Let’s dive right into this crap today with the very first line:
“Yes, Faces Sunward?”
One of her students is named Faces Sunward. Llama brought up in her prologue review that she thought that the names were inspired by what white people call Native Americans in movies. I see her point better now.
My biggest strength, my only real credential–for my host body had had little in the way of a formal education, on the run since her early adolescence–was the personal experience I usually taught from.
Just pointing that out because of what I keep saying about her verbal skills. If she’s been on the run since she was only 14 or 15 her verbal skills, which is what Wanderer is drawing from for her own ability to speak English, would be poor. Not this horrible pretentious bullshit that keeps spewing from her craw.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but…” The white-haired man paused, struggling to word his question. “I’m not sure I understand. The Fire-Tasters actually…ingest the smoke from burning the Walking Flowers? Like food?” He tried to suppress the horror in his tone. It was not a soul’s place to judge another soul. But I was not surprised, given his background on the Planet of the Flowers, at his strong reaction to the fate of a similar life-form on another world.
So many problems… Why does Meyer have to keep doing this to me?! Why can’t she just skip over the history lesson, which ISN’T A HISTORY LESSON, like she skips over characterization? Let’s start with the assertion I just made shall we? Perhaps I’m remembering wrong, but I’m pretty sure Kathy said she was teaching the history of the other planets they’d conquered. This is not their history, this is their present. This is current events. She’s not talking about how they conquered them, just talking about the other planets they have parasites infesting. This would be a zoology lesson, or perhaps geography. Tourism? Propaganda? Pretty much anything but history.
Next point; how does she know where, ugh, Faces Sunward, I despise that name, is from? Does she get a dossier on all her students? I would imagine that would be hard if they’re anything like we are. A first year ‘history’ class at most universities would have anywhere from 50 to 200 students per class, multiple classes per semester. She would have hundreds of student’s names and information to memorize. And since I imagine most of the little parasite body’s ‘brain’ (it would be a system of neurons, not a brain as we know it) power would be used to control the host, they would be relying on the host’s brain for memorization for the most part. Do you know that memory is something you have to train? Melanie never went through high school, having to learn to study and memorize facts that mean little to her. Her ability to remember things would be inhibited compared to someone who had grown up in the world as we know it. And considering she didn’t come off as terribly bright in the flash back I’m going to guess she wasn’t just a gifted child and Wanderer is benefiting from that.
Next problem. Fire Tasters. My first instinct is that these are dragons. But we have a word for dragons, they’re dragons. Also Wanderer says she’s never lived on this planet, and we know she’d been a dragon. So what the hell is a fire taster and are we going to be forced to learn as much about them as Meyer keeps pushing the see weeds? Please don’t let that be the case…
Next problem, again, Planet of the Flowers. This is the second time they’ve specifically named a planet after one particular species. Does that mean they call Earth Planet of the Humans when they talk about it on other planets? Or is biodiversity non-existent on other planets? Except they just said that this fire taster planet also has ‘walking flowers’ and they consider flowers to be animals apparently, so, what the fuck? Is it the dominant species that they name it after? Or the species they infect? But what makes them choose one species over another to infect? On Earth it’s kind of obvious, but do they just pick what’s at the top of the food chain? Someone I watch online said a while back about nit picking. He said that if something raises so many questions that you focus more on the questions than the movie/book/show/whatever, then the creators didn’t do their job in sucking you into the world and making you feel it. Meyer failed.
I’m not even going to talk about the flowers again. I don’t think I have to explain at this point why they make almost as little sense as the see weeds.
It was always amazing to me how some souls buried themselves in the affairs of whichever world they inhabited and ignored the rest of the universe. But, to be fair, perhaps Faces Sunward had been in hibernation when Fire World became notorious.
Ooooh, this isn’t Planet of the Fire Tasters, it’s Fire World! WHY THE FUCK ARE THERE FLOWERS ON FIRE WORLD?!
“Yes, they receive essential nutrients from this smoke. And therein lies the fundamental dilemma and the controversy of Fire World–and the reason the planet has not been closed, though there has certainly been adequate time to populate it fully. There is also a high relocation percentage.
“When Fire World was discovered, it was at first thought that the dominant species, the Fire-Tasters, were the only intelligent life-forms present. The Fire-Tasters did not consider the Walking Flowers to be their equals–a cultural prejudice–so it was a while, even after the first wave of settling, before the souls realized they were murdering intelligent creatures. Since then, Fire World scientists have focused their efforts on finding a replacement for the dietary needs of the Fire-Tasters. Spiders are being transported there to help, but the planets are hundreds of light-years apart. When this obstacle is overcome, as it will be soon, I’m sure, there is hope that the Walking Flowers might also be assimilated. In the meantime, much of the brutality has been removed from the equation. The, ah, burning-alive portion, of course, and other aspects as well.”
The level of bullshit is painful. Actively painful. Remember a few chapters back when I mentioned these fuckers still eat meat? Apparently they only care if the species is intelligent. But do you know how many species of animals on Earth have the intelligence of human children or greater? Dogs, cats, dolphins, apes, monkeys, more species of birds than I can name, rats, horses, octopi, squid, whales, need I go on? Many of those species of animal are eaten by humans. In fact somewhere in the world ALL of those species of animal are eaten by humans. Many of them because they’re simply the best form of nutrition available.
Just because a species is dominant does not mean it is the only species that is intelligent. Just because a species murders another species doesn’t mean they have a ‘cultural bias’ forcing them to see them as beneath them. IT MEANS THEY NEED TO EAT THEM TO FUCKING LIVE. Or maybe they just do not give a shit! Morals are subjective. There are no ‘every living thing needs to abide by these rules or they’re evil’ rules!
You know what these parasites are? They’re the raw food assholes. They’re the people who live in rich communities where they have choices and can do whatever they want because of their privilege and then judge everyone else who doesn’t. And if you try and tell them that the majority of people can’t live on a raw food diet because of availability or cost, or any of the other multitudes of completely valid reasons that make it literally impossible for other people to abide by their moral code they will advocate that those people should starve to death because, and this is a direct quote, ‘what kind of people would they be?’ They think they’re so morally superior that everyone else who does not share their morality doesn’t deserve to live. They don’t deserve their own bodies or free will.
Oh and this reveals how they infect new species. They ship the parasites from one planet to the next complete with host body! This raises so many problems I don’t even know where to start. If this is ‘fire world’ I’m guessing it’s very hot. I’m also guessing that the atmosphere has a different chemical makeup than the spider’s world would.
Did you know what we breathe isn’t just oxygen? And I don’t mean smog and pollution, I mean the natural chemical makeup of the air is much more nitrogen then oxygen. 78% of air is nitrogen, to be specific, only 20% is oxygen, the rest is trace amounts of carbon dioxide, neon, argon, helium, etc. We would actually die in an atmosphere that had too much oxygen in it. A planet that was a high temperature and where fire/smoke are constantly around, the air would have a significant concentration of sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, basically things that would kill us.
This makes this little theory kind of difficult. In fact, the vast majority of planets would have atmosphere’s that their previous host species would be incapable of living in. And since they need to be stealthy I’m guessing they’re not going in in space suits and building massive constructs that would provide them with their host’s necessary atmospheric conditions. So that would imply that one day, a UFO came to Earth, abducted several humans, where they would have been subjected to the sight of man sized bats or spiders or dragons or… flowers… and somehow they would not have been going through strong enough emotions over that experience to fight back as much as Melanie is to Wanderer. I do not buy that for a second.
Now let’s talk about how she said they’ll assimilate the flowers too. My question is why? Do they just get bored in one body and decide they need to hop on to a new one? Do they reproduce so rapidly that their host species reproduction capacities can’t keep up? If the flowers are a harmless species that doesn’t prey on anything else, and are merely victimized (in the eyes of the parasites) by the fire tasters, what purpose would assimilating them serve? They wouldn’t be improving the planet by doing so. They wouldn’t be making them nicer. WHAT IS THE FUCKING POINT?!
“How can they…” Faces Sunward trailed off, unable to finish.
Another voice completed Faces Sunward’s thought. “It seems like a very cruel ecosystem. Why was the planet not abandoned?”
IF THE FIRE TASTERS ARE SO FUCKING BARBARIC AND THEY THINK THEY SHOULD ABANDON THAT PLANET BECAUSE OF THEM, WHY WOULDN’T THEY THINK THE SAME OF US?!
I hate this chapter, I hate this book, I hate these aliens. Hate.
“That has been debated, naturally, Robert. But we do not abandon planets lightly. There are many souls for whom Fire World is home. They will not be uprooted against their will.” I looked away, back at my notes, in an attempt to end the side discussion.
“But it’s barbaric!”
Robert was physically younger than most of the other students–closer to my age, in fact, than any other. And truly a child in a more important way. Earth was his first world–the Mother in this case had actually been an Earth-dweller, too, before she’d given herself–and he didn’t seem to have as much perspective as older, better-traveled souls.
So, okay, wait… are they asexual? Does one have to die before another can be born? Why did his mother have to ‘give herself’? This species makes no sense at all. Also; asexual reproduction isn’t the primary method of reproduction on Earth for a reason. Genetic cloning gives less room for adaptation, beneficial mutations, natural selection. The species tend to die off as soon as their environment is altered and they have no ability to adapt to the change. So if they are asexual, as this above quote implies, they likely never would have made it to space fairing capabilities.
Robert calls her out for being a hypocrite, saying she judges them as much as he does or else she wouldn’t have skipped that planet since she’s been everywhere else and, as is her personality, she gets snippy with him. Because she’s an immature bitch incapable of controlling her emotions, incapable of facing her flaws, and incapable of admitting to any mistakes.
Apparently Melanie has found a reason to think the class is interesting and pipes up that Robert is right. Wanderer all but calls her a bitch and complains that her presence is making the class harder to teach. Expect she’s only said one thing this whole time, so she’s no more of a distraction than the students.
The Seeker is apparently sitting behind Robert, and is very interested in the class. Wanderer wants to be a bitch to her but doesn’t want Robert thinking it’s directed at him. Fuck I hate Wanderer. Seeker hasn’t done a damn thing, there is no reason to be a bitch to her. Melanie hates her, and that makes sense. Melanie was chased down and assimilated because of the woman and now she’s after her boyfriend and little brother. Melanie has EVERY reason to detest the Seeker. Wanderer is just being a hypocritical bitch.
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.
Strangers, yeah. Strangers that you know the names of, and where they lived last, and who their parents are and where they’re from. Yup, total strangers. Also; how the hell do you think you get to know people?! EVERYONE IS A STRANGER BEFORE YOU GET TO KNOW THEM. WORDS HAVE MEANINGS WHY DO I HAVE TO KEEP TELLING YOU THAT?!
Was that the way I felt? Or the way Melanie felt? It was hard to tell. Maybe I was naturally antisocial. My personal history supported that theory, I supposed. I’d never formed an attachment strong enough to keep me on any planet for more than one life.
So, again, they’re such a connected and loving species, but she’s anti-social. And instead of being viewed as an outcast like the Seekers (it was stated in an earlier chapter that they view the seekers harshly for being so different from the average, so clearly they’re as subject to cultural norm biases as we are) she’s seen as strong? No no no Meyer, that is not how this shit works.
Wanderer goes on to make fun of Seekers height and I wonder if it’s not that she’s anti-social, it’s that she’s such a bitch no one ever wanted to talk to her so she internalized that no one wanted to talk to her and turned it defensive, claiming she didn’t want to talk to anyone else.
Seeker wants to know why she didn’t tell Robert why she chose not to live on Fire World, and she remains in bitch mode. Actively ignoring her until forced to respond and getting snippy about it, saying it’s none of his business and he needs to learn some manners. To which I say your teachers biases are important to know when trying to determine whether the information you’re being presented is accurate.
“Do you think you’ll ever settle, Wanderer? On this planet, maybe? You seem to have an affinity for their… feelings.”
I bridled at the implied insult in her tone. I wasn’t even sure how she meant to insult me, but it was clear that she did. Melanie stirred resentfully.
“I’m not sure what you mean.”
“Tell me something, Wanderer. Do you pity them?”
“Who?” I asked blankly. “The Walking Flowers?”
“No, the humans.”
I stopped walking, and she skidded to a halt beside me. We were only a few blocks from my apartment, and I’d been hurrying in hopes of getting away from her, though likely as not, she’d invite herself in. But her question caught me off guard.
“Yes. Do you pity them?”
“No. They were quite the brutal race. They were lucky to survive each other as long as they did.”
“Not every one of them was bad.”
Sorry for the long quote there, but it’s important to get the whole thing. How much shit has Wanderer said about humans? She’s called us violent and overly emotional. She says that the Seekers like it here because there’s so much violence. She out right despises Melanie, and she’s never met another uninfected human. She’s saying ‘not all of them are bad’ for two reasons. 1) Because she’s a bitch and must contradict everything that Seeker says, and 2) because she wants to fuck Jared.
She claims that the human’s capacity to appreciate beauty is a big loss and that’s why she pities them. I don’t buy it. If that was the case she should give up the body and let Melanie have it back. But she hates Melanie. Who is her only direct line to humanity. And she’s antagonistic towards them, calling Kathy out for using a human name. So, no, Wanderer does not pity humans. She’s just a contradictory bitch.
Anyway, we find out that this is Seekers first life and choosing to be a Seeker in your first life is weird. Apparently. Seeker (why the hell does she still not have a name?) says she talked to Kathy and advocates moving Wanderer to a new host. Wanderer freaks out (that’s becoming a common phrase isn’t it?) saying Kathy would never talk to Seeker, and completely giving away the truth of it like all those idiots in tv shows that get conned into admitting the truth by being told the truth is already known. Oldest trick in the book. And the old, experienced Wanderer got taken by the glorified baby.
Wanderer gets all uppity about the sanctity of doctor patient privilege which seems a bit hypocritical (another phrase that’s becoming rather common to describe Wanderer) considering how she already thinks comforters are for the weak and pathetic. She gets uppity that Seeker thinks she’s hiding something. Expect she IS hiding something. So that’s, again, pretty hypocritical.
Continuing to give away more information than the Seeker had, Wanderer admits that Melanie is still alive in there, and this floors Seeker. She regains her composure and asks why she talks about Melanie in the present tense. Rather than being an adult, Wanderer chooses to avoid the question entirely in yet more evidence that she’s mentally 12.
Apparently Seeker has gotten permission to swap hosts with Wanderer for a bit to try and get the information she needs from Melanie. Of course this pisses Wanderer and Melanie off to no end. Wanderer says she won’t let it happen, Seeker justifiably says that she’ll just wait around till everything goes south like it did with Kevin and Melanie regains control and leads Seeker right where she needs to go. This is clearly a return to the transparent villainy version of Seeker. I swear it’s actually two different people. Oh hey, maybe it is two different people. Maybe since Seeker chose to be a seeker in her first life, her host body was actually a horrible person who liked inflicting pain and the nice caring parts are the parasite. Seems unlikely it would be the other way around since ‘caring’ is apparently not a strong enough emotion in Meyerverse.
“Yes, it’s probably just a matter of time. Your Comforter didn’t tell you the statistics, did she? Well, even if she did, she wouldn’t have the latest information that we have access to. The long-term success rate for situations such as yours–once a human host begins to resist–is under twenty percent. Did you have any idea it was so bad? They’re changing the information they give potential settlers. There will be no more adult hosts offered. The risks are too great. We’re losing souls. It won’t be long before she’s talking to you, talking through you, controlling your decisions.”
Or maybe this is more of Wanderers bias showing through. Maybe Seeker is just genuinely concerned for her well-being and wants to get her to switch before something bad happens to her. Wanderer is already at that stage. It sounds like it has similar long term prognosis as stage 4 cancers, and the only cure is switching to a new host before it’s fatal. Seeker doesn’t want to see that happen. Doesn’t seem terribly unreasonable to me.
“Is that what you want, Wanderer? To lose? To fade away, erased by another awareness? To be no better than a host body?”
So, what they do to the host bodies is the worst thing that can be done to them. And they don’t see the problem here.
She nodded, trying to suppress a smile. “You’re losing yourself, Wanderer. All the worlds you’ve seen, all the experiences you’ve collected–they’ll be for nothing. I saw in your file that you have the potential for Motherhood. If you gave yourself to be a Mother, at least all that would not be entirely wasted. Why throw yourself away? Have you considered Motherhood?”
I jerked away from her, my face flushing.
“I’m sorry,” she muttered, her face darkening, too. “That was impolite. Forget I said that.”
See? She really doesn’t seem to be anything but genuinely concerned when Wanderer’s bias isn’t tainting it with her interpretations of facial expressions and tone, both of which Wanderer has admitted to being terrible at reading. She doesn’t want Wanderer to just die. She said in the paragraph prior to that quote that if she stays in the body the best case scenario is what happened to Kevin, where she’ll still have lost herself and her personal history, being more Melanie than Wanderer. She wants her to live on, or… die to be reborn? I still don’t understand their reproduction. But she also cares about being nice to Wanderer, noticing when she’s crossed a line and apologizing.
“I’m going home. Don’t follow.”
“I have to, Wanderer. It’s my job.”
“Why do you care so much about a few spare humans? Why? How do you justify your job anymore? We’ve won! It’s time for you to join society and do something productive!”
My questions, my implied accusations, did not ruffle her.
“Wherever the fringes of their world touch ours there is death.” She spoke the words peacefully, and for a moment I glimpsed a different person in her face. It surprised me to realize that she deeply believed in what she did. Part of me had supposed that she only chose to seek because she illicitly craved the violence. “If even one soul is lost to your Jared or your Jamie, that is one soul too many. Until there is total peace on this planet, my job will be justified. As long as there are Jareds surviving, I am needed to protect our kind. As long as there are Melanies leading souls around by the nose…”
Even Wanderer is starting to realize she’s been kind of a judgmental bitch to Seeker.
After this, instead of apologizing for yelling at her, or conceding that she has a point, even if Wanderer still doesn’t agree, she turns and walks away in a huff without saying a word, at a deliberate pace that the short Seeker can’t keep up with. This irks Seeker and instead of chasing after her she just yells to let her know when she should start calling her Melanie instead of Wanderer.
Oh dear lord… The next bit is incredibly hard to read. Up till now Wanderer and Melanie haven’t really talked per se. Melanie talks, which is in italics, and Wanderer thinks to herself, which is written the same way she thinks about everything else. Easy to tell them apart. Now they’re having a conversation. Everything is just in italics with no tags to tell you who’s talking. You have to fucking guess.
Melanie says they should get Seeker fired. Wanderer says their societies don’t work that way. That everyone just does what they want. How the hell do you organize anything if everyone just does whatever the hell they want with no oversight? What if the Seeker really did do something horrible? Is there no recourse at all? Do they just have to sit there and take it? What if one of them murders another one? What happens then? Or are they then removed from their host body? Because that seems like a recourse and oversight…
When Wanderer is done explaining why Melanie’s first plan won’t work, Mel suggests murder. Wanderer says this is why her species is better off in charge than humans are, but Melanie tells her to get off her high horse (her words) and accept that she’d like it just as much as Melanie would. The image of Wanderer strangling Seeker enters her head and she admits it was accompanied by a wave of pleasure.
Wanderer shakes it off saying that was all Melanie, not her, but admits to herself that it was also at least partly true for her. That while the imagery of murder shocked her, she would be happy to never see Seeker again. So basically she wants Seeker dead, she just doesn’t want to have to do it herself.
Melanie slowly calmed. By the time I was through the front door, locking behind me the bolts that I had never before turned–human artifacts that had no place in a peaceful world–her thoughts were contemplative.
‘Locking behind me the bolts that I had never before turned’. Yoda would be proud.
I’d never thought about how you all carry on your species. I didn’t know it was like that.
Like WHAT?! They die and are then reborn?! If that’s the case then their species numbers never grow! They wouldn’t have the numbers to populate new planets entirely! And how does her being old and experienced benefit her ‘child’ if she dies to give it life?! And is that even what happens?! Because I sure as hell don’t fucking know, so how does Melanie?! She has no more information than we do, and I directly quoted the only mentioning of it in this chapter! We are lacking key information here! Melanie has the science knowledge of a 6th grader, how the fuck was she able to figure out something I wasn’t?
Oh right, because Melanie Stryder is Stephanie Meyer and thus has information we do not by being the author. Bad story telling is bad.
Wanderer heads to her computer and starts looking for… shuttles to Chicago. Does that mean flights? Buses? The tube transport system from Futurama? Anyway, this freaks Melanie out because she’s going to Chicago to see Fords to decide whether or not to kill Melanie. And the chapter ends there. Oooo cliffhanger. Except we’re only 7 chapters into a 60 chapter book so we know she doesn’t, so not a cliffhanger at all.
You know, Llama and I started with The Host of the choices we had because between it, Twilight and 50 Shades, we’d heard The Host was the least bad. It certainly has the least split reviews. If Twilight and 50 Shades are worse than this book I’m going to end up tracking down Meyer and EL James and murdering them for the atrocities they’ve committed against literature.
Till next time.