WARNING: I get into some fairly graphic discussions of violence in this post so if you’re bothered by that, skip down. I’ll put in another bolded indicator of when I’m done talking about the fight scene where I’ll give a quick summation of what you missed, minus the violence. Trust me, if you’re even a little tempted to heed the warning, you’re not missing anything good, so just skip on ahead.
We’re officially beyond the quarter-way point!
I was starting to think that would never come. Only… 3 quarters of the book remains… Yay.
The ledge of the rock exit was worn down, but it scraped my palms and shins as I scrambled through it.
‘Rock exit’. Does she mean the alcove entryway? The bubble’s door? The hallway? ‘Rock exit’ makes it sound like there’s a boulder door.
I had to get in that dig, sorry. The opening of the chapter is where the last one left off and that is the opening line. It’s not a very well worded statement. She’s saying the hallway is worn down, but it cut her up anyway, only leaving out any description of any jagged areas makes it sound like she’s cutting herself on smooth rock. Apparently Melanie was one of those kids who couldn’t even be trusted with safety scissors.
I looked for only one thing–where Jared was, so that I could put myself between him and his attackers.
Awkward wording is awkward. ‘I didn’t care about anything but where Jared was’ would have been a less awkward way to word that. I suspect I’ll have a lot of complaints of awkward wording in this chapter.
They all stood frozen in place, staring at me. Jared had his back to the wall, his hands balled into fists and held low.
Bad form! When you’re preparing for a fist fight, keep your hands high and your head low. Your fisted hands should be level with ears. Especially if your back is to the wall because your options for dodging are limited so you want to be able to block, plus you can get a stronger swing from a raised fist than one down by your stomach. The only time your hands should be low is if you’re planning for an upper cut, but those really aren’t practical in no rules fighting. Protect, evade, power. Limit exerted energy and limit the risk of blows to the head and you’re much more likely to come out on top. Also, if I were Kyle or Ian in this scenario, I would try and take advantage of the distraction and kill Wandanie now that she’s presented herself as an easy target, but that’s just me.
It does go on, implying Jared just punched Kyle in the stomach (told you it wasn’t Jared who got hurt) which I assume is Meyers excuse for Jared having his hands low, but any boxer will tell you as soon as you pull back from the blow, you bring your hand immediately back to your head. If you’re aiming for the stomach, you lower your entire body, not just your hand. You get a lot more strength, you anchor your center of gravity better making your blow a lot more solid, plus you continue to have the ability to block if there’s a retaliatory hit.
This isn’t really a criticism of the book as it’s entirely probable that Jared was never formally trained in boxing, I just wanted to talk about it. It’s a fight scene and I have varying levels of training in multiple types including ‘just fuck their shit up’, and I work with a lot of women who prefer shopping and jazzercise over boxing and Tai Kwan Do (not being sexist, it’s actually come up) and men whose main experience with fighting is watching WWE (which I do enjoy on occasion, but it sure as hell isn’t real fighting), so I don’t get to talk about it much.
That part of the fight scene is literally over before we get anything but this tiny little glimpse though, so let’s move on to things actually happening.
Wandanie steps between Jared and Kyle, defending Jared, from the guy Jared just punched hard enough to make him double over. Clearly Jared is the one in need here! Though I suppose if he doesn’t know how to fight his getting in a good stiff shot might have been a fluke and he’d get over powered by the two other guys (apparently there’s a third, unnamed guy) pretty quick so, reasonable enough. Plus Wandanie has no reason to give a shit about what happens to the three musketeers, but that’s a hypocrisy I’ll come back to later.
Kyle was the first to react. I was less than a foot from him, and his primary instinct was to shove me away. His hand struck my shoulder and heaved me toward the floor.
I call bullshit. There’s no description between Kyle being hunched over and Kyle shoving her. Nothing to indicate he was getting back to a full upright position. He was doubled over clutching his stomach literally the paragraph before this, so assuming he didn’t get back up and he was the first to get back to his senses, and being that closer to her, he would be shoving her in the stomach, not the shoulders. Not unless there’s a massive height disparity between them.
Before I could fall, something caught my wrist and yanked me back to my feet.
More bullshit. From the position it implies they’re in and how close they would have to be, well, first of all grabbing her wrist and yanking while she’s headed in the opposite trajectory would probably pop her shoulder out of place and/or break her wrist. Secondly, is no one else reacting at all? Kyle is right there, only a foot in front of her, he’s already struck her, dipshits 2 and 3 are close enough that they should have been out of shock by now. All 3 of them are just watching as Jared catches her, sets her back on her feet, and then this is followed by uninterrupted Jared acting like she has cooties for a few seconds? They’re just sitting there watching? No attempts to kill her? Punch her? Use the distraction against Jared? Nothing? How the fuck are these the people that survived the invasion?!
Apparently just sitting there and watching is exactly what they do. Jared has enough time to have his cooties reaction, tell her to get back to her bubble cave, turn her around and shove her back, without any of the 3 dipshits doing anything. No yelling, no fighting, no nothing. They just watch. What. The. Fuck.
A small lamp–powered by what, I couldn’t guess–lit the hallway dimly from the ground.
Apparently after this ordeal she stops to notice what everything looks like, because of course she does. Everyone would notice the décor in this situation right?! As for what the lamp is powered by, let’s see; batteries that are solar charged? They are in a desert. Get a couple solar panels and you’d have enough energy year round to keep the place lit up. Since Jeb was a survivalist long before the invasion I would be pretty surprised if he didn’t have any.
It cast strange shadows on the features of the men, turning them into scowling monster faces.
That would be your hyperactive imagination reacting to your bigotry towards the human species. You believe humans are monsters, so you see them as such. Because you’re racist. But, as with before, we’ll come back to that.
Wanderer ignores Jared’s demands, tells them to leave Jared alone since she’s the one they want, and they stare some more. For a small angry mob they don’t seem terribly angry or mobbish. Ian says she’s a ‘tricky bugger’ which I read with a British accent because I have only ever heard that phrase in an English accent. Jared tells her once more to go back to her hole in the ground.
I turned halfway, not wanting Kyle out of my sight. “It’s not your duty to protect me at your own expense.”
Why don’t you want Kyle out of your sight? You’ve offered yourself up to him. Did you think doing that wouldn’t result in you getting hurt? Was that not part of your plan? Not to mention the fact that since he’s had more opportunities than I can count to kill you already and all he’s done is shove you when you were in his personal space (less than a foot away you can feel someone else’s breath. In the best case scenario that would be uncomfortable, and this was far from worst case) are you really that worried that’s going to change now?
The way she phrases that is incredibly stupid as well. But that seems to be par for the course. Not to mention that since it’s not his duty to protect her at all she could have just left off the awkward sounding ‘at your own expense’ and the sentence wouldn’t have lost a thing.
Jared grimaced, one hand rising to push me back toward the cell again.
I skipped out of the way; the motion moved me toward the ones who wanted to kill me.
Everything about this chapter so far is a combination of awkward and wrong. This is the third time in this chapter that someone has tried to shove her with only one hand. How much smaller than them is she?! Most of the time when you shove someone you do it with two hands. Not necessarily because you aren’t strong enough, but because it’s easier to control the force and momentum of the shove that way, and it’s a lot more natural a motion. And why would she phrase it this way? I do not understand why Meyer writes these sentences so awkwardly. Do people really not find this jarring to read? I find it hurts the flow when the sentence structure seems forced and it slows me down. Am I alone in that?
Ian grabbed my arms and pinned them behind me. I struggled instinctively, but he was very strong. He bent my joints too far back and I gasped.
Is… is he hugging her? She was facing him, and this is the only sentence describing this. He didn’t spin her around, he didn’t grab one hand, tug her towards him and grasp the other. The only way this makes sense is if he grabbed both of her hands with both of his, pulled her towards him, and was essentially holding her in a bear hug. But he couldn’t bend her joints too far back in that position, the only way he could do that is if her back was facing him… This doesn’t work.
Meyer spends entire pages describing in excruciatingly monotonous detail every single rock she passes, but she skips important information in actual actions taken. She does the same with emotional development. The shape of the bushes outside her house is more important than any of the characters motivations.
Talking about Wanderer’s house reminds me. Why did she move from Chicago if the Seeker wanted information from Melanie? Staying in the area could have triggered memories. But she had to be near Arizona for plot convenience and Meyer couldn’t even be bothered with coming up with a legitimate reason. This book sucks.
Kyle caught him and spun him around into a wrestling hold, forcing his neck forward.
How does she know it’s a wrestling hold? Why do we care that it’s a wrestling hold? If he knows wrestling holds, that implies he does know how to fight, which suggests that in the real world this fight would have been over about 5 seconds after Jared forgot to hold his fists up while he fought. If you’re holding your hands up, the advantage is you can still protect your core. If they aim for your stomach you bend at the elbow and out, knocking away their blow. If your fists are low, it’s harder to block the momentum of incoming blows aimed at your stomach and impossible to protect your head fast enough. If Kyle knows how to wrestle he would have that much of a basic knowledge. Wrestlers keep their body low and their hands poised for similar reason. Take a look at any boxing or real wrestling, when not striking, the elbows are always bent, and generally closer to the head.
I genuinely didn’t mean to go back to the lowered fists thing, but seriously, it indicates he doesn’t know how to fight, and this indicates Kyle does. This scene is only drawn out because if anyone was acting the way normal people actually would Jared and Wandanie would both be dead.
Jared’s free elbow rammed into Kyle’s stomach. Kyle gasped and lost his grip.
Hmm… It’s possible I’m thinking of the wrong hold, but if this hold is what I think it is, jabbing Kyle in the stomach wouldn’t cause him to lose his grip because his hands aren’t what’s holding Jared’s head. I’m trying really hard to think of a hold that would fit the description where jabbing Kyle in the stomach wouldn’t come with the risk of Kyle breaking Jared’s neck and I’m failing miserably. I know that people don’t always react the way they want to in a fight, but, that’s exactly why he’d be more likely to snap his neck than let go. In a fight with rules, where you’re focused on winning, but not killing the other person, you’re a lot more conscious about making sure you do everything right. In this scenario, any hold where the neck is thrust forward, the odds of breaking it are high enough without the extra force of him doubling over again from being elbowed in a forming bruise.
I’m not saying this description is impossible, it could work I suppose, maybe I’m just not thinking of the right hold. But the wording is so unclear that it’s difficult for me to ignore and just assume I’m picturing it wrong. I imagine Meyer just has some imagery in mind that seemed impressive to her and at no point did she ever actually consider the logistics.
Jared spins around and breaks Kyle’s nose. People really don’t realize how dangerous that is. If you hit it wrong, it’s scarily easy to send a chunk of cartilage right up into the brain. If you ever aim for someone’s nose, make sure the motion you’re using is downward, not upward, unless you want to be arrested for murder. But honestly breaking the nose is not the best thing to do. Everyone ends up covered in a shit ton of blood but unless it kills him, it’s not really going to stop the fight at all. It is, however, going to make the fight more dangerous with everyone covered in slippery blood.
I honestly never thought I would get to talk so much about violence in this book.
“Finish it, Ian!” Kyle yelled. He put his head down and hurtled into Jared, throwing him into the other man.
He headbutted him into who? Ian? Or the unnamed guy? If he tossed Jared to the unnamed guy, why is he telling Ian to finish it? Is he telling Ian to kill Wanderer? That’s really unclear. But this at least does back up what I said about how breaking someone’s nose doesn’t help, so kudos for getting something right Meyer.
“No!” Jared and I cried at the same moment.
No, really, what the hell was Wanderer expecting to happen when she said ‘I’m the one you’re after, not him.’? Why is she acting surprised and horrified to find out that the people who came to kill her intend to kill her after she gave herself up to them? Also; that third guy seems useless as tits on a bull. Literally the only thing he has done so far is hold Jared’s arm and that lasted half a paragraph. Other than that the only other mention of him at all was that he was there. This scene could have easily been written without him and nothing would be lost. So chances are he’s a throw away character who’s just there because Meyer wanted the odds to seem more stacked against Jared. Because it has to be that he’s out numbered, not that he doesn’t know how to fight. Except he also doesn’t know how to fight, Meyer just thinks he does because she wrote all her characters to behave like morons.
Ian dropped my arms, and his hands wrapped around my throat, choking off my air. I clawed at his hands with my useless, stubby nails. He gripped me tighter, dragging my feet off the floor.
Perfect example of the moronic behaviour. If you want to kill someone quickly, don’t try and strangle them. It takes 2 minutes of oxygen deprivation to knock someone out, and 5 minutes to kill them. He could snap her neck and she’d be dead in seconds. Did they not bring any weapons? Kyle had a machete a few chapters back. No gun, knife, baseball bat, nothing? What was their plan? To beat the girl to death? If that was the plan I kind of agree with Wanderer picturing them as monsters because that’s a pretty heartless way to kill someone who isn’t directly attacking you or a loved one.
The strength with which he is described as squeezing her neck, combined with the implied passage of time, she’s said to still be clawing at his hands fairly animatedly before he lets go but she should be nearing passing out. She shouldn’t still have the strength she does. She’d be gasping, her body would be spasming, her limbs would start to tingle and ‘fall asleep’ and she’d have lost the ability to hold her arms up to claw at him. Strangulation is an incredibly slow, painful, and cruel way to kill someone. Even in this post-apocalyptic scenario I have a hard time believing that these people could do this to someone who was not a direct threat to them. At no point since they arrived at the bubble cave have they seemed to be in an irrational rage that would justify this choice when there is a much easier, faster way to do it.
END OF VIOLENCE DISCUSSION: You missed Kyle, Ian and an unnamed guy (who is named right at the point I chose to cut this as being Brandt.) getting their asses whooped by Jared, Wandanie coming to Jared’s defense despite that he’s winning, and nearly getting herself and Jared killed, as the only time Jared gets hurt at all during the fight scene is after he’s distracted by Wandanie.
Jeb readies his shot gun and tells the attackers to back off. They don’t. Jared takes advantage of the fact that they stop moving though at least, and throws a punch. Wanderer thinks he’s aiming at her, but he hits the guy holding her instead and then as she’s crumpled on the ground catching her breath, Jared walks away from her, which as far as I can gather means he’s still leaving her in a position they could easily kill her. But since I assume they’re not dumb enough to keep up this fight (though their behaviour so far sure as hell doesn’t back that up) Jeb reminds them they’re guests in his home and he told them not to touch her.
Jeb refers to Wandanie as his guest and says he doesn’t want any of his guests killing each other. The brothers argue, and Meyer feels we need a reminder of how gruesome the results of violence are. But considering the worst thing that happened to any of them is a broken nose it’s not that gruesome a sight. It’s just blood. She also makes sure to say his anger is controlled. Which means my assessment of the unnecessary cruelty of their actions at the end of the past scene really is kind of horrific and I have to begrudgingly admit Wanderer has a point in this particular case.
Kyle says Jeb is keeping Wanderer as a pet which causes her to think about whether or not Jeb wants her dead. She seems shocked at the thought that Jeb doesn’t want her dead, but considering so far all he’s done has been help her, this really makes her come off as a bitch. Again. Because that’s such out of character behaviour for her.
Jeb says what happens to her isn’t up to him, so he doesn’t have the answers to his actually pretty justifiable questions. Kyle had said that they had a right to know what they were going to do with her because they had to be able to make up their minds as to whether or not this place was still safe.
The third guy, Brandt, was already named out loud in this chapter, but Wanderer still thinks of him as just ‘the one I didn’t know’. If this were a science fiction tv show or movie he would be the next to die.
Apparently the cave people had a vote and the 3 amigo’s were appointed to deal out the result. Jeb says it wasn’t up for a vote either. As nice as Jeb is being here, I have to say as a leader of people he kind of sucks. Kindness without explaining how you’re going to stop it from affecting the greater good tends to lead to revolt/mutiny. He should have talked to them and at least explained to them why he wasn’t killing her or at least locking her up. Assure them that they’re still safe and he will put the safety of the colony ahead of this one non-person, as all the people will see is that unlike in the past when he’s killed the aliens, he’s keeping this one, who happens to be his niece, alive and unjailed. They have a right to doubt his decision and worry for their continued safety.
Jeb’s eyes finally flickered–to another face and then back to Kyle. “It’s Jared’s decision.”
Everyone, me included, shifted their eyes to stare at Jared.
He gaped at Jeb, just as astonished as the rest, and then his teeth ground together with an audible sound. He threw a glare of pure hate in my direction.
“Jared?” Kyle asked, facing Jeb again. “That makes no sense!” He was not in control of himself now, almost spluttering in rage. “He’s more biased than anyone else! Why? How can he be rational about this?”
Anyone else? Really? You think Jamie would be more rational than Jared? Does everyone just forget that the now teenaged kid who Melanie basically raised is still alive and they’re talking about the fate of his adoptive mother without getting his input at all? He’s not still 10 you know book! He’s a teenager now! He’s grown up with this reality. He at least has a right to have his opinion considered if everyone else in the colony does.
I’ve heard that Twilight is sexist, but this particular passage implies that Melanie is Jared’s. Her brother/son isn’t even as important as her boyfriend/husband (basically). She has no right to even speak on her own behalf. I know they think she’s a lying alien, but if Jeb is trying to be fair here, and if they’re democratic enough to hold a vote, she doesn’t at least get to speak? Perhaps I’m reading too much into this. I’m biased by all the horror stories I’ve heard about how bad Twilight is, so perhaps I’m looking for it…
Jared doesn’t seem to want this responsibility, and since he wasn’t the one who found her, he didn’t bring her back, he didn’t ask for Jeb to allow her to stay and he actually suggested they kill her, I’m really not getting why she’s Jared’s responsibility. Again, it’s really hard for me to not see this as Jeb saying she belongs to the guy she’s fucking. It would make more sense to me if it was Jamie because at least he’s her closest living relative. And he’s NOT a kid anymore. I have to keep saying that. Given the time frame of all this he’s in his mid-teens.
Jeb tries to get Kyle, and me, to understand his thought process by asking how Kyle would feel if it was ‘Jodi’ who we are left to assume was his wife/girlfriend. Jeb asks if Kyle would want her fate decided by a vote he wasn’t involved in. Kyle bites back that Jodi is dead.
“Well, if her body wandered in here, it would still be up to you. Would you want it any other way?”
Like I’ve said three times now, this thought process makes sense to me. If we ignore the fact that Jamie exists and she’s being kept in an unprotected alcove. I do agree that the loved ones of the infected should have more of a say than the majority, as long as they can be handled in a way that makes sure they’re not risking the others. Honestly if Jeb is this non-chalant about safety I’m left wondering how he managed to survive this long…
“If, unlikely as it may be, somehow this ever happens again, whoever the body belongs to makes the call.”
Well that makes it easy, the body belongs to Melanie and she doesn’t want to die. Case closed! Yeah, I wasn’t reading too much into it, this shit is pretty awful.
Wanderer thinks about all of Jeb’s actions so far. She’s incredibly sceptical of him, but she concedes that he’s one of two people here that don’t want her dead. She keeps implying she’s still afraid of him though, but she makes no indication of being afraid of Jared despite that her fate is now in his hands and she says out right that she knows he could decide to kill her any second. But Jeb is the one she’s afraid of. Because logic.
However, as much as I wanted to believe that Jeb was bluffing, while I watched the three men disappear into the darkness away from me, it was obvious there was no way he could be. Under the front he presented, Jeb must have been just as deadly and cruel as the rest of them. If he hadn’t used that gun in the past–used it to kill, not just to threaten–no one would have obeyed him this way.
Context matters. The Llama already talked about this specific section at length better than I could and this review is going to be by far my longest one yet so I’ll send you to hers and move on.
Melanie finally appears for the first time this chapter, failing miserably at defending Jeb’s actions that they don’t even know he’s actually taken, and then Wanderer tells her to shut up. She doesn’t have time for your shit Melanie!
Jared tries to talk Jeb out of leaving the decision to him, because he knows she’s dead but he can’t bring himself to kill her. The scene is actually fairly well written and emotional, but then Meyer ruins the moment by having Wanderer be a bitch to Melanie again.
Jeb is sympathetic, tells him he should try and think about something else for a while then, and that he’ll be there to help. Jared asks what they’ll do in the meantime, the answer is apparently watch her round the clock for a couple of weeks until everyone stops freaking out over the fact that she’s there. Jared points out how unrealistic that is, and in another actually human moment, Jeb admits he knows that, and that he hasn’t figured that part out yet.
Despite the sexist slip up earlier, Jeb and Jared are still my favourite characters so far now that Kathy’s part is done. They’ve been the most realistic so far, the most human and relatable. I’d guess that part of the decision to leave her in the hands of Jared is because he didn’t want to kill his niece either and that absolved him of responsibility. He may genuinely feel that Jared has final say, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we found out part of it was his own connection to her. And Jared is appropriately conflicted, angry, and frustrated.
Jeb starts talking to Wanderer like she’s a child. I can actually understand this from two points of view. One; that she’s an alien and he does genuinely look down on them, or two, that he remembers her as his little niece. He remembers her as a child. He hasn’t seen her in at least 6 years after all. Probably closer to a decade, considering the last time he saw her her dad was still uninfected. Not to mention the fact that she keeps staring at him and not giving much indication she understands him. That doesn’t help.
Anyway, he assures Jared that she doesn’t need to be locked up because she’s not dumb enough to wander out knowing that everyone but the two of them wants her dead. He clearly doesn’t know what she did on her journey to find them.
Jared says he won’t take responsibility for Wandanie and tells Jeb to kill her if he thinks that’s best, then he leaves. Jeb tells her to get some sleep and after a half an hour of being curled in the fetal position she decides to listen to his advice.
She wakes up to food, which Meyer thankfully decides not to describe in detail for a change, but she does spend a paragraph describing the bad taste of the water. Eventually she needs to pee and starts rocking back and forth, unwilling to speak up. I assume she looks like a little kid doing the potty dance since Jeb picks up on it without her saying anything. Though as if to debate my attempts to defend why he would talk down to her, he words it the same way you would a dog, asking if she needs ‘out’. It’s almost like Meyer wants me to hate everyone.
Wanderer continues to not say a single word to him, even when she has actual important things to bring up. Jeb says that to get to the bathroom, they have to go right through the main hall and she thinks he should just bring her a bucket but says nothing. As they get up to leave, she wonders if she’s supposed to bring the light, but says nothing. As they wander the halls and she’s curious about everything, she doesn’t say a word.
“Easy,” he murmured, not turning. “They’re more afraid of you than you are of them.”
I doubted that. And even if there were any way that it could be true, fear turned into hatred and violence in the human heart.
Funny, I don’t recall hating or punching my last dentist… In fact, despite being afraid of him, as I am all dentists, he was being very nice and trying very hard to help me feel relaxed. I felt bad that I was afraid of him. People don’t automatically hate the things they’re afraid of. They hate you because you’re an avatar of the beings that have taken their loved ones, their society, their lives. They don’t hate you because they’re afraid of you. The two are not intrinsically connected. Nor is violence always attached to hatred. In fact most people just avoid the things they hate. Not because they think they’ll punch it in the face, but because they hate it so they don’t want to be near it because it sucks. They’re violent to you because you’re a threat and they wish to protect their loved ones.
It was fundamentally wrong for me to feel grateful to that hideous weapon in Jeb’s hands… but I did.
It would only be fundamentally wrong for you to feel grateful to the gun if he was using it to hurt others to protect you. Its presence as a deterrent is not fundamentally wrong. It’s presence in this scenario is nothing but a symbol of her being under Jeb’s protection. It’s not hurting anyone. Recognize the difference between protection and violence please Wanderer. Just once. Because I’m really fucking sick of you making it sound like the humans are the bad guys here. Especially Jeb.
No one attacks them. No one speaks up. Wanderer spends a page and a half describing each individual’s specific glare at her, but they make it without incident. Jeb describes how he found the place. Apparently he fell through a hole and landed in it. The caves are in an active volcano somehow. He says what’s coming up is everyone’s favourite part and the chapter ends without telling you what, because every single chapter has to end with a fucking cliffhanger.
In terms of reading this chapter it’s actually one of the best so far in the book. There’s actually things happening, almost everything that’s said feels like it has an actual purpose for being in the book. It does make these reviews harder though because there is so very much that I have a lot to say on but if I wrote about everything that I had something to say about this review could quite literally pass as a novella of its very own and I just do not have the time to write that much about one chapter.
The next chapter is no shorter though, so let’s see how that one goes! Till next time.