Reading this chapter, I learned something that I feel is quite important, especially for any aspiring writers, so I’m going to share that with you now.  To start, I should mention (because I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before) that I’m a big reader, but not generally someone who reads Sci-Fi (I love watching Sci-Fi movies and TV, but while it’s a genre I’ve certainly always been willing to read, I just haven’t had a lot of it recommended to me), and definitely not someone who reads romance novels.  I find them too cheesy and clichéd, and even in movies, I prefer relationships that are more realistic.  So obviously, this book was the perfect choice for me.

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That being said, this was my favourite chapter in this book so far, because of the romance.  “So the romance was really that much better than in other romance novels”, you ask?  Oh, god no.  It was most definitely exactly what I expected it to be, given Meyer’s writing style thus far, and was just as bad as the other romance novels I’ve been subjected to in the past (actually, no, it was worse, given how very far from believable the dialogue was), yet despite all that, it was still the best part I’ve read yet.

Why was it the best part?  Because it was a section so simple and non-scientific that it actually felt like a respite from the rest of the book.  It was nice to not have scientific inaccuracies, philosophical issues and heaps of contradictions shoved into my face for a few pages, so however bad the writing was, I still felt so relieved while reading it.  It was like a little vacation.  So if Stephenie Meyer has succeeded in anything thus far, it’s making me enjoy tacky romance, even if only by comparison to incredibly bad science.

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So, that’s the lesson: You can make readers appreciate genres they usually wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole, as long as you write so badly about another genre first that when they reach the new genre, they’re actually relieved enough to enjoy it.  And hey, I know I’m hoping she keeps up with the romance stuff, so my brain can start repairing itself from the assault of the first few chapters, so she’s made a romance lover out of me!

…Well, no, I wouldn’t go that far, but you know what I mean.

To be clear, though, I don’t endorse writing ridiculously bad books if you have the talent to write books that are actually good.  Please, for the love of god, if you can write and write well, do.  I do admit that I understand the draw to writing poorly, since it seems that it’s only the very worst novels that are gaining worldwide acclaim these days…but just remember that there are those of us out there who are still looking for well-written books with good storylines.  And since you could point out that yes, I am one of the many reading The Host (and soon Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey), I should also mention that I’m not reading these books for pleasure, but solely for the purposes of these chapter recaps.  When I read for pleasure – which I do every day – I make sure to stay as far from these books as possible.  So there is hope!

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Anyway, on to the actual chapter.

It starts with Wanderer and the Seeker having another pointless little spat about the fact that Wanderer isn’t willing to fly because Stryder gets motion sickness, which is obviously both the Seeker’s business and ours, as the readers.  I’m assuming Meyer put this in here so her readers wouldn’t find it odd that Wanderer would drive to her destination rather than take a plane, and to explain why the Seeker is not with her, but it still feels like a very pointless scene, and I wish she’d had that forethought in other areas of the book that were much more important than this one.

I’m assuming that Wanderer knows about Stryder’s motion sickness because she was flown to San Diego (which is apparently where they are) from Chicago, and she experienced it on that trip, but knowing how she got to San Diego doesn’t explain to me why she’s there in particular…or, alternately, why she was ever in Chicago in the first place.  I have to hope this will all be explained/tied together eventually, but I mention it because that hasn’t really been the case so far in this book, so I fear it won’t be.

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If she was found in Chicago – which had to have been the case given that I doubt they could have transported her very far before she was healed without killing her, and Stryder’s ‘accident’ supposedly took place in Chicago (I do think that was mentioned in the prologue but I’m not going to bother checking :P) – wouldn’t it have made more sense to keep her in Chicago, where any memories she came up with might have been of more use, since if she was there, that’s probably also where Jared was?  Perhaps Wanderer herself could even have been sent out to find them, with the hope that they might not notice she’d been assimilated before they could catch them…I mean, I know that would put Wanderer/Stryder at risk, but if they know they’re looking for a person who loved Stryder, they’d have to have thought that he’d probably still be at least a little hesitant to kill her on sight, giving them a window of opportunity to nab him.

But even if they didn’t keep her in Chicago, why San Diego?  Absolutely nothing so far points to there being anything worthwhile for either Stryder or Wanderer in San Diego, since apparently schools were fighting for Wanderer to teach for them, so she surely could have found a job in Chicago…and the desert that Stryder dreams of, which would also be a useful place to search for Jared and Jamie, is clearly not the one near San Diego, as is outlined even in this chapter.  So…I don’t see the point.  It seems like it was just a random choice of location, and there was no logic behind moving her at all.  It honestly seems like a very stupid idea for many reasons.

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There’s also (at least so far) no reason given as to why Fords moved from Chicago to Tucson, Arizona, so again, we’re into why did Meyer bother with Chicago in the first place, if no one was supposed to end up there for storyline purposes, and otherwise, why aren’t they there now?  And how did Wanderer find out that Fords had relocated, especially so quickly, since on the last page of chapter 7 Wanderer said she was going to Chicago to find him, and then on the first page of chapter 8, she’s heading to Tucson because suddenly he’s there now?  It’s pretty obvious that Meyer wants the Arizona desert to be relevant here, but…was there really no better way?  I’ll just keep hoping there’s a good reason for all of it eventually.

Anyway, yeah, the Seeker’s a bitch, as usual, Wanderer mentions being stored in a hibernation chamber when she traveled between planets before, which both answers that question and leaves us open to all the questions that came off of how all this ever worked for the aliens if they had to be transported in hibernation chambers, which I won’t get into because that’s another page at least on its own, and I’ve already been over it (aside from the fact that in chapter 7, it is mentioned that spiders are being transported to Fire World or whatever the fuck, to fix things, which implies they’re moved in their host bodies, which is in direct contradiction to what Wanderer says here about being transported in soul form in a cryo chamber, but WHAT THE FUCK EVER)…and then more Seeker bitchiness, and Wanderer firing a bit back at her.  Of course, during this exchange, Wanderer states:

I know enough of human behaviour to recognize the signs of manipulation.

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…We could have used some of that forethought here, Meyer.  You’ve gone on at length about how hard it is for Wanderer to get used to all these human emotions, and the tiny differences between us, and our ‘useless’ sense of intuition and whatnot, and just the other day it was mentioned that Wanderer was only finding that it was getting easier to read *facial expressions*, yet now, all of a sudden, she can recognize something as complex as manipulation?

I could understand that if Stryder had gone through years of manipulation and had grown to recognize it easily, and it was really her memories allowing Wanderer to recognize it, but since Meyer’s almost made a point of making sure we know that Wanderer has somehow taken forever to learn things about and adjust to humans and human behaviour, she can’t really use that reasoning now, even if it was the case.  Agh, I don’t know, I have to stop caring about things like this.

There’s some vague description about Wanderer packing her car, and there are some issues with that whole section, but I’m not going to bother with them because they’re relatively minute…and then Wanderer thinks for a while about how glad she’ll be to be free of the Seeker, and what options are available to her in her situation.   She wonders if she should leave Earth entirely and move on to a different world, and she considers some of her incredibly flawed previous ones, then it just gets even more stupid as she considers a ‘new planet’ with hosts that are being called Dolphins on earth, but actually resemble dragonflies, and live in the water.  Not just that, but this is another water planet.

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There are no words.  How is there so much stupid in this book?  Why am I reading a ‘young adult’ novel that still feels like it should be for kids, aside from the fact that it has messages that would be horrible for kids (hell, they’re horrible for its target audience, as previously mentioned) and discussions about sex? I just hate, hate, HATE reading this shit from Meyer.  I want it OVER with! She needs to accept that her alien species, and their planets and their histories and whatever the hell, are immature, ridiculous, not creative and NOT interesting, and she should MOVE ON.  Stop bringing them up all the damn time!! Or at least make them make SENSE if she does bring them up! Why the fuck wouldn’t they just call something that resembles dragonflies, FUCKING DRAGONFLIES?!?

And why the hell are all other planets aside from Earth comprised of only one or two species that cover the entire goddamn world?  What is the point of that?? And how likely is it that other life exists in the universe, but Earth got a diverse variety of species and everyone else gets only ONE OR TWO??

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As alluded to in the last chapter recap, I completely understand now why Wanderer said that Stryder got bored and went away during her lectures to her students, even if it might have been beneficial for Stryder to pay attention…because who could STAND this goddamn shit for more than 2 minutes?  I read about this once every however many pages that Meyer feels it’s necessary to bring it up in, and I want to dig my own brain out with a spoon, so how could Stryder possibly stand to listen to it for the entire length of a lecture?  This is my first time feeling sympathy for Stryder! We’re friends now, because fuck, if she can put up with all this crap and not have tried to figure out a method for offing herself again by now, she’s pretty damn strong!

Underwater dragonflies called Dolphins.  Fuck.  Moving on, lest I kill all the things!

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As expected, and making all that annoying shit about the other planets and the ‘Dolphins’ completely fucking pointless, Wanderer decides that she can’t possibly leave Earth, because there’s too much of it she hasn’t experienced yet.  She gets no input from Stryder about any of the stuff she’s been thinking about, which suggests once again that Stryder does know her thoughts, which brings up that question again as to why she had to ask  if Wanderer was planning on killing her, since she should have already known…but whatever.

Wanderer keeps packing her car for the trip, and there’s another description of how empty the apartment is, as if we hadn’t already been told, and Wanderer thinks:

“…if I didn’t come back, there would be little for the next tenant to clear out.

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…How would she come back?  She’s resolved to stay on Earth, yes, but if she’s switching host bodies and they’re no longer using adult hosts, how would she ever be going back to that apartment?  She’d have to be put in a child’s body if she left Stryder’s, and thusly raised like a child in a parent’s home (we know this happens with the aliens because of the previous ‘Motherhood’ comment), not her own apartment, so unless she’s already considering keeping Stryder’s body (which, of course, we know she will, because there is nothing even vaguely believable about the idea that Wanderer will switch bodies, since the story would be almost done if that was the case), making the whole trip pointless, she should know that with the decision she’s making, she’ll never return.  There is no “if”.

Regardless, the phone rings as she’s leaving and the answering machine picks it up, and then we’re given more description about the apartment that contradicts the whole empty apartment/”leaving less behind than she’s taking” thing, and then hear more about her guilt and shame.  Apparently, that guilt and shame is the reason she won’t listen to the message that is left on her voicemail, because she assumes it’s probably Curt calling about her leaving her teaching job on such short notice, and she doesn’t want to face that because it’s uncomfortable.  So…she feels guilty for letting him down, but doesn’t feel guilty about leaving him high and dry when he’s probably calling out of concern for her, all because she feels the slightest bit uncomfortable about it, even if she knows he will most likely never hear from her again…at least not in her current form.  Yep, she’s definitely a strong, caring person, totally deserving of being repeatedly called better than everyone else…

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Wanderer gets all emo about how the world doesn’t want her, despite how much she wants it, and then we’re treated to a random, useless description of ‘superstition’, which doesn’t even seem fitting for what Wanderer is talking about there.

Then Wanderer leaves the place and gets in the car, and at this point, Meyer addresses a question I had, which was how the hell Wanderer intended to drive with no previous history of driving (since she’s got a rental car and supposedly came to San Diego on a plane, and she has no friends, so I can’t see when she would have driven a car on a regular basis).  I guess in this case she could conveniently access Stryder’s memories of the little driving she’d done (I’d assume since she met Jared, since she would have been about 13 or 14 when she first went on the run, and thusly wouldn’t have been driving before then) and use that, because she gets to pick and choose what she does and does not learn quickly from Stryder’s bank of knowledge.  Human behaviour and facial expressions?  Ah, fuck that, I’ll take my time; maybe in a few months I’ll be able to recognize a smile.  Driving?  Yeah, I can figure that one out in five minutes, no problem; I won’t even bother to practice.  Well, I guess she is nervous about it, so that should be good enough to cover this whole topic, right?

I’m sorry, Meyer, I should go easier on you.  I know books are hard.

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The Seeker is a bitch again, as expected, and Wanderer takes off for her eight hour long drive to Tucson, paranoid all the way about the Seeker following her in a car instead of taking a plane, yet still driving slower than everyone else, because when you leave before someone and you don’t want them to find you, driving slowly enough that they can catch up is always the best plan.

It is revealed that Wanderer has been all up and down the California coastline, yet she has little experience driving, no friends and doesn’t like flying, so how the hell has she done that?  Instead of all the stupid crap about the other alien worlds and how hard life is for Wanderer, why couldn’t we have had some actual story as to what happened in the intervening months between her insertion and now?  It would probably have made this book much better, and hopefully would have left it with less contradictions and missing information!

Wanderer thinks about how relaxing it is to be away from civilization, and she’s bothered by that thought because she “should not have found the loneliness so welcoming”, because souls are sociable…so she, of course, blames Stryder for the fact that she feels that way, because everything is always everyone’s fault but hers.  Tis the nature of her species to think that way, after all!  Even if in just the last chapter she revealed that she has no friends because she CHOSE not to make friends, and she did that in her other forms too, so she’s clearly antisocial.  It only makes sense that it’s Stryder’s fault that she is the way she’s always been.  What a bitch.

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I don’t know how, after just having the thoughts she has about trying to get away from the Seeker and all that, she can say that all the souls live, work and grow together in harmony, and that they’re all the same; peaceful, friendly and honest.  Pretty sure the Seeker has proven that wrong in almost every goddamn scene she’s been in, and Wanderer herself has definitely proven it wrong, so why the FUCK are we still talking about it?!? YOU ARE NOT AS AWESOME AS YOU THINK YOU ARE. LET IT FUCKING GO, YOU EGOTISTICAL WASTE OF SPACE!

Wanderer tries to find Stryder in her head, but finds her dreaming, and then there’s this line:

This was the best it had been since she’d started talking again.

what

…Wait, what?  When did she stop talking?  Wouldn’t that have been important for us to know?  If there was a period of time in which she wasn’t talking within the past few months Wanderer’s been living in San Diego, that would imply that things shouldn’t have been sooooo hard, like Wanderer’s made them out to be, because Stryder wouldn’t have even been bothering her.  And if she didn’t stop talking, then what the hell is this line supposed to mean?!  Goddammit, Meyer!

Anyway, out of boredom, Wanderer decides to take a peek and see what Stryder’s dreaming of, because of course it’s very smart to pry into someone’s memories when you must experience them as strongly as you did in the prologue for there to be any continuity here…but even if that’s not the case, you’d have to at least see them pretty clearly if you can describe them as vividly as they are in this chapter, and that combined with the fact that memories have previously caused you physical pain, makes it a super good idea to intentionally seek that out while driving, not knowing what you’ll find.  That won’t distract you from the road at all.  Oh, there is so much sense made in this book!

But we know Wanderer is not the smartest person in the world, so here she goes into Stryder’s mind, and what she sees is a magical desert, different from the one she’s driving through.  She makes note that Stryder doesn’t block her out from what she’s seeing, and that it feels as though Stryder is saying goodbye, and I actually kind of like that section of description, because I did actually feel for Stryder.  Maybe that’s just because she’s my friend now, though.

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Stryder is remembering a cabin in the desert near the flash flood line (I assume that’ll be relevant later? Oh wait, probably not), with a hand pump sink, and then we’re dropped directly into Stryder’s head and seeing her memories of being there with Jared and Jamie.  As mentioned before, the dialogue in these scenes is pretty much crap, because no one would ever talk like they do (it’s too formal, especially since it’s revealed later that they’ve been together 4 weeks by the time of this memory, so the formalities would have been dropped to at least some degree, if they ever had them in the first place after 2 years out of civilization), but otherwise, there’s not a whole lot to say about them.

Jared is basically showing Stryder and Jamie around the cabin, which was built by his father and brothers, which seems a little strange given it’s only a one bedroom place with one full-sized bed in it…if you’re building it with your kids, and you have multiple kids, why would you only put in one bed?  I mean, I know with more beds Meyer couldn’t have written in the whole awkward scene that’s to come about whether or not Stryder and Jared should sleep together, but still, come on.  It’s a little unrealistic.

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Anyway, there they are, in this place that apparently doesn’t even legally exist so they can’t possibly be found (who wants to bet that place’ll be found???), and Jamie’s running around like a kid much younger than 9, but maybe he’s just excited not to have to sleep in a cave for once, so I’ll let that slide.  Jared is holding Stryder’s hand, and it’s setting her on fire and making her heart ache, and she’s having thoughts that are, again, written very unrealistically, especially for a 16 year old, though this time they’re too grown up, not too immature.  Meyer just cannot get this right.

Stryder’s thoughts reveal that it was, in fact, the scar that caused her to scream when Jared kissed her the second time, the first night they met, and as I said back then, he TOLD you about that, Stryder, what the hell were you expecting?  WHY would you scream because of something you already knew about? It can’t have been startling!  Ugh.

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Anyway, that comes up because he hasn’t kissed her since then (completely understandably; why would he?  I’d love to have seen how that scene played out after she screamed, since they apparently went home together anyway), and she’s all tortured about whether or not she should kiss him, or if he wants to kiss her, and blah blah blah, and that’s certainly more teenagerish than the last paragraph, so  that works.

Jared looks down at her and smiles, and his eyes crinkle into little webs, which, let me say, is fucking TERRIFYING to picture.  This makes Stryder question whether he’s really handsome or not, and I gotta tell you, if someone smiled at me and their eyes turned into webs, no matter how fucking little, I’d be outta there, and questioning why I EVER thought they were attractive.  Web eyes.  No.  Just no.

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But of course Stryder decides that he is actually handsome, because she has a Spider-Man fetish, I assume, and then she lies to Jared about what she’s thinking about, and he says she can stay at the cabin with him if she wants.  Pretty sure if he hadn’t let her stay he’d be kind of a gigantic dick, given that he brought her all the way there and showed off all his fancy old school shit to her, but that doesn’t cross her mind because she is still all swoony, so she thinks all this romantic shit about food not growing on trees and…wait, what?  “Food doesn’t grow on trees“?  Ugh.  Where do I start with how wrong that is? Meyer tried to make that line better by adding “not in the desert, at least“, but no, Meyer, you just said that food doesn’t go on trees, and no matter what you say after, that’s still stupid, and I…god, I’m tired.  Not in general, just of this book.

Jared squeezes her hand and she feels her heart punch against her ribs, which she says gives her pleasure, but that it’s “just like pain“…I dunno, Stryder, you might wanna have that checked out.  That’s just not normal.  Hearts shouldn’t punch ribs; they’re squishy and delicate.  And pleasure shouldn’t hurt until we get to Fifty Shades.

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The perspective switches back into the present at this point, in Wanderer’s thoughts, and she describes a “blurring sensation” when Melanie’s memories skip ahead to a different time.  I don’t know about you, but when I transition from one memory to another, there’s no “blurring sensation”, it’s just memory, thought, another memory.  Then again, Wanderer also describes it as:

…her thoughts dancing through the hot day until hours after the sun had fallen behind the red canyon walls.”

And that’s just not how memories work at all.  You don’t ‘dance through’ memories, you either have the memory or you don’t; it’s not like hitting the fast forward button.  Basically, this paragraph is terrible and pretentious, but I’m not really sure why I’m picking on it; of course the transition between memories wouldn’t be realistic, because the way the memories themselves are presented isn’t realistic.

Memories aren’t like the way they’re described here; they’re not that vivid and definitely not 100% detailed, especially down to the dialogue, they’re mostly images and ideas of what happened, entwined with emotions.  But hey, maybe some people experience memories differently…either way, if Wanderer is experiencing Stryder’s memories the way they’re outlined here, it’s really, really unsafe for her to be driving, as previously mentioned.  She wouldn’t be able to pay attention to the road at all.

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Back to the ‘memory’ from Stryder’s point of view, and Stryder looks in on Jamie sleeping in the bed, then goes back out to the couch with Jared for sexy times.  Oh, no, wait, not sexy times, boring conversation times.  Sorry for getting your hopes up.

Stryder thanks Jared for letting her and Jamie have the bed, but says she feels bad and that he should take it, and Jared alludes to stealing himself a cot next time he’s out, and for some reason, even though they’ve not yet been there one night, Stryder is already panicking about the idea of him leaving.  That makes no sense; she’s been on the run for at least 2 years, so she should know by this point that you have to go get provisions elsewhere at times.  You know, like she, herself, just thought earlier on this page.

But Jared doesn’t want to leave her either, so they agree to go everywhere together, and he says something about how he’d rather die than go anywhere without her, which she says isn’t melodramatic, though it definitely is…but meh, that’s okay in this scenario.  Stryder keeps running over in her mind whether he feels the same way as she does or not (during which she refers to herself as a woman, which just…no, Stryder, you’re not a ‘woman’ yet), but if he doesn’t he’s a dick again, because he’s cuddling with her as they talk, and that’s just some really bad mixed signals if he’s not interested.

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Stryder suggests that they share the bed and Jamie take the couch, cause he’s got her all worked up, and this part is actually kind of believable, other than the way it’s worded (too adult again), because her anxiety after the question is fairly on point with how it would be in that scenario.  There is a stupid description about the “flat sun trapped between us – pressed like a flower between the pages of a thick book, burning the paper“, but aside from that, it’s not bad as far as being realistic.

Jared gets overwhelmingly awkward and tries to explain that he doesn’t want her to feel obligated to sleep with him, and that she doesn’t owe him anything, and that he’s not that kind of guy, and blah blah, all the ‘nice guy’ shit.  Stryder gets embarrassed, and as emo as her thoughts may seem about wanting to disappear or lose her mind to ‘the invaders’, they are accurate for a 16 year old in her situation, so again, Meyer is fairly on point here.

Jared goes back to trying to explain that she doesn’t need to do anything like that with him, and Stryder tries to find a way to explain that that’s not how she feels about it without telling him that she loves him, but after he presses her to talk to him about it, she basically tells him that she loves him without using those exact words.  The words she does use describe Earth as a “deserted planet”, which is absolutely the furthest thing from accurate since the reason they’re running and hiding in the desert is because the planet is not deserted, and the things she says are not completely realistic, they’re more like something you would see in a movie, but that aside, she’s got more balls than I would have to tell someone something like that, so good on her.

I don’t know what I’m doing, but it doesn’t seem to matter. His hands are in my hair, and my heart is about to combust. I can’t breathe. I don’t want to breathe.”

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I actually quite enjoy that bit.  I’ve felt that, so that is legit.  It’s a moment of passion, and Meyer did it fairly well.  I’m not gonna say anything more about that for now.  Soooo more unrealistic dialogue follows that paragraph, and we find out that Stryder is apparently 17, not 16 (oops…maybe she had a birthday in the last four weeks they’ve been together, or maybe Meyer just can’t do math), and that Jared is 26.  Scandal!

Stryder is annoyed that Jared cares about age convention, which I don’t blame her for, because it’s kind of ridiculous in a post-apocalyptic situation where you’re both attracted to each other and are the only people either one of you has seen in years…and hell, he certainly didn’t care about the age difference when he kissed her the second time, the night they met.  The first was a moment of excitement, sure, I’ll let that go, but the second time he knew what he was doing, and he could have easily noticed how young she was before he did it…and if he didn’t and just found out how old she was later, why would it matter so much?  Does actually verbally declaring your age change things so much? He didn’t know when he kissed her, so it can’t have been that big a deal.  Man, I can see what I’ve just said bothering a lot of people, but you have to think about the world they’re in.  It’s not like our current society.

Anyway, he says they don’t need to rush things, which is actually pretty honourable, and she presses him on it, which is not a smart move, but also is probably exactly what a teenage girl would do, so reasonable.  He brings up the practical concern that they don’t have any contraceptives, and mentions that he doesn’t want to bring a baby into this world, which she agrees with (thank god), and I’m just glad someone in this book was smart enough to have forethought, so I might actually end up liking this guy.

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Jared says that they have time to think about things and get to know each other, because they’ve only been together 29 days, and Stryder panics because it occurs to her that they may not have plenty of time, because they are living in a post-apocalyptic world, and anything could happen at any time.  Jared refers to them meeting as a “miracle”, and says that miracles don’t work that way, so he’ll never lose her.  Unfortunately, we know he’s wrong.

That’s where the memory ends, and then we’re back in Wanderer’s head, and we see Wanderer having empathy for Stryder for the first time, as she cries when Stryder thinks:

You never know how much time you’ll have.

And I’ll admit it: I really liked those last two lines. They were effective.  Best chapter ending yet, Meyer.  Good job.  If you keep this up, we might be okay.

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

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