maybe I’ll see you on the road.”

She smiled and shrugged.

She was just saying it to upset me.

Does that sound like she’s trying to upset Wanderer?  There’s not even a reference to the smile being cruel.  It’s just a smile and a shrug.  The more interactions between these two I read the more it sounds like Seeker really wants to be Wanderer’s friend!  Maybe Seeker is just lonely!  Maybe she’s as bad at getting to know people as Wanderer is, so trying to get the information from Melanie is her excuse to hang around someone because she’s lonely and she wants to get to know someone and this is the only way she knows how.  This way she gets to do her job and make a friend all at the same time!  She just wants to get to know you Wanderer!  Stop pushing her away.

annoyed-you-with-my-friendship

In eight hours I would be in Tucson. It wasn’t long enough.

WHAT?!  WHY IS SHE TAKING A WEEK’S WORTH OF CLOTHES FOR AN 8 HOUR DRIVE?!  SHE COULD HAVE DONE THIS OVER A WEEKEND AND NOT QUIT!  OH MY GOD I HATE THIS WOMAN.

It was very relaxing to be away from civilization, and this bothered me. I should not have found the loneliness so welcoming. Souls were sociable. We lived and worked and grew together in harmony. We were all the same: peaceful, friendly, honest. Why should I feel better away from my kind? Was it Melanie who made me this way?

No Wanderer, do not blame this on Melanie.  You’re the one who said you were antisocial on all your planets.  This is not Melanie’s fault.  Peaceful and friendly my ass.  And you’re not all the same!  You said Seekers (not just the one you hate so much) are all more prone to violence than the rest of your species, which says specifically that you’re not all the same.  There is a segment of your population that are less peaceful, friendly and honest. And there is a segment of your population that would have to be more peaceful and friendly; the comforters.  You’re not all the same or you’d all be drawn to the same things, but everyone still has their unique things they like doing.  Everyone picks their own job.  If you were all the same you’d be assigned jobs because you wouldn’t care what you did.  You wouldn’t have a passion for one thing over another.

I searched for her but found her remote, dreaming in the back of my head.

This was the best it had been since she’d started talking again.

She stopped talking?  Why weren’t we privy to this event?  Was it during the 6 month time skip?  Why is everything being told to us?  Why can’t we get to learn anything through actual events in the story?!

why

She finally gets on the road and immediately she contradicts herself. She said she was going so slow every single other person on the road passed her, but then says the miles passed quickly.  I suspect this is Meyers screwing up another metaphor.  Time would be passing quickly, not the miles.  She describes the scenery as monotonous though, so how would the time be passing quickly?

She talks about how Melanie’s memory of the place is a lot more ‘colourful’.  She doesn’t get why its reality is so boring for her.  Apparently despite that she understands words like ‘inducement’ she’s unfamiliar with the word ‘nostalgia’.

Melanie is being all nostalgic and prepping herself for death.  Wanderer is being all nosey and butting in on her thoughts.  Melanie thinks back to a cabin, Wanderer calls cabin’s ‘ingenious’.  What’s so ingenious about a cabin?

We get another memory flashback scene from Melanie’s past.  The text for memories is significantly smaller, it’s somewhat difficult to read actually.  I hope this doesn’t become a thing.

I hear Jamie’s laughter echo through the narrow canyon as he runs ahead of us. His black hair bounces with his body. He bounces all the time now, this thin boy with the sun-darkened skin. I hadn’t realized how much weight those narrow shoulders were carrying.

Can’t Meyer just say ‘tanned’?  Why does she have to keep saying sun-darkened?  It’s like she wants to make damn sure that you know these characters are white.  ‘Tan could be read as Latino or Native!  Can’t say that!  And ‘dark skin’ could be read as black!  Must shove down the reader’s throat they’re white!’  Normally subtle racism goes beyond my notice because I can shrug it off as maybe the person is just doing it by accident or maybe I’m just seeing it when it isn’t there, but, I don’t know.  I just get a racist vibe from it.  But I could just be finding more reasons to hate this damn thing, as though I needed them.

Jared’s dad apparently built the cabin without bothering to file for any permits or find out who owned the land he built it on.  Stupid at the time, but handy at the point this memory is taking place.  They’re using the cabin as a safe house since no one knows it’s there, it would be easy to hide. So far other than the racism thing nothing in this flash back is pissing me off.  I’m frankly at a bit of a loss as to what to talk about without anything to be angry at…

No wait!  Don't be fooled by the lack of suck in this scene!

No wait! Don’t be fooled by the lack of suck in this scene!

Melanie mentions that Jared keeps touching her and it gives her mushy feelings, but that for him it seems to be just making sure she’s really there.  Considering he spent 2 years without another human being around that doesn’t surprise me.  I probably wouldn’t let her go for fear she’d run away or turn out to be a dream…  My god is there another character in this book I actually don’t hate?!

colbert-jaw-drop

Melanie wonders why he hasn’t kissed her since she screamed at him.  First of all that would be a good reason not to kiss her again, but… that’s not what happened.  We saw that flashback.  The last time he kissed her was right before he ran back to that house, not right before she saw the scar on his neck like she claims in this scene.  He didn’t kiss her right before that.  He kissed her when she still thought he was an alien, and she kicked him and ran, he tackled her, he showed her his neck after explaining that the scar was self-inflicted, she did not scream over it, he let her back up, he begged her not to kick him again then kissed her.  She didn’t scream or kick him, she got all mushy and fell in love.  Consistency.

She wonders if he’s actually hot or if she’s only seeing him as hot because he’s the last man on Earth that she’s not related to.  I don’t understand why that matters.  Its only relevance is the line that follows stating that no, he really is hot, so go ahead reader, fantasize.  Except she calls him ‘beautiful’.  Is that really a word women use to describe men they want to be with?  I hear someone call a man ‘beautiful’ and I think it’s either an insult stating that he’s just attractive on the inside but not the outside, or that he’s incredibly feminine.  Which as far as I can tell is a fetish not a common definition of male attractiveness.  Maybe I’m off on that one though.  Maybe I’m too old, just not up on more recent lingo or trends in what’s hot.

No, I don’t think that’s it. He really is beautiful.

“What are you thinking, Mel?” he asks. “You seem to be concentrating on something very important.” He laughs.

I shrug, and my stomach flutters. “It’s beautiful here.”

He looks around us. “Yes. But then, isn’t home always beautiful?”

Word repetition.  Lots of it.  ‘Beautiful’ is definitely a common word in this book, but this scene is especially bad as you can see.

Food doesn’t grow on trees.

Ow.  My brain.

In fairness it’s followed by ‘Not in the desert at least’ but still!  Come on!  Food still grows on trees in the desert!  Just, less.  But there’s other things to eat.  There are plenty of peoples that live in deserts all over the world, and these three have the advantage of clean water, shelter, and fire pits.  If Jared’s dad built the cabin in the desert he probably knew something about living in the desert, did he impart none of that information to Jared?  Or does Melanie just not understand the concept of killing things for food?  She’s been on the run this long, having to feed herself and her little brother, she never had to snare a rabbit?

I peek into the one narrow little bedroom. The full-size mattress is only inches away from the rough stone walls on either side.

It gives me a deep, rich sense of joy to see Jamie asleep on a real bed, his head on a soft pillow. His lanky arms and legs sprawl out, leaving little room for me where I am meant to sleep. He is so much bigger in reality than the way I see him in my head. Almost ten–soon he won’t be a child at all. Except that he will always be a child to me.

How big is a ‘full sized mattress’ if a skinny 9 year old boy is taking up most of it?  I think this is Meyer talking about her kids growing up not Stryder thinking about her little brother growing up.  Yeah, she had to take over the motherly role, but she’s still his big sister, not his mom, and they’ve been on the run, having to grow up a lot faster than most.  He wouldn’t have had much of a chance to act like a young child.  He would probably be better at this than she is because it would be all he would have known.  Though given that he’s been bouncy and excessively happy and child-like throughout this flash back I suspect he’s not going to be realistic at all.  He’s going to be as though he’s never known hardship at all and I’m going to hate him on principle.

Nothing Personal

Apparently Jared is sleeping on the couch because there’s only one bed in this cabin and he’s letting Jamie and Melanie take it.  Mel offers to let him sleep in the bed with Jamie and she’ll take the couch, he tells her to not be silly, that he’ll just steal a cot next time he’s out.  He’s being perfectly reasonable.  She, however, starts to wonder what he means by ‘go out’ and makes it sound like she thinks he’s going to abandon them or never sleep with her.  I can’t tell which idea she seems more upset over.  Either way, I still don’t like Melanie.

They talk, after he says they can stay for a while just do a few raids if they need anything, she insists on going with him if he does.  He says he’d rather die than leave her behind, asks if he’s being too melodramatic, but she says she gets it.  Honestly I do too.  Though it is too melodramatic it’s at least fair.  Annoying and needy, but, fair.  This takes him down a peg.  Kathy is still better than Jared.  But I still don’t hate him.  I am ranking the characters as I go.  So far it’s Kathy, Jared, Seeker, Fords, the assistant from the prologue whose name I forget (Darren?  Derek?), Jamie, Kevin, Curt (yes, the character we’ve never actually seen), Melanie, Wanderer.  If Jared doesn’t suck, after a while of Kathy not being around he could take her spot.  I hope he does so there’s an active character I don’t want to stab.

Melanie goes on about how that must mean he loves her.  She suggests he sleep with her, he misses her entendre.  He thinks she’s suggesting he take the bed again instead of her, this goes back and forth for a bit, him just guessing at what she means, never once catching on that she means sleep in the bed with her.  I’m left wondering how a teen male would miss it.

Finally Melanie caves and explains that she means since Jamie is small it makes more sense for him to take the couch and her and Jared can share the bed.  Truly she loves her little brother as though he were her son.  Putting his needs before her own!

I try to look away, but he holds my chin so that my gaze can’t escape his. Does he not feel the fire between his body and mine? Is that all me? How can it all be me? It feels like a flat sun trapped between us–pressed like a flower between the pages of a thick book, burning the paper. Does it feel like something else to him? Something bad?

NO ONE TALKS LIKE THIS!  NO ONE WITH A 6TH GRADER KNOWLEDGE OF ENGLISH COULD TALK LIKE THIS!

This is the look you would get if you talked like that in public.

This is the look you would get if you talked like that in public.

Melanie is only slightly less annoying than Wanderer.

Anyway, what comes next makes it sound like Jared did get her suggestion he was just trying to give her outs because he thinks she feels obligated to be with him since he’s provided her with a car and a home and food.  He’s quite gentlemanly to her telling her that no matter how few other humans are left out there if she doesn’t want to be with him, he would never dream of expecting her to.

Since I’ve been conceding that some of Jared’s stranger behaviour is acceptable under the circumstances, I have to concede the same to Melanie.  She gets a little childish trying to explain to him that she wasn’t doing it because she thought he expected it, but because she wanted to, clamming up half way through and shaking her head violently.  But as I keep pointing out, she’s been on the run since before she was a teenager.  She wouldn’t have learned how to deal with these things like an adult, so she’s not behaving like one.  It’s perfectly reasonable and I can’t hate her for it.

She finally blurts out her feelings for him and he gushes all over her in return and they kiss and it’s all disgustingly sweet and I’m bored.  I have no interest in the love between a generic but decent enough guy and an obnoxious little girl who had no chance to grow up.  The whole scene is pure fluff and I understand why it’s here, and there’s actual real characterization told through actual events rather than clumsy exposition which is exactly what I was asking for but I’m still bored.  But that’s because romance just isn’t my thing.  The quality in this scene is surprising.  Mostly in that quality is a word I can use to describe anything in this book.

“But you’re seventeen, Melanie. And I’m twenty-six.”

…Wait.  What?  Jared is 26?  That changes things…  Now I know he got her entendre and was just trying to give her an out.  He’s actually old enough to have gotten to experience normal life.  He should be a lot more bitter…  Though I suppose now that he’s with her maybe his relief over not being alone is making him nicer, but if he’s only been alone since he was 24 he would have had a whole life that got destroyed.  He would have finished school and been part of the real world.  He would have been more aware of the change than she would have been, witnessing it happen and the crushing reality of what was coming.  If he doesn’t turn out to be bitter and angry later in the book I call bullshit.

She keeps trying to get him to fuck her (I wish I was kidding…) and he’s telling her he would feel like a statutory rapist and it would be weird and if they’re going to have a relationship it needs to go a lot slower than she’s trying to make it.  You know, from what I’ve heard of Twilight, this was the dynamic in that too.  Older guy, girl wanting to have sex, guy wanting to wait.  Is this a thing?  Is this something girls actually want?  They want to have sex and then have the guy say no?  That seems odd to me…  I understand the concept of finding a guy who isn’t going to rush you attractive, but wanting to have sex and then having the guy say no?  Why is that something to find attractive?

confused-buffy

Melanie panics more that they don’t know how long they have so there is reason to rush, Jared gives her a reassuring smile and tells her they have forever because he’ll never lose her.  Aww sap.  Melanie and Wanderer cry over the sappiness and the chapter ends.

Okay, fine, this chapter didn’t suck thanks to that flash back.  It was mostly well written (the flashback, not the whole chapter…), some of the characterization seemed legit, and the best parts could actually tug at the heart strings if you’re not a cold-hearted old bastard like I am.  You win this round Meyer.  Keep this up and maybe I’ll actually be able to give a grudging ‘if you like romance novels give it a read’ recommendation when it’s over.  But I’ve had the ending spoiled, don’t worry dear readers, you won’t actually have to see that happen.

Till next time.

(Be sure to check out The Llama’s take on this chapter too!)

Q&A: What I’m Grateful For

This week, one of the guys I’d worked with on the project I’m on this summer lost his job.  Hindsight allows me to give a better interpretation of what happened, but at the time, it was because he’d pissed off the wrong people a few too many times.  You obviously don’t need to know the details.  I will tell you though what he did next.  He went home, and he committed suicide.

Obviously there was more to why he was pissing people off so much than anyone knew.  Or could be expected to know.  We have a job to do here, it needs to be done right and it needs to be done professionally, they had no choice.  Employers can’t get to know every single person that works for them intimately enough to know what’s going on in their home lives and, though they do anyway, they shouldn’t feel guilty over what happened.

I myself have struggled with depression for most of my life, long before I was even the lonely little emo teenager I became and thankfully grew out of.  Many members of my family struggle with depression and other undiagnosed mental illnesses that they suffer from in silence, not because they don’t think they need help, but because the world we’ve all grown up in is one where seeking help for mental illness is a bad thing.  You’re weak, or you’re crazy.  You’re pathetic or you’re unstable.  Never, you’re sick, and you need a doctor.

I suspect the man who died this week felt the same way.

The question The Llama’s book asks this week is What Are You Most Grateful For?  I’m most grateful that I have friends and family who love me, and who I can go to when I’m in need.  I’m most grateful that I have a bond with them of trust and respect that allows me to not be afraid.  I’m most grateful that they feel the same about me and I know that if they ever reach this point they know I will always be there for them no matter what.

I am at heart an idealist.  No matter how many times I’ve experienced feeling crushing loneliness and felt the people around me would be better off without me, I have a hard time accepting that view from others.  Because anyone willing to tell me they feel that way is someone that I am not better off without.  It’s someone who has viewed the empty expanse of the universe and though they saw no light, reached out in hope anyway.  That kind of bravery would be missed.

I’m not the best at helping people deal with emotional issues, if I can’t punch it to make it go away I tend to just throw distracting images of bunny rabbits at them till they yell at me to stop.  And I know I can’t save everyone anyway, I didn’t know the guy, me talking to him probably wouldn’t have helped much.  But I wish someone who loved him had at some point in his life told him it was okay to get help.  You are not weak.  You are not crazy.  You don’t have to do this alone.

I’m just going to leave a few links down here of things to check out if you’re ever feeling down.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Boggle-the-Owl/444285825608960 http://boggletheowl.tumblr.com/

http://www.rainymood.com/

http://thenicestplaceontheinter.net/