The Host Review: Disputed (ch 14)

I’m starting to notice a theme in these chapters.  A long one is followed up by a short one, then a medium, then long and short again.  Hopefully the theme of extra terrible chapter after the less terrible chapters isn’t a theme that sticks… But today’s chapter is the shortest, less than half the length of the last chapter and let me tell you I am grateful.  There’s only so much repetition possible in 10 pages.

There’s so much repetition in the last few chapters that I could have cut the last chapter down from 24 pages to 8 without losing a damn thing.  If I have to listen to her describe the desert one more time I will find a way to set this ebook on fire.

computer-fire

It was too much for both of us, seeing him here, now, after already accepting that we’d never see him again, after believing that we’d lost him forever.

Really?  You accepted that you would never see him again for the rest of forever just because he wasn’t in the first place you looked?  Weren’t too determined to find him were you?  And before anyone argues that it means they accepted that they were being marched to a painful, torturous death and thus knew they wouldn’t have a chance to go looking further for her loved ones, they discussed the loss of Jared and Jamie when they were still thinking that Jeb was there to save them, not kill them.  And after they realized that, Jared and Jamie didn’t really come up.

So they had to have come to the conclusion that they were never going to see him again, and accepted that as undeniable fact, before even considering the idea of going to the cabin and hoping to find some message or sign, without going to Chicago to search for her cousin in case maybe they found her (since she’s Jamie’s cousin too, if Melanie could have gotten her to stop and talk, Jamie could have too) or even looked in any of the other places they’d ever been or considered being.  But between them they’re as smart as a goldfish on a good day so I suppose not heading back out would probably be to the wisest choice.

This goldfish is smart enough to swim away, so maybe they're actually dumber...

This goldfish is smart enough to swim away, so maybe they’re actually dumber…

I stared at Jared’s face, uncomprehending.

Called it.

“Jared,” she cried; through my damaged throat the sound was just a croak.

She jerked me forward, much the same way as she had in the desert, assuming control of my frozen body. The only difference was that this time, it was by force.

I wasn’t able to stop her fast enough.

Punch

HER BODY.  SHE ASSUMED CONTROL OF HER BODY.  This is starting to actually feel kind of rapey.  She keeps calling Melanie’s body hers and Melanie exerting any control over her own body is a violation of Wanderer’s claim over it.  It’s really very horrible and I don’t understand how we’re meant to like Wanderer.  I made porn jokes during the prologue, but, think about it.  She was taken by force, had another being forcibly inserted into her, she lost all control over her own body, and she’s being mentally abused to the point where she’s exhibiting signs of Stockholm Syndrome in that she’s starting to see Wanderer as a friend despite all the emotional abuse Wanderer submits her to.  Why did I have to notice that?  This makes me feel uncomfortable…  All I can think about is how if anyone ever did that to someone I loved, I would rip them to shreds after keeping them alive long enough to make sure they felt as violated as their victim was.  And I really wish that’s what Jeb was going to do…

No one tried to stop her as she staggered toward him. No one but me. She was within inches of touching him, and still she didn’t see what I saw. She didn’t see how his face had changed in the long months of separation, how it had hardened, how the lines pulled in different directions now.

Oh hey, maybe Jared feels the same way I do.  Actually I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how he’s looking at this.  He was alone for years.  He stumbled on two more humans and he finally had a family again.  He had hope and someone he loved and people who needed him.  And after getting used to her being with him, and finally relaxing into something resembling normalcy and happiness, the alien parasites steal her from him, killing her, taking the first human being he had seen in years.  The woman he loved and had been with for at least six more years after (actually now that I think about the time frame, how did they not end up with kids?  Did the parasites keep making condoms?  Or is Meyer going to claim that in their 6 years together, believing they were the only people left on Earth, that they never fucked?) was brutally chased down, forcibly violated and imprisoned in a way that as far as he knows is irreversible.

And now, here she is, the parasite that took the love of his life away from him.  The parasite that stole from him the happiness he had worked so hard to build.  The parasite that stole the adopted mother of his adopted son.  She’s now staring at him with his love’s face, mocking him.  Mocking the life they had.  In this moment, the hatred that would be going through the mind of someone in that position would be nearly uncontrollable.

Before Melanie could make my fingers touch him, his arm shot out and the back of his hand smashed into the side of my face.

Slap

Have I mentioned yet how much I hate Wanderer?  I’m pretty sure I haven’t said it enough so I feel I need to say it again.  I really really hate Wanderer.  I can’t think of any other literary character I hate as much as I hate Wanderer.  And seeing her slapped would be so much more satisfying if I didn’t feel bad for Melanie.

I’ve been warned that Wanderer referring to the body as her own is something that continues for many chapters to come, so I will try very hard to let it go, but it bothers me even more than the ‘we’ talk in the last chapter.  At least that acknowledged Melanie had a claim to the body.  But for now I’ll try to ignore it and get to the actual content of the chapter so maybe I can get through this without rage quitting.

Stupid, stupid, I whimpered at her. I told you not to do that!

Jared’s here, Jared’s alive, Jared’s here. She was incoherent, chanting the words like they were lyrics to a song.

Wanderer is, once again, acting like she knows more than Melanie does and that everything is Melanie’s fault.  The fact that this time she has a valid point doesn’t offset the fact that she’s still a condescending bitch.  Melanie isn’t acting this way because she’s stupid, she’s acting this way because she is literally experiencing a mental breakdown.

She has sun stroke, she’s suffering severe dehydration, malnutrition, physical exhaustion, and severe mental trauma what with the realization that the humans she was so excited to finally find, that she’d forfeited her life to track down, twice, were now going to kill her and there was nothing she could do about it.  She’s had to sit back and watch as someone who hates her lives out her life with her face, trapped with no control, and when she finally gets some back and gets back to the people she loves, because her face was stolen from her they’re now rejecting her and not only is there nothing she can do about that, but she knows deep down they’re right to do so.

And now Wanderer is being a condescending bitch trying to take away the last few moments of happiness she has left before they finally end her life.  At least as far as either of them know.  This is the character we’re supposed to connect with people.  This is who Meyer thinks you, the reader, is going to feel a connection to.  Wanderer.

I could barely handle the pain of this one spontaneous blow. What hope did I have of enduring an intensive, calculated onslaught?

Why does she have to word it like this?  Does she think that using so many big words in one sentence makes her seem smart?  Because it doesn’t.  It makes her seem pretentious and stupid, using large words to disguise the fact that she doesn’t know much of anything.  Like the fact that that that ‘spontaneous blow’ was all of Jared’s rage balled up into one hard attack, but chances are seeing the love of his life in tears as he beats the shit out of her would probably soften the blows over time.  No matter how angry he is at the parasite, it’s still Melanie’s face staring back at him.  Her suffering he would see.  But you’re right Wanderer, you probably won’t endure torture because you couldn’t even endure one afternoon of rationing before you caved.  Have fun.

Jared was walking toward us, and his face was the same as those of the barbarians in the desert–only it was beautiful rather than frightening in its fury.

Joker slap

My heart faltered and then beat unevenly, and I wanted to laugh at myself. Did it matter that he was beautiful, that I loved him, when he was going to kill me?

No.  No it doesn’t.

I stared at the murder in his expression

The grammar!  It hurts!  If you ever find yourself wanting to type this, replace ‘murder’ with ‘rage’ or ‘murderous intent’ or ‘venom’ or just don’t say it at all because it’s pretty obvious already that he hates you.

I stared at the murder in his expression and tried to hope that rage would win out over expediency, but a true death wish evaded me.

That’s the full quote.  Trust me Wanderer, you want expediency, not rage.  So far Jared is reacting the way I would, so if that keeps up, yeah, you don’t want rage.  You want a quick death. Because even if you did convince them after a while that you were Melanie, you would be as scarred physically and mentally as he is.  I would make you feel every bit of pain you had put me and Jamie and Melanie through.  I would make sure you suffered for a very long time.  And eventually you would rot in these caves.  Your species took the kind coldness of judicial process and left us with no recourse for transgressions against us other than personal action.  You are the ones who took from him the chance at fair judgement and punishment untainted by his personal rage.  Your people signed your death warrant.

I’m not being funny angry in this chapter and I apologize if the heavy handed reactions are less entertaining.  This chapter is still not written skillfully, but it’s written well enough that all I can feel is the rage Wanderer keeps describing in Jared.  The psychotic break of Melanie’s world crumbling beneath her.  And we’re stuck with the point of view of the one character I don’t have any pity for.  The one character who deserves whatever she gets because this book has done a decent enough job of getting us to like Melanie and Jared and we cannot sympathize with them without hating Wanderer for what she’s done to them.  At least I can’t.

No

Jeb helps Wandanie (everyone else I’ve seen reading this book calls her Melerer or Stryderer and I wanted to be different) to their feet and gets Jared to back off with a calm stare.  Melanie wants to go to Jared again, which is getting a little less justifiable as time proceeds considering he just slapped them so hard their head bounced off the ground.  Wanderer calls her stupid and stops her from going to Jared.  Because god forbid she try and be sympathetic.  You don’t have to let her go to him, but you don’t have to call her stupid either.

Two pages of unnecessary description go by as Melanie notices Sharon in the crowd (so she wasn’t in Chicago?  Arizona is pretty fucking far from Chicago.) and a man who goes nameless but is clearly Doc mentioned in the last chapter takes a look at her insertion scar.  He declares her healthy enough for something and Jared gets a little sulky for reasons that we don’t know yet.  Having to guess, I’d say it’s because Doc here is probably about to rip the slug from Melanie’s brain and so far their attempts to do that have been unsuccessful so he knows the woman he loves is about to die if she’s still in there at all.

Jared shows some sympathy by speaking up saying that letting the Doctor at her she’s going to suffer violently so they should just let Jeb put a bullet in her brain.  I mentioned earlier that seeing the face of his love, even knowing that it wasn’t her anymore, would soften his anger, and this seems to be the presentation of that fact.  No matter how much rage is there, no matter how much he wants to see the parasite suffer, it’s not just the parasite he faces now.  Melanie is there.  And everything he does to Wanderer, he does to Melanie.  Despite my own blustering above, if actually faced with this I would probably end up feeling the same way if I am completely honest with myself.  At least if allowed any time to cool off, which I suppose is what happened with the stare down with Jeb, then watching the doctor remind him that it’s still Melanie’s body, not just someone else with her likeness, by pointing out the scar.

Sharon starts arguing with him that dissecting her is better for the greater good and so Jared has no right to make the call to just kill her off.  As he starts to retort, Wandanie starts to pass out and she can’t hear them anymore.  Before she passes out completely she asks if Jamie is okay and Jeb tells her he’s fine.  The chapter ends with her fading into unconsciousness, which she feels the need to describe as fading into the mist because of course she does.

Mist

I hated this chapter for reasons other than writing quality for a change.  Quality wise, at least in comparison to the rest of the book so far, this chapter is actually pretty good.  The characterization is more consistent, while there is a lot of unnecessary description there’s still enough going on to hold your attention, and while I think in reality Jared would have gone farther than one slap before feeling guilty, the reactions generally felt realistic.

I hated this chapter because it’s still from the point of view of Wanderer.  And Wanderer hates everything.  I said before and I will say again that it is impossible to empathize with Melanie and Jared without hating Wanderer because she is the reason they’re all in this mess.  She is the alien species that stole their planet and killed their families.  She is the alien parasite who stole Melanie’s body from her and then nearly got her killed by not rationing any of the supplies.  She still hates Melanie.  She isn’t being the voice of reason in this chapter, she’s being cruel.  There’s a lot nicer ways to try and make someone see a harsh truth than calling them an idiot.  But Wanderer doesn’t care about being nice to Melanie.  Wanderer only cares about Wanderer.  And Wanderer is a bitch.

Till next time.

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