I apologize in advance if anything in this review seems… less coherent than usual. I’m writing this under the influence of NyQuil (the greatest drug made by mankind.) so we’ll see how it goes!
Chapter four is significantly shorter than three, and a lot less expositiony, which is great because three chapters of exposition dumping was a bit much don’t you think? Try weaving some of that into the subtext would you Meyer?
Anyway, this chapter is a dream sequence. …I take it back, I’ll take more exposition instead. Oh wait, it’s exposition AS a dream sequence. All my dreams are coming true! We’re getting Steph… I mean Melanie’s backstory now! On the first page, we get the start of something that is very clearly something happening to Melanie in the past, we get this line:
The arcadia door is open two inches, letting the swamp cooler do its job.
I at first thought an Arcadia was a car. Perhaps she had a getaway car on and waiting for her. Nope, it’s followed by:
I can imagine the feel of the moist, cool air blowing through the screen.
So I have no idea what an Arcadia is. A Google search led me to nothing but cruise liners and a video game. And some condo buildings in my city, but since she’s in the US, not Canada, that seems unlikely. Also who the hell leaves their air conditioner on and a door or window open anyway?
She talks a lot about someone named Jamie. We know that her boyfriend’s name is Jared so it’s not him, and we know Meyer would never write a character she expects you to like and have them ever have had sex before, because god forbid, so we know it can’t be her kid either. Especially thanks to this line:
All the pressure of motherhood with none of the knowledge or experience.
Which, you know, I don’t really think most people who have their OWN kids have knowledge or experience before they have their first one, so technically speaking it could be a new baby, but I’m pretty sure she’s implying that someone else hefted the responsibility of a child on her without her consent and she’s not very good at it. But we all know this vagueness is just set up to make pointless tension with the boyfriend anyway that we all know isn’t real tension because at this point we already know she’s dating someone. Or wants to date someone at least. I think a more fun narrative is that this Jared guy is just some dude she’s seen from a distance and is stalking. Sadly Meyer doesn’t let me live with that thought for very long though…
She talks about how the aliens were able to win the war of the body snatchers because they so identically mimic human lives. Which seems kind of odd to me. If they so perfectly mimic their human hosts how would we even notice a change? And wouldn’t that mean that they couldn’t possibly be non-violent in human form? If that dickbag you work with all of a sudden stopped picking fights with you and started buying people lunch, well, it’s already a common joke to say ‘who are you and what have you done with the real Jim?!’ people would notice!
Back to the book. She walks through the door, which is apparently not locked, so clearly they aren’t just like us because it’s pretty rare to find a place where people don’t lock their doors. She’s apparently been stalking these people since she knows what they had for supper. But she says that they keep the routines of the people they were, and going out on Friday nights is normal, but then why would they cook? Most people I know who go out on Friday night at best grab a snack and eat while they’re out. I know some young people that don’t go out till late and eat supper first because they’re going to a bar for a concert, but…
Sorry to interrupt this train of thought, I’ve been informed that an ‘Arcadia’ is a sliding glass door. So why didn’t she just say ‘patio door’? This also suggests that they have their air conditioner stationed in their patio door. Is this normal anywhere? I’ve only ever seen air conditioners in windows… Whatever, back to the previously scheduled thought process.
But this seems to be an older couple in a suburb, not a pair of teenagers likely to go out to get drunk late into the night. Do these aliens even get drunk? CAN they get drunk? That would certainly set off a lot of alarm bells in the human population during the early stages of the invasion if they couldn’t. Though I suppose if they could no one would care when they confessed that they were actually alien parasites since they would assume it was drunk talk…
Easily distracted today. She raids the fridge, talks a lot about food and how hungry she is and I wonder why she doesn’t just stuff something into her mouth from the fridge because the flimsy excuse she gives doesn’t seem to hold much weight to me. It’s along the lines of ‘if I eat even a crumb I’ll sit on the floor and gorge and then get caught!’ but if she’s really so hungry that all of her survival instincts would get overridden by gorging she would probably not have the energy to make this little raid in the first place, adrenaline be damned. Not to mention that she can eat and move at the same time. Stuff something in her pockets and eat a handful as she gathers other things, then maybe she’d have more energy for a quick escape!
She also implies there’s meat. Why is that important you ask? Well, they’re a peaceful race aren’t they? Who among them mans the slaughter houses?
She does stop for a drink, but that doesn’t overwhelm her of course. Because consistency.
As she tries to leave, she’s caught by a man who’s so violent we all know immediately that he’s not one of the aliens, because even when they were being violent to Melanie they were still using non-threatening language, not threatening to kill her. Melanie isn’t that smart though, despite that this is clearly several years after the takeover, and they’ve attempted to establish already that she’s familiar with their behaviours.
It turns out to be Generic McChisel-jaw, Jared himself. They go back and forth each thinking the other is a parasite out to trick them, but if Jared was one he already has her in his arms he doesn’t need to trick her! I’ll pretend this can all be chalked up to fear and paranoia and nutritional deprivation, but in reality that only explains the initial reaction, not the entire length of how long this exchange goes on.
Jared figures out first that Melanie isn’t an alien despite her having more reason to believe he isn’t one than he does to believe she isn’t, because of course he’s going to be established as smarter than her. He’s also established in this flashback dream sequence as being stronger and faster than her, and more resourceful, but we’re stuck following the whiny girl because this is a romance pretending to be sci fi. If this were a real sci fi novel with a female main character we’d have a Ripley, not a Bella. And then this happens:
His hands grab my face from both sides, and before I can pull free, his lips come down hard on mine.
Which I’m just going to point out seems a little bit rapey. Maybe this is just me, but if I did that to a girl I didn’t know I’d expect to have the cops called on me at best. She then justifiably freaks out, he tries to convince her he’s not an alien, but she bolts like a scared cat after kicking him in the stomach (which is not where I would expect to get kicked in that scenario) and somehow manages to almost outrun him despite that she’s so hungry she can’t even take a bite of food without being consumed by need and still carrying the sack of food she grabbed from the house. Definitely plausible.
When he does inevitably catch up he tackles her to the ground, which somehow doesn’t cause anything to break despite how weak she would be from hunger nor does it spill anything from her bag of goodies. He straddles her chest, pinning her arms with his legs, which leaves me wondering why she doesn’t just raise her knees to hit his back, but whatever. He shows her his eyes trying to show her that he’s not an alien, and she demands to see his neck, which he explains wouldn’t help ‘cuz he cut himself there forever ago trying to fit in.
“My name is Jared Howe. I haven’t spoken to another human being in more than two years, so I’m sure I must seem… a little crazy to you. Please, forgive that and tell me your name, anyway.”
I just want to point out that long term isolation inhibits verbal capacity. His language skills would be limited after two years without speaking to another human being. He would not use sentences like ‘Please, forgive that and tell me your name’. He would be more likely to say ‘I haven’t talked to anyone in so long! Who are you?!’ Also, even if he weren’t dealing with long term isolation, nobody fucking talks like that. If I met someone claiming to be human who talked like that I would assume they were an alien.
She’s apparently already got a crush on mister rapey but to be fair that’s not unrealistic. Human nature tells us to band together and years without that sense of belonging and togetherness, you would cling to the first person you met too. It’s just annoying because I know that’s not what Meyer was thinking of when she wrote this:
“Do you really think I’m going to let you disappear? I’ll follow you even if you tell me not to.”
I don’t want to disappear from him.
After the fake tension between Melanie and Jared, where for a moment Jared thinks she has a boyfriend or a kid, Melanie explains that Jamie is her little brother.
“My brother. He’s just nine, and he’s so frightened when I’m away. It will take me half the night to get back to him. He won’t know if I’ve been caught. He’s so hungry. ”
Which we find out in a terribly written line of dialogue. Because that’s totally how people speak when they only person they’ve had to talk to for forever is a nine year old little boy right? I feel like I’m just nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking though so on with the rest of this dull chapter.
Jared kisses her again and it’s slightly less rapey though he still just does it, asking her not to kick him for it, not ‘can I kiss you’ or ‘please let me kiss you’, but, whatever, she likes it this time so apparently it’s okay now.
Jared has a car, he offers to drive Melanie to wherever her brother is waiting for her, and then Wanderer wakes up screaming and for some reason now that we’re in the present the narration switches from present tense to past.
I woke up covered in sweat. Even before I was all the way awake, my fingers were on the back of my neck, tracing the short line left from the insertion. I could barely detect the faint pink blemish with my fingertips. The medicines the Healer had used had done their job.
No Wanderer, the ‘medicines’ did not do their job. If they did, the scar wouldn’t be pronounced enough for you to feel. I have lots of scars, only one of them I can feel. If they’re so much more advanced than us, she shouldn’t be able to feel anything at all. Hell, it shouldn’t even leave a scar. But she certainly shouldn’t be able to feel it since it’s apparently been months since the insertion. If he had done a good job months should be plenty of time for that to not be sensed anymore. Actually, the scar I can feel is on my neck and was from surgery even. Guess what it’s not? Pink.
Wanderer rats out her host to the bitchy Seeker the second she wakes up, telling that she has a brother and where his last known location was, and then Melanie freaks out and Wanderer freaks out and there’s a lot of boring self-doubt on the part of Wanderer about how she’s not strong enough and what else Melanie has managed to hide from her and blah blah blah. This all further backs up that the hosts stay alive inside their bodies and have to sit and watch the aliens live their lives with no recourse to do anything, most people simply being too weak minded to do anything about it. Honestly that’s pretty horrifying. Imagine being trapped in your own body, watching someone else live your life, convince your friends and family that they’re you as they conspire to assimilate your loved ones into the alien collective and you can’t even scream or struggle or cry, only watch through eyes that are no longer solely yours…
Anyway, Mel tries to convince her to send the still not named Seeker another message telling her that she’s a crazy person and to just ignore the last email. When it doesn’t work she kinda sounds like a petulant teenager not getting her way. But Wanderer comes off no better, saying she needs her Comforter, which thanks to the Llama I picture as a big security blanket rather than a person. Wanderer also tells Melanie to leave if she hates her, which comes off as really horrible since that bitch is the one in Melanie’s body, not the other way around and telling her to leave is the same as telling her to die, which seems a bit harsh for a pacifist wouldn’t you think?
I still hate all the characters in this book, I’m sick of exposition and back story, and I genuinely hope this book ends with all the alien parasites dying of the common cold like in War of the Worlds. But this chapter was mercifully short at least.
See you next chapter where I get further evidence that Wanderer isn’t the special little snowflake the characters keep claiming she is.