This is a very short chapter, in which the only thing that happens is that the soul wakes up in her new host body and experiences the memories of the ‘death’ (it just looks like death; it apparently is not actually death) of said body, from falling down an elevator shaft. I guess “falling” isn’t as accurate as “throwing herself”, but you get the idea. The problem is, instead of just seeing disjointed, disorienting bits of memory like she should have, and perhaps experiencing the ghosts of emotions related to the memory, the soul has to endure the fact that the host body is apparently thinking at her and telling her the story of her demise, not just leaving it to memory, while she actually experiences all of the feelings (both physical and emotional) that the host body felt. Which makes it not really a memory…but I’m not going to get into all the specifics of what does and does not make a memory.
Anyway, after she’s done with that, the host body pulls up the image of a face for the soul to view, and makes it clear that it is “hers”, which the soul tries to dispute by claiming that no, it is in fact hers, since it is her body now. Well, clearly not; host lady isn’t going anywhere…which brings up that same question of whether humans have souls to begin with, and whether these memories and emotions are a part of the ‘soul’ that existed already before this soul was implanted (making humans not actually ‘soulless’), or whether they’re all tied to the body (the brain). Being tied to the brain makes less sense when you consider that the soul has apparently completely fused to the body’s consciousness (“bound myself securely into the body’s center of thought“), because the soul should have taken the place of the existing consciousness and thereby destroyed it, or risked the very rebellion that seems to be occurring. The fact that the soul is confused by how the host body is fighting back by continuing to think makes it seem as though the expectation was that the body’s consciousness should have been destroyed when the soul was inserted, but if that was the case, why would the soul have been warned that it would experience the body’s last memories? How could the soul access any of the body’s memories or previous knowledge at all, if it destroyed the body’s consciousness by the very act of entering it? All of that would be gone. It’s all or nothing: Either the soul destroys the consciousness and there is nothing left, meaning there would never be any possibility of reliving the body’s last memories and therefore no warning need be given, or the consciousness is not completely destroyed so that the souls could use the body’s previous memories and knowledge to their advantage, in which case they should have foreseen that something like this would happen, because very few humans would not fight back, instinctively, against an invader in their own brain…or at least continue thinking when they were still capable of it.
Maybe the soul was supposed to collect all the body’s knowledge and memories and then destroy the consciousness so it couldn’t rebel, but again, this situation probably would have happened before by now if that was the case, unless this soul is just very bad at doing it (which doesn’t mesh with how experienced she supposedly is). Also, what would be the point of having the body’s knowledge? If you want to take over the body and use it for your own purposes, why do you need its memories or language? Clearly the souls have their own language, if they are named…even if they appear to also be named in English for some reason…and their own knowledge and plans, so what use is a ‘soulless’ human’s history? Is it just so that they have knowledge of how to control/use the body? Surely they could figure that out on their own easily enough, especially if they have done so with the other species this soul has supposedly been, which either wouldn’t have had very coherent thought processes, or would be incapable of any conscious thought at all (flowers, spiders, maybe “A See Weed”).
…I’m going to move on now.
The soul’s innocence is, to me, again in question here. As I said in the last post, how can the soul be innocent and wonderful and all that if it has been tainted by its past lives? The very first paragraph of this chapter makes it clear that the souls do, in fact, remember their previous lives, and apparently even the time in between those previous lives. The rest of the chapter backs that up, both by directly saying it and by mention of all the things that the soul was ‘warned’ about or taught to do before this mission into her host body. I find that the fact that she’s had all this ‘training’ comes in conflict with the mention in the prologue that Darren believed she would have volunteered to do this if it had been possible to ask her. How and why would she have been trained/warned if she hadn’t already known this was coming?
I have to say, as well, that it seems to take a lot of self-convincing for the soul to keep it straight that the body is her body now…you know, for someone who has apparently done this a bunch of times in a bunch of different bodies in a bunch of different places. Since she clearly has memory of doing these things, you’d think she’d either be used to it by now, or alternately, wouldn’t bother convincing herself at all because she’d know she’d just be in another form at some point eventually anyway. There is no context given for how long she spent in any of her previous bodies.
And apparently the different bodies do use different systems of language, since her new “native tongue” is so foreign and weird to her, so the questions regarding language and naming that I wrote about for the prologue still stand. Don’t even get me started on the use of the term “native tongue” here, though, since her native tongue would actually be the first language she ever learned, not the body’s language. Unless, of course, the souls’ native tongue is, in fact, English (as Fords’ name would suggest)…but that wouldn’t make any sense considering she thinks the language is odd and “impossibly crippled” (in comparison to many she’s used…you know, when she was in the bodies of species who either didn’t have language at all or communicated in much more limiting ways), and seems to have to adjust to it. Ugh, I don’t know. That whole paragraph is just painful.
I find it interesting that the sense of smell is new to her. How is that possible, given the bodies she’s been in before? Sure, flowers don’t have a sense of smell, I’ll have to guess that if “A See Weed” is anything like seaweed, it can’t smell, and spiders can’t smell in the same sense as humans, but I would wager that a dragon could probably smell to hunt, we know bats have a sense of smell, and bears have one of the best senses of smell of any species! Far better than any human’s! Was the sense of smell somehow overlooked when she was inserted into those bodies, but has suddenly become important to include now that she’s in a human body?
I’m also not quite sure if she should be able to discern that a taste is ‘metallic’ if she’s never been able to properly taste beyond the basics (sweet, salty, bitter, sour) before (as she wouldn’t be able to taste anything more than that without a sense of smell to some degree), but I’ll let that slide for now.
I kind of hate the way the ‘memories’ are written in this chapter. They seem really cheesy to me; very whiney, and not nearly as badass as the bravery and confidence of the outlined actions/thoughts would suggest this girl was (is?). I understand that she would have been in a state of fear, but even then, I don’t think normal people would think the way these are written, even in retrospect of what has happened.
“The danger is behind!”
Who thinks that when someone’s chasing them, and warns them there is danger ahead? Maybe “the danger is YOU”, but…”behind”? I don’t buy it. Perhaps that’s just me being picky, though…and still thinking the writing is coming across as pretentious. Also a bit confusing, because she is both referring to these things as memories and not memories at the same time. I get that the soul is confused, but that could have been communicated without jumping back and forth in the wording, especially since the soul is supposed to be more fearful and shocked than anything anyway.
Once again, in this chapter, the souls (or ‘Seekers’, in this case) are presented as being the good guys, because they’re trying to stop the human from jumping down an elevator shaft, and they have concern in their voices, and they’re repeatedly telling her everything’s okay, and blah blah blah. However, they are chasing her, clearly scaring her, and from what we know about what’s gone on with the soul insertion and the fact that in the prologue she is described as an ‘insurgent’, their reasoning for not wanting her to get hurt is not because they care about her, but rather because they want to use her soulless husk as a vessel to implant one of their souls in. I’m pretty sure anyone would be running from that, and also willing to die to get away from it. So how, exactly, are these souls good, innocent, pure, etc., again? That makes absolutely no sense. They must have some severe self-perception issues.
Also, again I’m led to wonder what the hell these souls even are. Her ‘kind’ are taking over earth, she’s been all these different kinds of species that exist in places where humans also exist (or do the other planets have all the species of earth except humans?) and she’s supposed to be one of the more experienced ones, yet this soul has never seen a human before? It certainly makes it look that way when Meyer describes her perception of the face, and how she was shown other faces before to ‘prepare for this world’. What form was she in when all this preparation happened? Did they communicate the information to her via telepathy, since she wouldn’t have been able to hear them without a human body (as outlined in the prologue)? Or was she told it while in her last host body? That seems unlikely, as that body is described as “faceless serpentine tentacles” (wtf? Is that “A See Weed”?), so it’s pretty unlikely it had ears. And why was she being taught any of this if they hadn’t already started their ‘work’ on the humans, which still remains unexplained?
How incredibly different do each of these souls look from one another, if she thinks that humans are hard to tell apart because they only have ‘tiny variations in colour and shape’? It was stated in the prologue that she was an especially lovely looking soul; is that what they normally look like, as she was described, or are they all VERY different? Because that was not the impression I got when reading the prologue. Meyer might have been clearer on that. She also might have explained why the soul has never had a problem with these ‘tiny variations in colour and shape’ with any of the other species she’s been before. Okay, maybe the variations between types and colours of flowers could seem greater than those between individual humans, and we don’t really know how different dragons could be because we have no concrete proof of their existence (unless we’re just thinking dinosaurs), but come on, spiders? Bats? Bears? At best there are small variations between individuals in these species, and they are certainly no greater variations than there are from one human to another. Much smaller, in fact, as just having all of your facial features in the same general position (which not all humans even have; consider disabilities and defects) does not make one human look exactly like another human. Maybe the soul has this problem with all the host bodies she’s in, in which case, again, you’d think she’d be used to it by now. For being such a remarkable soul, she’s certainly not very quick to learn or very observant.
Anyway, despite finding it very hard to tell one human from another, apparently, the soul says she ‘would have known this face among millions’. Was she debriefed on that too, despite apparently not volunteering for this job? The description of the face honestly does not sound very remarkable, so there needs to be a bit more context here.
I don’t know, I’m probably being too picky with this, but it just leaves me with so many questions, and the writing wasn’t quite good enough in this chapter to make up for that. It’s not terrible – yet anyway – and it’s certainly not hard to read beyond my continuing disdain for Meyer’s dialogue and scientific inaccuracies (which I’ve only scratched the surface on), but it’s certainly not good, either.
(See Mike’s take on this chapter at http://emptystress.wordpress.com!)