Well, this chapter was better than I expected given the last one, but of course that’s not saying much.  For some reason, it grated on me how Meyer kept reminding us of Wanderer’s anger, but that may just have been that she kept referring to it as ‘unfamiliar’, despite that she’d mentioned it repeatedly already, so it probably should have started feeling a little more familiar to her at some point…or if not, she should have just shut up about it, because we get it.

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That’s just being picky, though.

In this chapter, Wanderer, the Healer (Fords) and the female Seeker are all talking about Wanderer’s host body, and the history behind Wanderer’s ‘mission’, so to speak, in this previously damaged body.  Then Wanderer gives them some information about the host body’s experiences prior to her ‘capture’, including the host’s name and the name of the floating head from chapter 1.

So I guess this clears up my confusion about the contradictions with regard to Wanderer being prepared for what would happen when she entered the host body, and the repeated mention that she would make the choice to enter the body for them if she could.  Well, if I’m reading this chapter correctly, anyway.   From what I understand now, Wanderer knew she would be placed in a human body, and had been prepared for that, even to the point of requesting to be placed in an adult body for some reason, despite that she (and everyone else of her kind) had been advised that “immature” hosts are recommended because they are easier to assimilate with…so she kind of made her own bed on that one, even though she probably hadn’t been expecting to be placed in a previously damaged body.  I’m not sure why she wouldn’t have at least considered the possibility enough, while making a decision like that, to prepare herself for what would happen if she was placed in a damaged body (or at least request information on if that had ever happened), but maybe she was just too excited about being a human or something.  I’m also not sure how she even made this decision, if she was a See Weed at the time she would have had to make it, or a “soul” in limbo.

Anyway, she chose to be placed in an adult host, so that much she ‘volunteered’ for (and she was apparently ‘well versed in all the facts’ of choosing an adult body, but the fact that she didn’t know to expect the host to resist suggests otherwise), but the previously damaged body bit, not so much…and while she had heard stories about human hosts who remained so strong they pushed out the souls, she thought that they were just that – stories – so she didn’t really consider it a threat for her, I guess.

This chapter seems to make out that there is no problem with hosts affecting souls after insertion if the human is young enough, or if the host is unaware that these aliens are doing this to people, which doesn’t really make sense to me.  The young ones, sure, especially children; they might notice something odd, if their brains were strong enough for that, but for the most part they would grow up that way, and have no reason to resist it (which is just sad; the poor kids…).  That is, assuming that the humans are still basically conscious for all this, just pushed out by the ‘soul’, which they must be if they can fight it; otherwise, how does simply knowing that these aliens exist and understanding what they’re doing allow you to fight against them and overpower them?

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That’s why I don’t understand why adult humans who didn’t know this was going on would be any easier to ‘assimilate’; if their consciousness remains intact enough that the knowledge of what is going on allows them to fight back, then it stands to reason that consciousness would remain intact enough that someone who didn’t know what was going on would still very much NOTICE something was wrong, they just wouldn’t understand what it was, and would thusly panic and probably cause even more problems.  So I would think that adult hosts would just not work in general, and would generally be a waste of time, especially because it’s noted that they have shorter lifespans, which is not desirable to these aliens…even if that ‘fact’ is complete and utter bullshit, because hell no, humans don’t have shorter lifespans than flowers, bats, bears, etc., especially with Healers around to keep them all healthy.  I bet they even cure colds.

Anyway, besides all that, how is it possible that any of the humans don’t know what’s going on?  How could they not have noticed something happening, and that someone they once knew is now no longer as they once knew them?  How can they not notice these ‘pockets of the resistance’ that are referenced in this chapter, and maybe look into what they’re resisting?  Humans can be naïve, sure, but I refuse to believe they would be that naïve, especially if this has been going on for as long as it’s made out to have been.  There should be no one left that isn’t either one of those who has had a soul inserted, or a member of the ‘resistance’, which means that if the members of the resistance are known to be so dangerous and lead to either damaged hosts that traumatize the inserted souls or hosts that fight back against their inserted souls, they should not be using them as hosts.  Either kill them all, leave them alone until they attempt to kill you and deal with them then, or look for ‘fans’ that want to be used for this type of thing (because those always exist somewhere, in higher numbers than anyone would like to admit).  Don’t give members of your kind the option to be inserted into adults if you do not know the host won’t resist the insertion, as they could potentially put others at risk by doing so.  They haven’t made it clear that they need adults in particular for anything, but if they do, it seems much smarter to go for ones that won’t cause trouble.  “Fans” and the weaker minded, at least.  Although I guess not realizing there has been a hostile takeover by aliens many years into it probably does suggest a weaker mind, so maybe that’s who they’re referring to with that.

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Anyway, Wanderer has been placed in a damaged host to get information that the Seeker needs, and she’s angry about it (despite that she already realized that was what was going on in the last chapter), because she wasn’t expecting the host she was placed in to be damaged.  I still don’t find that this chapter makes it clear why it’s so important that they get the backstory of this human host, since that seems to be the only ‘information’ that is required, and it seems a high price for Wanderer to pay just to find that out.  Though I guess in that, I’m taking the same stance as Fords, who doesn’t really think it’s ‘for the greater good’ either, and rather just needlessly cruel.

I’m assuming they want this information so that they can find out if there are others of the ‘resistance’, so they can…do whatever it is they do with them when they find pockets of the resistance, which has not been made clear (I guess just insert more of their own into them, but that’s not very smart since the resistance clearly knows about them and will, y’know, resist)…but that still doesn’t really seem a valid enough reason to put a soul through this, if they are so good and wonderful (I know they’re not, but the book doesn’t know that), because this host was alone and unarmed at the time.  Sure, she showed up out of nowhere, and wtf, and they want to find out if there will be more (I’d say to protect their society of body snatchers, but if it’s true that they outnumber the humans by more than a million to one, as mentioned in the previous chapter, I’m not sure why even a group of them would be any real threat), but they probably should have just cut their losses when she jumped down the elevator shaft, made sure she died, and waited for another to show up that would be less traumatizing for the soul who would be inserted.  And less likely to fight back as well, I’d wager, since that host was clearly very brave and strong willed if she could make a decision like suicide in a split second like that, all because she didn’t want to be ‘assimilated’.

But regardless of what I think they should have done, they did what they did, and here we are.  I don’t really get the whole exchange where Wanderer asks if she’s been placed in a damaged host to find out information for the Seeker, and Fords says “Of course not”…is he just saying that so he can make his follow up snarky comment regarding the Seeker?  If he’d said it sarcastically, I could have understood, but he said it reassuringly, so he had to have been prepared for the follow-up question of why she was put in a damaged body.  If that’s not the reason she was put in this host, I really do want the goddamn answer too…but I assume this is just a case of unclear writing.  Maybe she means “brain damaged” when she says “damaged”…but that would just open up another can of worms, so no more thinking about that.

I’m not even going to get into the intuition discussion, because just…no. It was an unnecessary comment by Meyer, and we’ll leave it at that, lest I get really angry and ranty about the senses and the usefulness of intuition.

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There’s also some talk about bindings; that 827 points have been latched securely between Wanderer and the host’s mind, and there are 181 spares.  That seems to be an odd amount to choose, but there you have it.  Maybe that’s relating to something I don’t know, in which case Meyer might have been a little clearer on it, because otherwise it just looks like random drivel she added in for no apparent reason other than to explain, once again, that human emotions are more vivid than Wanderer’s used to.

It wouldn’t be the first time she inserted random drivel for no real, valid reason, and she does it again just below that, when she goes on about the light in the room (which she shouldn’t be able to see, because in the prologue it was mentioned she was face down, and it was never mentioned after that that she’d been flipped over…but meh) and how it compares to the light through the ocean when she was a See Weed.  Who cares?  All that leaves me wondering is, again, if Wanderer was still in the See Weed form when she decided she wanted to become an adult human, and was removed from that form to do so, or if she had died as a See Weed and was just in her soul form, between lives, when she made the decision.  If she was in soul form, that raises the same questions I asked in previous posts, so I’ll leave it at that.  And why the hell was there a planet that was nothing but ocean and See Weeds?  What is the point of that?  And how do they have one collective mind if they’re all supposed to be inserted individually?  And once again, HOW WERE THEY INSERTED INTO THESE??

She also makes mention of the fact that she hasn’t seen the colour red ‘or any of its relatives’ in three worlds.  This seems a bit hard to believe, given some of the things she’s been and the nature of those things, but more than that, WHO THE FUCK CARES??  Why does Meyer add this crap in?  And how does darkness in a bright room (referring to the Seeker’s dark clothes as she stands in the hospital room) not draw attention?  It’s a stark contrast! That would have been the first thing I’d have noticed!  Agh, I can’t focus on all this little crap; there’s just too much of it.  And the intermingling of the memories from the host and Wanderer herself is just infuriating in the amount of sense it doesn’t logically make, even though I do get why Meyer wrote it that way, so I’m just going to try to ignore that and finish this post.

So Wanderer has some memory loss and voices in her head because the host still resists and blocks her access to certain thoughts every so often, but also seems to slip up in doing that, because she’s only human, of course.  Well, and an alien, but…yeah.  Fords tells her a story about a soul named Racing Song, and there’s all this talk about how he came from the Blind World, or the Singing World, or the Planet of the Bats (that name made me cringe, and if she’s trying to insinuate that bats are blind, she needs to do her research; “blind as a bat” is just a saying, Meyer, it’s not true.  Just because you say bats don’t have sight or smell, it doesn’t mean you’re right; how would a bat ever hunt, mate, etc. without either of those? Echolocation can’t do everything), which is apparently in the eighty-first sector, and he was only on his second life, and blah blah blah, more unimportant random crap we could have done without.  The only connection it has to this story is that Wanderer also lived there as her seventh planet, which doesn’t matter for any reason other than it solidifies that what Meyer meant when she said Wanderer had previously been a bat was that she was a bat by our definition, which means all of those previous concerns with Meyer’s scientific inaccuracies were valid.

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So yeah, his name was Racing Song, which is another great name, of course, which is why he chose to take on his human host’s name instead, which was Kevin…and he had a Calling in Musical Performance.  Oh dear god, seriously?  That’s a thing?  Why is that a thing?  I just…don’t even know what to say now.  That is perhaps the stupidest thing I have ever read.  I get it, sure, but my god, you just came out and said it there Meyer, didn’t you?  Gah, that irks me way more than it probably should.  It just makes me feel like I’m reading a children’s book now.  Especially because he has an ‘assigned Comforter’.  Uggggh.  From now on, if she uses that term, I’m just going to picture that as a gigantic blanket that he carries around, like Linus.  It’s a blanket that cares.

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That somehow makes it better to me.

So Kevin was supposed to pursue Musical Performance, but chose to pursue his host’s career instead, and then he started blacking out because the host was taking control, and he had personality differences and all that stuff that I’m not sure why would have taken a while to come on instead of coming on all at once, if the host was resisting, because I can’t see how the host would have gained any more strength to resist over time than it had in the beginning, because it would only be mental strength that would be required, which would not grow under suppression.  Regardless, that’s the story.  Then the host knocked a Healer unconscious and tried to go at himself with a scalpel to get rid of Kevin, which seems like a completely reasonable thing to do, so Kevin had to be removed when the host was unconscious, and he was put into a different, more immature body.  The host died, and Kevin did much better as a 7 year old than he had as an adult.

Of course, this story makes Wanderer all insecure about her strength, because her host is resisting her in an even stronger way than Kevin’s did, apparently, if it can put its thoughts into her head, and she’s angry that the risk of this happening was not previously shared, though they apparently sufficiently have been, and she could have asked for further info if she’d wanted to.  Or something.  Plus, y’know, she did say herself that she’d heard the stories, but whatever.  Anyway, the Seeker is sure Wanderer can handle this host, and that it’ll be more interesting than childhood would be, so it’s all good.  Wanderer says the Seeker should have found out the information by entering the body herself, but the Seeker’s all like “aw, hell naw, I ain’t no skipper”, which apparently means she’s better than others because she doesn’t leave a host before she completes its life term.  For some reason, that’s not offensive to Wanderer at all, and is instead perfectly understandable, because this book lives in the realm of sense, despite that it’s made it look, so far, like that’s exactly what Wanderer does…but I guess not.  I’m not even going to try to think about this anymore, so fine, she’s never skipped.  Whatever.

Fine!

Annnd then Wanderer says her host’s name is Melanie Stryder, and tells them all this stuff about where she was born and what she was doing, etc. etc., and that she’ll be missed as she was supposed to rendezvous with someone, but it’s a mystery who, because Stryder has blocked out that information.  Wanderer goes through the memories again, so there’s more time for Meyer to ramble on and describe things we don’t need to know, especially about how hard it is for her to deal with these big girl emotions she has to feel…

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…and then there’s stuff about a note that Stryder wrote, but in the end it turns out it’s too late for them to get it, even though they now know exactly where it was left, because it’s been ten days since the ‘incident’.  Someone must have taken the note! Ooooh!  Nah, it’s not really that interesting, since we know it was Jared that took it, and Jared is the notorious floating head guy.  Jared is also apparently gone, therefore safe, and we’re supposed to care about him, so yayyyy.  I kind of rushed all this stuff at the end here, and skipped some, because I’m sorry but I just don’t care anymore.  Maybe I’ll care more next chapter.  Yeah, let’s go with that.

It’s kind of funny how I started this review out being all positive that this chapter was better than the last one, and ended it rushing through the last two pages of the chapter because I just couldn’t stand to think about it anymore.  That seems to be a theme with this book …

(See Mike’s take on this chapter at http://emptystress.wordpress.com!)

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