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.
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!
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?
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.
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’?!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?!
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…
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?!
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.
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!
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?
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!)