I did not enjoy this chapter, and that makes me sad, because I’d really hoped I would after the glimmer of something I didn’t hate in the last one. I mean, this chapter wasn’t terrible, but it was definitely incredibly boring, and not enjoyable at all.
…I might need to rework my definition of “terrible”.
It starts where chapter 8 left off, of course, with Wanderer still driving toward Tucson, still planning on getting rid of her host body, and still trying to deal with the idea of being a skipper. Now, though, she’s got some sympathy for Stryder, and she intends to try to keep Stryder out of the Seeker’s hands, even though she knows that’s impossible. It’s nice to see her actually caring about someone other than herself for once, at least.
I have to wonder how the removal process would work, though I’m pretty damn sure I’m not going to see it at any point in this book, since as I said, it can’t happen or the story would be almost over already, and I can’t imagine there being anyone else we’d care about it happening to. I mean, would the Healer have to do surgery again and remove the soul, like a tumor? I assume the Seeker’s soul would need to be inserted in the same way that Wanderer’s was, so I guess you could just open up the host body, pull one soul out and send another in, but I feel like that’s got to be pretty traumatic for the host body, especially its brain. I would think that would cause more problems than it was worth, especially because I’d think the host’s consciousness would have to still be active then, and would cause problems.
Maybe they sedate the host? But how do they keep the Seeker’s host body alive but not active as a human for long enough to allow the Seeker to do her business in Stryder’s body (since she said they were going to ‘hold her host’ for her)? Do they just let the host become human again and imprison it or something? If so, they’d kind of have to face the horror they’re putting the humans through, so why wouldn’t that make them second guess how peaceful their takeover really has been?
I guess it doesn’t matter since it’s not going to happen anyway, so moving on.
Wanderer attempts to promise Stryder she’ll try to protect her, but Stryder is still too caught up in her memories of Jared to hear her. Wanderer tries to separate herself from the memories so that she doesn’t have to experience them anymore because they’re too painful, and I’m not even going to bother taking cracks at this because it’s all been said before. She’s super emo, the writing is over the top for what it is, and I just don’t care anymore. I feel, right now, like this book has sucked the life from me.
Wanderer decides she should stop for dinner somewhere at some point, since she hasn’t eaten all day, and because she wants to delay meeting up with the Seeker when she gets to Tucson. Why she didn’t just not tell the Seeker where she was going and go when they were separated (it had to happen sometime, at least for a few minutes) I don’t know, but that’s probably just more of the whole ‘not being so intelligent’ stuff.
She checks the map while driving, which is fine because she was already pretty much driving blind, and she admitted that, so what does it matter if she doesn’t look at the road for a few more minutes…and sees a place on the map called Picacho Peak, which has a rest stop in it. The name of that place strikes a chord with Stryder, even though she tries to hide it, and the sight of it does even more so, but Wanderer can’t figure out why the place is important because Stryder has the connection to and memory of it boarded up tightly enough that Wanderer can’t access anything more about it. Personally, I just think Stryder really liked Pokemon before the whole end of the world business.
Wanderer is once again disturbed by Melanie’s somehow growing strength, but keeps trying to figure out what Stryder’s connection to this mountain is, so Stryder throws a memory at her to distract her. Interesting that she can do that and Wanderer can’t block it out, when Wanderer doesn’t seem to be able to do anything similar to her. Guess she is stronger. Than Wanderer, at least.
In the memory, Stryder is hiding in the trees, apparently, waiting to leave Jared and Jamie to go to what we know is her final destination as a human, and it’s finally explained why they were in Chicago. No explanation yet as to why they’re not now, but it’s good at least that there’s a reason they were then.
The writing here is, once again, not great, and not realistic for someone of Stryder’s age, even though she’d be 20 or whatever it is by the time of this memory…and the relationship between Jared and Stryder is a bit too mushy for people who would have been together for 3 years already. Maybe being all each other has after the end of the world makes you appreciate each other every day the way you did when you first met, though; that’s both somewhat reasonable and surprisingly appealing, so I’ll let it slide.
I will admit that I like Jared’s comment about her looking like a dryad. It’s sweet, and the flirting they do regarding it is pretty cute, even though I don’t know what he’s referring to when he says “One of them“, unless he’s just repeating himself. It’s an awkward thing to say, but the compliment itself was cute, so meh. ‘A’ for effort.
It’s revealed that it is the ‘eve of their separation’, which is a bit of a dramatic way to word it, however true, so Stryder begs Jared to keep Jamie safe while she’s gone, and he agrees, though he believes nothing bad will happen. Stryder insinuates that it’s meaningless for Jared to say that nothing will happen and that she shouldn’t worry, and then:
“But his voice is worth hearing, no matter the message.”
I don’t like this line. It’s so fake and over the top and unnecessary, and it feels like Meyer was trying way too hard. This is the kind of stuff you see in crappy, cheesy romance novels; the stuff no one would ever really say or think, especially after so long together. It just grates on me.
There are more promises from Jared and an obviously very important description of his scent, and then Jared proves that he can’t be completely serious even in the most serious moments, and I honestly find that pretty endearing. His jokes are lame, but it’s still cute, and he is trying to make her smile at a difficult time, so again, I appreciate the effort. So far, I actually like Jared as a character; he’s my favourite. I liked Kathy, but I’m pretty sure her part is done now, so I’m gonna hope Jared keeps up the way he’s been so far. He’s perhaps naively positive, especially given what he’s been through, but his dialogue isn’t quite as horrible as everyone else’s, he’s more realistic than anyone else thus far, and he’s very caring and supportive. All good things.
So the reason they’re in Chicago is because they were apparently watching TV at some point while raiding someone’s house for food, because they like to check the weather (I don’t care how boring the aliens’ “everything is perfect” news reports are to you; they could easily be more important than the weather for multiple reasons), and Stryder caught a glimpse of someone she thought might be her cousin Sharon. Yep, that’s the kind of surety I like to have when leaving my brother and boyfriend, the only people I have in the world and am lucky to have at all, when it’s very likely that doing so will kill me. This cousin better be pretty spectacular to be worth risking all that.
Anyway, Sharon was in Chicago, trying to pretend she was one of the aliens, though I have no idea how she could be successful at that if she was visible enough to be on the news; either it’s easy to hide amongst the aliens and therefore a lot of other people should already have been doing it, or it’s not, and she should have been caught. One look at her eyes would tell them she’s a human, even if there was no other way they could figure that out, and if she’s noticeably not blending in, enough that someone seeing her in a quick glimpse on TV could recognize it, she should have been found out by now. Meyer claims it’s the hair that made Stryder recognize her, and that she noticed her not fitting in after that, but either way, if she was trying so hard to fit in that it was obvious that’s what she was doing, some alien should have noticed by now. They are stupendously dumb, though, from what we’ve seen, so maybe I’m giving them too much credit there.
But yeah, Sharon is in Chicago, and Stryder wants to find her, especially if that means there might be other humans with her too, and she knows that Sharon will run from anyone but someone she knows, so Jared can’t go with her. She also thinks she knows where Sharon would be hiding, which is useful, so that’s where she’s planning to go when the memory ends.
There’s apparently no time for Wanderer to catch her breath or wipe away her tears before the next memory starts, cause you totally can’t do either of those things while thinking, so Wanderer gets to experience Stryder’s sad goodbye to her brother, who doesn’t want her to go. She promises everything will be fine and that she’ll come back, which we again know isn’t true, and that’s about all that happens in that memory. There is a line I don’t like about it smelling “like dust and sun“, which just…no…but there’s really nothing else to say about that section. It is, indeed, sad, especially the part about their dad, and the fact that Stryder’s pretty much just abandoning her brother to the same fate again, though it’s a bit hard to believe that a boy of her brother’s age would still be snuggling up under his sister’s arm. A hug, sure, but that’s a bit much. Again, though, post-apocalyptic, so I guess you never know. I’d just figure he’d be tougher after what he’d have experienced in the last few years on the run.
Then there’s another memory, of Stryder writing the note that was referenced way back however many chapters ago that it was too late for the Seeker to find, and we’re informed that it’s exactly what we would have expected it to be; a note to Jared and Jamie saying she wasn’t fast enough and that she loves them…and also warning them not to go home to the canyon house, because she knows that if they do, when the aliens take her body, she will lead them to Jared and Jamie. Luckily for her (and them) she’s managed to keep that from happening, but it was good that she had the forethought to warn them about that. Someone needed to think ahead at some point, so yay! Though it might have been nice if she’d thought ahead before even going to Chicago, so none of this would have been necessary. Can’t win ’em all, I guess.
Wanderer interrupts the memories by saying something out loud, which I’m not sure why she would do because she can talk to Stryder through thoughts, as has already been proven…maybe she couldn’t break the memory any other way? But that doesn’t make sense, because she had to have the thought to say the words…I dunno. Anyway, she does, and she talks out loud to Stryder for the next while, which is weird to me.
She tells Stryder that she has made her point and that now she can’t live without Jared or Jamie either, which is a weird thing to say in this circumstance, especially as childishly as she does it. She tells Stryder that her only choice is to get rid of her body, because otherwise the Seeker will be inside her, and nobody wants that.
This exchange raises a question for me; one I’ve had before but not delved into at any length: Why has the Seeker not yet been given any name at all? Even when Wanderer is talking about the Seeker out loud, to Stryder, who would know what the Seeker’s name is because she’s been around for all those months dealing with her, Wanderer still refers to her as “the Seeker”. I can’t imagine that’s what everyone calls her, since she’s not the only Seeker in the world, so why hasn’t she been named yet? Is it just because Meyer didn’t want to, or was too lazy to come up with a name for her? Or is there some important plot device that somehow has something to do with her name?
It just doesn’t make sense to me, and I would think it would feel very awkward for Wanderer to call her “the Seeker” all the time, instead of her name, given in their world, “Seeker” is a profession/calling, not a name. Or maybe that’s just Wanderer being a bitch again and degrading the Seeker by not using her name…who knows? Just seems like with all the trouble the Seeker has made about Wanderer’s name, and her surprise that she kept that name, that she, herself, would have been named by now.
Anyway, Stryder reveals that there’s another option besides Wanderer ‘getting rid’ of her, and makes her look at the mountain that was so secretly important earlier. Wanderer figures out that the ‘lines’ from the previous chapter were not lines on a map, they were lines on the mountain, and she could find the boys that way. I’m honestly very surprised she figured that out so quickly, given how slowly she’s figured out everything before this, but maybe Stryder helped more than we are shown here.
Stryder reveals that she still knows more than she’s shared with Wanderer, so Wanderer can’t find Jared and Jamie without her, and Wanderer asks how it’s possible that the mountain can lead them to the boys, getting excited now about being close to Jared and Jamie for some reason.
The next part is another of Stryder’s memories that shows that there’s actually no proof that they are close to Jared and Jamie, just that Stryder assumes they must be because Jared is smart so he probably pieced things together before she did, even though she has personal memories to draw off of that he wouldn’t have, so I don’t know how he’d figure it out, but either way, I think Wanderer’s reaction to knowing they’re close is strange. She’s only just come to feel anything for them, and what she feels is not love, it’s sympathy; shouldn’t she be a little more disconnected? Oh well, who cares.
The whole memory sequence that’s put forth here, I hate. I can’t stand reading it; it feels very tedious. It’s Jared and Stryder trying to figure out what the lines mean by running through her family history and memories and whatnot, but it’s just not interesting, and I hate that they keep referring to her family as ‘crazy’ and ‘loony’ when they obviously know they weren’t crazy, because they were right about what was going on. That’s a nitpick, though, I guess.
Apparently Sharon’s mom had “hidey holes” with booby traps, and it’s assumed that one of them is where Sharon is, so that’s where Stryder was going when she got caught/jumped down the elevator shaft. And…yeah, the rest is just about the lines, which we already know what are, so bothering to say all this and connect it to the other memory that comes in here later just feels very drawn out and boring.
The lines will lead them to somewhere safe, supposedly, that Stryder assumes Jared has already found, as mentioned before, so that’s where he’ll be…which is the Stryder Ranch conveniently located at Picacho Peak, the mountain Stryder and Wanderer are currently driving toward.
Stryder slips in defending her thoughts and Wanderer sees her entire journey with Jared and Jamie to Chicago, and also sees the building where Stryder believes Sharon to be hiding there. She admits it was a mistake to let Wanderer see that, because Wanderer will turn Sharon in, which Wanderer agrees she will do because she ‘has to do her duty’, even though she already promised to try to keep Stryder safe from the Seeker, which is a betrayal of her duty, so I don’t know why she’d give a fuck if she betrayed it again. Especially after feeling sympathy for these people; she should understand now how horrible it is for them and how much her kind have taken from them and not be willing to give Sharon up. But continuity is not something Meyer can make work.
Wanderer tries to decide what to do now; stop for lunch, keep going and reveal everything to the Seeker (which she decides not to do because it’s so repellent it causes her to stop her car in the middle of the highway, which is really stupid, and she really should never have been allowed to drive), or go after Jared and Jamie. She goes back and forth on moral shit that shouldn’t matter because she’s already been immoral, and who gives a fuck anyway since she hates the Seeker and supposedly can’t live without Jared and Jamie, and there’s more annoying shit about how it’s impossible for her to be a traitor when she’s a soul, despite that that seems to be the very nature of them, and arrrgh.
Anyway, in the end she’s speeding toward the peak, so it’s assumed she decided on going after Jared because she ‘can’t separate herself from her body’s wants’. And that’s it. Fuck, I really hated this chapter, even more now that I’m done. It’s funny how I’m always nicer to the chapters at the beginning than at the end…rereading them just hurts me that much.
I apologize that this recap wasn’t good, funny or interesting; I just don’t have it in me today, whether it’s just the chapter or me that’s the problem. Hopefully it’ll be better next time. In my defence, this chapter was incredibly fucking boring…
(See Mike’s take on this chapter at http://emptystress.wordpress.com!)