Another week another terrible chapter of this increasingly terrible book. One of these days I’m going to compile some reviews of this piece of shit and show you why The Llama and I thought this might not suck this hard. Which I shall hold up as Exhibit A in the case of why humanity has failed as a species.
It was disorienting to wake in the absolute dark. In the past months, I’d gotten used to having the sun tell me it was morning
Months? Plural? I thought they were only gone for 5-6 weeks? That’s not months, that’s a month and a half. Did we miss time? Seriously, what the hell do these people do that takes them away for multiple months to search for supplies?! And if Wanderer was only in San Diego for 6 months, it took approximately 2 months for Jared and Jamie to find Jeb, so if their trips out for extensive supplies take at least 2 months, they wouldn’t know that Jared was ‘magic’, because he would have only been able to have gone out once in that period of time. So he might have proven to them that he’s useful, he could have even saved someone’s life, but they wouldn’t consider him infallible leader of their raiding parties that quickly. At least not unless everyone else was completely incompetent, in which case how the fuck did they manage to raid at all before Jared arrived? So, basically, the time line in this book is literally impossible.
Beside me, I could hear the sound of quiet, even breathing; it did not frighten me, because it was the most familiar of sounds here. I was not surprised that Jamie had crept back and slept beside me last night.
I am. He should be ashamed of himself and unable to show her his face after what he did. He came there to protect her, aggravated her would-be murderer, and then left her alone with him so he wouldn’t have to face his wounded pride! Plus Wanderer’s an awful sound sleeper for someone as high strung as she is! I would think by now she’d be trained to wake up at the most minor of twitches fearing someone was coming to chop off her head, but she managed to sleep through him walking down the tunnel and snuggling up beside her? Okay, sure, why not.
Maybe it was the change in my breathing that woke him; maybe it was just that our schedules had become synchronized. But seconds after I was conscious, he gave a little gasp.
All I can think about with this is the old wives tale about women’s periods syncing up if they live together long enough. The kid bonded to her like a little baby duck imprinting on its momma and I stand by all past statements that he is not acting like a 14 year old would at all. 5, yes, 14, no.
“Wanda?” he whispered.
“I’m right here.”
He sighed in relief.
“It’s really dark here,” he said.
“You think it’s breakfast time yet?”
“I don’t know.”
“I’m hungry. Let’s go see.”
He’s also dumb as a bag of hammers.
I didn’t answer him.
He interpreted my silence correctly, as the balk it was. “You don’t have to hide out here, Wanda,” he said earnestly, after waiting a moment for me to speak. “I talked to Jared last night. He’s going to stop picking on you–he promised.”
He wasn’t ‘picking’ on her, he was trying to kill her. Kid you’ve already had your balls drop stop talking like a fucking toddler! If Meyer wanted a purely innocent character she should have made him younger dammit! Melanie and Jared are old enough, maybe he really could have BEEN their kid! He’d be about 5 by this point, perfect age for the dialogue she’s ascribing to him! Oh but that would ruin the purity of the characters! I wouldn’t be surprised to find out in all the 5 or 6 years they were together Jared and Melanie never fucked.
I almost smiled. Picking on me.
Even she knows this is dumb.
“Will you come with me?” Jamie pressed. His hand found mine.
“Is that what you really want me to do?” I asked in a low voice.
“Yes. Everything will be the same as it was before.”
Mel? Is this best?
I don’t know. She was torn. She knew she couldn’t be objective; she wanted to see Jared.
SHE CAN’T BE OBJECTIVE. RIGHT THERE. SHE CAN’T BE OBJECTIVE ABOUT THE SAFETY OF HER WARD, WHICH WOULD BE AT RISK IF THE PEOPLE AROUND THEM TURNED ON HER, BECAUSE SHE WANTS TO SEE JARED. RIGHT, FUCKING, THERE.
She only cares about Jamie as long as Jared isn’t around, is basically what she just said right there. Seeing the guy that tried to fucking kill her is clouding her judgement regarding the child she has sworn to protect and who, however poorly, tried to save her life. Melanie is officially a worse person than Wanderer.
That’s crazy, you know.
Not as crazy as the fact that you want to see him, too.
“Fine, Jamie,” I agreed. “But don’t get upset when it’s not the same as before, okay? If things get ugly… Well, just don’t be surprised.”
Well that lasted a whole 4 lines. Wanderer is just as bad as Melanie. Or actively worse since the final decision to put Jamie in danger so they can see Jared was made by Wanderer. Notice that Melanie is still active without Jared around, so they had to slip in a mention of Jared to give her a reason to be. They’re both terrible, terrible people that need to be punched in the face.
When Jamie leads her out of the cave, they enter the area where the people are usually working in the gardens. No one is there and that confuses the shit out of Wanderer and Melanie. Jamie denies that there’s anything odd about it.
You’re human. Aren’t you supposed to have intuition or something?
Intuition? My intuition tells me that we don’t know this place as well as we thought we did, Melanie said.
Dear lord. You know you’re kind of literally plugged into her brain, right Wanderer? That if she has intuition, so do you? She doesn’t get to use parts of her brain that you can’t! Intuition isn’t some kind of innate thing that happens independent of thought processes! It is subconsciously picking up on cues, putting them in context based on prior experience and knowledge, and coming to the most likely conclusions without consciously realizing you’re doing so. That is what intuition is. If Melanie’s mind made any of those intuitive leaps Wanderer would FUCKING know about it because she’s FUCKING ATTACHED TO HER GODDAMN BRAIN.
Ahem. I may have possibly gotten a little worked up there. Let’s keep going while I try and contain my temper shall we?
It was almost a relief to hear the normal noises of mealtime coming from the kitchen corridor. I didn’t particularly want to see anyone–besides the sick yearning to see Jared, of course–but the unpopulated tunnels, combined with the knowledge that something was being kept from me, made me edgy.
The fact that three of the people potentially in that kitchen have actually tried to kill you doesn’t make you edgy, just the fact that there’s a secret. Sure.
The kitchen was not even half full–an oddity for this time of the morning. But I barely noticed that, because the smell coming from the banked stone oven overruled every other thought.
Wanderer’s issues with food keep almost getting her killed. She should probably look into dealing with that.
We hurried, stomachs growling, to the counter by the oven where Lucina, the mother, stood with a plastic ladle in her hand.
Lucina, the mother. The mother of who? Of what? The den mother? Is she the mother of the kid born in the caves? I genuinely forget. And calling her ‘the mother’ just makes it sound like she’s the alpha female of the wolf pack or the Virgin Mary mother of God. She is neither of those things so I assume Wanderer is saying her only important characteristic is being a mother. Aunt Maggie is a mother too you know. So she’s not even ‘the’ mother, she’s ‘a’ mother. Why am I arguing semantics with this book…
She looked only at the boy as she spoke. “They tasted better an hour ago.”
“They’ll taste just fine now,” Jamie countered enthusiastically.
No one is around because breakfast was an hour ago. Also; cold eggs are kind of disgusting. Personally. If I get scrambled eggs at a restaurant they have to be the first thing I eat otherwise they’re too cold by the time I get to them for me to be willing to eat them, so I recognize that I am just a crazy person though.
“Has everyone eaten?”
“Pretty much. I think they took a tray down to Doc and the rest.…” Lucina trailed off, and her eyes flickered to me for the first time; Jamie’s eyes did the same. I didn’t understand the expression that crossed Lucina’s features–it disappeared too quickly, replaced by something else as she appraised the new marks on my face.
As much as I don’t want to give her any credit because even with what I’m about to say this is still terribly written, but this actually does build some level of tension. Without describing what Lucina’s expression is, we cannot draw our own conclusions and are forced to know as little as Wanderer about what’s going on. We don’t know why Doc is somewhere else, or who ‘the rest’ are, we don’t know why they’re both looking at her at the mention of Doc other than that there’s probably a plan of some kind involving her in progress.
This is the benefit of the first person perspective that Meyer has been thus far ignoring. By describing things she can’t possibly see, by having her constantly declare what she thinks expressions are rather than just telling us what she sees, we’re missing out on actually being able to feel her disconnection.
She struggled with facial expressions at first, having her vaguely describe the expressions she sees as mostly flat could have been a great way to make the reader feel as disoriented and lost on how to interpret the other characters as Wanderer felt. Having her unclear on tonal shifts, describing them in odd terms such as ‘the pitch of his voice went up at one point’ instead of saying ‘he was angry’ could have made you have to try harder to keep up, and then all the complaints she has about not understanding people would have felt more genuine. More relatable. This is where first person perspective should be a handy tool and this is the first time in this entire book so far that Meyer has actually used it with any degree of efficiency.
“How much is left?” Jamie asked. His eagerness sounded a trifle forced now.
Lucina turned and bent, tugging a metal pan off the hot stones in the bottom of the oven with the bowl of the ladle. “How much do you want, Jamie? There’s plenty,” she told him without turning.
This seems odd to me. If they have to go out for 6-8 weeks to get supplies, I would think they would be incredibly careful about how they used them. Though I suppose eggs don’t last forever, but they can be put into things that will last longer. But then if they have to go that far to get supplies, and they got eggs, wouldn’t the eggs be coming from so far away as to be virtually rotten already by the time they get them back to the cave? Or is the source of the perishables close enough that they can get them back in a reasonable amount of time, thus suggesting that they should be able to get eggs more frequently? Why don’t they just steal a few chickens? They’re already growing corn. I would think the advantage of having chickens would outweigh the crop cost to keep them alive.
“Pretend I’m Kyle,” he said with a laugh.
“A Kyle-sized portion it is,” Lucina said, but when she smiled, her eyes were unhappy.
What did I just say about not describing people’s expressions like that?! I give you a little credit and you just screw it right up a few paragraphs later.
Anyway, she serves Jamie and then refuses to serve Wanderer because she’s kind of a massive bitch. She’s been there without trouble for a few weeks, without them treating her like a pariah, and now all of a sudden because the raiders are back she won’t even ladle her some damn eggs? Nope. Don’t buy it. People do not do that. She might serve her a small portion, but she wouldn’t refuse to serve her at all.
“Jamie,” I muttered urgently under my breath. “This food isn’t meant for me. Jared and the others weren’t risking their lives so that I could have eggs for breakfast. Bread is fine.”
“Don’t be stupid, Wanda,” Jamie said. “You live here now, just like the rest of us. Nobody minds it when you wash their clothes or bake their bread. Besides, these eggs aren’t going to last much longer. If you don’t eat them, they’ll get thrown out.”
I felt all the eyes in the room boring into my back.
“That might be preferable to some,” I said even more quietly. No one but Jamie could possibly hear.
“Forget that,” Jamie growled. He hopped over the counter and filled another bowl with eggs, which he then shoved at me. “You’re going to eat every bite,” he told me resolutely.
Now Jamie is back to talking like an adult. Not sure if that’s preferable or the fact that he’s just another character that is whatever he needs to be to be contextually plot convenient bugs me more than him acting like a 5 year old. Either way he makes a good point. But, again, I don’t understand why they were all perfectly fine with her eating yesterday and now all of a sudden she’s the devil again. Human beings genuinely do not work this way. We are not that fucking evil goddammit.
She refuses to eat what he serves her, which makes her kind of a rude bitch in my books, but we already knew she was so that should surprise no one. Jamie tells her that if she won’t eat, he won’t either, and they both sit there in stubborn obstinacy like a pair of children. Eventually Wanderer caves because Jamie is so hungry. Because she wants to remind you that she is a martyr and everything she does is for others because how else would we know she’s the bestest person eversies. I hate this book and these characters.
She practically orgasms over the eggs. Not exaggerating, she talks about how she has to stifle a moan. I think Meyer has some serious issues with food. They’re cold, ‘rubbery’ scrambled eggs, no matter how boring the food you’ve been eating lately is, they would not be ‘moaning with pleasure’ levels of delicious. That’s just creepy.
People were looking at me, a few here and there, but they weren’t the only ones talking in serious whispers, and the others paid me no mind at all. Besides, none of them seemed angry or guilty or tense or any of the other emotions I was expecting.
No, they were sad. Despair was etched on every face in the room.
So why did you describe them as staring at you all judgmental when you wanted the food? If they aren’t paying you any mind at all, or at least aren’t actively annoyed by your presence, they shouldn’t have cared about you eating the eggs. I think that was more of Wanderer seeing what she expects to see instead of what’s actually happening around her. That could be good use of the first person narrative except it’s never presented that she may be an unreliable narrator, you’re supposed to trust that she’s telling you what’s actually happening.
Whatever. Oooo despair. I wonder if they all think that Doc is going to try and pull out the brain slug, and that since that’s gone badly in the past they figure she’ll be dead tomorrow. Though that would make me happy so I can’t necessarily use that to excuse them being sad.
Wanderer notices Sharon crying softly into her eggs and she panics. She asks if Doc is okay, he is. Aunt Maggie? She’s fine. Walter? Still alive. I’m back to the whole ‘they all think Doc is going to remove the brain slug’ theorem. Sharon might not like Wanderer, but it would also mean the death of her cousin Melanie, so it would explain why she’s sad at least.
It’s only after this though that Wanderer notices that Jamie is just as sad. Quick on the draw, that one.
Ian shows up filthy and Wanderer describes everything from where the dust fell, the colour, and where he’s sweating from. I am going to get surgery to never sweat again if it attracts women like this. Anyway, he pulls her into a dark tunnel so no one can see them right as Jared and Kyle walk by talking about Doc trying to get the brain slugs out of people unsuccessfully. They don’t actually say that, it’s just painfully obvious that’s what they’re talking about.
Jared says they should just give up, and that Doc is just wearing himself out and wasting time, but Kyle says it’ll all be worth it if they succeed. After they’re out of earshot Jamie gets really upset that Jared ‘promised’ and Ian says that Jared may have, but Kyle didn’t. Because that totally will get Jared off the hook with Jamie right? That’s how people work?
Ian tells her to ignore the dishes. She wants to ask why he’s so dirty but decides not to because he probably won’t answer. Since I don’t care, I support this decision. Ian makes an ‘angry noise’ when he sees her face.
He raised his hand as if to lift my chin, but I flinched and he dropped it.
“That makes me so sick,” he said, and his voice truly did sound as if he were nauseated. “And worse, knowing that if I hadn’t stayed behind, I might have been the one to do it.…”
Yup, real people talk like this. Definitely.
He grinned again. “I feel silly standing here with my arms empty while you lug these around. Chalk it up to gallantry. C’mon–let’s go relax somewhere out of the way until the coast is clear.”
His words troubled me, and I followed him in silence. Why should gallantry apply to me?
They lug the dishes to the cornfield, for… reasons, and Ian lays in the dirt. Wanderer asks if they should be working and he tells her she’s the only one that never takes a day off, so she should just relax.
“It gives me something to do,” I mumbled.
“Everyone is taking a break today, so you might as well.”
They’re in a cave in the desert. Everyone taking a day off could lead to them starving to death when the crops fail. But sure, why the fuck not.
“I know you’re not a liar. I know that now,” he said quietly. “I’ll believe you, whatever your answer is.”
I waited again while he continued to stare at the dirt on his skin.
“I didn’t buy Jeb’s story before, but he and Doc are pretty convinced.… Wanda?” he asked, looking up at me. “Is she still in there with you? The girl whose body you wear?”
Oh my god I think I might have just had a rage induced heart attack. Deep breaths.
I’m okay. I think. ‘The girl whose body you wear’. SHE’S NOT A FUCKING SHIRT YOU DICKHEAD! Also, don’t make me think of Silence of the Lambs in this book. I really don’t need to associate Wanderer with the image of Buffalo Bill wearing the woman suit made out of his victims. It will most definitely not make this book easier to read. I suppose I could think of her as Edgar from Men in Black. He was a bug that wore the skin of a human…
“It’s… frustrating, for us both. At first I would have given anything to have her disappear the way she should have. But now I… I’ve gotten used to her.” I smiled wryly. “Sometimes it’s nice to have the company. It’s harder for her. She’s like a prisoner in many ways. Locked away in my head. She prefers that captivity to disappearing, though.”
Are we supposed to think Wanderer is nice for liking her now? Or feel bad for her? Because in this description Wanderer sounds like a massive bitch for being more concerned over whether or not Melanie is a nuisance than the fact that she just described Melanie as being trapped like a prisoner. She doesn’t really seem to be showing her much sympathy at all in fact. It kind of sounds like she thinks Melanie should be grateful. That’s how it comes off to me at least.
“I didn’t know there was a choice.”
“There wasn’t in the beginning. It wasn’t until your kind discovered what was happening that any resistance started. That seems to be the key–knowing what’s going to happen. The humans who were taken by surprise didn’t fight back.”
REALLY?! The ones that were caught off guard and didn’t know what they were in for didn’t panic and fight like someone suddenly being shoved head first into a pond?! Because most of the time when people are surprised, that’s when they’re most likely to take your head off! When people aren’t caught off guard, they have time to stop and think, they might fight more efficiently, but they’re also more likely to hesitate and over think things. When surprised they just fight. Period (those prone to at all anyway). They come out swinging until the adrenaline wears off, which can actually take quite a while.
“So if I were caught?”
I appraised his fierce expression–the fire in his brilliant eyes.
“I doubt you would disappear. Things have changed, though. When they catch full-grown humans now, they don’t offer them as hosts. Too many problems.” I half smiled again. “Problems like me. Going soft, getting sympathetic to my host, losing my way…”
You do realize she just smiled after telling him that they now kill the adults right? She just smiled after discussing that her people murder their captives.
“They’d still do an insertion, I think. Trying to get information. Probably they’d put a Seeker in you.”
“But they wouldn’t keep you as a host. Whether they found the information or not, you would be… discarded.” The word was hard to say. The idea sickened me.
It didn’t seem to bug you a minute ago!
Odd–it was usually the human things that made me sick. But I’d never looked at the situation from the body’s perspective before; no other planet had forced me to.
Killing the walking flowers bugs you but only after being a human being does murdering them bother you?! You have to see it from our perspective to think murdering us is wrong?! Murdering YOU is monstrous! But murdering humans, that’s fiiiiiiiiine! FUCK YOU WITH A PITCH FORK.
A body that didn’t function right was quickly and painlessly disposed of because it was as useless as a car that could not run.
OKAY. Let’s discuss this shall we? They started infesting other worlds because of the harpies. The ‘jerk’ species that came to their planet and started picking on them. They felt BAD for the other planets the harpies had been to and how that species had treated the inhabitants. They know the species they’re dealing with are intelligent. They know they have emotions. They know many of them don’t want to be infested. They care about the slaughter of the walking flowers for food. But they don’t stop eating meat, they don’t think of their hosts as living things with emotions, and they don’t think it’s a morally wrong thing to do to just murder the shit out of them. Despite how horrible and unthinkable it is that the seekers carry around weapons to murder the shit out of them.
Does that make sense to anyone? If you think you can make that seem like a logical thought process, go right ahead and try and explain it to me in the comments. I would very much appreciate the insight, ‘cuz I don’t fucking get it.
I don’t expect to ever understand the ‘logic’ of this species, so let’s move on. She gets all emo and says that looking into his eyes she sees the fault in their species logic and aww isn’t that fucking romantic. Damn I hate this book. Anyway, she laments her abandonment of the species after he asks what they would do to her and she says they’d try and save her from the bad influences though she doesn’t deserve it because she’s a traitor. He tells her she’s just an expatriate, not a traitor. I don’t care either way. She just told him that they murder the shit out of people and he’s trying to make her feel better for not wanting to do the same.
After they stop talking (he doesn’t ask many questions, which I’m grateful for since I didn’t want to read them, but doesn’t seem terribly realistic) he takes her to the bathing room to wash the dishes so he can know she’s safe while he cleans up. I can’t decide whether or not I think the fact that he took her with him to have a bath is creepy or considerate since it’s not like she can see him. I’ll go with considerate because I don’t hate Ian yet. I know it’s coming, but until it does I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
He tells her that he’ll have Doc look at her face after he sobers up, so apparently whatever Doc was doing was REALLY not going well, and he’s a drunk. Yay, that’s exactly who you want as your doctor! Faaaantastic. Also, I guess that’s what Sharon was upset about earlier. But that kind of makes Jamie a liar since Doc clearly isn’t okay if he’s so fucked up over what he’s doing that he’s drinking himself stupid.
After they clean up they go back to the kitchen and the place has filled up for lunch. Jamie is sitting impatiently with Wanderer’s food ready for her, refusing again to eat anything until she does. Because we really needed to go through that again. They eat in silence since everyone is too wrapped up in how delicious bologna sandwiches are apparently. When they finish Ian tells Jamie to go to school, but he apparently looks like he’s falling asleep so Jamie wants to stay behind to watch Wanderer since Ian doesn’t look capable.
“Go to school,” I told him quickly. I wanted Jamie a safe distance from me today.
“I’ll see you later, okay? Don’t worry about… about anything.”
“Sure.” A one-word lie wasn’t quite so obvious. Or maybe I was just being sarcastic again.
Just going to remind you of something that was said only a few pages ago:
“I know you’re not a liar. I know that now,” he said quietly
Wanderer tries to get Ian to go rest, and he says he’ll rest where she slept the night before, so he can keep protecting her and get some sleep at the same time.
“You can’t watch me every second.”
And as with earlier I can’t decide whether I find this thoughtful or creepy. It could go either way.
“Ian, what’s the point of this? Won’t it hurt Jamie more, the longer I’m alive? In the end, wouldn’t it be better for him if –”
“Don’t think like that, Wanda. We’re not animals. Your death is not an inevitability.”
“I don’t think you’re an animal,” I said quietly.
Bullshit you don’t you judgmental racist! You basically said earlier in this very chapter that you have more sympathy for the fucking plants than humans!
Jared shows up and Ian goes out to stop him from getting to Wanderer and the dumbest thing in the entire book so far happens. And that’s saying a lot.
“I know it’s with you,” Jared answered. He raised his voice, so that anyone between here and the main plaza would hear. “Come out, come out, wherever you are,” he called, his voice hard and mocking.
My brain cannot even form the words necessary to describe the levels of dumb this is.
That’s the last line of the chapter and I am so glad it’s over. Not counting the chapter where she describes this aliens, this was the hardest read yet.
Hopefully I survive the next chapter. Check out The Llama’s review!