Chapter 10 starts with Stryder and Wanderer in a convenience store, gathering supplies for their trek to the mountains to find Jared and Jamie.  Wanderer is all freaked out because she’s defying her kind and feels that she’s being a criminal, so the palms of her hands feel cold even though the room she’s in is hot, because that’s a thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.  I’ve felt the backs of my hands or my fingers get cold when the rest of me is hot, but the palms?  Pretty sure I don’t feel temperature specifically in those too much, especially not temperature differing from everything else around me, unless I’m laying the palm of my hand on something that is a certain temperature.  But remember, Wanderer is special.

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Wanderer and Stryder are both suddenly referring to themselves as “we” and “us” in this chapter instead of “I” (right from the second line), and that doesn’t feel right to me, because they’ve only just started working toward the same goal, and there’s no guarantee they’ll even continue doing that.  It just seems a bit quick to jump into “us” territory, for two people that hated each other moments ago; like calling someone your boy/girlfriend when you’ve only spoken once…but maybe I’m just dangerously commitment phobic.

I also find myself feeling uncomfortable every time they really interact with each other, because it feels like two preteen girls, the way Meyer makes them talk, and picturing that with everything that’s gone on, that’s going on and that I know is to come just doesn’t feel right to me.  In other words, there’s nothing about this chapter that feels right to me, and I’m not looking forward to this being the way the book is for the next…50 chapters 😦

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I am glad, though, that Wanderer finally refers to herself as pathetic.  She is definitely pathetic, and it’s nice that she’s finally realizing it.  And the one good part about Stryder and Wanderer being so suddenly completely connected is that at long last, someone else is laughing at Wanderer and her emo, self-absorbed bullshit aside from just me.  Well, and Mike, and all the rest of the people who read this book without falling all over themselves about how wonderful it is, I guess.

Anyway, Wanderer tries to convince herself that she’s not doing anything wrong in doing what she’s doing, and that she’s actually just doing it so she can provide more information to a Seeker (but not her Seeker, of course, though we still can’t fucking give that woman a name to make this easier, apparently), but that’s obviously a complete lie and everyone knows it, including Wanderer and Stryder, so Stryder pays no mind to it.

Wanderer decides that the fact that Stryder knows that Wanderer’s lying to herself must mean that it’s “too late” for her, I’m assuming because she thinks Stryder feels she’s got that much control, and not just that she knows that Wanderer is fucking weak and will, of course, go along with the Jared plan now because she got all sappy about it.

Stryder points out that no, it is not “too late”, however much she might wish it was, because she still can’t control her own body; Wanderer still has that power.  Wanderer describes these retorts from Stryder as “a moan of frustration“, and that is not a way I’ve ever heard a sentence described.  Her thoughts can’t be a moan; a moan is a moan and is a sound of its own.  It could accompany the thought, but that’s not what Meyer says here.  Nitpick, sure, but it’s annoying.

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This is followed by Stryder giving “the mental equivalent of a snort” to another pointless thing Wanderer thinks, and I’ve gotta tell you, I’d love to hear what the mental equivalent of a snort would sound like.  I’m going to have to get into Meyer’s brain sometime and figure out what goes on in there, because it doesn’t seem to be at all the same as what happens in a normal person’s brain.

Wanderer grabs a flat of water bottles, and she’s somehow too stupid to realize they might be heavy, because of course in however many months she’s spent being a human, she’s never had to pick up anything that had any sort of weight to it.  Come on, now, Meyer; we’re still switching back and forth between “she can pick up concepts easily and has experienced everything” and “the simple concepts of fucking GRAVITY and WEIGHT are too hard, and she’s never had to experience them”.  Even if she’d never picked up a flat of anything in her months in her host body, Stryder would sure as hell have memories of carrying heavy shit (in fact, she mentions that she has just a few paragraphs later) – possibly even that exact kind of shit – so Wanderer should have been able to call on those memories to figure it out!  And that’s leaving aside that muscle memory should have figured it out FOR HER!

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Wanderer complains out loud when she drops the water, like a child, and another customer offers to help her, but she turns him down.  Stryder is not pleased with Wanderer for suggesting a smaller flat of water, which makes sense because it would be fucking stupid to get a smaller amount if even that amount would only last you three days (whether that makes any sense or not), and you’d likely need it to last for longer than that if you’re going to go trekking through the desert.  She is also displeased that Wanderer has let “their” body go soft.  It’s her body, and I don’t like that she’s letting Wanderer take any ownership over it, but meh, keeping the peace and whatnot.  Or maybe she’s just confused.

Wanderer, in all her weakness, manages to get the flat of water onto the counter, and adds a bunch of junk food to it, which is definitely a great idea when you haven’t eaten anything all day, and stand to eat nothing else for the next however many days.  Especially the chips.  Yep, chips are what you need, Wanderer, not real food.  In the desert.  Don’t listen to Stryder when she says it’s a stupid idea or anything; no, you know all, and the person who did this for at least six fucking years knows jack shit.

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Stryder tells her to get a map, which is smart, and all their goods are scanned by the store “employee” (I use quotations because he’s not really an employee if he doesn’t get paid, which he must not if they don’t use money, as we find out that they do not on this page…so y’know, he apparently just chose to be a cashier for his Calling, because that’s exciting), who is very kind to them.  There are a few issues with this next section, and they’re pretty big issues, so bear with me here.

The first issue is that three times in this chapter, someone attempts to help Wanderer with something (the man who offers to help her when she drops the water, the ‘cashier’ who gives her advice on where the trailhead is for her ‘hike’ in the mountains, and then the same man as the first time again, who helps Wanderer load what she ‘bought’ into the rental car), and the first two of the three times, Wanderer reacts very rudely to the men.  Well, maybe not the first time so much; she just doesn’t thank him for his offer, which I find rude, but the second time she outright cuts the guy off while he’s trying to give her advice.

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Now, I get it; she feels uncomfortable being around her kind, given she’s betraying them, and she wants to get the hell out of there as soon as possible.  But does that really mean she has to act like a bitch to them when they’re only being nice to her, which she definitely knows is what they’re doing because she tells Stryder that?  I mean, here she is, trying to convince Stryder it’s okay that these men are treating her nicely because they’re just concerned about her welfare and are trying to help, while acting like an ungrateful bitch to them for that very care and help.  Not only is that horrible, it also would, in my mind, raise suspicions in the eyes of other aliens, because it’s in their nature to be helpful and kind (or so Meyer keeps telling us), and someone acting completely the opposite of that, or being visibly uncomfortable when they are being treated the way a soul should treat another (and thusly expect to be treated, I would think), would seem very odd.  If she wants to seem like she’s not doing anything wrong, she should probably react to them appropriately instead of just explaining how it’s okay to Stryder, but outwardly acting like it makes her more uncomfortable than anything ever has before.

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Coming to the second issue, if all aliens/souls are supposed to be so kind and sincerely concerned about each other’s welfare, again, why the FUCK did nobody help Wanderer out when she was stumbling around outside Kathy’s office before throwing up in the bush?  I know I brought this up when it happened, but this just reinforced for me that that was completely fucking weird behaviour.  Everyone there ignored her and assumed bad things about her (or so she says, anyway), and she thought there was absolutely nothing wrong with them acting that way, yet the way they are supposed to act is as they have here, which is going out of their way to help her out and be kind to her, to the point that she’s actually worried, later in the chapter, that someone will stop to help her when she does nothing more than pull off on a side road, because that’s apparently so very much a part of what they do! These things do not add up!  Are the aliens in San Diego just all dicks?

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The third issue with all of this: What the hell is wrong with the world, if anything in this chapter is accurate?  I don’t mean this to be offensive, I really, really don’t, but is this really representative of the way Americans think?  Stryder thinks it’s “very creepy” that these men offer help and advice, and can’t seem to wrap her head around the concept that they’re just being nice and concerned for the welfare of another of their species, to the point of having to be repeatedly calmed down by Wanderer.  If that is actually accurate in terms of how Americans view one another and respond to one another in public, that scares me, and I feel very sad for them, though I sincerely do not believe that’s the case.

The way those men behaved is normal behaviour in Canada – being decent to each other, being polite and offering help when you’ve got help to offer – and I can’t imagine living in a world where it was not! I really can’t imagine being called creepy for doing that!  I never, ever thought there was such a vast difference in that between the US and Canada, but the way Meyer writes this makes it seem like it’s abnormal to have people treat you that way.  Stryder certainly thinks it’s weird, to the point of “thinking sulfurous thoughts about the kind old man“, and insinuating that completely ignoring someone who’s talking to you is better than “talking to strangers” – even if they’re people that are serving you, and the conversation is harmless!  Wtf?!??!

Meyer, I feel sad for you and the life you lead, if it’s really like that for you.  I truly, truly do.  I’ve been to the US a couple of times and never experienced rudeness enough that it would seem abnormal to me if someone was nice, so I have to think this is just your experience of life and other people, and if that’s the case, you might want to think about being nicer so others can return the favour.  Cause this shit ain’t right.

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This is obviously all just a setup for Wanderer to get mopey again about how there “are no strangers” among her kind, except, of course, for her; booooo hooo hoo hoo…even though we’ve heard repeatedly that she has no friends intentionally, and doesn’t know everyone in the world, and hell, she REFERRED TO THE PEOPLE IN HER CLASS AS STRANGERS AS EXPLANATION FOR WHY SHE DOESN’T TALK TO THEM SOCIALLY, SO THERE ARE OBVIOUSLY FUCKING STRANGERS AMONG HER KIND.  So that’s bullshit, but I’ll let it slide for where Meyer was trying to go with it and for the fact that it’s another fucking contradiction, and I doubt anyone is actually surprised.

This is followed by more guilt on the part of Wanderer about how “everyone is perfectly honest” except for her, when she is telling Stryder that they only scan the items they ‘buy’ for inventory purposes, since they don’t actually pay for them…because she didn’t already tell us that Seekers have to lie as part of their profession, and since Seekers are a part of “everybody”, that’s a bold-faced lie right there.

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Now, to the bigger problem in that bit about everyone being honest, which is this line:

Besides, what’s the point of money when everyone is perfectly honest?

…Really, Meyer?  Fucking REALLY?  Do you understand NOTHING about how the world works, at ALL?  I mean, okay, the science shit you didn’t know I could maybe forgive, though you probably shouldn’t have written a goddamn science fiction book if you don’t understand science, and maybe the philosophical shit I could let slide from time to time, because you may not have been exposed to as much of it as others might have been, and some of it is subjective anyway, and hell, even the writing issues I could give you a little leeway on because not everyone who has a story to tell is a perfect author, but…REALLY? You don’t even know how fucking money works, and why it’s important??  And you couldn’t have taken two seconds to research that??

There’s PLENTY of point to money when everyone is perfectly honest! Money was not created because we couldn’t trust people not to steal our shit, and actually, when I try to think of it that way, it doesn’t even make sense!  I was going to get into a whole big thing on what the point of money actually is, but you know what?  Fuck it!  It is not worth my time to say even more about this shit when Meyer didn’t even bother to THINK about what she was saying, and instead just figured that everyone would accept her stupid blather without using their own brains.  Why should I bother doing the work for her?  Especially since the sales of this book suggest that her tactic worked!

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This is an incredibly short chapter, yet she’s got so much bullshit in it that it’s taking forever for me to get through a recap of it, so I’m not wasting any more time on this than necessary.  MONEY DOES NOT EXIST ONLY BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE DISHONEST, Meyer, and it seriously simplifies our system of barter and trade, which is NECESSARY FOR SURVIVAL, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.

Anyway, where were we?

So yeah, cashier is friendly to them and tries to help, Wanderer reacts in her normal bitchy way, Stryder is freaked out by how creepy it is when people are nice, Wanderer gets guilty over the wrong damn shit again, Stryder worries that that guilt will make Wanderer change her mind on finding Jared, then they leave the store.  Then Stryder gets freaked out AGAIN when the guy helps them load their stuff into the car, not two seconds after Wanderer explained to her that she shouldn’t be freaked out by it, because no one here can use their goddamn brains for longer than a millisecond, and they get into the car and eat chips and pretend to be looking at the map.

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They look at the mountains and figure out what the lines were referring to, even though they already DID that, so this whole thing was completely unnecessary, and then Wanderer convinces Stryder (who agrees ‘complacently’) to take the car instead of walking into the mountains.

Stryder was on her own at least two years before meeting Jared, then with Jared for four years after that, still ‘on the run’.  Why the hell wouldn’t she have thought that it would be a better idea to take the car BEFORE WANDERER DID?  She would know how hard it is, she would know how long it would take to get there, she would know she’d have to be worried about food/water supply, she would know they should conserve energy as much as possible, she would know that they couldn’t just pop out and leave the car at the convenience store without risking people coming after them because that shit looks suspicious, and she would remember how relieved she was when she discovered Jared had a car, so she would know that it would be a FUCKING STUPID IDEA to just get out and walk right away!  Why does Meyer think her readers are falling for this bullshit that Wanderer is all smart and kind and making awesome decisions?  If Stryder was a believable character, she’d NEVER need to have Wanderer suggest taking the car, because she’d NEVER be stupid enough to suggest otherwise!

Hell, even if she hadn’t been on the run before, NO ONE would think their best bet, when they have a car and need to go a long distance, would be to WALK!   Yes, Stryder is excited, but she’s not THAT stupid!  Uggh, I can’t even…

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The next bit has more “who gives a fuck” information about how the road would have been overgrown in a place with more vital vegetation, because that is so relevant, and then Wanderer goes into the path on the map that connects with where they want to go, worries that someone will help because the aliens are like that here apparently, and off they go, with more pointless bullshit about Stryder singing the names of the desert plants.  This book is over 600 pages long, Meyer; we don’t need more filler! Unless it’s going to develop the character or the story, don’t bother with it, and singing the names of plants is NOT FUCKING CHARACTER OR STORY DEVELOPMENT.

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Meyer mentions that Stryder:

“…itched to be on her feet, loping through the safety of the baking desert.

Y’know what, Meyer?  I HIGHLY DOUBT THAT! Why would she itch to be walking, when she’s in a fucking car, which is much faster and safer, and she really, really wants to get to her brother and boyfriend?  When you’re in a rush to get somewhere, you don’t “itch” to take the slowest and most potentially dangerous method of transportation possible, no matter HOW much you love the scenery, you just want to fucking get there! Especially if you haven’t seen them in months, and the last you knew you were going to die without ever seeing them again, and now you may actually get to be with them! You don’t want to “lope”, you want to teleport, if you possibly could; you just want to go from where you are to where they are with NO time in between!  Why does nothing ever make sense in this book??

And now we find that Stryder longs to walk even though she won’t be fulfilled by it because it’s not her controlling her body? Then why the hell would she want to walk?!  Even more so than before, she’d want to just get there and get the travel over with, so what the sweet crap is the point of all this bullshit, Meyer???

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Yes, Wanderer finally sees what it must be like to be trapped inside a body and have no control over it, but as mentioned before, how the fuck has she not noticed that BEFORE?!  And hell, even now, when she’s faced with the DIRECT THOUGHT, what does she do?  Does she apologize to Stryder?  Does she vow to try to change things amongst her kind, so they stop DOING this to everyone?  Does she do anything of any fucking merit?  NO! Of course not! No, Wanderer, in her infinite fucking selfishness, tries to stave off the things she feels about this epiphany, and FUCKING BLAMES STRYDER AGAIN!

Of course, none of the others had stuck around to complain about the situation.

So because Stryder stuck around, it’s HER fault you have to face the HORROR of the PRISON (your own words) you put these humans in, it’s HER fault you feel guilt for what you are (a part of a terrible, terrible species each of whom deserves to die a slow and painful death for what they’ve done)!  Even when you feel that guilt, you still don’t take any goddamn responsibility! Arrrrrrrrrghhhhh!!!!!

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I know we’re supposed to be happy here that Wanderer is seeing things for what they are, but how can we, when she’s still acting like all would have been fine if the humans hadn’t fought back?!  Ignorance is bliss??

I have to move on now. I’m getting stabby again.

The chapter continues with more stuff that I can’t believe Stryder would do, even in excitement, with the knowledge and experience she has, and Wanderer acting like she believes she intends to return to civilization, when we’ve been OVER THIS ALREADY IN THIS CHAPTER, and we know she won’t because there’s no way in hell she can.

Wanderer imagines the Seeker looking for her, and it amuses her to think of the Seeker not being able to find her, because she continues to be a cruel bitch and thinks it’s funny to make people worry about her.  She imagines that the Seeker will just be in a state of “furious irritation“, but she’s expressed genuine concern for Wanderer in the past, whether Wanderer wants to believe it or not, so she won’t just be irritated, she’ll be upset and worried.  Of course, Wanderer won’t consider that, or how it’ll upset and worry Kathy, her husband, Fords, or anyone else she may have tricked into caring about her to some degree.

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Stryder tries to get Wanderer to go a certain way toward their goal and Wanderer, of course, disagrees, because she disagrees with everyone all the time, even if she KNOWS they know more about the subject than her, because she can’t stand to not have things her way ALL the time.  Stryder “silently shouts”, which just hurts me, but gives up on arguing with Wanderer because she knows Wanderer is a stubborn bitch and won’t give up herself, and Wanderer tries to get Stryder to show her the rest of the lines.

Stryder of course doesn’t agree to do that, because it would be an INCREDIBLY stupid move, and Wanderer, in the greatest act of hypocrisy thus far in the book, accuses Stryder of being “childish”.  Stryder doesn’t answer because she’s TAKING THE FUCKING HIGH ROAD, and Wanderer decides that means Stryder is sulking.  I assume she’s probably actually trying not to laugh at how absolutely ridiculously hypocritical you are, Wanderer! How can YOU call ANYONE childish? Yes, Stryder has been, but NO ONE in this book has been more childish than you at ANY point! You can’t go a page without being childish; what right have you to accuse anyone else of being childish?

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It gets dark out and Wanderer starts to turn on the headlights, but Stryder stops her because she is not NEARLY as brain-dead as Wanderer is, and doesn’t want anyone to see them.  Wanderer, since she can’t drive anymore because it’s too dark, tries to think of something she can do other than turn off the car and go to sleep…not because she’s not tired, but because she doesn’t want to sleep in the car, because she really fucking thought this trip through before leaving the convenience store.  I can’t WAIT to see how much she bitches and moans when she has to sleep on the ground when they don’t have a car anymore to travel in!

In another act of extreme pointlessness, Wanderer starts whining about how the whole trip is crazy and a waste of time, because they won’t find anybody, because THAT is incredibly productive when no matter how you feel about it, you’re already out here and are going to have to spend the night!

Stryder, in yet ANOTHER show of intelligence (seriously), ignores Wanderer’s bitching, and Wanderer finally decides to just shut the fuck up and try to go to sleep (though she makes sure to mention that she doubts she’ll get to sleep and complains about how vacant and uninteresting her brain is when she’s not allowing herself to think about things because they might force her to face who she actually is and how horrible the things her kind do are), which she is infinitely more successful at than she expects to be.  I assume this is Meyer trying to show us that Wanderer is wrong about EVERYTHING, ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

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Annnd scene.  Finally.  Oh good, the next chapter’s really long.  That’ll go well.

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