Stuff happened in this chapter! And even some things! Yayyyyy!! There was action, and at points it actually felt like I was reading a real book! Still not a really good book, but a book with an actual storyline nonetheless! Things may even happen in future chapters!
The chapter starts with Wanderer coming out of the hole she was in, just as she was doing at the end of the last chapter, and putting herself between Jared and his attackers (Kyle, Ian and some other guy). Aww, how sweet!
Everyone is shocked, but not for long, and then Kyle attempts to push Wanderer away, but Jared catches her. He yells at her to get back in the hole and pushes her toward it, but Wanderer (after a paragraph of random description of the cave which I’m not sure why we needed) steps back toward the attackers and attempts to engage Kyle.
Jared again yells at Wanderer to go back in the hole, but she tells him it’s not his duty to protect her at his own expense (which is absolutely not the way ANYONE would word a sentence in a situation like that, but whatever), and manages to skirt away from his next attempt at pushing her into the hole. While doing so, however, she gets too close to Ian, and he restrains her. Jared yells at Ian for touching Wanderer, and then Jared, Kyle and the other guy all start fist fighting, while Wanderer yells at them not to hurt Jared, and Kyle yells at Ian to kill Wanderer.
Ian attempts to strangle Wanderer, but then Jeb shows up again, with his gun trained on Ian, and yells at the attackers to back off. Oh, apparently the other guy’s name is Brandt, in case that’s important later for some reason.
No one listens to Jeb, instead just freezing in place, until Jared runs at Wanderer and punches Ian in the face. Ian drops Wanderer when he gets hit, and she stays down on the floor while Jared goes to Jeb, who scolds the attackers for going after Wanderer because she’s a guest, just like them.
Kyle accuses Jeb of keeping Wanderer as his pet, and sounds like he’s making a threat to leave, though I’m not really sure why Jeb would care if he did since there are so many others…and then Wanderer starts thinking about the terminology used in their conversation.
“Keep me as a pet? Jeb had called me his guest…Was that another word for prisoner? Was it possible that two humans existed that did not demand either my death or my torture-wrung confession?”
Okay, for one, when has “guest” EVER been another word for “prisoner”? Especially since he just referred to you as his guest at the same time as referring to the others as guests, and they’re clearly not prisoners. And does anyone really talk like this?
More importantly, though…seriously? You think Jeb is the one you should be surprised about here? Jeb has protected you every step of the way, never laid a negative hand on you, and smiles at you every chance he gets, while Jared glares at you with hatred constantly, slapped you just recently, and though he is guarding you now, did suggest that you be shot…yet you see Jared as the first person that exists that does not demand your death or confession, and not Jeb? I get that it’s a miracle that anyone feels that way about you, but come on, why are you giving Jared credit for the little things he does, and none to Jeb for everything he’s done for you? Poor Jeb. I think he’s my favourite now.
Jeb tells Kyle it’s not up to him how long Wanderer stays, which confuses everyone, and after a bit of pointless back and forth because it’s pretty easy to figure out whose decision it will be if it’s not Jeb’s, Jeb reveals that it’s Jared’s decision.
Nobody seems happy about this, including Jared, but Jeb stays firm in his position, saying that she’s Jared’s responsibility (even though Jeb brought her in without Jared knowing about it, presumably, so that’s not really fair) but that he’ll help him if any trouble arises.
Kyle and Jeb have a conversation about “Jodi”, who I would assume was Kyle’s girlfriend/wife, who is supposedly dead. Jeb asks whether Kyle would want Doc or a vote deciding her fate if she somehow ended up there with them, and Kyle seems like he actually would want that, so Jeb immediately gives up on that line of questioning and just tells him that it’s his house, his rules, so there will be no more execution attempts, and instead it’s the decision of whoever is ‘responsible’ for the individual to decide what happens to them.
When Jeb proclaims that what he’s said is a new rule, Kyle says “Another one?” which seems incredibly childish to me, because I can’t find a way to read it where it doesn’t sound whiny. Poor baby, having to live under rules, like he would have had to do for his entire life before the alien invasion…
Jeb kicks the attackers out and tells them not to come there again, and to let everyone know that that area is off limits except for Jared. He threatens to kill anyone who comes around without permission, and they all leave.
At this point, Wanderer starts thinking about how nice Jeb has been to her, thankfully, and how Jared seems conflicted on what to do with her, and I’m very glad to see that she’s seeing the situation clearly now. This is not the Wanderer we’ve seen before, and since I hated the one before, that’s a very good thing.
At the same time, though, she is saying that she hopes Jeb is bluffing about killing people if they come around her, because she doesn’t want to believe he has it in him to kill people, even though she can tell by the way the attackers have reacted to his threat that he must have done it before. She feels that his ability to do so means that he is “just as deadly and cruel as the rest of them“, and I think that is ridiculously unfair of her to think.
I’m well aware that the reason Meyer has given Wanderer that position on it is to again reinforce the previously established claim that the aliens are completely non-violent and abhor weapons and killing, but even if you do set aside the contradictions there have already been about that in previous chapters, I still don’t think it’s right for Wanderer to jump to believing Jeb is deadly and cruel.
She has no idea if he actually has killed anyone before, and even if he has, she has no idea why he did it, and so far all we’ve seen from him with regard to threatening anyone with death has been when they have tried to hurt her. If he’s only capable of or willing to kill in defence of someone he cares about, how does that make him cruel?
Wanderer herself was just willing to engage in violent behaviour with Jared’s attackers to protect him, so she should understand this…though maybe she just intended to stand between Jared and his attackers and take the beating for him instead of fighting back. Because that would have been a smart, useful move. Either way, though, it’s not cruel to protect those you love.
Stryder, however, doesn’t respond to Wanderer’s thoughts with the point I’ve just made, and instead says that humans can’t afford to be kind in the world the aliens have created. She says every choice is life or death, and in that she’s right, but she’s not right that they can’t afford to be kind, because they have been. Jeb especially. At this point, Stryder is just backing up Wanderer’s claim that Jeb is cruel, but giving him an excuse for it, when she should be pointing out that Wanderer’s claim is actually not true at all.
What Stryder says doesn’t matter anyway, though, because Wanderer just pushes Stryder aside, saying she doesn’t have time to debate with her and that she needs to focus. So…when someone has a viewpoint that opposes yours, you don’t have time for it, but up until that point, you can sit around and think about things that aren’t productive all you’d like? Nice, Wanderer. That’s more like the you I’ve come to know and hate.
Jared begs Jeb not to put the decision about Stryderer on him, claiming he can’t make a rational decision about it, but Jeb shrugs that off, saying he’s got time to think about it, because Stryderer won’t go anywhere after all the trouble she took to get there. As he says this, Meyer writes:
“The eye closest to me – the one Jared couldn’t see – closed quickly and opened again. A wink.”
Meyer, are you still trying to show us that Wanderer is just figuring out facial expressions? Because I’m pretty damn sure she’d have seen a wink before by this point, so she shouldn’t have to study the movement before giving a name to it anymore. If you didn’t describe it because of Wanderer, then why the hell did you? You could have just said that Jeb winked at her with the eye Jared couldn’t see. We all know how the physical movements work; we don’t need you to explain it for us.
Jared tells Jeb there’s nothing to think through because Melanie (Stryder) is dead, and he knows that, but he just can’t bring himself to kill her (well, he doesn’t say all that, but we can infer it), and Stryder tells Wanderer to “tell him” (presumably about her), but Wanderer doesn’t because she doesn’t want to die. Not sure why Stryder didn’t just say it out loud herself then, if she wanted to, since she’s proven a few times recently that she can do that, but oh well.
Jeb suggests that Jared not think about it and give it time, instead, and then they debate a little over what to do with her. Jeb says they’ll have to keep watch on her all the time until things calm down with the rest of the group, which Jared protests against, but Jeb holds firm on keeping her where she is, because he’s sure she won’t give anyone any trouble because she’s not stupid. He’s giving her a lot of credit, which is both nice and a little weird, since when he talks to her, he kind of sounds like he’s talking to a dog.
“You’re not going to go looking for Kyle or the rest of them, are you? I don’t think any of them are very fond of you.”
See? It just reads like talking to a dog, or a small child. Or when bad guys talk down to their hostages while they hold a knife to the individual’s throat, but that seems way more condescending and threatening than I feel like Jeb is trying to be here. He genuinely does not seem to believe she’ll do anything bad or try to leave, so there’d be no reason for him to talk to her like that. He says he talks to her that way because he was “raised in a politer time“, but if it’s supposed to be condescending, he’s not being polite, so…yeah, back to the dog/small child thing. It’s just weird to me.
Jeb dismisses Jared, telling him to get some sleep, so Jared leaves, but only after saying that he won’t accept responsibility for Stryderer and that Jeb should kill her if he thinks that’s best. This reads as Jared just trying to be tough, and I expect that after he left, he probably went and hid somewhere to cry. In a way, I kind of hope he did, for Stryder’s sake.
Wanderer sneaks back into her hole and Jeb sets up shop to guard her for the night. Wanderer is quite shaken, which makes sense, so Jeb tells her she should get some sleep because “tomorrow’s bound to be a tough one“. Ooooh, mysterious.
Wanderer goes to sleep, and then we have a lovely section break before Wanderer wakes up to the smell of food in front of her, just like last time. She grabs the bottle of water on her tray and drinks it, and there’s a paragraph describing how bad it tastes, and I’m not sure if that’s supposed to make us think the water is poisoned or drugged, or if it’s just Meyer pointlessly telling us that the water tastes bad. If it’s the latter, again, why? There are more than enough pages in this book already, Meyer. You don’t need to describe everything.
Wanderer eats all the food and then realizes she has to use the bathroom, which is something I’ve been wondering how she hasn’t had to do for a while now. She’s too afraid to tell Jeb she has to go, but somehow he figures it out on his own anyway, so he takes her out on a walk to find the washroom, warning her that they’ll have to pass by everyone else on their way there.
She’s obviously not too keen on that idea, and wishes he could have just brought her a bucket instead, but Jeb goes ahead and tells her to follow him, so follow him she does, because she doesn’t want Kyle to find her there alone. Jeb continues to be very nice to her, taking her hand to lead her, but she remains afraid of him.
There’s some description of the path they take and how lost Wanderer is, and Wanderer starts to wonder about the place they’re in; how it came to be, how Jeb found it, and how other people got there. She doesn’t ask, though, because she’s still too afraid to talk to anyone, even though she’s not sure what she’s protecting herself from, because she expects to die eventually anyway.
“…my survival instinct was every bit as developed as the average human’s.”
Just going to point out that if that’s the case, she should totally understand Jeb’s willingness to use force for protection. I’ll leave it at that.
More description of them walking through the cave and the light around them, Wanderer’s nervousness as they approach the room where all the others are, and Jeb reassuring her that he won’t let anyone hurt her, and then this line:
“…fear turned into hatred and violence in the human heart.”
No it doesn’t. Not always. I’ve been afraid of plenty of things and not been hateful or violent toward them. This book is so very offensive !
Jeb says she might as well get used to being around all those people, and she’s confused by what that means, but he doesn’t explain. They walk through the same room Wanderer was originally taken to with all the people in it, and Wanderer muses on the openings in the walls and how she still doesn’t know how he built the lighted ceiling. Everyone is silent as she passes, and at first they freeze when they see her, and then slowly go back to doing what they were doing.
That whole paragraph of description sounds absolutely ridiculous to me, because that stuff simply does not happen in real life. People will stop moving when they’re shocked by the appearance of someone, yes, but not in the way that’s described here, which is basically complete freeze frame of everyone at once. Very lame, Meyer; very lame indeed.
Wanderer feels grateful for Jeb’s gun, even though that’s “fundamentally wrong“, because she knows that if he didn’t have it, they would probably have been attacked. It’s good that she’s finally realizing that there are practical reasons to do things the way humans do, and that it’s not all about being cruel and violent. She’s also being somewhat logical in thinking that the people might attack anyway, since Jeb could only shoot one at a time, and again, this gives us a glimpse at a Wanderer that is not completely clueless and horrible. If she keeps up like this, she may actually start to understand how humans really work, and be less of a terrible person!
Jeb looks around the room, basically making a silent point to everyone, and then they keep going, past a large square of dark ground in the centre of the floor that no one is standing on. Not sure what that’s supposed to be, but I assume it’ll come up later as some sort of horrible thing. Things to look forward to!
Everyone in the room looks angry again as they leave, but nobody makes a move to do anything, and Jeb and Wanderer move into a passageway that leads them out of the room. Jeb says that their trip through went better than he had expected, which makes Wanderer nervous, and they keep going, Jeb telling Wanderer how he found the place.
Basically, he found it by accident in the ’70s, and he discovered through research that the caves and passageways were caused by lava, because the mountain they’re in is a volcano which is “not quite dead“. He says she’ll see the proof of that in a bit, which I look forward to, and then proceeds to explain how he connected the tubes and whatnot. He mentions the ceiling in the big room and how it took him years to get right, but he doesn’t explain what it is or how he does it, and Wanderer doesn’t have the guts to ask, so I really have to wonder if that’s ever going to be explained.
They keep going and Wanderer hears voices again, but Jeb says she’ll like the next part that’s coming because it’s everyone’s favourite, and then they reach an arch that shimmers with moving light, somehow. The chapter ends with Jeb pulling her through said archway and asking her what she thinks, so CLIFFHANGER! I must know what the thing is that everyone likes!
So, see you next time with the answer to that. I assume, anyway, unless Meyer does what some authors do and just skips to something else for a while. I could see her doing that, just to torture me…
(See Mike’s take on this chapter at http://emptystress.wordpress.com!)