In this chapter, Wanderer visits her Comforter, who is thankfully given the name of Kathy so that I don’t need to spend the entire chapter picturing a talking blanket.  I feel like Stephenie Meyer did this just for me, so thank you, Stephenie.  It’s good to know you’ve got my back.

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Alright, so we’re in Kathy’s office, she and everything else have been described (poorly, but give Meyer a break; writing is clearly not her strong suit)…we’re good to go.  Wanderer is, as we already knew she would be from the end of the last chapter, unhappy to have to be seeing Kathy, as she apparently never had to do anything like that in any of her previous forms.  That seems valid; considering what they were, they probably wouldn’t have responded to therapy overly well, which is what this seems to be.  Excuse me while I picture a bear in therapy.  Now a spider and a bat.   Annnd a dragon.  I’m not picturing a See Weed because fuck that, so now a flower.

…Okay, I’m good.  Back to work.

So yeah, Wanderer doesn’t like having to be in therapy, because she is a beautiful and unique snowflake and no one else is as good as her, so how can she possibly be like every other damn alien in the world and need some help adjusting to her new body from time to time, especially if it is opposing her in some manner?  That would show weakness!  Clearly, being whiny and cowardly proves she is strong.  This book does live completely in the realm of logic, after all.

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Wanderer admits that she doesn’t like using human names because it feels like a ‘surrender’, and Kathy says she understands completely why she, especially, would feel that way, and I feel like that’s alluding to something more that we’re not told, especially because that’s supposedly a hard subject for Wanderer. Ooooh, mysteries!  Nah, they’re probably just talking about how much worse it is for her because her host is fighting against her, and that has obviously NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE EVER, because y’know, consistency.

Anyway, apparently Wanderer is immature enough that she can become prejudiced against the names of an entire species, but be fine with taking on different names in the other forms she’s been in, all because this one actually proved a challenge, and that just might let people see the truth about her: That she’s really not as fucking special and amazing as they all keep saying.  Still, who wants to bet we’re going to hear about how great she is about a million more times throughout the course of this book, even though we have absolutely zero proof that she is anything special at all, and actually a fair amount of evidence to the contrary?!  The truth is, she’s just a childish, judgmental bitch, and she judges both the humans and her own kind.  Which really goes against the whole ‘souls should not be judgmental’ thing, but we already knew that was all bullshit.

They move on to talking about Wanderer’s Calling, and we learn that she is an Honorary Professor of History (it’s important that we know it’s ‘honorary’, because we all give a fuck), and that she loves the job and is apparently super good at it because she’s been on so many worlds and in so many host bodies before (including the Origin again; ooOOOOOoooooo!!!!), and that’s a rare thing for some reason.  I’d say Stryder moved up in the world with this body snatching; I doubt she’d have been an Honorary Professor by the age of 20 and a few months without an alien hopping into her brain!  Anyway, this means that the aliens have a university, though what goal it’s meant to serve I don’t know, but it reminds me of Monsters University.  And from now on, that’s what I’ll picture!

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Wanderer wonders if Kathy will stay on Earth when her host body dies, and just find another human body to live in, or whether she’ll leave, which leaves me with some questions.  If there are other places for them to go, why do they need to take over Earth?  I had assumed all their other planets had been destroyed somehow, because it doesn’t really make sense for this to be a necessity otherwise, if dealing with humans is so much trouble in so many ways, but apparently not.  So why don’t they just leave the humans alone and go somewhere else?  We were here first!  They make it out, later in the chapter, like they deserved to take Earth because everything was so corrupt and bad, but that doesn’t explain why they’d put themselves through it, even if that was a valid excuse.  Which it’s not.

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And how would she go into another human body anyway, if humans are so few and far between, as Jared mentioned in the last chapter (and that was four years ago; I’d imagine there’d be even less humans by now)?  That, I guess, comes back to the question of what happens when two host bodies mate.  Do they make a human child, or an alien one?  The only way I could see this working would be for two host bodies to mate, have a human child, and then immediately implant a soul upon birth…but that would come with a few new levels of weird and horribleness…though I guess that wouldn’t likely be a deterrent for the aliens, because no matter how horrifying something they’re doing is, they’re always convinced it’s for the greater good.  So that’s probably what happens.

Anyway, Wanderer mentions that her teaching Calling is similar to her Calling with the See Weeds, which…kind of doesn’t make sense because of the whole “one big consciousness” thing that was described about the See Weeds, and because what point is there to having any Callings for things that can’t move or do anything of note?  What is it going to teach them, and why bother?  Later in the chapter Wanderer talks about how boring and pointless life as a See Weed was, so I just don’t understand why they ever bothered with the See Weeds at all.  I really don’t.  I hope Meyer stops talking about them at some point.

Kathy calls Wanderer on why she’s there; stating that it had occurred to her that maybe Wanderer’s problems were getting worse, which, of course, is true.  Wanderer pouts like a child again and changes the subject a little, asking why Kathy kept her host’s name, and Kathy tells her that it’s because she was one of the very first ‘placements’ on Earth, when the humans still didn’t know the aliens were there, and that she’d had to live with humans all around for many years, so she and her ‘partner’, Curt, had to pretend to be the people whose bodies they’d taken, so they didn’t really have a choice in their names.  Wanderer is surprised that Kathy was part of the ‘front line’ (which makes it sound much more like an attack on humanity than they’ve yet been willing to admit it was), because she’s never taken Comforters seriously, and then this next section really bothers me.

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I understand that Meyer is trying to convey that people aren’t always what they seem, and that a sweet, soft woman can sometimes actually be very strong and brave, and that you shouldn’t judge people by their appearance (or even job) alone – or at least I hope that’s the message she’s trying to convey – but she does it while also referring to therapy as being needed only “for those who struggled, for the weak“, and saying that it shamed Wanderer to be there. Wanderer even acts, later in the chapter, like it makes her weak to need a goddamn tissue when she’s crying! Because there isn’t enough demonizing of therapy and mental health in our society already!  This pisses me off a great deal, because we would be a much better and more cohesive society if people weren’t SHAMED for feeling lonely, or depressed, or weak, or tired, or suicidal, or having any sort of mental health problems.  EVERYONE has something wrong with them, whether they want to admit it or not, and it is FAR better to get help and DEAL with those problems than to let them fester and become worse until they destroy us and/or our relationships, but it’s goddamn shit like this that makes people feel too ashamed and embarrassed and afraid to get help!

Meyer’s main audience is young, fucking impressionable girls, and yet here she is, telling kids who have enough problems already with dealing with society and its pressures, that they should feel bad if they have to talk to someone to sort those problems out! What the FUCK is wrong with you, Meyer?? Therapy is NOT for the weak, it’s for those BRAVE enough to fight their fucking demons, and STRONG enough to ASK FOR HELP!  THANK YOU for what you’ve now condemned countless young minds to.  THANK YOU for being yet another contributor to the downfall of our society, and the growing number of suicides and rise in depression rates and mental health problems.  And there’s no way anyone can say Meyer doesn’t have a responsibility to her readers, or that she won’t have a significant effect on them.  Her writing is pretentious BECAUSE she’s got such a big following; she should fucking make SURE her readers are SAFE! Entice them to GO to therapy if they need help; don’t fucking EVER say it’s for the weak!

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I actually thought, at the beginning of this, that it was going to be a good thing, because ‘hey, all the aliens have to do this, so therapy’s not half bad’…but Wanderer is the MAIN CHARACTER, and she’s going through some tough shit she needs help with, whether she’s willing to drop her narcissistic bullshit attitude and admit it or not! It’s her actions the readers are supposed to identify with, and if she spends the whole chapter acting like therapy is some kind of incredibly shameful surrender, then that is what the readers will connect with, and they will AVOID getting help that they might sorely need!

Agggh, I’m sorry, but I cannot STAND that shit.  It is NOT okay, and Meyer needs to smarten the fuck up and act like a responsible adult.  Not that I believe she actually knows how to do that, considering her adult characters (for the most part; Kathy seems okay) sound like whiny children..but I will move on, for the sake of anybody who ever may read this.  Have a cute apology gif for your trouble.

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So anyway, they keep talking about Kathy and Curt, and how they bonded over the mission and formed an attachment such that they decided to stay together even when the aliens had taken over enough that they didn’t have to be secretive anymore, but that they mostly stayed together because the host bodies still loved each other, and that didn’t change even when the ‘ownership’ of the minds changed.  Awww.  That actually makes sense, and I kind of wish this was a story about them, instead.

It’s also mentioned, at this point, that Kathy and Curt’s home was an ‘insertion facility’, where they would have parties, and humans would come in but aliens would go out.  Well, that’s sufficiently terrifying; that’s it for parties for me!  But that explains how they did it in such numbers, I guess.  Just a question of how many of the partygoers had to already be alien surgeons in order to pull it off, and how they managed to do it without the other party guests knowing or figuring it out after a party or two.  She does say it had to be very quick and quiet so that the humans wouldn’t get violent (as they rightly should in that situation), so I guess they must have had some awesome method.  A soundproof basement, perhaps, that people can only enter one at a time?  Maybe they had masquerade balls, so no one would see the new freaky eyes that it’s still not explained why nobody notices.

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The talk of Kathy’s host loving Curt’s host makes Wanderer finally open up about her own problems, telling Kathy that Stryder still grieves for Jared, and that she’s still having dreams about them every night, and then freaking out a little about how she cries when he’s not there when she wakes up, and can’t separate her memories from Stryder’s anymore, and ALL OF THE AWWWW.  Kathy tells her that everybody cries at the beginning, because human emotions are so ‘impossible’ (good on humans; we’re stronger than aliens!), and that she used to cry at sunsets and the taste of peanut butter (wtf? Okay…), and then compliments Wanderer’s hair and asks why she cuts it so short.  Wanderer responds that it’s because it bothers Stryder, since she likes her hair long…which is just petty and immature.  Again.

But anyway, Kathy is surprised that Stryder is still so prominent in Wanderer’s mind, so Wanderer finally tells her all about how bad it is, and how her only real respite is when she’s working, because Stryder finds alien history boring.  That’s surprising, given that it’s completely unknown to us as humans, and that knowledge could be useful for Stryder in figuring out how to overcome Wanderer, but again with the not so intelligent people.

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Wanderer says that it seems like Stryder is growing stronger instead of fading, which implies that she should be fading, which definitely makes more sense, so basically Stryder is just a special case. Well, almost a special case, anyway; I’m sure there was more than one ‘Kevin’ before this…but whatever.  Stryder is referred to as potentially the ‘strongest of her kind’, which would be a bit surprising given she is a young girl, but then Wanderer is also referred to as the strongest of her kind, and given all the things she says in this chapter, and the fact that I still haven’t seen a single actual indication of what is so “brave” about her like people keep saying, the perception might just be way off here. She certainly doesn’t seem very brave in the description of the humans and their ways before they were taken over, since she can’t even bear to read news bulletins about it…despite that in chapter 2 it was mentioned that she sought information out about it herself.  Contradictions…

Kathy also says that all their kind are “so much the same“, and that humans are “more individualized than we are“, which contradicts the whole confusion Wanderer has a few chapters back about the minute differences between humans, but that’s not important, because this is just another excuse to go on about how great Wanderer is and how much her past lives prove she’s brave and strong, even though they’ve done so not at all yet in this book.  Kathy talks about how Stryder would have ‘crushed’ any other alien that had been in her body, and that it’s a sign of strength that Wanderer has thus far kept her from speaking for her, and blah blah blah.

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So anyway, Kathy tries to convince Wanderer that she should “skip”, meaning get rid of Stryder’s host body and get a new one (with Stryder’s body being destroyed instead of used as a host body for some other alien), and Wanderer does not want to do this because she thinks it’s weak, wasteful, wrong and ungrateful, and that it mocks “the very essence of who we were as souls” (what, body snatchers?  Yeah, that’s super honourable), and she wants to finish out the life term.  That implies that she’s never skipped before, which at least clears up one of my previous questions.

Wanderer and Stryder have some more internal battles/conversations, where Stryder accuses the aliens of murdering an entire species and then patting themselves on the back, because they think Earth is so much better now that the greedy and violent humans aren’t screwing everything up anymore (apparently, it is “absolutely essential” that the aliens make the worlds they inhabit better places, or they don’t deserve them, but I’m not sure how they ‘deserved’ Earth in the first place, when it was already inhabited, no matter how humans were running it.  That’s just some entitled bullshit.), and then Wanderer threatens to ‘dispose of’ Stryder, which Stryder is, of course, fine with.  Oh, wait, apparently that’s bluffing and she’s actually afraid of dying, which of course means that this person who threw herself down an elevator shaft must be super weak, because she felt a tinge of fear at the idea of death.  Oh, whatever, Wanderer.  You need to just shut the fuck up.

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Wanderer does, of course, consider ‘giving up’ and switching host bodies, because she wants to get rid of the “angry, displaced nonentity who should have had better sense than to linger unwanted this way”…wow.  I’m just not going to even get into how wrong that is to say about the original owner of the body.  Just wow.  But of course Wanderer decides not to give up, as expected, because it’s “her body” (bullshit), and she’s used to it and how it looks and moves.  So basically more entitled bullshit, and then the chapter ends.

More of the same next time, I’m guessing…

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