So, this chapter is all about the soul – who is now being named ‘Wanderer’ – waking up after her horrible ordeal with the body’s final memories and hearing Fords and a female Seeker talking about her, then arguing about their war with the humans. Wanderer then gives some questionable backstory and searches through her body’s memories to find some sort of information that the Seeker wants, because it’s her duty or whatever.
I’m just going to start off pretty simply here by saying that this chapter is terrible. This chapter felt like a 7.5 page waste of time, and considering the information it provided and the importance that information should have to the story, it really shouldn’t have felt that way. The dialogue is so ridiculously bad it’s almost laughable, and it’s so poorly written that I could barely stand it. Meyer really seems to think she’s an excellent writer, and I don’t really blame her given how much money she’s made, but my god, I really hate the way she writes. Especially because, as previously mentioned, she writes as though she’s some sort of prodigy, and that’s exactly the problem. It’s not spelling or grammar that are her downfall, it’s her own ego. Her dialogue feels forced and fake, and there is no natural flow to how she writes; it feels very much like an “all flash, no substance” situation.
Anyway, that aside, on to the story itself. Firstly, I find it hard to believe that in a situation where there has been such a huge war between the humans and the aliens, as is referenced a few times by the Seeker, that no other host body has endured a worse end than damage from jumping down an elevator shaft. It’s mentioned that the Seekers were chasing the host with weapons; unless they never used them on anyone (and the book seems to suggest they did use them, especially in the “early days of this occupation“), I would think that those would have, at some point, caused more physical and emotional damage to a host body. Even aside from weapons, there are other much more traumatizing ‘ends’ that could be met than this one did, so why is this one such a big deal, if Wanderer is so “strong”, and should be able to handle it? Did they just never use those other host bodies for insertion, so it didn’t matter? Just killed them and left it at that? Wanderer says that “a damaged host would have been disposed of“, which implies that that’s the case, but she also only seems to mean a body that has been damaged such that it is incapable of being healed for some reason (decapitation or the like, I would assume). So why don’t they just heal the damaged bodies, as they did with this one? Why is this host body so important that it’s the exception to the rule? Is it just because she somehow slipped under their radar? Again, I would think that if it’s been as long since the aliens ‘civilized’ Earth as this chapter makes it out to have been, they would have encountered a situation where a ‘rebel’ infiltrated them before, so why is it so important to find all the information about this one in particular?
Fords muses that perhaps the “infection of humanity” has touched those who work as Seekers, causing them to enjoy violence and horror, which again implies that if the souls weren’t using human bodies, they would be completely peaceful and innocent. Again, why use the host bodies if they make them this way?? And obviously the souls came up with the position of Seeker because it had a purpose they felt needed to be served, and they must have started putting people in that ‘job’ from the very beginning of their ‘occupation’ of Earth, or they would never have been successful, so they were already corrupt enough to have come up with the idea of treating people the way the Seekers do on their own, before they started taking over human bodies. They really need to stop blaming the human bodies for their own violent abilities; they are clearly not innocent or pure, and they need to just get over that. Besides, humans are not by nature violent; look at children. It’s society and the situations that we are put in that make us violent, and it is not us that started the war with the aliens or went around trying to steal their bodies (at least not from what this chapter suggests); they occupied us. So if they’re not happy with the effect our bodies supposedly have on them, and they’re not willing to admit that some part of that might be their own faults, they should really just stop inserting themselves into humans and move on to a different planet. Or at least a different species; there are many less ‘violent’ than humans here on Earth.
I’m not sure how a soul that has never experienced an argument before would be one that would be a good choice to use the way Wanderer has been used. How has her ‘strength’ been proven if she’s never even seen adversity? She’s clearly heard about it, as she talks about the war with the humans later on and how she sought out information about it herself (which leads me to wonder even further how she’s never seen a human before her ‘training’ for this, but I suppose it’s possible), but she’s never even seen it? Why would she be considered so ‘brave’ and such a good choice for this, if that’s the case? Are arguments worse than physical violence in the minds of these souls? Oh well, I guess that’s not really important.
We learn that the host was alone and unarmed when she was chased by the Seekers, who we also learn were “armed with killing weapons“. The Seeker states that an occurrence like that is the exception, not the rule, and that they don’t choose violence, they face it when they must, but…the girl was unarmed! What was so threatening about her that it was required that an exception be made to threaten her with weapons? What circumstances don’t call for weapons, if “alone and unarmed” does, and how do they deal with things when they’re not using weapons? Or does that just mean that usually they’re boringly working away at their supposed desk jobs, and the ‘exception’ is when an ‘insurgent’ shows up, even if they’re not a threat? Doubt that was the case when they were taking over in the first place! I have to assume they were probably using weapons when they began this war, or they would never have been so successful.
The Seeker mentions that the humans turn weapons on their kind whenever they haven’t been vigilant enough, and that they kill souls happily, but how does that apply here? She had no weapons! If they’re going around chasing people with weapons when they’re unarmed, no wonder the humans are willing to kill them without a second’s thought! They’ve come to our planet, taken our people and inserted themselves into our bodies, and those that they haven’t accomplished this with have been run down by Seekers with weapons. Can you blame the humans for fighting back?? Meyer needs to provide some backstory here to explain why the souls are perfectly within their rights to do this, and why the humans are not completely justified in doing everything they could, violent or otherwise, to fight back against the alien invasion. So far all she’s saying is that the aliens are perfect and innocent, humans are corrupt and violent, and that the humans made their own mess by being willing to kill the ones who were attacking them and stealing their bodies! Maybe she’ll explain this eventually, but it really would have been better to do it now. At least Fords seems to get that it’s all pretty much bullshit. Maybe he’s the only innocent one. Anyway, moving on…
Wanderer refers to herself as “acclimating to this new world of senses”, which poses exactly the same problems it did in the last chapter, so I won’t get into that again, just point out that it’s annoying. She also refers to the word “soul” as being a new word to describe her type, and says that on every planet the souls took a different name…what? You’ve already proven that all the life on other planets has the same names as on Earth for some reason, so why do souls have different names? And why apply that title to what you are if you’re not what the host’s definition (and therefore the Earthly definition) of a soul is?? The fact that the host does have a meaning for the word “soul” implies that humans do, in fact, have souls, or at least the concept of them, so how can you liken yourselves to that? Especially when what you are and what you think you are seem to contradict so much, and the soul is the very essence of a being, which you are not. A soul may be an “unseen force that guides the body” (as Meyer puts it), but it is not a fucking alien parasite! It is NOT YOUR BODY! Agggh.
Fords mentions what a shock it must be for Wanderer to wake up inside a rebel host injured in an escape attempt, and once again, it is mentioned (by the Seeker this time) that had it been possible to ask Wanderer, she surely would have chosen to take on this challenge. Almost the exact same line was already used in the prologue, so it was a little grating to see it again so soon, especially because we still haven’t resolved that little issue about how/why Wanderer would have been warned about/prepared for what was to come in terms of the memories if she hadn’t already known about and accepted this task. The Seeker says outright “whatever she expected“; clearly she knew to expect something, so she must have known about this and chosen to do it, so stop talking about what she would have done or not done if she could have been asked!
This chapter itself makes it clear, later on, that Wanderer and the other souls know what’s going on around them not only in their current world, but in the other worlds the souls are or have been a part of, so why wouldn’t she have known about this sooner? Hell, there were apparently ten days between the host’s unfortunate “accident” and Wanderer’s insertion; surely there was time to broach the subject with her then, especially because I’d assume she’d need to be removed from her previous body and might want to know why! ….Holy sweet fuck, later in the same chapter, Wanderer herself says she was given information “before making the choice to come here“! So lay off with this bullshit! If they say something about this again, I swear…
More about the way of the soul being harmonious, when it’s clearly not because they waged war, and more about how aggression and dissension is out of character for the souls’ kind, which they are clearly not for the same reasons, blah blah blah…annnnd now we’re talking about Wanderer’s last host body. Yes, ladies and gentleman, “A See Weed”! She can’t name it, because apparently when she’s no longer connected to a certain host she can’t remember what its name is or where it was (which makes Fords’ wondering why Darren didn’t keep his soul name a bit confusing, as well as why Fords remembers his, and raises the question of how everyone knows the names of previous host species and worlds Wanderer has been/been on if the souls shouldn’t be able to remember that stuff), but we can pretty easily guess that’s what it is, since it’s apparently exactly what the name would imply: A plant, rooted in the soil on the ocean floor that apparently covered the entire surface of the world, that has a hundred arms, and on each arm, a thousand eyes.
What the fuck is this shit?? I can’t even call this description beautiful, because it’s really just plain stupid. Why would something like that need to exist, that can’t hear and only communicates through thought, and spends its life doing nothing but ‘tasting the waters’ and ‘tasting the sun’. It says that doing those things told the souls “all they needed to know”…about what? Why would they bother inserting themselves into these things, and how? What could they possibly learn from them that they couldn’t learn more easily though any other species?? What is the point of this crap, and how is it relevant to anything? I don’t see how this can possibly add to the story!
Apparently neither does Meyer, since she moves on instantly to an equally pointless discussion about how souls do not speak anything but the truth. Oh, wait, Seekers lie, but that’s because they have to for their jobs, but otherwise no one lies. Yeah, so they’re what, just like humans, who lie when they have to, but generally not when they don’t? There is never an especially good reason for a lie, so what is the point of this? Just to tell us that these souls are completely honourable, despite that we already know they’re not (especially because on the very next page she says how ‘exciting’ the stories of war and the idea of having to fight was, so they’re clearly not all that perfect, and though she tries to put down the Seekers for choosing “a life of conflict and pursuit”, she’s just made it clear they’re all excited by this stuff sometimes, so it’s kind of not hard to believe), and that they told stories, but that was okay because they were just stories, not lies, even though sometimes that meant stories got confused with reality? Who CARES??
Is this all just a setup to explain that the souls taking over the Earth was all one big misunderstanding, because they were told all these stories about humans being violent and destructive and all that, and they got so wrapped up in the stories that they forgot the truth and thought they were doing a good thing by stealing all the human bodies and making them their own? Because if so, it’s suicide again for me.
Oh, and look at this, there were previously stories of human hosts whose minds could not be completely suppressed, so they did know to expect this, and even Wanderer herself knew, so she shouldn’t have been goddamn surprised when it happened to her. This book is only two chapters in, and I think the majority of it is contradictions. Especially because just because the host’s voice is silent during this chapter, Wanderer thinks it means the voice was just a memory, when one of her last thoughts before that one was about the hosts whose minds couldn’t be suppressed. She’s obviously a very smart one. Good choice, guys.
So, at the end of the chapter, as mentioned, Wanderer runs through the memories (somehow painfully again) of the host to find out where she came from, and that she was looking for her cousin named Sharon, apparently, to do something that Wanderer can’t “remember”. She seems to have a lot of trouble with all this, and blames it on brain damage. What a twist! An alien parasite invades a body and latches onto its brain, and it ends up with brain damage! Who could have possibly guessed that that would happen?! Though, of course, if it is brain damage, they’ll blame it on something other the insertion, because the soul aliens are all perfect and wonderful and there’s no way anything is ever their fault.
Wanderer feels angry about the brain damage for some reason, and she is totally and completely surprised by that emotion, because she’s never felt it before, because dragons and bears don’t get pissed off EVER. This anger is reflected on the medical machines she is hooked up to, and instead of showing any concern, Fords does nothing and the Seeker just says “oh hey there”, and that’s the end of the chapter. Yep, this was definitely worth my time to read. I can’t wait to see what Mike comes up with; I’m sure he’ll love this one just as much as I did!
(See Mike’s take on this chapter at http://emptystress.wordpress.com!)