The Host Review: Abandoned (ch 19)

Well this chapter is less painfully boring than the last one…  It is possible to convey boredom without killing the reader’s interest in the book, but Meyer sure as hell didn’t pull it off.  I was talking to The Llama about it after finishing the review for that chapter, managed to sum the entire first 2/3rds of it into two sentences: ‘Jared took over watching me all the time from that point on, not even letting Jeb stop by.  A week past, I only got to leave the small cavern that was my prison at night when Jared took me to use the latrine.’

If you can sum up the majority of a chapter in less than a paragraph without losing a single bit of the impact there is something very very wrong!  But this chapter, while still terrible, is at least slightly more relevant.  Only slightly though.

just-a-little-bit-himym-o

Anyway this chapter continues immediately where the last chapter left off.  That happens a lot in this book and I actually find it quite annoying.  It seems she just cuts up the scenes where ever she thinks it’s going to leave the reader with a cliffhanger instead of actually having there be a reason for the section split.  It’s like watching the season finale to a drama series where they end on a cliffhanger that’s supposed to keep you on the edge of your seat for the 3-4 months where there’s no new episodes coming out and then they wrap it up in the first 5 minutes of the new season.  Only there’s no 3-4 month gap between chapters.

I guess that’s why people say they find her books such fast reads?  I guess if you can ignore all the crap in it and you somehow manage to feel engaged you would just keep reading till you were finished because at the end of every chapter you want to know what happens.  But even if this was a good book that I actually wanted to read I would still find that frustrating.  I can’t put down a book mid chapter.  I can’t do it!  It’s not a natural thing to me.  But if I actually like a book and want to know what happens next, being left with a cliffhanger, I would read the next chapter to know what happens next!  Then I would realize 20 chapters later that it was 5 in the morning and I had to get up for work in a half an hour!

no-sleep

It doesn’t give you a point at which you feel you can stop reading for the night.  It’s a book.  After you get them to buy it you don’t need to get them to read it as fast as possible unless you have a back log of other books ready to be released for them to want to consume with the same fervour.  But this book has been out for a couple years now and there’s been no follow up because Meyer is afraid she can’t do it without killing one of her characters and she’s not capable of doing that (I did more research for this blog than Meyer did for this book.) so there’s no need to suck you in and have you NEED to know what happens next RIGHT NOW unless there’s something really important happening.  She’s relying on false tension to trick the reader into thinking they care about this book more than they actually would if they stopped to think about it for a few minutes.

…Right, there’s a chapter to read.

Who is the Seeker in black? Why is it still searching?” Jared’s shout was deafening, echoing at me from all sides.

This brings up something interesting I’ve noticed in books, movies, tv shows, pretty much every form of media that involves violence.  I’ve noticed that the humans keep calling her, and now the seeker, ‘it’ rather than their host’s gender.  In this case I get it, I do.  I’m actually not trying to criticize the book here.  I just find it an interesting habit that when it comes to displaying the side of a fight that the observer is expected to support, the other side is always dehumanized.  They lack a face, they lack names, in shows where the main characters are animals the enemies are usually also animals, but despite in the actual animal kingdom, the predator animal is considered more intelligent, in the show or movie it’s portrayed as a mindless killing machine while the (generally herbivorous) protagonist is as smart as a human.  Just an observation.  I’ll discuss it someday in a non-review post.

Not today

For some reason Ian, who I will remind you is the one that cruelly tried to strangle Wanderer to death a few chapters back, choking her for a good 1-2 minutes, lifting her off the ground, is being nicer to Wanderer than Jared is.  I said back in the chapter where she was attacked by Kyle and Ian that I understood that Meyer was using strangling because it was a way to make it seem like she was in a genuinely threatening situation but not have her die before someone would have a chance to save her, but that knowledge doesn’t make this feel any less inconsistent and wrong.

Ian tries to get Jared to be nicer since Wanderer is clearly terrified, but Jared punches him and goes back to asking about Seeker.  Who I’ll say right now, still doesn’t get a name in this chapter.  Because fuck making her easier to talk about.  She doesn’t need a name!  Names are for people!  She’s not a person, she’s a plot device.

I dropped my hands and stared into his pitiless eyes. It bothered me that someone else had suffered for my silence–even someone who had once tried to kill me. This was not how torture was supposed to work.

Wanderer, there is a difference between a questioning and torture.  Currently no one has tortured you.  No one has threatened to torture you.  In fact every mention of torture was your own imagination.  Every time you have thought they were going to torture you they fed you and gave you water and took you to the bathroom.  He didn’t punch Ian to make you talk, he punched Ian because he wanted Ian to piss off.

Jared’s expression wavered as he read the change in mine. “I don’t have to hurt you,” he said quietly, not as sure of himself. “But I do have to know the answer to my question.”

If I didn’t know the inconsistencies were because Meyer is a shitty writer, moments like this would make me wonder if Jared’s kind of horrible behaviour isn’t just Wanderer’s overly active imagination like how in earlier chapters Wanderer kept reading everything the Seeker did as being bitchy while it didn’t come off as bitchy at all if you took away her analysis of it.  But I know now that it’s just that Meyer sucks as a writer, and her characters are just whatever she wants them to be in the scene they’re in and for the last few chapters she’s needed Jared to be a dick so you would pity Wanderer.  And now she needs him to come off as still being slightly human because he’s still the love interest and we can’t have the reader hate him!  He has to come off conflicted!

I imagine this was something the actors in the movie adaptation had to ask a lot...

I imagine this was something the actors in the movie adaptation had to ask a lot…

This book is emotionally manipulative writing for dummies.

Was I truly a coward? I would rather have believed that I was–that my fear of pain was stronger than anything else. The real reason I opened my mouth and spoke was so much more pathetic.

I wanted to please him, this human who hated me so fiercely.

Having said what I just said I’m not entirely certain the purpose for phrasing this the way she does.  It sounds, to me, like we’re supposed to be disgusted by this.  Like it would be better if she was a coward than a suck up.  But why?  This seems to imply, to me, that we’re supposed to hope something bad happens to Jared and she gets with someone who doesn’t treat her like shit.  Is it supposed to set up that she’s better than him?  When she herself sees it as a weakness?  Maybe it’s supposed to set up that Jared will finally start to soften to her as she keeps being a ‘good’ person despite him being a dick to her.  Now if only she would stop being a bitch and actually start being a good person instead…

Please

As I read, the level of description Ian gets seems to be evidence he’s a secondary love interest.  The only characters that have gotten described in the same level of detail have been Jared and Jamie.  And she’s focusing on his eyes.  Personally I find eyes kind of boring…  There are so many more interesting body parts to focus on.  Get your minds out of the gutter, that’s not what I meant.  But it is what I wanted you to think.  That’s the subtlety of Meyer’s emotional manipulation.  Subtle as a brick to the face.

Ian is being nice to her, concerned for her emotional well-being, and has ‘vivid blue eyes’ and ‘pale lips’.  Because there always needs to be a second love interest.  I don’t care!  Parasites invaded the planet and body snatched 99% of the population.  The humans are struggling for survival in a cave system in the middle of the desert and we’re focusing on the bitchy alien and her love… square!  There are so many more interesting stories in this universe… Follow what happened to Jared after Melanie disappeared.  Follow Kathy and her husband as they struggle to survive in the beginning of the invasion.  Follow Jeb as he finds and builds their shelter and how he found out there was an invasion and how he dealt with it.  Follow Sharon and her mother as they struggle in Chicago.  Do a prequel to this book following Melanie and Jamie!  ANYTHING other than the story she chose to tell using the obnoxious character she chose to write!

She explains that she ran away from Seeker because she didn’t like her.  The guys are as confused by this as I was and ask questions about it and she’s as clear on the answer to them as she is during the scenes she has with Seeker.  Meaning Wanderer calls her annoying.  But if being annoying is all it takes for her to hate someone she sure as hell isn’t loving and patient and accepting.  But we already knew that since she judges comforters and parasites that need them as weak and pathetic, and views Jeb with suspicion based on no evidence whatsoever other than her prejudice.  She needs to just accept that she hates everyone and move on.

No one in the world I don't hate

They start asking about what she did and did not tell the Seeker and she reveals that she couldn’t access all the memories, and didn’t learn about a lot of Melanie’s secrets or what the lines were until after she decided she hated Seeker and wasn’t going to tell her anything.  Jared asks why she didn’t tell and she clams up, not wanting to admit that she’d fallen in love with Melanie’s memories.  I won’t say she fell in love with Jared because she didn’t.  She fell in love with Melanie’s nostalgic visions of Jared.  Big difference.  But not relevant as Jared just moves on to the next question.

Jared asks if not being able to access all the memories of the host is normal.  She lies and tells him that it was because Melanie’s brain was damaged in the fall.  Apparently she’s a shit liar.  Jared wants to know why Seeker won’t give up looking for her which is when Wanderer calls her annoying and says she’s not normal.  When he asks if Wanderer is normal, she looks at him implying that that was a stupid question, then curls into a seated fetal position and clams up.

Jared and Ian go back and forth for an entire page talking about whether or not she was lying.  Jared says she is, Ian says she isn’t, except the one time when she actually did.  The discussion bores me.

Bored Now

“I felt guilty –guilty as hell–watching her flinch away from us. Seeing the black marks on her neck.”

You fucking should you prick.  You chose one of the slowest, most painful ways to kill her!  You have every reason to feel guilty!

Ian leaves and Jared mumbles to himself about how ridiculous Ian is.  Wanderer goes to sleep and there’s a section break.  If this was a normal book written by a normal writer, this chapter would be the conversation at the end of the last chapter and it would end here.  It’s like the natural chapter points were split in half and glued to each other.

After the section break, she wakes up to Jared brooding.  Of course she wakes up just in time for Jeb to show up to talk to Jared.  She didn’t wake up because he was there, she woke up, noticed Jared, then heard Jeb coming.  She’s that good.

Anyway Jeb wants to talk to Jared about not Wanderer.  Except it’s totally about Wanderer, he just wants to manipulate Jared into pissing off for a bit.  And Jared is too dumb to catch on.  I seem to recall Melanie saying he was smart…

Jeb tells him that they need a ‘comprehensive’ supply run because they’re running low.  Jared suggests Kyle, Jeb ‘agrees’, but gets comfy against the wall.  He’s not even being subtle that he’s there to get Jared to do it.  I suppose I could defend Jared and say he probably does know what Jeb is doing, he’s just trying to fight it, but since he’s still being an ass I don’t feel like being kind in my assessment.

The gloves are off

The gloves are off

Jared caves and says Kyle is too much of a hot head to do it.  Jeb suggests Ian and Jared says he thinks too much and is likely to get his ass caught.  Brandt apparently gets panicky after ‘a few weeks in’ which leaves me wondering where the hell they’re getting their supplies.  I drove across Canada this time last year, only took 6 days.  Even if they aren’t hunting for supplies close to home to avoid suspicion they should still be able to get stuff a day or two’s drive away and be back in under a week.  Get supplies, cover their tracks, get back.  So what the hell are they doing that takes weeks?

Despite that there seems to be about 40-50 people living there, apparently they’ve only got 4 guys they would even consider sending out for supplies and Jared is the only competent one among them.  How the fuck did they survive!?  More examples of Meyer’s shitty writing.  Of course only the people we’ve met are competent!  Couldn’t even just toss out a random name we haven’t heard yet?  There’s no slow and steady Steve?  Rough and restless Ralph?  Poised and prepared Peter?  Nope, just Kyle, Ian and the cannon fodder.

Jared caves and Wandanie makes me want to punch them in their shared face again.

“You’re the best,” Jeb agreed. “You changed our lives when you showed up here.”

Melanie and I nodded to ourselves; this didn’t surprise either of us.

Jared is magic. Jamie and I were perfectly safe while Jared’s instincts guided us; we never came close to getting caught. If it had been Jared in Chicago, I’m sure he would have made it out fine.

There is so much wrong with this…  How DID they survive before Jared got there if NO ONE else can be trusted to get supplies?!  ‘Jared is magic’ comes off as less love than hero worship.  It’s creepy.  If you’re so sure things would have been fine if you took Jared with you WHY DIDN’T YOU TAKE JARED WITH YOU?!  You STILL haven’t given an answer to that that actually justifies it!

It makes no sense!

It makes no sense!

Jared jerked his shoulder toward me. “What about… ?”

“I’ll keep an eye on her when I can. And I’ll expect you to take Kyle with you. That oughta help.”

“That won’t be enough–Kyle gone and you keeping an eye on her when you can. She… it won’t last long.”

See?  He cares when Meyer wants him to care.  He doesn’t want her to die, because, reasons, but he hates her and wants her to suffer.  But her dying would be sad.

It seems that Wanderer can see into the hallway when it’s convenient too.  Most of the time it’s so dark she can’t see anything at all.  In fact a lot of the time she can only see Jared at all if he’s within a foot of the entrance.  But throughout this chapter and the last one she can see them in varying degrees of detail down the hall.  Right now she can see him well enough to notice his breathing and she sees everything that Jeb does, but they’re at the end of the hallway.

If you’re going to write a book in the first person perspective you can’t have you character wake up just in time to get the exposition dialogue and you can’t describe things that they have no way of seeing!  If you want to be able to write like that have a semi-omnipotent third person narration.  Focus on Wandanie, but give yourself the freedom to describe the things around her without her having to see them.  The narrator doesn’t get to know everything that’s going on just because you want the reader to.

Jared resigns himself to the idea that Wanderer will die while he’s away and he seems to be the right level of relieved and melancholy for realism, wrong for his characterization thus far.

I knew the human exaggeration for sorrow–a broken heart. Melanie remembered speaking the phrase herself. But I’d always thought of it as a hyperbole, a traditional description for something that had no real physiological link, like a green thumb. So I wasn’t expecting the pain in my chest. The nausea, yes, the swelling in my throat, yes, and, yes, the tears burning in my eyes. But what was the ripping sensation just under my rib cage? It made no logical sense.

The moment his heart breaks

Why do you keep talking about things you know nothing about!  Stop!  Please!

The term ‘a broken heart’ refers to actual pain.  It is by no means hyperbole and it does have a physiological link!  Loneliness lights up the same sections of your brain as physical pain.  Sadness and depression have a direct link to stress hormones, immune responses, healing abilities, even intelligence.  Basically, not being in a happy relationship of some kind can actually kill you.  Losing a loved one, through a death, a break up or a forced split, can, and has, caused so much negative physical affects that it can be considered the cause of death.  So just shut up about things you know nothing about!

And it wasn’t just ripping, but twisting and pulling in different directions. Because Melanie’s heart broke, too, and it was a separate sensation, as if we’d grown another organ to compensate for our twin awarenesses. A double heart for a double mind. Twice the pain.

go fuck yourself

First of all, there is no reason at all for Wanderer to love him outside Melanie’s nostalgic memories of him.  He hasn’t acted anything like he did in her memories and he has given Wanderer no reason to fall for him.  She fell for the memory of him.  So she’s not losing anything.  Second of all, IT’S MELANIE’S HEART!  WHY DO I HAVE TO KEEP SAYING THIS?!  I wish she would stop talking about Melanie’s body as though it belongs to her and all of the sensations it feels are hers, not Melanie’s.  Melanie’s body is reacting to MELANIE’S emotional response.  Wanderer’s just getting the side effects of it.  So she can fuck off and stop pretending that Melanie is the parasite that she has to endure.

After Jared is out of earshot Wanderer breaks down and cries and the chapter ends.  Yay, it’s over!  This chapter fucking sucked.  But at least it was a little more engaging than the last chapter.  Seems Jared will be gone for a bit and Jeb will be around for a while, but that makes me a little nervous.  I liked Jared at first too, then he hung around long enough for him to start to suck and I’m worried that will happen with Jeb too.

Hopefully the next chapter will suck less.  But I already know it doesn’t, so, fuck…

Till next time!

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