Wow is this review ever late! Sorry about that. Last week was… Well it’s a long story. Thankfully though that shouldn’t happen again any time soon so let’s get back on track shall we?
This chapter is just as long as the one before, but Wanderer is back to describing every little detail multiple times, so I thankfully can skim a bit again. I’m caught between wanting chapters where things actually happen and wanting to not have to write a dissertation to talk about them.
This chapter opens with more lead up to the ‘cliffhanger’ reveal from the end of the last chapter. Wanderer spends an entire page describing the sounds, the smell, taste and density of the air, the temperature, the light… I really couldn’t care less. Jeb talks to her for a while like she’s an old friend he’s telling about the cool cave he found. He’s very friendly to her, joking around, he’s clearly trying to get her to relax.
Finally the steam obscuring her vision clears and the reveal is – wait for it – water! I know, so huge for the reader right? Yeah, see, the thing with this being dragged out to seem like a huge reveal? It’s only important to the characters in the cave, not to us. They need it because water in the desert is a huge deal, but in terms of tension for the reader resulting in a pay off? Not so much.
As Wanderer describes things some more, going into detail about the spikes coming off the ceiling, Jeb warns her to be careful. Apparently they’d lost someone to the strength of the flow in the hot spring. He bows his head and has a moment of silence, and instead of acknowledging his sadness at the loss of a comrade, she just thinks about herself again. She wasn’t actually in danger of falling in, he was warning not to get too close before she had a chance to, but the fact that she’s in no danger and Jeb is having a sad moment is irrelevant, Wanderer can only think about two things; herself, and how horribly violent Earth is.
Jeb notices her discomfort at his warning so he interrupts his memory of mourning to comfort her and assure her all she has to do is pay attention to where she’s walking and she’ll be fine. He then continues explaining things to her, going on about how they dug out the floor in one of the caves to be a massive tub. The ‘room’ closest to where the stream heads underground is the bathroom so the rushing water washes away all their waste. Living in caves and they found a way to avoid outhouse stink, that’s pretty impressive.
His voice had assumed a complacent tone, as if he felt credit was due to him for nature’s creations. Well, he had discovered and improved the place–I supposed some pride was justified.
Is anyone surprised to see her being a bitch? No, I didn’t think so. Everything she does, says or thinks seems to just come from the most awful places possible. The only time she thinks anything positive at all is about… Hmm… actually I can’t think of the last genuinely nice thing she thought about anyone was. All the thoughts about how wonderful Jared was came from Melanie. Wanderer was more willing to trust him than Jeb but she still thought about how likely he was to kill her. She’s said some begrudged nice things to Melanie. She’s begrudgingly thought that Jeb might not be out to hurt her. The nicest she seems to get is not being a total bitch.
Jeb pulled a flashlight from his pocket and held it out. The sight of it reminded me of the moment he’d found me dying in the desert, when he’d checked my eyes and known what I was. I didn’t know why the memory made me sad.
Gee, I don’t know, maybe because it was the moment that your life went to hell? The moment that should have been the embrace of death you’d been hoping for or a blissful reunion with the family of your host body, but turned into a scenario where you had to see the faces of the people you had grown to love as they stared at you with hatred? Nah, no reason at all for that to bum you out.
She goes to the bathroom and gets jumpy thinking someone is going to attack her from the shadows. At this point I would like to actually give this book some additional praise that it probably doesn’t deserve. I don’t often come across novels, especially ones starring women; that bring up having to use the bathroom unless it’s a kid. Considering it’s been skipped already several times in this book (it would have been hilarious to be witness to when Wanderer found out she had to shit in a bush) the fact that it did finally come up surprised me. Meyer used it as an excuse to describe the walls some more, but hey, baby steps.
To find Jeb standing there, still in the same pose, still alone, was like a balm to my splintered nerves. My breathing and my heartbeat slowed. Why this crazy human should be such a comfort to me, I couldn’t understand. I supposed it was like Melanie had said, desperate times.
Jeb has been nothing but nice to you dammit. I thought harder about the ‘sexist’ comments in the chapter before, where I commented that Jeb saying who ever the body ‘belongs’ to would have final say, and I realized it only really sounds that way because she’s a woman, and the only other example he gave was a woman. But at no point did he imply that if it happened to Jamie instead of Melanie that Melanie wouldn’t have final say over what happened to Jamie, so as far as we know it works both ways. So I may have jumped the gun on that one. So that means that Jeb really has been nothing but considerate and kind to her.
You don’t have to be desperate to take comfort in the presence of the only person who has actually acted as though you are a person. He’s brought you food and water and he took you to the bathroom, keeping you company by telling you stories. Trust me, in tense situation like this having someone act normal around you can make you feel a lot better.
We find out that Sharon really was in Chicago so at least the trip Melanie made wasn’t entirely stupid. I’m going to assume that eventually we’ll find out that Jared met up with Sharon and they all wandered out into the desert together. Which would prove that Melanie was stupid to do what she did because they managed to get in touch with her and have her listen to them without her. So the entire set up to the plot of this book is based on someone doing a really stupid thing for a really stupid reason. Seems pretty fitting actually.
Jeb continues to be much nicer to Wanderer than she deserves saying she’s not a prisoner and is free to meander out of the bubble when he’s around. He also warns that for her own safety she probably would be best not to do that when Jared is around. He also tells her he’ll try and find something more comfortable for her. She apparently was only put in the bubble cave because Jeb thought it would be hard for Kyle and the others to find and he was wrong.
I listened to his apologetic words in wonder; this was so much more kindness than I’d hoped for, more compassion than I’d thought this species was capable of giving their enemies.
Well maybe if you’d actually done some real research on humans instead of refusing to because of the rumours you heard, you would know that this isn’t terribly uncommon at all. There was an entire stand still during WWII on Christmas day where soldiers on both sides ceased attacking each other and actually shared meals together. Some of them actually sought out the soldiers on the other side after the war and they came together again as friends. And that story is by no means the exception to the rule. Yes, people can be horrific to each other, but most people have no desire to indiscriminately attack others. Compassion is as built in an instinct as violence, it’s why we are a social species. That instinct doesn’t just disappear simply because we’re on opposite sides of a conflict. Clearly Wanderer has never looked into PTSD. That’s caused by the trauma of horrible events, and killing someone, even justifiably, is one of the many possible triggers.
When Wanderer tries to signal to Jeb that she understands (still refusing to actually speak) she thinks of it in terms of only the negative once again. Instead of thinking that she’s grateful for the respite he offered and the generosity he’s showed, the thing she thinks immediately after acknowledging him is that Jared doesn’t like her. That’s what sinks in from this conversation.
They head back and Wanderer describes shit some more. More describing, more fear, more assumptions that Jeb is trying to screw with her, more thoughts about how Jared will end up killing her, and more thoughts about the secret she’s keeping that she won’t tell us and we just do not care about. The humans have shown zero interest in trying to get any important secret from her because they don’t know she has one to give, and she’s given no information on what the secret could possibly be or why it’s important, so the fact that the humans don’t care and we have no way of knowing its importance, her randomly bringing it up just makes it sound like she’s a teenager trying to hide her diary that no one is actually trying to read.
When they get back to the cave, Jamie is sitting there waiting for them, and Jeb turns into a cartoon character.
“Well, for Pete’s sake!” Jeb exclaimed, obviously irritated. “Can’t nobody keep a secret around this place for more’n twenty-four hours? Gol’ durn, this burns me up! Bunch of gossipmongers…” He trailed off into a grumble.
Where the hell did this come from? His conversations have implied something of a rural American accent, but this sounds like it’s lifted straight out of an old Bugs Bunny cartoon. It’s distracting and confusing and inconsistent. It took me right out of this scene entirely, and the scene should have been tense and suspenseful because Wandanie is finally seeing Jamie after 17 goddamn chapters of crap. But of course Jamie isn’t the important one, so why the fuck should this scene get any goddamn respect?! She already reconnected with the love interest so fuck it, the kid, her little brother she raised, he’s not significant. The book sure as hell didn’t make him significant so far, why did I expect that to change now?!
I didn’t even try to understand the words Jeb was saying; I was locked in the fiercest battle of my life–of every life I’d ever lived.
Wanderer says she’s locked in a ‘fierce battle’ to keep Melanie under control but she says it’s the fiercest struggle she’s ever had. But, no, if it was, you’d have fucking lost! Because Melanie has taken control before! She was able to take over when Jared was there, she was able to take over when you were dying, she was able to speak through you a few times. And don’t tell me Wanderer wasn’t expecting it those times so Melanie had the advantage of surprise, because Wanderer sure as hell didn’t see this coming so she wasn’t prepared for this either! So apparently Melanie doesn’t love Jamie as much as she loves Jared or as much as she hates Seeker. Let’s hope Jamie never finds that out because that poor kid deserves better than that.
Melanie had learned many things the few times I’d ceded or lost my command to her, and I truly had to struggle against her–so hard that fresh sweat beaded on my brow.
See? She even says that she’s lost command to Melanie. So she’s been in a fiercer battle and lost. Melanie really isn’t trying as hard this time. So, wow, Melanie kind of sucks. And she was the only female character I didn’t hate that’s still active in the book… Damn.
I know that scene is meant to imply that Wanderer is strong and knows better than Melanie does but it really does nothing to me but make me think Melanie just doesn’t care as much about her brother that she does Jared, or her aunt and cousin for that matter since she yelled out to them too. I suppose the argument could be made that she’s finally learned her lesson except that Wanderer says she can feel Melanie trying really hard to take control so if she did learn any lesson she isn’t acting on it. Wanderer doesn’t come off as strong. Especially since the only reason for holding back she gives is that she’s not weak right now so she’s maintaining control. Jamie is smaller than her, and she’s not giving any indication she fears him, only that she’s keeping control because she’s stronger than Melanie.
To back up my assertion that Melanie isn’t trying as hard is that she actually gives up. Wanderer says her ‘surrender’ is sudden and ‘total’ and it makes her feel guilty because Melanie is in pain. But if it was really that important to her she’d have kept fucking trying. Wanderer would have gotten tired. Wanderer was already sweating. If she really wanted it she’d have gotten to go to Jamie.
I’d already known that she was more to me than a resistant host who made life unnecessarily difficult. We’d become companions, even confidantes during our past weeks together–ever since the Seeker had united us against a common enemy.
Really? REALLY?! You’ve been nothing but a bitch to her! You haven’t confided a fucking thing to her! In fact when she learned you had a secret (which she honestly didn’t really seem to give much of a shit about beyond ‘you have a secret? Huh…’) you didn’t just not share it with her you acted like she was trying to torture it out of you! You said you had a secret, she was like ‘you have a secret?’ and you basically turned into Gollum from Lord of the Rings and your secret was the one ring. So what did you confide in her Wanderer? Was it that one time when you admitted she might have had a point about you needing to ration the supplies which you followed by not rationing the supplies? Or was it earlier in the same day as this scene when you told her everything that’s happened was all her fault not yours?
In the desert, with Kyle’s knife over my head, I’d been glad that if I had to die I would not be the one to kill Melanie; even then, she was more than a body to me.
Funny, that sounds less like friendship and more like just not wanting any blood on your hands. ‘Oh good, someone else is going to do the thing I was going to do but didn’t want to! Yay!’ Wanderer’s idea of friendship is really fucking terrible. No wonder she doesn’t have any friends.
He was Jamie, he was beautiful, and my arms–mine, not Melanie’s–longed to hold him.
I understand what this is meant to imply, but Wanderer doesn’t have arms. They are Melanie’s. They will always be Melanie’s, and your reaction to Jamie is entirely coloured by Melanie’s brain. Melanie’s memories. Melanie’s interactions. So your emotions towards him are based on hers. They are not genuinely your emotions just as the feelings you have for Jared are not entirely your own. You’re just incredibly egotistical and want to make everything about you. It’s not just Melanie suffering you guys! Feel bad for Wanderer too! Fuck Wanderer.
Apparently the dream Melanie had of her first meeting with Jared came up because it was Jamie’s birthday. More evidence that Melanie cares more about Jared than Jamie. Wanderer tries to excuse it by saying she was trying to hide Jamie’s existence, but Jared was the last thing Melanie thought about before she ‘died’. Her first meeting with Jared is the memory she thought about on Jamie’s birthday. Not happy memories at home with her parents before the invasion. Not memories of past birthday’s with Jamie. She’d been on the run with him for at least 6 years, so there’s plenty of birthdays for her to have thought of.
In reality if she was trying to hide Jamie from the memories she wouldn’t have thought of a different memory, she’d have ‘edited’ an existing memory. She’d have thought of those times, but put up walls like she had in other memories. She’s had other memories and then when it got to things that Wanderer would use against her, she just blacked everything out and Wanderer couldn’t get the rest of the memory. So she could have thought about her and Jared going out to get something for Jamie’s birthday and then when it got to actually finding what they were looking for, black it out. But no, she thought about meeting Jared. Because Jared is the most important person in her life.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Jamie demanded back.
Jeb went silent.
“Was that Jared’s idea?” Jamie pressed.
Jeb sighed. “Okay, so you know. What good does that do you, eh? We only wanted to –”
“To protect me?” he interrupted, surly.
When did he get so bitter? Was it my fault? Of course it was.
You’re damn fucking right it was Wanderer. You know what he’s been through. Every parent figure he’s ever had has been infected and taken from him. How could that not make him bitter?!
Jamie starts talking to Wanderer. He asks her a bunch of questions, Wanderer stays silent. She answers everything in gestures. When Jamie asks how she get injured, Jeb answers for her, since she’s still not talking, and it would be pretty hard to answer that one with a nod. When he asks if she knows who he is she finally actually speaks, saying his name.
Jamie begs her to tell him what happened to Melanie after she left Jamie and Jared and before she became Wanderer’s host. Wanderer tries to not answer, but he’s insistent and she has a hard time telling him no apparently.
“The Seekers tried to get her to surrender. She ran from them. When they had her cornered, she jumped into an open elevator shaft.” I recoiled from the memory of pain, and Jamie’s face went white under his tan.
“She didn’t die?” he whispered.
“No. We have very skilled Healers. They mended her quickly. Then they put me in her. They hoped I would be able to tell them how she had survived so long.” I had not meant to say so much; my mouth snapped shut. Jamie didn’t seem to notice my slip, but Jeb’s eyes opened slowly and fixed on my face. No other part of him moved, and Jamie didn’t see the change.
This information is apparently relevant to Jeb, but I’m not entirely certain why. The only thing I can come up with is that it would be interesting to him that she said they hoped she would be able to tell them how she survived. Implying she didn’t. Other than that it seems fairly straight forward and unimportant.
Jeb seems to be noting her movements. This information is relevant to ME because, one, I have no idea how Wanderer is noticing that he’s noticing her while paying such close attention to Jamie while they’re in a poorly lit cave hallway, and two, because it seems Jeb is the smartest person in this cave. He seems to have caught on to why Wanderer is there.
Jamie starts getting into questions about where she came from and thank god Jared interrupts. I did not want to listen to Wanderer talk about the see weeds again. Jared freaks out that Jamie is there, Jeb stands up to defend himself but drops his gun and it rolls towards Wanderer. Jared loses it, Jeb assures him that Wanderer would never touch the thing so he needs to get his anger under control, and Jamie joins in the fight getting justifiably angry at Jared.
I was rooted in place with shock. How could they scream at each other this way? They were family, the bonds between them stronger than any blood tie.
I don’t see how that’s the case. Yes, Jared was an adult when they met and has essentially been helping to take care of Jamie for years, and he was with Jamie’s mother figure, but that still doesn’t make their bonds stronger than blood. In fact I seem to recall that this is the first time we’ve actually seen them interact. Jared’s interest was in Melanie and not being alone. He wasn’t taking care of Jamie because he loved Jamie. Though I imagine he did learn to think of him as a sibling, but that still doesn’t necessarily mean the bond is stronger than blood. And for that matter siblings fight all the damn time.
We should never have come here. See how unhappy we’ve made them, I moaned.
And again I am left to wonder why the hell you didn’t think about that before you left!
Jared dropped his hands. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “You will either leave right now, Jamie, and give me some space, or I will make you leave. I am not bluffing. I can’t deal with any more right now, okay? I’m at my limit. So can we please have this conversation later?” He opened his eyes again; they were full of pain.
It’s moments like these that make me hate this book on a whole different level. These moments prove that Meyer can write genuine emotional conflict, genuine human moments. And yet most of it is monotonous descriptions of plants and Wanderer being a selfish bitch. Why don’t Wanderer and Melanie’s interactions feel this real? This conflicted? Why don’t any of the moments where Wanderer has the internal conflict about going against her own people feel this real? I DON’T GET IT!
This moment for Jared gets across how overwhelmed he feels. How frustrated he is, and how much he cares about Jamie. He knows he can’t deal with this right now and he knows himself well enough to know he has to separate himself from Jamie, but he doesn’t trust Wanderer, so he can’t be the one to leave. He can’t leave Jamie with her.
Jamie leaves without a fight, but he does say he can’t promise he won’t come back. Jared makes Jeb go as well, but before he leaves, Jared asks if he would shoot Melanie if he asked him to. Jeb says he follows his own rules, so he would, and for Jared to be very sure that that’s what he wanted. Jared doesn’t say anything else and Jeb leaves. Wanderer scampers into the bubble cave and the chapter ends.
So. Jamie doesn’t suck. That’s a surprise, but a welcome one. I continue to like Jeb and Jared. Maybe he character just needs a J name… They need to introduce a female named Jasmine or something. I think Jeb said Kyle’s girlfriend was named Jodi, bring her in! Melanie was barely mentioned in this and the last chapter, only really showing up when they first see Jamie. I hope that’s not a trend. Melanie is significantly less annoying than Wanderer.
Till next time, check out The Llama’s review!