I hate this chapter. I hate Wanderer. I hate Wanderer more and more every single page of this book that I read. I thought I had reached a cap of just how much I could hate her, but NOPE! She just keeps breaking right on through that ceiling!
This chapter takes place after an unknown period of time. Wanderer is laying in a section of the cave she refers to as a ‘pocked bubble’. She wakes up but attempts to hide that fact by keeping her eyes shut and we’re forced to endure several pages of her describing the surroundings from the perspective of every sense. Meyer is in desperate need of an editor. We do not need to be reminded that the cave is bubble shaped 7 times in one chapter. We do not need to hear about how tiny it is 4 times, and how it hurts your back 4 times. We do not need multiple reminders of how it’s humid and we do not care that you’re sweating from the heat after you already described the temperature.
When I came to, there was no disorientation. I knew exactly where I was, roughly speaking, and I kept my eyes closed and my breathing even. I tried to learn as much as I could about my exact situation without giving away the fact that I was conscious again.
Like this paragraph here for instance. Here’s a faster way to effectively get across all the same information: ‘When I came to, I knew roughly where I was. I kept my eyes closed and my breathing even to hide the fact that I was awake.’ Cut the word count just about in half and said the exact same thing.
She spends an entire paragraph describing the noises her stomach is making, then another trying to decide whether her headache was caused by the hunger or the multiple blows to the head.
I was lying on a hard surface. It was rough and… pocked. It was not flat
Yes, we gathered that when you said the surface was rough and pocked.
In fairness that last quote continues to describe the room as bowl shaped, but it’s still unnecessary. You could just say ‘it was rough, pocked, and curved downward like a bowl.’ There’s no need to say it’s not flat after describing how not flat it is.
It was dark–I could tell that without opening my eyes. Not pitch-black, but very dark.
I’m going to go ahead and make a judgement call on this one. I say it’s close enough to impossible to tell the difference between pitch black and ‘very dark’ that in her state, Wanderer couldn’t tell with her eyes closed. I certainly can’t tell the difference between a cloudy night and a moonlit one with my eyes closed and I’m healthy. She’s in a dank dark cave probably suffering from a concussion and delirium. Oh but they established in that first paragraph that she was totally lucid so it’s fine! Water was tooooootally enough to fix her right up! Because starvation, sun stroke, remnants of severe dehydration, and multiple heavy blows to the head are all curable with a little water! Why is anyone ever sick anymore if water has such miraculous healing properties?! The starving kids in Africa should just drink more water!
The air was even mustier than before–humid and corroded
You know you can’t corrode air, right? Corrosion is something that happens to metals. Oxygen is not a metal. Is she referring to dust in the air off the walls of the cavern? Because if she is I have two problems with that. One; that would be erosion, not corrosion, and two; that would be covered by the ‘musty’ descriptor. No need to say it again. If she’s trying to say the actual air itself has been corroded I just have no idea how the hell that would be possible or what that would smell like. I suppose it could mean that the air feels stale? But that, again, kind of implied by the ‘musty’ description, and also could have just said stale. Would have been clearer. If anyone knows another meaning for corrosion that maybe I’m just not familiar with let me know, I’m curious.
The temperature was cooler than it had been in the desert, but the incongruous moisture made it almost as uncomfortable. I was sweating again, the water Jeb had given me finding its way out through my pores.
I mentioned this little section earlier. What I didn’t mention is that she describes the air as cool, and damp, so not sure why she’d be sweating. The dampness in the air would be enough to keep that particular reflex from triggering unless it was really hot or so damp that the water is being sucked out of her. (Interesting fact; the reason you prune up in the bath tub isn’t actually because you’re soaking up water and expanding like a sponge. Water is hydrophilic. When you’re in the tub, you actually start to dehydrate as the water in the cells closer to the surface of your skin gets sucked out to join the water in the tub! Scientists suspect you prune up because it increases your grip in water, giving your hands more traction like the grooves in tires.) Yes, I did only bring this quote up so I could spout out facts I find way more interesting than reading this book. I’m not sorry.
Two more paragraphs describing the shape of the room, multiple reminders that she’s keeping her eyes closed, two paragraphs describing how silent the room is, and then a couple of paragraphs of Wanderer going over what she thinks they’re doing with her. Nothing gets specific. Before she can actually describe any possible violence they could enact against her, she cuts herself off then goes back to almost describing it again before cutting herself off again.
Something brushes against her head, she screeches, bolts up, and smacks her head against the ceiling. Because that’s just what her brain needs; more trauma. She describes the shape of the cave for the fourth time already and then notices that Jared left her a present while glowering at her. Because of course the thing you do to the thing you hate so much you can’t even soften your features in its presence is bring it food and water.
I know I was defending Jared in the last chapter, but dammit I don’t buy this. Not killing her, not slapping her again, fine. Bringing her food and water? Nope! Can’t get myself there. Tossing a bottle of water at her so she doesn’t die I would accept, but he brought her a plastic tray with water, bread, soup, and a couple unknown root vegetables. This is not ‘I hate you but you have the face of my girlfriend so I can’t bear to watch you die’ this is ‘I am an anime stereotype of the angry person who is secretly a loving teddy bear who just never smiles’. This is too quick a transition and I just don’t buy it. There’s still 45 more chapters left, there’s lots of time for him to transition more naturally, but that’s not going to happen is it? No, he’ll be completely on board by chapter 20!
A few more paragraphs go by describing how quiet Jared is and how much he unwaveringly glares at her before she goes into ludicrous detail about the food. Somehow she doesn’t notice the food until after guzzling an entire bottle of water, yet there’s a strong ‘fresh bread’ smell and an onion soup smell, so really not sure how her growling stomach didn’t pick up on that before he even put the food down.
It was the bread–a dark, unevenly shaped roll–that I smelled first, but there was also a bowl of some clear liquid with the tang of onions. As I leaned closer, I could see darker chunks on the bottom. Beside this were three stubby white tubes. I guessed they were vegetables, but I didn’t recognize the variety.
I ripped into the bread. It was very dense, studded with whole-grain kernels that caught in my teeth. The texture was gritty, but the flavor was wonderfully rich. I couldn’t remember anything tasting more delicious to me, not even my mushed-up Twinkies. My jaw worked as fast as it could, but I swallowed most of the mouthfuls of tough bread half-chewed.
I know that everything tastes better after you’ve been starving, but I don’t think the descriptors ‘gritty’ and ‘tough’ imply a rich, wonderful falvour. Especially if you’re barely actually taking the time to taste it with how fast you’re eating it. And if you’re only half chewing, how unprocessed is this bread that the seeds are getting stuck in your teeth? Not to mention the fact that ‘dense’ food isn’t really what you should be eating after nearly starving to death. I’m guessing Meyer never participated in the 30 hour famine. Wanderer is eating the wrong food too fast. If this were real life she’d end up throwing everything back up.
I could hear each mouthful hit my stomach with a gurgle. It didn’t feel as good as I thought it would. Too long empty, my stomach reacted to the food with discomfort.
I ignored that and moved on to the liquid–it was soup. This went down easier.
Nope. If the bread isn’t sitting well, tossing more food down there with it sure as hell won’t help. Especially since your stomach literally shrinks as you go without food. She’s now gone several days with only a few bits of the aforementioned squished twinkies, then nothing at all for more than 24 hours. Her stomach would be very small right now, and probably littered with ulcers. She drank a whole bottle of water, ate an unclearly sized chunk of bread that’s already not sitting well, now she’s drinking chunky soup. Just, no.
The white vegetables were crunchy in texture, woody in taste. Some kind of root. They weren’t as satisfying as the soup or as tasty as the bread, but I was grateful for their bulk. I wasn’t full–not close–and I probably would have started on the tray next if I thought I’d be able to chew through it.
She just keeps going… Meyer did no research at all into what happens to your body when you nearly starve to death. Her stomach would be BURSTING by this point. Admittedly there are exceptions to this general rule, but up to this point we’ve had no indication that Melanie’s body is abnormal. Wanderer had had her on a steady meal schedule prior to this trip and she experienced hunger pains immediately after the first missed meal. The odds of her being one of the exceptions to the rule are as slim as the odds of the parasites actually winning against us in the first place. Plus she started out the meal by saying the food wasn’t sitting well. Tossing more food down after it, including the dense vegetable after saying it was the dense bread that wasn’t sitting well, is just not a great idea.
Melanie finally speaks up again and Wanderer immediately gets snippy with her. Wanderer calls her rude for disappearing, and calls her violent when she expresses shock over Jared’s slap.
Jamie, there’s no way I could hurt Jamie, even if he was… She trailed off, hating that line of thought.
I considered this and found it true. Even if the child had become something or someone else, neither she nor I could ever raise a hand to him.
That’s different. You’re like… a mother. Mothers are irrational here. Too many emotions involved.
Motherhood is always emotional–even for you souls.
I didn’t answer that.
How the fuck does Melanie know that?! Did she learn something about parasite parenthood that we didn’t?! All I know so far is that it’s a thing. That is literally the only thing I am clear about when it comes to parasite parenthood; that it exists.
More vague descriptions of possible torture followed by how special Earth is. How vivid the emotions are and how violent we are because of them. Seriously, she was a fucking bear. Have you seen an angry bear?!
I’d never lived on a planet where such atrocities could happen, even before the souls came. This place was truly the highest and the lowest of all worlds–the most beautiful senses, the most exquisite emotions… the most malevolent desires, the darkest deeds. Perhaps it was meant to be so. Perhaps without the lows, the highs could not be reached. Were the souls the exception to that rule? Could they have the light without the darkness of this world?
Do I have to talk about why this is stupid? Again? No, I think past chapters made my thoughts on this pretty damn clear.
I thought it was all me–the way we feel about him. I thought I was… in control of that.
The thoughts behind her words were clearer than the words themselves.
You thought you were able to bring me here because you wanted it so much. That you were controlling me instead of the other way around. I tried not to be annoyed. You thought you were manipulating me.
Yes. The chagrin in her tone was not because I was upset, but because she did not like being wrong. But…
It came in a rush once more. You’re in love with him, too, separately from me. It feels different from the way I feel. Other. I didn’t see that until he was there with us, until you saw him for the first time. How did that happen? How does a three-inch-long worm fall in love with a human being?
Not going to talk about this yet, just keep it in mind. It’s a very important piece of information.
Sorry. I guess you sort of have… limbs.
Not really. They’re more like antennae. And I’m quite a bit longer than three inches when they’re extended.
Not antennae. Neurons. Antennae are entirely different and there would be absolutely no need of them inside another beings brain. You can think of them more like the sticky pads attached to wires they hook you up to to read your brain waves. Only a lot smaller and hopefully lacking adhesive.
My point is, he’s not your species.
My body is human, I told her. While I’m attached to it, I’m human, too. And the way you see Jared in your memories… Well, it’s all your fault.
Still no. First; not your body. More literally this time than the last several times I’ve criticized you for taking ownership of Melanie’s body. Wanderer’s body is literally the 3 inch worm. She’s using Melanie’s body in the same way a human uses a car. You do not say you are your car when you’re driving it. Yes, Wanderer is more connected to the body than we are to cars, but it’s still an apt comparison. Even if you could feel the flow of the fuel through the pistons, you still wouldn’t BE your car. You’re still you, you’re just way too attached to your car.
In a better example, there’s a parasite that burrows into the brains of rats and gets them to go right up to cats to get eaten so the parasite can reproduce which for some reason it can’t do in the rat, only the cat. We do not say that the rat is no longer a rat, it’s the parasite or that the parasite is now a rat; we say the rat is infested with a parasite. Do you see the difference?
More importantly though, that last thing she says in the above quote is the reason I wanted you to have read the quote I told you to keep in mind earlier. She was offended by the implication that Melanie was responsible for what she had done, and then declares everything Melanie’s fault. Yes, Melanie’s memories of Jared would certainly be how she fell in love with Jared, seeing as it’s the only way she knows Jared, but she can’t say that she fell for him because of Melanie and then say that Melanie didn’t manipulate her. Melanie specifically and deliberately overloaded her with the most loving memories she has. Melanie played Wanderer like a fiddle, and Wanderer fell hook line and sinker. But she’s mad at Melanie for implying that Wanderer wasn’t in control at all times, and then goes on to be mad at Melanie for controlling her.
Wanderer only ever says horrible things to Melanie. Melanie has been polite, sympathetic, helpful, and comforting. Wanderer has been bitter, spiteful, sarcastic, intentionally cruel, and so argumentative that she’s contradicting herself just so she can keep blaming everything on Melanie and take no responsibility whatsoever for their current situation. Melanie has no influence over Wanderer’s emotions, but Melanie is totally the only reason Wanderer fell in love and went on this journey so it’s all Melanie’s fault.
They talk about Jamie for a bit, then she spends an entire page trying to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. She wakes up to the sound of footsteps and the brothers mentioned in previous chapters, Kyle and Ian, come to confront Jared. They learn that Jared stopped them from being either killed or dissected, but Kyle and Ian are there to kill her, and start to beat up Jared when he tries to stop them.
Again, I’m left wondering how Jared moved from being filled with so much rage that he gave them a concussion to protecting and feeding them. Especially while he’s clearly still incredibly angry. If he was looking at them with sadness, loneliness, loss, even just looking frustrated implying confusion over how to feel about them, it would make more sense. But Wanderer goes into excruciating detail to make sure we know that he’s still really pissed. It just doesn’t make any damn sense.
Anyway the chapter ends with someone getting slammed against a wall. They don’t make it clear which of the three got hurt. I don’t really care enough to analyze enough to speculate which of the brothers, but it’s definitely one of the brothers. If it was Jared it would have been made clear because that would still be a cliff hanger, wondering how Wandanie will get away before the brothers can kill her, and it was only left ambiguous to give tension.
Can Meyer write one chapter where Wanderer acts like someone I don’t want to punch in the face? Please? Just one…
Till next time!
And don’t forget to check out The Llama’s take on this chapter!