This is the longest chapter yet. I am not looking forward to it, so let’s dive right in so we can get this one over with quickly shall we?
Are they here?” We choked out the words–they burst from us like the water in our lungs had, expelled. After water, this question was all that mattered. “Did they make it?”
I don’t like the trend that started last chapter and is apparently continuing; Wanderer referring to them as a ‘we’. I can’t help but picture a set of identical twins talking at the same time.
It bothers me because of how much of a bitch Wanderer has been to Melanie. It bothers me because it continues to imply that Wanderer has some right to this body that IS NOT HERS. Every reference to Melanie having any control has come with the implication that Melanie is the invader, so this just seems like it’s going to end with Wanderer complaining about how much Melanie is still present.
Uncle Jeb’s face was impossible to read in the darkness. “Who?” he asked.
“Jamie, Jared!” Our whisper burned like a shout. “Jared was with Jamie. Our brother! Are they here? Did they come? Did you find them, too?”
I really wish she would stop talking in the collective. Jamie is not your brother Wanderer. He is Melanie’s brother. You are just the selfish alien parasite living in her brain. I’m not even sure you have family.
There was barely a pause.
“No.” His answer was forceful, and there was no pity in it, no feeling at all.
“No,” we whispered. We were not echoing him, we were protesting against getting our life back. What was the point? We closed our eyes again and listened to the pain in our body. We let that drown out the pain in our mind.
I’m going to try and make this the last time I whine about this, this chapter at least, but I make no promises. IT WAS NOT YOUR LIFE TO GET BACK WANDERER! If this signifies the remainder of the book they’ll refer to themselves in the collective sense in situations where that makes no sense or is actually factually WRONG I’m going to be pissed…
As for the actual content of this statement I would say that the way he answers, he’s probably lying. He knows now that she’s an alien, he probably thinks she’s a seeker here to infect them all. On the off chance that she outsmarts them and gets away he wouldn’t want them to have accurate information on who is and isn’t there to be found and infected.
Melanie shouldn’t be too upset about this, she still found family and if they don’t kill her for being an alien, they could potentially help her find Jared and Jamie. It’s a little silly to be this upset, as though they’re dead and life is no longer worth living because they’re not there. And I know they just went through a horrible, traumatic near death experience, but they were found by Melanie’s uncle and nursed back to the land of the living, and the only thing they can think is ‘oh god why didn’t you just leave me to die, for life is worthless without the immediate presence of my lover!’? Really? That’s kind of really horrible.
Uncle Jeb leaves, clearly planning to prepare to incarcerate or kill them, but Melanie and Wanderer remain oblivious to the idea that this paranoid survivalist would notice that they were talking in the collective and she’s clearly been infected with the aliens they’re trying to hide from. Seriously, what the fuck was the plan here? ‘Oh they love me! They won’t kill me even though I was infected by the aliens that essentially killed everyone they’ve ever known and loved and they have no reason to trust that I’m not here to do the same thing to them! They know it’s me!’? They have no way at all of proving that Melanie is even still in there let alone that Wanderer isn’t there to infest their home. So what the hell were they thinking?!
They were gone. There was no way to find them, no hope. Jared and Jamie had disappeared, something they knew well how to do, and we would never see them again.
Well, no actually. Jamie doesn’t know how to do that. Based on the flashbacks, Melanie coddled him. She was the leader, she was the brains (I use the term very loosely. Melanie has grown on me a bit but she’s still clearly an idiot) Jamie didn’t go on the raids, Jamie didn’t decide when they came and went. Melanie did all that until Jared came along. Jared seems to be decent enough at it, and I do believe that given the situation, someone like Jared would not abandon Jamie even if he is more of a liability than a help, but they would still be limited in where they could or would go, and Jared has had help for the last several years. He may have lost a bit of the lone wolf touch. Survival living, the kind they’re doing at least, tends to be easier with help.
I don’t understand the time frame or placement here. She passed out while the sun was still up, she laid in the dirt for a while, the sun went down, she stayed in the dirt a while longer, then she got dragged away. Jeb gave her some water, then she was immediately revived enough to be lucid? After having suffered dehydration, malnutrition, possibly slight poisoning from the bleach water, over exertion and sun stroke? The water would have kept her from dying but it sure as hell wouldn’t have revived her right away.
I was under the impression from the end of the last chapter that he dragged her off to some cave somewhere and gave her water over a period of time. After a few hours, maybe even a full day, she would have woken up. But based on what comes next it seems she’s still out in the open, so where the hell did he drag her? And it still seems to be only an hour or two into nightfall.
They fall asleep, only for a few hours, and wake up before the sun comes up. Because exhaustion wouldn’t have her out cold for more than a few hours right?! Come on the rest of you pansies who need to sleep for more than 8 hours after walking through the desert for a week! Man up!
Uncle Jeb was real, and he’d left us a canteen.
We sat up carefully, surprised when we didn’t break in two like a withered stick. Actually, we felt better. The water must have had time to work its way through some of our body. The pain was dull, and for the first time in a long while, we felt hungry again.
A little water wouldn’t be enough to make her feel better. A few days of recovery time is what she would need before she could even function normally again. A glass of water and 3-4 hours sleep would just keep her from dying. More importantly though, what the hell is this about how you haven’t felt hunger in a long time?! You were complaining about starving at the start of the last chapter Wanderer! At length!
There were eight humans half-circled around where I knelt under the tree.
Sooo, you weren’t dragged anywhere at all? What happened to thinking you were being dragged off by coyotes? Sometimes the inconsistencies in this book make me feel like I’m the one going crazy… Did I misread something? Did I miss something? Was she dragged to a different tree? Or was the dragging just Jeb turning her over and Wanderer being melodramatic? …That’s what that was wasn’t it? Ugh.
Wanderer takes the time to describe every single weapon the people are carrying in obnoxious detail. Melanie is apparently all happy that there are so many people with Jeb, for once Wanderer is the voice of reason, but she does so very obnoxiously.
I forced her to see it from my perspective: to see the threatening shapes inside the dirty jeans and light cotton shirts, brown with dust. They might have been human–as she thought of the word–once, but at this moment they were something else. They were barbarians, monsters. They hung over us, slavering for blood.
First of all; Barbarians were human. Not monsters. Second of all; wanting to kill the alien that’s part of the race taking over humans and wiping them out, killing them one infestation at a time, is not ‘slavering for blood’ it’s self defense. They’re there to make damn sure you, Wanderer, do not go back and inform all your seekers where these people are so you can come out and murder them. They are planning to kill you, yes, but that doesn’t make them monsters. You’re still the only monster here, you egotistical, cruel, parasite.
Melanie saw all this and, though grudgingly, she had to admit that I was right. At this moment, her beloved humans were at their worst–like the newspaper stories we’d seen in the abandoned shack. We were looking at killers.
Nope. Still not monsters. Not even close to comparable to the man who set his own daughter on fire. Not even in the same country as that. That comparison is not justified just because you’re on the pointy end of the machete. You are a threat to them. They have every right to self defense, and killing you in this scenario is entirely justifiable from their perspective, without taking away their humanity, compassion or empathy. You are a threat to them, to their loved ones, to they’re entire species.
Melanie comes to grips with what I’ve been saying for 5 chapters now, including this one, that they have no reason to believe she’s anything but a seeker there to infiltrate and/or kill them. Wanderer has to be the one to tell her that. I stand by the fact that Melanie is an idiot (and since Wanderer didn’t realize this until she was sitting there facing the machete, so is she, but we already knew that) but I will say that desperation brought about in the face of death combined with the blind hope of finding loved ones, I have known people to be blinded to the obvious in extreme situations and this certainly fits. She’s an idiot, but I’ve got to give her at least a small pass here. Though not much of one.
The man holding the machete is named Kyle. He seems to be a dick. He spits on the ground and then tries to chop her head off before Jeb stops him. Kyle wonders what the hell he’s hesitating for, and I’m left wondering the same thing. Jeb’s excuse is that she’s his niece, but Kyle says ‘Not anymore she’s not.’ And as far as they know, he’s right. So why is Jeb keeping her alive? It’s inconsistent with his insistence in the chapter where they first flash back to it where Jeb seems to be the only one to understand that the infected are genuinely no longer who they once were. And it’s his adult niece, not his daughter, not his infant niece, not a sibling, parent or wife. He lost his own wife and I didn’t get the sense that he kept her locked up in a shed like Shaun does with his zombie in Shaun of the Dead.
Apparently Melanie’s dad’s sister Maggie is also there. She’s overly aggressive, but given the circumstances her behaviour makes more sense than Jeb. Melanie calls out to her, trying to have a family reunion, still overwhelmed by the relief that family is alive, and Maggie runs up and slaps her hard enough to make her bleed. Maggie yells at her, telling her she knows how they work so not to bother trying to fool them. Jeb remains emotionlessly calm, telling her to calm down.
Jeb calls them centipedes, assuring Maggie that the ‘centipedes’ wouldn’t have left her to die in the desert as long as they had if she weren’t alone. Wanderer doesn’t understand what a centipede is, so Melanie, who can apparently run powerpoint in there, shows her a side-by-side of a centipede and Wanderer’s memories of what a soul looks like, explaining that to us, the parasites look like glowing silvery centipedes.
…I just realized Meyer has a thing for glittery silver things. The soul’s in this book and the glampires (I don’t have it in me to call them vampires) from Twilight.
ANYWAY, Wanderer doesn’t see a resemblance, but she’s coming from a species that thinks things that look like dragon flies should be called dolphins, so clearly they’re not terribly skilled at visual associations.
Melanie though, wonders how they know what a soul looks like. Aww, look at the naïve little thing that doesn’t realize she’s about to get her head cut open… She’s so precious. How the hell did she live that long being this dumb?!
Jeb goes up to her and helps her up. He tells her she’s going to have to walk the rest of the way, and when the others protest, he tells them it’s his place, he can do whatever the hell he wants with it, including bring in the species murdering parasite. He does concede a bit though by putting a blind fold on her. Maggie calls him an old fool for the second time, because Meyer didn’t want to bother coming up with a second insult.
“You aren’t planning to tell him, are you?”
It was Maggie’s voice; it came from a few feet behind me, and it sounded like an accusation.
“He’s got a right to know,” Jeb replied. The stubborn note was back in his voice.
“It’s an unkind thing you are doing, Jebediah.”
“Life is unkind, Magnolia.”
As they walk, Maggie and Jeb have this conversation. It’s painfully obvious (to me, clearly not Wanderer or Melanie) that they’re talking about Jeb planning to let Jamie and/or Jared know that Melanie is there. Maggie thinks it’s cruel, Jeb says he has a right to know. I’d guess they’re talking about Jamie since Melanie is his sister and the one that kept him alive for half his lifetime, but given everything else in this book has made it look like her connection to Jared is the more important one (most mentions of Jamie seem to be tacked on) they’re probably talking about him.
“Why are you doing this, Jeb?” a man asked. I’d heard the voice before; it was one of the brothers. “For Doc? You could have just told Kyle that. You didn’t have to pull a gun on him.”
“Kyle needs a gun pulled on him more often,” Jeb muttered.
I have no idea how Wanderer knows they’re brothers. Unless I missed something, there was no mention of anyone saying anything about ‘brothers’, or any lingering mention of familial resemblance, Wanderer is just giving us information that she has no possible way of knowing because the author forgot she had no way of knowing it.
I’m not sure what to think of Jeb yet. He’s too perfect so far. Too calm, too honest, too smart. Normally this would be a good sign, but in terms of this book, this suggests he’s going to turn out to be the wise sage that never makes a mistake and everyone can talk to about anything. He’ll be as 3 dimensional as a line. But so far Meyer has introduced multiple side characters that I’ve liked considerably more than the main character, so it’s possible he’ll end up being another character where I end up saying ‘write his story instead dammit!’ I’m hoping it’s that.
The others ask if he’s doing this out of sympathy. Jeb says if he was sympathetic to her, he would have let her die. They ask why he’s doing it then (again. Meyer has enough repetitive filler in this book to fill an entire other book) and he finally says he’s doing it out of curiosity. This leaves everyone confused and silent. I’m hoping he’s the first smart character in this book and he realizes that something is off about the fact that she’s out there. That she’s clearly not there with back up waiting to catch them, so she’s unsupported, it nearly killed her, and she started immediately talking in the collective instead of trying to pretend she was still Melanie. And that he realizes that that suggests there’s something different going on here, and perhaps Melanie is still in there after all because nothing else really makes any sense. That’s my hope at least.
The memory of my last session with my Comforter–a time so civilized it seemed to belong to a different planet–flashed through my head.
Civilized my ass. You disrespected her right to choose her own name. You disrespected her profession. You insulted her. You made it very clear that you looked down on her as less than you, and didn’t give her even a modicum of respect until you learned she’d been on the front lines. And from there you still continued to treat her as though she was less than you and you were queen shit. Jeb may be taking you to a torture chamber, but he’s sure as hell treating you with more dignity and respect than you treated Kathy. Civility is required for something to be considered civilized.
I don’t want to die, either, Melanie whispered. But maybe you’re wrong. Maybe that’s not why they’re keeping us alive. I don’t understand why they would.… She didn’t want to imagine the things they might do to us–I was sure she could come up with worse than I. What answer would they want from you that bad?
I’ll never tell. Not you, not any human.
See? This is exactly what I mean. Melanie is trying to be pleasant and reassuring, and Wanderer’s reaction is to treat her like a hostile. Clearly the secret Meyer thinks she’s keeping so well is that Wanderer knows how to remove the parasites without killing the host and forcibly removing it from their skulls. It’s obvious because that’s the only thing the humans want. It’s the only thing Wanderer could possibly know that they would care about. But instead of telling Melanie she has a secret she’s not willing to share like ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you.’ Since Melanie has been nothing but very nice to her for the last week even after Wanderer tried to kill her, then refused to listen to her and almost got them killed. No, she had to word it in the bitchiest way possible as though Melanie was trying to torture it out of her. This is not civility. This is the level of hostility and aggression Wanderer has shown through this entire book. There is nothing civil about her at all.
Multiple pages of description of the cave they enter bores me to tears before they’re in the main atrium and Jeb takes off the blindfold. There’s more humans inside the cave and they’re arguing about something. Melanie is all excited still too giddy that other humans are there to have noticed that they’re about to be brutally tortured; a fact that she has already discussed with Wanderer three times. So the fact that she’s still too caught up to let that sink in is fairly confusing. This chapter has been making her seem even denser than she already seemed…
The chapter ends with Melanie counting about 30 people in the room and then Jared showing up. They don’t say it’s Jared, it’s supposed to be a cliffhanger, but as with every other cliffhanger in this book it’s about as hard to figure out as a 4 piece jigsaw puzzle.
Considering the length of this chapter, this review is pretty short. There’s a lot of other things I probably would have brought up but I’m pressed for time this week, so wander on over to The Llama’s review and hopefully she’ll catch a few of the things I didn’t have time to pick on.
This chapter was… tolerable. There was nothing good about it, but it wasn’t as painfully dull as the last chapter and it wasn’t as rage inducing as the chapter before that. So, win? My standards of quality are so low in this book that ‘it didn’t blind me with rage or put me to sleep’ means it was a good chapter… How sad is that? Till next time!