Have I mentioned recently that I hate this book? That it may very well be the single worst thing I have ever read? And I have read a pretty decent number of books. About 25% of this book is violent rage inducing, 45% is just incredibly pointlessly dull, 20% is inconsistent characterization moving the plot forward through convenient coincidences, 8% is Wanderer being racist, and 2% is hidden gems of decent writing that make the violent rage inducing and pointlessly dull parts so much worse.
This chapter falls mostly in the pointlessly dull category.
It was true that I did not smell good.
That is the very first line of this chapter. Keep in mind that the very first line of a chapter is meant to set the tone for it. So that’s the tone you can expect, Wanderer smells like ass. Strong start!
I’d lost count of how many days I’d spent here–was it more than a week now? more than two?–and all of them sweating into the same clothes I’d worn on my disastrous desert trek. So much salt had dried into my cotton shirt that it was creased into rigid accordion wrinkles. It used to be pale yellow; now it was a splotchy, diseased-looking print in the same dark purple color as the cave floor. My short hair was crunchy and gritty; I could feel it standing out in wild tangles around my head, with a stiff crest on top, like a cockatoo’s. I hadn’t seen my face recently, but I imagined it in two shades of purple: cave-dirt purple and healing-bruise purple.
She doesn’t know how long she’s been there, could be less than a week or more than two. Okay… I have a terrible sense of time, but I’m pretty sure if I was sitting around in a cave hole with nothing to do for several days straight I would keep track of days. Which could be done by watching when Jared goes to sleep, or how much food is brought, or in severe boredom, actually counting the seconds as they pass… He only took her to the bathroom at night, so how many times did he take her to the bathroom? How does she not know how long she’s been there?!
If she’s been sitting in something caked in that much salt for many days, it would have dried her skin to the point of severe pain. Rashes, cracking, blistering, followed by the pain of literal salt in an open wound. Pleasant thought isn’t it?! She makes no mention of any of this.
Purple dirt? I don’t know what makes purple dirt but last I checked the Arizona desert was brown primarily. So I have no idea where dark purple came from.
I ended up with an old but clean flannel shirt of Jeb’s that had the sleeves ripped off, and a pair of faded, holey cutoff sweatpants that had gone unclaimed for months.
That might very well be the single most white trash outfit I have ever heard described. It suits her.
Several paragraphs of her noticing people glaring at her and describing people she’s already described, she finally gets to take her bath because I care so much that she gets to feel clean. She hops in wearing her clothes and washes them while she’s wearing them until for some reason she finally decides to take them off. I understand why taking them off makes sense, I just don’t understand why she wore them into the water in the first place instead.
It seemed as if the places where the bruises had formed were more sensitive than the rest of me
Brilliant deduction. Truly you are a master detective.
It was with a strange mingling of relief and regret that I sloshed my way out of the pool. The water was very pleasant, as was the feeling of clean, if prickling, skin. But I’d had quite enough of the blindness and the things I could imagine into the darkness.
Didn’t you spend an entire lifetime without a sense of sight? Do you take nothing of your past experiences with you? Why do none of her past experiences seem to colour her behaviour AT ALL? Yes, humans lack echolocation and thus the lack of sight would be more troublesome for us than a bat (since she hasn’t yet made me rage quit by telling us what the bats actually were like I’m still working from the assumption that they were bats.) but we still have a very useful sense of touch, smell, hearing, we can detect subtle changes in the motion of the water, the air, etc. We can detect the low level growls of predators that we can’t consciously hear. In an echoey, damp cave it would be incredibly difficult for someone to sneak up on her. And chances are anything in the water is not big enough to hurt her, nor would it want to.
I felt around until I found the dry clothes, then I pulled them quickly on and shoved my water-wrinkled feet into my shoes.
So she just soaked the shit out of her clean clothes. Just saying.
“You look better,” [Ian] told me, but I couldn’t tell from his tone if he was surprised or annoyed that I did.
He raised one arm, extending his long, pale fingers toward my neck. I flinched away, and he dropped his hand quickly.
“Sorry about that,” he muttered.
Did he mean for scaring me now or for marking up my neck in the first place? I couldn’t imagine that he was apologizing for trying to kill me. Surely he still wanted me dead. But I wasn’t going to ask. I started walking, and Jeb fell into step behind me.
This right here is what I was referring to earlier in the book by her biases colouring her interpretations of the other characters. We are forced to look at Seeker’s behaviour through her dickish lens and clearly she just hates everyone and doesn’t know how to interpret inflection and body language. At all. She is an unreliable narrator, and in a well written book it would turn out in the end that she was just wrong about everything, but since this is Stephanie Meyer she’ll be right about everything just because.
Also, she’s still totally bitchy and racist, because the only character in this book that’s completely consistent is the one that sucks the hardest.
“So, today wasn’t that bad,” Jeb said as we walked through the dark corridor.
“Not that bad,” I murmured.
She compared her appearance to a cockatoo earlier, and now she’s behaving like a parrot. I can’t think of a good joke to put here. Dammit.
He makes her eat in the cafeteria and she goes on about how much everyone goes silent because we’re totally not sick of hearing that yet. The next day they work the fields again and she describes some people some more. Bored.
Ian worked with us, when it was clearly not his turn, and this bothered me.
He likes you. It should bother you. Because it’s going to make this book suck even more than it already does.
When Jamie asked me about my day, the best I could do was stare intently at my food and mumble one-word answers. This seemed to make him sad, but he didn’t push me.
Where the hell is Melanie to yell at her for being mean to Jamie? Where is her guilt for not being able to be nice to the only people in this book that don’t hate her and the only one in this book that she actually likes back? Where is the guilt over not being able to display the politeness she says is in her species nature? Why is she so goddamn selfish and stupid?!
The following day Jeb teaches her to make bread and leaves her alone with 3 women she doesn’t know. And of course she freaks out waiting for them to kill her because all people are terrible killers. And, gasp, they don’t! So shocked!
The other women get mad at Jeb for taking so long when he gets back and he just acts smug about it. And how little I care cannot be adequately conveyed in words.
The NEXT day, because this chapter just goes on forever, they’re cleaning the mirrors with Ian. When they head to get some food Wanderer notices that Jeb’s not carrying a gun and she actually gasps and starts shaking. Because weapons are only bad when they’re not protecting her apparently. He asks her what’s wrong, but she doesn’t answer.
I would have answered if Ian hadn’t been right beside him, watching my strange behavior with fascination in his vivid blue eyes.
For the love of god just have them fuck already I am sick of having to hear about his vivid eyes and soft lips and glistening skin. I don’t caaaaaare. Why can’t she describe him in the same vagueness she describes everyone else? She describes him as much as she describes the fucking rocks in the wandering the desert chapters!
He was a good liar, and I began to wonder if leaving the gun behind today, and leaving me alone yesterday, and all this effort forcing me into human company was his way of getting me killed without doing the job himself. Was the friendship all in my head? Another lie?
Just, seriously, go fuck yourself.
Anyway they get to the cafeteria and, gasp again, nothing happens. Everyone continues chatting like normal human beings because after several days of seeing her around, giving her that much attention finally got exhausting. She’s proven to not be a threat, and they want to just get on with their lives. But of course it has to be this huge deal. They start chatting with one of the women and assure her that ‘Andy’ is coming back because Jared is magic.
My interest sparked when he mentioned Jared–and Melanie, so somnolent these days, stirred–but Ian didn’t say anything else.
I’m just curious, has anyone reading this ever even heard the word somnolent before? Seen it? Any clue what the fuck it means? In case you, like me, had not, it means sleepy. She’s saying Melanie’s been more or less absent.
I would like to point out that she acts like she’s almost disappointed by the fact that people stop caring that she’s there. I’m going to grab a couple different quotes to explain that one.
They must have been tired of letting me interrupt their lives.
“Things are settling down,” Ian commented to Jeb.
“Knew they would. We’re all reasonable folks here.”
I frowned to myself.
My novelty had apparently worn off.
She seems annoyed that they’re not paying attention to her doesn’t she? That’s how it reads to me at least…
After they eat she asks Jeb why he’s trying to get her killed and he’s confused. She mentions him not taking the gun and leaving her alone and he explains that he was just trying to get the people used to her and everything that was obvious to everyone that isn’t brain dead. She isn’t sure what to think about his answer, but then she asks him why he’s her friend and he says he’s curious. And then he says this:
And see, here you are, one of the nicest gals I ever met.
Nope. Not even close. She’s a racist, mean spirited, self centered bitch. In fact she just accused you of trying to get her killed after you spent the last couple of weeks being nothing but nice to her and getting her everything she needs and treating her like a regular human being. She’s a fucking bitch.
Jeb starts sending her alone on tasks and no one kills her some more and blah blah blah. Ian comes with her to give Doc a message for Jeb at one point and apparently Ian and Doc exchange a glance. Likely the ‘you want in her pants don’t you?’ look, because cockatoo’s in flannel cut offs are sexy apparently. She doesn’t know what it means, but that’s most likely the look she’s talking about. Anyway on the way back, she asks him why he hasn’t killed her yet. He gives the reasonable response that after having given it some thought and seeing that she’s not a risk, killing her for the acts of her species seemed cruel and unnecessary.
How strange that Ian, of all the humans, should have such a surprisingly gentle interior. I didn’t realize that cruelty would seem a negative to him.
Because he’s been soooo awful to her recently. Yeah, I berated his choice of actions when he first did try and kill her, but since then he has been very pleasant to her. He seemed to go out of his way to make up for his behaviour and seemed to genuinely regret the action. As much as I harp on the fact that he’s so blatantly a love interest that I would rather never came to fruition, that’s just because I just really don’t want to read about it. He’s actually been a lot nicer to her than Jared and she has more reason to like him than Jared on both a personal and romantic level.
The chapter ends with Ian telling her that he and Doc have been trying to protect her. This chapter was mercifully short and less awful than the last one but still incredibly boring for its length. She barely mentioned Jamie at all, and despite him being present and talking to her, he was given zero actual LINES. Doc had none either. Only Jeb, the women who didn’t kill her, and Ian. Because Jamie, Melanie, and the people who are nice to her but are neither love interests nor her crazy old mentor, are not important enough to matter.
This book is incredibly poorly written, and yet there is an actual level of skill at play here. Whether it’s intentional or not (it’s not), Meyer has created a story that is very good at making you focus on the things she wants you to notice. If you weren’t stopping to think about what you’re reading like I have to do to write these reviews, it would be easy to not notice the things that Wanderer glosses over. Meyer is carefully bringing attention to the things in the story that she wants you to care about. I mentioned at length how much more detail Ian gets than everyone else, but it’s maliciously hidden in the story. If you weren’t analyzing you very well could just not notice that she’s doing that and then later in the story remember how ‘soft’ and ‘shiny’ Ian is so when she falls for him or he makes a pass at her, or however this plays out, you would be primed to WANT it to happen.
Doc has been really nice to her too but we don’t know what he looks like, we don’t get to listen to him talk so we don’t know how pleasant he is to her for certain. No, we only actually TALK to Ian. We only have to listen to descriptions of Ian. He is the important focus. He is the one you have been primed to think about when you’re hoping for a romance to blossom because I assume anyone that actively chose to pick up this book was expecting a romance. I was hoping for something tonally closer to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (technically it’s science fiction and about humans trying to make sure that the people around them are also humans, not secretly androids, so there is a comparison there, even if it’s a loose one…) but I knew it was a romance going in so I guess I was watching for it too. But I also have to actually THINK about the things I’m noticing.
ANYWAY, final note, go read Philip K Dick and I’ll see you next time!
Don’t forget to check out The Llama’s review!