‘Compelled’. This is another chapter title like ‘Confessed’ that’s kind of a terrible chapter title unless you’re talking about like, hypnotic suggestions. ‘Confessed should have been saved for when she was talking about her supposed big secret, compelled should be when she’s being coerced into something. Whatever. I’m giving these titles way more thought than they deserve.
Another week passed, maybe two–there seemed little point in keeping track of time here, where it was so irrelevant–and things only got stranger for me.
If you’re not keeping track of the time, please stop giving us a vague idea of how much passes. If time is irrelevant, just say ‘Keeping track of the days that passed was meaningless here.’ Or just don’t bring it up at all. Just be vague. ‘Days passed.’ ‘Weeks passed.’ Don’t point out that you’re pointing out the time that passed and then say ‘oh but that’s not important’ because you’re literally saying you’re wasting our fucking time!
I carried water, boiled onion soup, washed clothes in the far end of the black pool, and burned my hands making that acidic soap.
Random fact I in no way expected Meyer to know; soap is alkaline, not acidic. Can still burn, just, you know, not acidic. Cleaning with acids doesn’t tend to work as well. It can be done. But yeah, generally cleaning products like soap are alkaline. Another random fact; acids strong enough to burn but not strong enough to actually eat away your flesh will cause raised light coloured scarring, while alkaline burns will cause red scars that are not raised. …What? I like talking about science…
Everyone did their part, and since I had no right to be here, I tried to work twice as hard as the others. I could not earn a place, I knew that, but I tried to make my presence as light a burden as possible.
‘Oh I don’t fit in at all with these people who have accepted me into their home and are gradually growing accustomed to my presence and some of them are actually being really nice to me and kind of accepting me completely, but woe is me! It’s so sad being a special little snow flake!’
Oh god someone named their kid Freedom… And it wasn’t one of the aliens. I’m willing to bet there’s a real baby out there named Freedom, probably a 9/11 baby, but, people, if you name your kid that, you’re a terrible human being.
All the characters we don’t care about get names and origin stories that I will never remember or care about so I’m skipping that part.
The pallid man with the white hair was Walter. He was sick, but Doc didn’t know what was wrong with him–there was no way to find out, not without labs and tests, and even if Doc could diagnose the problem, he had no medicine to treat it. As the symptoms progressed, Doc was starting to think it was a form of cancer. This pained me–to watch someone actually dying from something so easily fixed.
Except Walter. I’ll point out Walter. Why? Because I’ll bet you that by the end of this book she cures Walter’s cancer. Because she’s alien Jesus remember.
I’ll bitch about that if/when it happens because the ‘so easily treatable’ part genuinely pisses me off. The reason we don’t have a cure for cancer yet isn’t because we’re not working our asses off to find one, it’s because every type of cancer is drastically different. There is no ‘cure for cancer’. When it’s all said and done there will be a cure for lung cancer, and a different cure for prostate cancer, and another one for breast cancer, and a completely different one for skin cancer. Because they’re all different, and they’re all a bitch to contain and treat. And for her to come in and say that her alien medicine will just magically fix it all is incredibly insulting.
I also learned more about my neighbors.
Ian and Kyle shared the cave on my hallway with the two real doors propped over the entrance. Ian had begun bunking with Wes in another corridor in protest of my presence here, but he’d moved back after just two nights.
This seems incredibly inconsistent. It was before she left the cave bubble that he had admitted to feeling guilty for hurting her. It was before he would have known she had a room outside the cave bubble that he joined her with Jeb on the cave tour, so he must have understood that she was being integrated at that point and didn’t see her as a threat. So why would he protest her presence after willingly enjoying her presence earlier that same day? It was after her first night in the room that he joined them working in the fields. It was the second day of that that he joined them in the cafeteria. All of that before he supposedly stopped protesting her presence? Doesn’t make sense.
The other nearby caves had also gone vacant for a while. Jeb told me the occupants were afraid of me, which made me laugh. Were twenty-nine rattlesnakes afraid of a lone field mouse?
I’m getting really sick of having to tell you to go fuck yourself.
OH MY GOD WANDERER SHUT UP! She spends the next while describing EVERY SINGLE DOOR and who lives behind it! I DON’T CARE! NO ONE FUCKING CARES!
You know what? No, I want you to understand how bad this is.
Now Paige was back, next door, in the cave she shared with her partner, Andy, whose absence she mourned. Lily was with Heidi in the first cave, with the flowered sheets; Heath was in the second, with the duct-taped cardboard; and Trudy and Geoffrey were in the third, with a striped quilt. Reid and Violetta were one cave farther down the hall than mine, their privacy protected by a stained and threadbare oriental carpet.
The fourth cave in this corridor belonged to Doc and Sharon, and the fifth to Maggie, but none of these three had returned.
Riveting isn’t it? I know all of you were just so glad I made you read that! We all needed to know about the duct tape door and the striped quilt! Thrilling! Tell us more! Llama suggested that Meyer might have a minimum word count she’s got to meet and I’m starting to think she must be right. I cannot think of a single other reason she felt the need to list every single person living there (she actually does list all of them.) a description of every door, listing where some of them are from, giving them general descriptions…
Here’s a pro-tip for any writers out there; never do that. Not because none of those people will be important and we don’t need to know (they won’t and we don’t) but because if you do it that way we will NEVER remember them. Too much information all at once it’s much too difficult for the average person to recall that. That’s why most books either limit the number of characters you learn the names of or they take the time to introduce them to you when it’s more natural to do so and not all at once. You learn everyone’s name and description when it makes sense and then it’s reinforced later. That way you have a chance to digest it and then have it refreshed in your memory before it disappears.
This is an actual memory trick that you can do. Get a word or a fact, go over it once, leave it for a while, then come back to it. Leave it for longer, come back to it again. Leave it even longer, come back to it again. You are much more likely to remember it doing it that way than just saying ‘Greg, Greg, Greg, Greg’. You say it the same number of times, but you remember it longer and better spacing it out.
I got side tracked again…
We find out that after Melanie was infested Jared and Jamie went looking for Sharon and found her. Maggie held them at sword point but eventually they worked things out and skipped off together to find Jeb. Which just backs up what I said in an earlier chapter about how Melanie was really stupid for having gone alone. That is proof of that fact.
Wanderer mentions that Melanie is getting quieter and quieter, rarely ever speaking now and when she does it’s more muted than it used to be. Jamie asks about it, and she tells him the truth, but then Jamie asks if that means that Melanie will eventually disappear and really be gone for good.
Rather than being sad for Jamie’s grief, potentially losing Melanie twice, rather than being worried herself, she goes on about how much she loves Jamie and how much she doesn’t like that fact. Because everything is fucking about you isn’t it Wanderer?! Anyway, she tells him the truth, again showing no emotion regarding his feelings, no concern, she just says she hopes not.
He asks her if Wanderer hates Melanie, or ever hated her. She says she was mad and scared, but she never hated her (LIAR! I actually think she might have specifically used the word hate at one point but I don’t care enough to go back and find a quote) and Jamie thinks it’s funny that Wanderer was afraid of her.
“You don’t think your sister can be scary? Remember the time you went too far up the canyon, and when you came home late she ‘threw a raging hissy fit,’ according to Jared?”
He chuckled at the memory. I was pleased, having distracted him from his painful question.
I was eager to keep the peace with all my new companions in any way I could. I thought I was willing to do anything, no matter how backbreaking or smelly, but it turned out I was wrong.
“So I was thinking,” Jeb said to me one day, maybe two weeks after everyone had “calmed down.”
You may be wondering right now why I just quoted two clearly separate sections of the book that have nothing to do with each other. I didn’t. That is exactly how it appears in the book. When I read ‘I was eager…’ I genuinely thought I was still reading the Jamie scene. There is nothing to break them apart at all. It was incredibly confusing.
I was beginning to hate those words from Jeb.
“Do you remember what I was saying about you maybe teaching a little here?”
My answer was curt. “Yes.”
“Well, how ’bout it?”
I didn’t have to think it through. “No.”
‘Didn’t have to think it through’ or just ‘didn’t want to’? There’s a pretty massive difference there Wanderer.
My refusal sent an unexpected pang of guilt through me. I’d never refused a Calling before.
STOP USING WORDS THAT DON’T MEAN WHAT YOU’RE USING THEM FOR!
A calling is something you’re DESTINED to do. What you’re referring to is a JOB. We have a fucking word for it, it’s called a JOB. YOU SPEAK ENGLISH. SO SPEAK ENGLISH.
It felt like a selfish thing to do. Obviously, though, this was not the same. The souls would have never asked me to do something so suicidal.
Sing along with me at home kids! Go fuck yourself.
“How does it help them, Jeb? Do you think I know something that could destroy the souls? Turn the tide? Jeb, it’s over.”
“It’s not over while we’re still here,” he told me, grinning so I knew he was teasing me again. “I don’t expect you to turn traitor and give us some super-weapon. I just think we should know more about the world we live in.”
I flinched at the word traitor. “I couldn’t give you a weapon if I wanted to, Jeb. We don’t have some great weakness, an Achilles’ heel. No archenemies out there in space who could come to your aid, no viruses that will wipe us out and leave you standing. Sorry.”
He just said that wasn’t what he was asking. JUST said it. Are you deaf? Are you learning impaired? I’m starting to think you might be, because you clearly don’t seem to be capable of learning anything about human behaviour or the language you’re speaking, or emotion, or learning from your past experiences… Maybe it’s just a comprehension issue. Maybe she legitimately is only grasping part of the conversation and the rest, because so much of her mental capacity is reserved to maintaining control over her host, she has less mental processing power for the information she’s taking in. So she doesn’t keep anything but the basic outline of what’s said and that’s why she doesn’t seem to understand so very much.
It makes more sense than that she’s spent 3 weeks with this guy without realizing that he’s not an asshole. This chapter isn’t even half over yet by the way.
I knew Jeb would not leave it alone. Was Jeb capable of conceding defeat? I doubted it.
Most leaders aren’t. That’s why they’re leaders. They strive for success and will do what it takes to achieve it. Conceding defeat before all is said and done is sometimes more rational, but it’s not really something you want a leader to do most of the time. If he had they’d all be dead right now. Including Wanderer since she wouldn’t have been found… Dammit Jeb, I’m really starting to not like you.
At mealtimes I usually sat with Jeb and Jamie, if he was not in school or busy elsewhere. Ian always sat near, though not really with us. I could not fully accept the idea of his self-appointed role as my bodyguard. It seemed too good to be true and thus, by human philosophy, clearly false.
…What? What kind of logic is that? Human philosophy? I’d say doubt and mistrust are all on you Wanderer, don’t go blaming that on the humans.
Doc starts walking towards her and she tries to turn tail and run like the coward she is.
But Jamie was with me, and he took my hand when he saw the familiar panicked look come into my eyes. He was developing an uncanny ability to sense when I was turning skittish. I sighed and stayed where I was. It should probably have bothered me more that I was such a slave to this child’s wishes.
First problem: You’re still panicking over NOTHING. Stop it. It got boring about 10 chapters ago, and stopped making even the tiniest bit of sense 9 chapters ago. Second problem: the fact that you’re still doing it so often that the kid has developed a response mechanism to it makes you even more pathetic. If you do it THAT often and you STILL haven’t learned that every single time you have a panic attack that NOTHING bad actually happens so you can stop panicking, you are really backing up my earlier theory that you are literally incapable of learning.
Third problem: really Wanderer? Really? You’re going to be a bitch about the kid trying to prove to you that there’s nothing to be scared of?
“We boiled soup today,” Jamie announced. “My eyes are still stinging.”
Doc held up a pair of bright red hands. “Soap.”
Jamie laughed. “You win.”
Just a refresher, Jamie is 14. Not 4.
Doc asks her about which of the other species she’s encountered are closest to humans. She asks why he wants to know, and I very literally actually twitched when I read his response. This book is making me develop ticks. This is not healthy.
“Just good old-fashioned biological curiosity. I guess I’ve been thinking about your Healers.… Where do they get the knowledge to cure, rather than just treat symptoms, as you said?”
EXISTING MEDICINE CURES FUCKING DISEASES YOU DUMBASS TWIT.
And now we get to learn about the bears because of fucking Jeb. Fuck you Jeb. I don’t like you anymore. Again. Call Wanderer on her bullshit some more and I’ll hate you less, but for now you have to stop making her talk about the fucking aliens.
Apparently the bears use their claws to sculpt ice into houses. They have entire fucking BEAR cities made out of ice that they built with their claws. I assure you I am struggling to contain my joy at learning these things.
She says that the bears had similar emotions and need for social structure that humans do. So I refer back to my constant complaints of how no other species mentally fought them off and how she’s never experienced negative emotions before. It’s entirely illogical and I don’t care to listen to her attempt to explain it so I hope she doesn’t try and fill that plot hole.
“They see a different range of colors–the ice is full of rainbows. Their cities are a point of pride for them.
That is just too easy. Moving on.
I knew of one Bear who we called… well, something like Glitter Weaver, but it sounds better in that language
Why does every species name their people the way white people name natives in shitty movies? The see weeds, the bats, the flowers, now the bears. Humans aren’t named like that. My name means ‘he who is like god’. So if a parasite who took the name Michael or Michelle goes to another planet will they call themselves ‘god like’? What about names like Lily that are flower names? What would that translate to? ‘White flower’? Or is Meyer just a terrible writer who didn’t want to try and do what we do when taking names from other cultures and just make it sound as close as we can? I want to learn of an alien named ‘Gluthub’ or something. He came from a fish world. They spoke in glubs.
“How do your Healers get their knowledge about the physiology of a new species? They came to this planet prepared. I watched it start–watched the terminal patients walk out of the hospital whole.…” A frown etched a V-shaped crease into Doc’s narrow forehead. He hated the invaders, like everyone, but unlike the others, he also envied them.
I didn’t want to answer. Everyone was listening to us by this point, and this was no pretty fairy tale about ice-sculpting Bears. This was the story of their defeat.
Doc waited, frowning.
“They… they take samples,” I muttered.
Ian grinned in understanding. “Alien abductions.”
I’m just going to sit here for a moment banging my head against the table. Once I’ve given myself a concussion to forget that little snippet we’ll move on.
“Where did your kind begin?” Doc asked. “Do you remember? I mean, as a species, do you know how you evolved?”
“The Origin,” I answered, nodding. “We still live there. It’s where I was… born.”
“That’s kind of special,” Jamie added. “It’s rare to meet someone from the Origin, isn’t it? Most souls try to stay there, right, Wanda?” He didn’t wait for my response. I was beginning to regret answering his questions so thoroughly each night. “So when someone moves on, it makes them almost… like a celebrity? Or like a member of a royal family.”
I’m just going to continue banging my head a while longer… Look, do I even have to explain how bad this is? Why this pisses me off so much? I’m pretty sure by this point I just have to quote the worst parts of the book and you’ll all see it too. This is the single worst thing I have ever read in my entire life. And I read 10 books in 2 months recently, so it’s not like I just don’t read things. I’ve read shitty fan fiction that was better than this crap! I bet I can find fan fiction of THIS BOOK that is better than this book!
“It’s a cool place,” Jamie went on. “Lots of clouds, with a bunch of different-colored layers. It’s the only planet where the souls can live outside of a host for very long. The hosts on the Origin planet are really pretty, too, with sort of wings and lots of tentacles and big silver eyes.”
Origin is heaven and the souls there inhabit angels. Tentacled angels, but angels none the less. It’s at this point that I would like to state that Meyer is a Mormon and Mormon’s believe that God is an actual physical being living on another planet. So she’s writing alien fan fiction of her religious beliefs.
Doc was leaning forward with his face in his hands. “Do they remember how the host-parasite relationship was formed? How did the colonization begin?”
Jamie looked at me, shrugging.
“We were always that way,” I answered slowly, still unwilling. “As far back as we were intelligent enough to know ourselves, at least. We were discovered by another species–the Vultures, we call them here, though more for their personalities than for their looks. They were… not kind. Then we discovered that we could bond with them just as we had with our original hosts. Once we controlled them, we made use of their technology. We took their planet first, and then followed them to the Dragon Planet and the Summer World–lovely places where the Vultures had also not been kind. We started colonizing; our hosts reproduced so much slower than we did, and their life spans were short. We began exploring farther into the universe.…”
I don’t understand how the parasites reproduce at all! I’ve never been this confused about anything! Calculus was easier to understand than this shit! I’ve taken physics, chemistry, biology, neural biology, I’ve studied foreign languages and cultures, I’ve taken a fucking astrobiology course! I SHOULD NOT BE THIS CONFUSED!
If they live out multiple host life times, and they die to reproduce, they CAN’T reproduce faster than their host does! It is literally not fucking possible! They may reproduce in greater NUMBERS. Is THAT what she means there? If it is then she picked really terrible wording. Again. Because when I read that it sounds to me like she’s saying that they reproduce earlier in life or have a shorter gestation period or something. But, what, do they lay eggs inside the hosts brain? Do they have to leave the host and then give birth and then the babies eat them? Do they reproduce asexually or do they need to find a partner? If they need to find a partner do they have to leave their host body to transfer genetic material or can they do it surgically? How did they implant themselves in the first hosts without the tools and dexterity to do so? If the harpies were the first species that they encountered with technology how did they infect the harpies?!
Oh my god I’m so confused by all of this. It just makes no sense at all and yet she keeps talking about it and making it make even less fucking sense!
“How old are you? ” Ian asked, leaning toward me, his brilliant blue eyes penetrating.
“I don’t know in Earth years.”
“An estimate?” he pressed.
“Thousands of years, maybe.” I shrugged. “I lose track of the years spent in hibernation.”
And absolutely none of that experience and time for learning has sunk in at any point.
“But in a very real sense, I’m younger than you,” I murmured to him. “Not even a year old. I feel like a child all the time.”
Unless they lose all memories of their past lives, which you clearly don’t, sorry, but, no it doesn’t work that way. And that is not an excuse for your childishness. You have the memories of all your past lives plus all the memories of Melanie’s life experience, you are NOT only a year old. The fact that you feel like a child all of the time is because you are a terrible little being who sucks at life.
She finally leaves the kitchen and Jamie follows. He says he thinks everyone wants to listen to her stories as much as he does, they just don’t know it yet.
“What if I don’t want to tell them?”
The emphasis here is on the wrong word. To have the desired impact it should be “What if I don’t want to tell them?”
Anyway, whiney, whiney, bitchy bitch. Sick of this book, sick of Wanderer, sick of aliens that make no sense. Sick of Jamie acting a decade below his age, sick of Sharon being a bitch, sick of Doc and Ian being nice in a patronizing way. I’m sick of badly worded sentences, I’m sick of Wanderer hating everyone. I am just sick of this goddamn book. It’s terrible! There’s still two more pages left in this chapter…
“Don’t be mad,” he pleaded. “Jeb means well.”
I groaned again.
I guess this is supposed to back up her calling herself a child, but she’s not acting like a child, she’s acting like a teenager. And a particularly shitty one at that.
“Well, that’s wonderful.”
“You’re pretty good with sarcasm. I thought the parasites–I mean the souls–didn’t like negative humor. Just the happy stuff.”
“They’d learn pretty quick in here, kid.”
Jamie laughed and then took my hand. “You don’t hate it here, do you? You’re not miserable, are you?”
His big chocolate-colored eyes were troubled.
I pressed his hand to my face. “I’m fine,” I told him, and at that moment, it was entirely the truth.
Anyway, that’s where the chapter ends. Just her acting like a spoiled teenager being asked to go mow the lawn when they just want to sit in their room and write shitty emo poetry and no one ‘gets them’.
I will finish this book because I started it, but it is going to hurt people.
Till next time.