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