Alright, we’re getting somewhere, slowly but surely. I actually found this chapter somewhat interesting! Not much happens, of course, but at least it was nice and short while somewhat developing some characters and giving us a bit of an insight into what Jeb meant by “curiosity” in the last chapter.
So we start where we left off, with…well, I guess it’s Wanderer, since it’s “I” in this chapter…recognizing that it’s Jared that’s standing before her, as we knew it would be. Wanderer is shocked to see him, because they had both thought they’d never see him again when Jeb lied to them in the desert, so she just stares at him.
Stryder, however, reacts with her heart instead of her head, says his name, then tries to move to hug him. Wanderer tries to warn her that that’s a bad idea, but Stryder isn’t listening and doesn’t notice the expression on Jared’s face, so she continues to move toward him until he hits her in the face, hard.
Meyer describes Jared’s face as having changed “in the long months of separation“, but that doesn’t really make sense to me. Either his face just appears different than Wanderer’s memories of him because he’s angry right now, and that’s an ‘in the moment’ kind of thing, not something that has occurred over time as she implies, or he would have looked like that before Stryder ever met him.
I mean, I get that Meyer is trying to show how haggard he’s become since losing Stryder, but before he met her he was alone for two years. Two years of being on his own, of having to watch everyone he cared about die or become an alien…if long months of hardship were going to change his face, it would have been then, not just these past few. Oh, but wait, love; love is stronger than all the things, and he must love Stryder more than he ever loved anyone else in his life before her, so that’s why. Right. Yeah, that makes sense. Or maybe it’s because it’s the second time he’s had to go through losing people. Or still just that he’s angry, since he’s going to look super hot later, I’m sure.
Anyway, yeah, Jared hits her and she falls to the ground, and despite the pain and dizziness that results from this, Wanderer immediately starts to chastise Stryder for her stupidity. She was stupid, so at least this time that’s warranted, but it still seems like a bitchy thing to do.
“Jared’s here, Jared’s alive, Jared’s here. She was incoherent, chanting the words like they were lyrics to a song.”
How is this the dialogue of a 20 year old woman? No matter how excited she was, no matter how her emotions clouded her judgment, no matter how in shock she was, it wouldn’t cause her to start acting like a 5 year old. That’s all I can picture when I read this line; a little girl, jumping up and down. Yes, she would be incredulous, excited, happy, relieved, but she wouldn’t revert that far, especially not after having just been slapped hard in the face. It’s just not believable. And I hate that Stryder keeps ‘chanting’ things, because it makes her seem far less intelligent than she’s seemed to be so far. Maybe she only seemed smart in comparison to Wanderer, though, or maybe we can just look at this as her having a mental breakdown because of all the shit that’s gone wrong, but then this one thing at least went right…that would be reasonable, but I don’t know. Even then, it just…doesn’t seem the right way to express it. It’s still too childish, especially because she did it before reaching what could potentially be a breaking point, with the desert plants or whatever, so it just seems like Meyer is using it as a character trait.
I also think it’s very strange that Stryder can be so upbeat when Wanderer is clearly in so much pain. Are we back to the whole thing about how Stryder doesn’t feel the pain her body endures, when just a couple of chapters ago she did experience pain when they were dying? Dammit, Meyer, please have some consistency at SOME point in this book. If she feels the pain, she wouldn’t be able to think such upbeat thoughts without at least SOME distraction by the pain, and if she doesn’t…ugh.
Wanderer worries that she won’t be able to handle torture if she can barely handle the pain of a slap (though admittedly it’s her third today, the hardest and most emotionally painful of the three by far, and her body is already weak), and then she notices that Jeb is standing over her and Jared is walking toward them.
This next paragraph is weird, because Wanderer refers to Jared’s face as being “beautiful rather than frightening in its fury“. So…she’s not afraid of his anger cause he’s too hot? She likes abuse? Or was that just worded poorly?
Either way, Jared has “murder in his expression“, so Wanderer wishes for a quick death, even though she doesn’t really want to die. Jared happens to meet eyes with Jeb before reaching her, though, and Jeb’s calm expression seems to give Jared pause, so he stops moving toward her and exhales angrily instead.
Jeb helps Wanderer up, and she’s all dizzy and nauseous and mentions that if her stomach hadn’t been empty for days, she might have thrown up. Well she should have thrown up, then; it’s only been one day and one night since she’s eaten anything, and she’s filled her stomach completely with water more than once throughout the day/night, so she should at least be able to throw up water. But I hate vomit, so I don’t know why I’m thinking about this.
Once on their feet, Stryder tries to move toward Jared again, and again, I don’t care how excited or whatever she is, I cannot possibly imagine that she (or anyone else) would be THAT stupid, especially after being slapped once already for doing that (and that’s if you don’t count the other two slaps for slipping up with Maggie). Is Stryder becoming as stupid as Wanderer was now? Are they switching roles? If so, do not like…
Anyway, Wanderer manages to stop Stryder from actually moving toward Jared this time, apparently locking her behind bars she creates in her head, cause that makes sense, and tells her to be quiet lest she make it worse. Stryder repeats the same stupid, unrealistic chant as before, which makes me want to throttle both her and Meyer, but Wanderer maintains control of the body.
Wanderer starts looking around the room to see if she can find Jamie, but she doesn’t see him. Stryder wants to ask if he’s there, but Wanderer holds her back from doing so, and then some guy comes out of the crowd toward her, amazingly not looking angry despite that everyone else does. There’s a description of him, and how badass Jared is because he’s the only one that doesn’t defer to this guy, and then he’s in front of Wanderer.
The guy inquires about Stryderer, Maggie gives him a quick rundown on who she is and where she came from, and the guy starts inspecting Stryderer. Wanderer notices a woman with “vivid hair” at his arm, and Stryder recognizes that it’s her cousin, Sharon. So…Sharon’s not in Chicago after all, so Stryder jumping down the elevator shaft in Chicago and getting implanted with an alien was all for nothing. Gooood times. Hopefully she was at least still in Chicago then, and only came here recently…that would be a little better…
Wanderer manages to keep Stryder from having any outbursts about Sharon, and the guy continues his inspection, being very gentle and kind as he does so and telling Stryderer he won’t hurt her. There’s a description of the guy tracing her scar, and Jared’s reaction to that (which is angry, but probably masking pain), and then the guy says that she seems healthy aside from exhaustion, dehydration and malnourishment (so TOTALLY healthy, then), and that they should “get started”.
Get started with what specifically, I don’t know, but apparently Wanderer does, and she seems surprised by the realization of what he’s going to do, because she thought he was nice…which is funny, because usually when people are nice to her, she assumes they’re out to get her. The one time she doesn’t, and he is. How sad. As we would have guessed, though, this guy is the doctor that was referenced earlier, so I guess whatever he’d want to do with her would probably not be pleasant.
The doctor reaches out to Stryderer so that she will go with him, but understandably, she recoils and will not take his hand. He calls on the brothers – Kyle and Ian – to carry her for him, but Jared stops him. Wanderer sees pain in Jared’s face, amongst all the other emotions, and a slight bit of amusement (or happiness) in Jeb’s face, as Jared tells the doctor he can’t take her.
The doctor doesn’t understand why Jared has a problem with him taking her, so Jared explains that if Jeb shot her, her death would be clean, but it would not be clean if he let her go with the doctor. The doctor tries to explain to Jared that they learn something from each time they…do whatever it is they’re going to do…and maybe this will be the time that….something.
Jared’s not buying it, and frankly neither am I, since he’s being incredibly vague, but that’s not why Jared doesn’t; he says it’s because he doesn’t see much progress being made in…whatever they’re doing. All of these loose ends will eventually be tied up, won’t they? Someday, maybe? I’m trying to have faith, but I really don’t…
Stryder says that Jared will protect them, and Wanderer corrects her with “Not us, just your body“, which I assume means they are going to try to remove Wanderer from her, but they must not have been very successful at that in the past if Jared is so skeptical of it that he won’t even let Doc take her to try it, so…he’s kind of protecting Wanderer at this point as well, even if only inadvertently.
Sharon argues with Jared about it, saying there’s no point wasting an opportunity, and that kind of hurts me on Stryder’s behalf, because Stryder pretty much died for her, and Sharon has no idea what she’s been through and will go through because of her at this point. Two deaths; one trying to find Sharon, and one which Sharon is a deciding factor in. Ouch.
Jared doesn’t back down to Sharon either, though, and then the next few paragraphs are Jared and everyone else arguing, but Stryderer can’t understand what they’re saying because she’s slowly falling out of consciousness.
Jeb grabs his gun and lets her go, so she…I assume falls to the floor, since she’s losing consciousness, and then manages to ask about Jamie. Jared doesn’t answer, so Jeb does, telling her that Jared brought Jamie there and that he is fine. Stryderer thanks him, then passes out completely, and that is that.
Really hoping this goes somewhere good, and the blanks in this chapter are filled in in the next couple of chapters. I’d like to start enjoying this book…or at least some parts, sometimes. It would be much easier to keep up doing these recaps if I did, because lately it’s been pretty painful, and this gave me a glimmer of hope.
(See Mike’s take on this chapter at http://emptystress.wordpress.com!)