Picking up again where we left off, as usual, this chapter starts with Jared in Wanderer’s cell, demanding answers of her regarding the Seeker in black. Wanderer is understandably afraid of Jared at this point, so she doesn’t answer, instead cowering and covering her face to deflect his blows because she believes he will eventually hit her.

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Ian tries to intervene, suggesting to Jared that perhaps he should talk to her instead of Jared, or leave her alone because she’s clearly scared, but Jared does not agree.  He yells at Ian to stay out of it and then punches him in the face again, threatening to do so a third time if necessary (the first time being during their fight a few chapters back, when he was strangling Wanderer).

Jared grabs a lamp and shines it in Wanderer’s face, then continues to ask Wanderer about the Seeker.  Wanderer thinks, regarding Jared punching Ian:

It bothered me that someone else had suffered for my silence – even someone who had once tried to kill me.  This was not how torture was supposed to work.

Well, actually, it kind of is.  It’s much more effective to torture somebody by bringing harm to another that they either care about or feel responsible for, because surprisingly enough, for most people it’s easier to endure pain physically and not break than it is to deal with the mental and emotional pain of knowing you’re the reason harm is being caused to someone else, when you could just give in and spare them.

Now, I know Wanderer has no reason to care about Ian, so that doesn’t seem to fit here (though being responsible for him might, since he’s defending her in this instance), but I just wanted to point out that that statement is incorrect.  Aside from that, it’s clearly not torture because he hasn’t even touched Wanderer, and he didn’t hit Ian because she didn’t talk, he hit Ian because he said things Jared didn’t want to hear.  Wanderer is not stupid enough to think this way.

…What am I saying?  Of course she is.  This is Meyer-verse.  I keep forgetting that.

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One thing I’m questioning here, as well:

Jared’s expression wavered as he read the change in mine.

How could Jared read the change in her expression when she felt bad about Ian getting hit, when she had her hands covering her face until just that moment?  He wouldn’t have been able to see her face beforehand to know what it had changed from.  I guess that’s just a nitpick though.

Jared makes it clear to Wanderer that he will hurt her if she doesn’t tell him who the Seeker is, and she is surprised that that’s what he wants to know, since it’s not the mysterious secret she’s bound to protect.  Are we ever going to know what that is?  Does anyone even really care?

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She’s also unhappy about the fact that her desire to tell him what he wants to know is not based on fear, it’s based on wanting to please him…and here we have a wonderful indicator of an abusive relationship.  I know most people would say that’s not something to be brought up in this context, because obviously this is not a romantic relationship at the moment (unless you argue that the fact that she loves him makes it so), but Wanderer knows nothing of Jared besides memories and what she’s experienced directly, and what she’s experienced directly is ALL abuse.

I’m not trying to infer that Jared is generally an abusive person, just that he is in this role, and I’m well aware that he has good reason for it, so it’s not his behaviour that I’m criticizing here, it’s hers.  She’s exhibiting signs of Stockholm Syndrome.  She wants to please him, even though she knows he hates her and has experienced nothing but abuse from him, and it worries me that their relationship will have to improve for this book to be the love story it’s supposed to be, because it sends a bad message – especially to young female readers – about how abusers can change if you love them enough.  Do not like.

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But I’ll drop that for now, in hopes that I won’t have to deal with it again later, and because I’m going to hold onto a little bit of hope that the readers will only see that as reasonable in this context, and not generally with regard to abusive relationships.

Wanderer tells Jared that the Seeker in black is the Seeker assigned to her, as we already knew, but then goes on to say that said Seeker is the reason why she ran away and came to this place.  That…is problematic.  See, later in this chapter, Wanderer outright lies to Jared and Ian, and that’s supposed to be some big shit deal because she’s so bad at lying, and souls don’t lie if they’re not Seekers, and they can tell she’s lying, and blah blah blah…so basically, a big deal is made of her telling a lie at that point.

But…this is a lie, too.  She didn’t go into the desert to get away from the Seeker, she went there to find Jared and Jamie. Getting away from the Seeker was a happy bonus, but when she initially left San Diego on her trip, she was supposed to be going to Tucson, where the Seeker was going to meet her.  She changed her mind partway through because of Stryder, not the Seeker. So…why isn’t a big deal made of the fact that she lied there?

Meyer says it’s “not entirely true, but not entirely a lie, either“, but that’s not right at all.  It’s a flat out lie.  She ran away from Stryder, initially, to try to get rid of her, and then went into the desert to find the boys. If lying is such an impossible thing for non-Seekers, she should not be able to even convince herself that the tenuous thread she attached to there was good enough to make that not be considered a lie.

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Moving on, the other problem I have with this section is that Wanderer thinks, once again, about how if she lets on that Stryder is still present inside, they’ll kill her, because he would “never see that it was possible for his wish to be true“.  How is that possible?  It’s been so many years, they’ve apparently had the doctor experiment on multiple aliens, and they’ve seen what’s gone on with others throughout the world; how have they not either seen or heard, from the aliens they’ve ‘tortured’ (if they did, but since Wanderer assumes they do that, this should cross her mind) or from what else has gone on around them, about the cases where this has happened before?

And why would he think it was a ploy in the first place, unless it had been done to him by Seekers before, which presumably would have ended in his death, since the Seekers apparently (as this chapter makes out, anyway) travel in packs?  For all any human knows, the human is always still present after the alien takes over.  They have no reason to think otherwise, unless they’ve been told.  I dunno, maybe this makes sense and I’m just not thinking it through well enough right now, but it struck me as odd.

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Anyway, Jared and Ian are both shocked to hear that she ran away from a Seeker, so Jared questions Wanderer about that, asking her why it would follow her and what it would want.  Wanderer tells him that the Seeker was after him and Jamie, and he responds with:

And you were trying to lead it here?

…No, Jared.  You were just shocked that she was running away from the Seeker; that does not equate to her leading the Seeker there.  Running away is not leading.  Come on now; you’re not this stupid.

Johnny Depp is annoyed by your stupidity.

Johnny Depp is annoyed by your stupidity.

Wanderer answers Jared’s stupid question by saying that she didn’t want to tell the Seeker where they were because she doesn’t like her, which…well, she’s worried that he won’t believe the truth, which is that she didn’t want to tell the Seeker where they were because she loved them by the time she found out, but she covers that up by saying she didn’t want to tell the Seeker because she doesn’t like her?  How is that more believable?

That’s also another lie, I’ll point out.  She’s now lied twice, before getting to the ‘obvious’ lie that’s supposed to be such a big deal.  Apparently only certain lies matter enough to be considered lies by these aliens.

Jared is confused by her answer because he thought all the aliens were supposed to like everyone, which Wanderer admits they are supposed to (except humans, of course; fuck all humans). Before Jared can continue on that line of questioning, though, Ian interrupts, asking who she told about the place.

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That’s an incredibly stupid question, considering Ian was there in the desert when Jeb showed his people that he’d found her, and he also knows that she was brought back to the cave blindfolded, so he’s well aware that she has no idea how to actually get there.  How could she have ever told anyone about it?

Does he mean who did she tell that there was somewhere to look for at all? Because that hardly seems relevant if no one was with her, she didn’t even find the place, no one came anywhere near it after she showed up there, and you guys have been patrolling the area so much that you know everyone that’s been there looking for Wanderer and how not at all close to your cave they’ve come.

Regardless, Wanderer explains about the lines and how neither she nor the Seeker knew what they meant, which leads Jared to ask how she could claim she didn’t know what they meant when she was there, which…see last paragraph.  Maybe Jared thinks she somehow got there all on her own, but I really doubt it, since I’d have to think that Jeb or someone else would have explained it to him by this point.  Oh well, at least it’s a question that makes more sense from Jared than Ian.

Wanderer explains that she couldn’t access everything in Stryder’s memory, and that that was why the Seeker was assigned to her; to try to unlock the rest.  This, again, is surprising to Jared and Ian, so I guess they really haven’t ever encountered a still active human after implantation before.  Wanderer thinks that they don’t trust her, which would make sense since this would sound absolutely unbelievable if they’ve never experienced it before, but that they desperately want to believe it’s possible.

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Um…why would they want that?  It’s not like that would lead them to think there’s actually a possibility that what did happen here would happen; logic would dictate to them that that would be impossible, so knowing that a human could still retain some control and consciousness after implantation would, I would think, only be more horrible in their eyes.  They’d know damn well they wouldn’t want to be in a body they couldn’t control, and have to watch someone else live their life, so I’m pretty sure they’d be happier if she was either gone completely after implantation, or strong enough to kick the alien out, which science would tell them should be impossible.  So…I don’t buy this desperate want.

Also, this sentence…

That made them fear.

…is horrible.  And not a sentence.  And just really, really terrible.

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This is pretty much how I feel about that line.

Jared asks Wanderer if she was able to access his cabin, which she admits she was able to do, but not until after a long time.  He asks if she told the Seeker about it, and she tells him that she didn’t because by the time she remembered it, she didn’t want to tell the Seeker anything anymore.  Jared asks why, and Wanderer refuses to respond…not because she’s afraid to tell him she loves him, but because she has too much pride.

What the fuck?  Seriously, I’m supposed to believe this?  In this situation, you’re holding your tongue because of pride?  How stupid are you?

I would not tell this man who despised me that I loved him.

Yep, fucking brilliant.  He should have killed you right there, just for that. However, he doesn’t, because he somehow silently understands that she won’t answer without a fight, and he’s just fucking fine with that.  How realistic! It’s an important question; I find it INCREDIBLY hard to believe he’d give up on finding out the answer that easily.  But it wouldn’t be convenient to Meyer’s tenuous grasp on a plot to tell him now, so we’re going to just have to pretend we believe this ridiculous bullshit.

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He decided to skip it – or maybe to come back to it later, save it for last, in case I wouldn’t be able to answer any more questions when he was done with me.

…What?  I don’t even understand what Meyer is trying to say there.  He’s going to save it for last because there’s a chance you won’t be able to answer any more questions when he’s done with you, so he’d rather risk missing out on an important one entirely and move on?  How would that make sense?  Am I just reading this wrong?

Jared does skip it though, and instead asks why she couldn’t access all the memories, and here’s where we get into what Wanderer claims is the first outright lie, even though it definitely is not.  She says she couldn’t access them because of how far Stryder fell and how damaged the body was, which is a lie, certainly, but not the first, and potentially not even the most important lie. Despite that, Ian and Jared only notice that she’s lying this time…and do absolutely fucking nothing about it.

How is any of this realistic?  She’s lied to them repeatedly, including once where they’ve noticed, which was on what they consider to be a very important question, and a few times they should have figured out that her answers made no sense, and she’s withheld information on another important question.  Jared threatened her before, but he’s not doing it now…why?? Why are both Ian and Jared just letting it slide that she’s not giving them the information they’re looking for, and outright lying to them in the answers she does give?  How is this not a significant problem for her????

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Ian asks her why the Seeker isn’t giving up like all the others did, and Wanderer says it’s because the Seeker is not like other souls, she’s annoying.  Ian laughs at this, and Jared asks if she (meaning Wanderer) is like other souls, but because Wanderer thinks that’s a stupid question (why?? How is that a stupid question??), she doesn’t answer.

Wanderer decides she’s tired, so she closes her eyes and curls up in a ball instead of talking, and Jared is, for some reason, COMPLETELY FUCKING OKAY WITH THIS.  My god, this is so not realistic at all! Given the way Jared’s acted before, he would NEVER act this way if she actually responded to him the way she does here! Ugggh Meyer, fucking TRY to write a scene that is realistic, please, for once in your life!

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Jared gives up on questioning Wanderer, either because he’s too uncomfortable in the cave or because he realizes Wanderer is done speaking, and THOSE ARE BOTH COMPLETELY BULLSHIT REASONS.  He would never stop for those reasons, he would only stop when he had all his answers or she was physically incapable of answering anymore, and neither of those are even close to the case.  I know I just got angry about that, and I tried not to again, but then she just came out and gave those two stupid reasons and I couldn’t stop myself…

Anyway, Jared crawls out of the hole and he and Ian have a conversation about what Wanderer has said, with Jared claiming that she was telling lies, and Ian believing that she couldn’t be lying (except about that one thing, of course -_-).  Technically, Jared’s right, since she was lying all along, just not in the ways that he’s thinking of, but the fact that he does think she’s lying means he would never have let her get away with what he did.  He’s very angry and steadfast in his beliefs, yet none of that came out on her.  Makes perfect sense.  Except that it doesn’t.

Jared can’t figure out what the motivation for Wanderer lying is, so he assumes Wanderer must be a Seeker, which Ian thinks is bullshit since she’s the furthest thing from a Seeker they’ve seen, and since she was alone, not with an ‘army’.  Then there’s this exchange:

But she – it got in, didn’t it?”

“It’s almost been killed half a dozen -“

“Yet it’s still breathing, isn’t it?”

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I don’t know what the hell this is supposed to be saying.  I feel like maybe I’m just stupid, but it doesn’t make any sense to me.  Yes, she got in, because Jeb brought her in.  How does that prove she’s a Seeker?  And how does the fact that the Seekers wouldn’t have found anything prove she’s a Seeker?  That’s some backward ass bullshit.  And the fact that she’s still breathing is because you chose to keep her alive, Jared.  So how does that prove anything either??  I just don’t even know what this exchange is supposed to provide us with.  All I’m left with is a feeling of utter confusion.

Meyer inserts a random paragraph here about how uncomfortable Wanderer is and how much she wants to sleep again, and then Ian decides to go talk to Jeb, and then they discuss how weird it was that Wanderer jumped between Jared and Kyle during the fight a few chapters back.  Ian makes a lot of sense here, but Jared is just stubbornly trying to fight against all that sense, saying that Wanderer’s plan to stay alive and escape worked, because she obviously escaped, since she’s stuck in a cave right behind you right now, and offering herself up to be killed in defence of someone else is always the best course of action if she’s trying to stay alive.  Logical, Jared.  Very logical.

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I get why Jared is trying not to agree with Ian; he’s not sure he wants to believe that there could be any other explanation for why she’s done what she’s done, because then he would have to deal with figuring out what to do about her then, which wouldn’t be easy.  He probably reassures himself that as long as he can see her as just an alien, an enemy, he will be able to kill her, but if he has to question that, it will be hard.  Still, though, he has to see how stupid he sounds.

Ian continues to disagree with Jared, and then admits that he felt guilty seeing Wanderer afraid of them, and seeing the bruises he caused on her neck.  Jared tells him not to let her get to him like that because she’s not human, and Ian argues that that doesn’t mean she can’t feel pain.

It’s hard to believe that someone so capable of empathy would have so  brutally strangled her in their last interaction, but perhaps it was just the first thing Ian could think to do, since he was under pressure from his brother to kill her.  It’s not like he had many other options, without a weapon, and Kyle does seem, from all descriptions here, to be the kind of person who could influence someone into that type of behaviour (especially if that ‘someone’ was his brother), and Ian generally seems like a better person than him.  I hope to like Ian.

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Jared hisses (oh god, not that again -_-) at Ian to get a hold of himself, so Ian leaves, and Jared spends a while pacing and muttering to himself, probably trying to keep himself from breaking down or going crazy.  Poor guy; this can’t be easy on him at all.

Jared says something about how stupid it was to let Wanderer live, and that Ian is letting her get to him like Jeb and Jamie did, and in this I can kind of tell that he’s just trying to bolster his own thoughts against her, because he knows deep down that there’s a good reason they’re all warming to her at least a bit.  And that makes me sad for him.

Wanderer decides not to panic about him once again bringing up the topic of killing her, so she goes to sleep in what sounds like an incredibly uncomfortable position.  Another of those lovely section breaks pops up here, and then Wanderer wakes up and starts worrying about whether or not Jared will isolate her even more than before, and gets upset with Ian for telling Jared he felt guilty.  She asks why he “went around strangling people” if he knew he was capable of guilt, and I think I’ve already sufficiently addressed why he might have done that, so I’ll leave it at that.

I will say that I don’t think it’s fair of Wanderer (or Stryder, since she apparently agrees) to view Ian in this way, when he’s been another one who has actually defended her.  She has no way of knowing whether Ian has ever strangled anyone before her (which I’m going to guess he hasn’t), so she can’t assume he’s made a habit of it, and she knows damn well that all normal humans are capable of guilt, so that’s a ridiculous thing to think.  She’s got to stop viewing only the people on her side negatively.  It’s really getting very tiresome.

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Jeb shows up, so Jared cocks the gun at him, but Jeb calls his bluff, so Jared puts the gun down.  He asks Jeb to leave, but Jeb says he needs to talk to him, then addresses Wanderer, seemingly just to piss Jared off.  Well, maybe not only to piss him off, but he certainly makes it clear that he doesn’t care that it does piss him off.  I like this guy more and more as time goes on.

Jeb and Jared talk for a bit about how the group is running low on supplies and they need a comprehensive supply run done, with each of them suggesting a few people completely pointlessly, since we know that in the end, Jared will be the choice.  I think that the only reason Meyer bothered to include all this stuff was just to give us a bit more insight into the character traits of these individuals, because she still hasn’t learned “show, not tell”.  Whatever the reason, though, it feels drawn out and pointless while you’re reading it.

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Blah blah blah, a page of this discussion, and then lo and behold, Jared realizes he’s the only one who can be trusted to go and do it right.  This irks me, but meh, I’ll let it slide; it’s not that important.  Stryder weighs in for the first time in a while about how much of a godsend Jared was when she met him, and I hate the “Jared is magic” bit, but then Jeb and Jared discuss who will watch over Wanderer.

Jeb says he will watch Wanderer when he can, and that Jared should take Kyle with him so that he won’t try to get at Wanderer. Jared doesn’t think that will be enough, but in the end, all is agreed, and Jared says he’ll leave “tonight”.  Wanderer hears the relief in his voice at coming to this decision, and realizes that what’s making him seem now more like he did before is that he’s given up on keeping her alive, and just letting whatever happens happen.

This is all just emo bullshit.  Jeb is going to look out for her, so there’s no reason she should think “mob justice” is going to take over, and the fact that Jared cared enough about her to be worried that Jeb looking out for her when he could wouldn’t be enough proves that he would mourn if he came back and she was dead.  Given what he’s done to protect her thus far, he sure as hell would hold someone responsible if she died.

Just because he’s relieved to not have to deal with all of it for a while doesn’t mean he suddenly doesn’t care at all, just that it’s too hard and too much, and he needs to focus on something else for a bit.  Besides, he’s been made out to be the type to do what he has to do, and what he has to do is make sure they have supplies to stay alive, so he’ll do it.  Wanderer is being way too emotional over this.

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…Especially since now we go into a whole paragraph about broken hearts, and how Stryder remembered the term, but Wanderer had never thought it actually related to a physical feeling…and that, let me say, is fucking bullshit.  Stryder would not just remember the term, she’d remember the feeling, because even if she’d never experienced it in her life before (which is incredibly unlikely, given that she lost the rest of her family to the invasion, even seeing at least her dad return as an alien, which would be pretty fucking heartbreaking), she certainly would have experienced it when:

A)  She woke up with an alien implanted and realized that she’d never get to be with Jared again because of that

B) She relived memories of him, knowing she’d never experience life with him that way again

C)  She was resigned to her own removal and thus loss of Jared during the drive

D)  She was dying in the desert and therefore definitely would never see Jared again

And E)  She was told by Jeb that Jared was not with him when she woke up in the desert.

So, y’know, MULTIPLE FUCKING TIMES WHILE WANDERER WAS PRESENT AND THEREFORE ALSO WOULD HAVE EXPERIENCED IT.  Think, Meyer, THINK! You’ve put your characters through heartbreak repeatedly; don’t try to claim they’re only just feeling it NOW, at an occasion that is much less deserving of heartbreak than previous ones were! Aaaaagghhhhh!!!!

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And now we get to hear about how Stryder’s heart is breaking too, but it’s separate, so they’re feeling double heartbreak, because this whole section wasn’t fucking emo or ridiculous enough! I want to stab this book! I hate that entire goddamn paragraph!

Stryder starts crying about how they’ll never see Jared again, and Wanderer thinks it’s weird that Stryder doesn’t think about the fact they’re doing to die, but for one, they don’t even know that will happen since there’s only a possibility that Jeb looking out for them won’t be enough, since it was before and Kyle will be gone to boot….and she should be used to Stryder not caring about death for any reason other than it meaning she won’t get to see Jared again.  OR JAMIE, FOR FUCK’S SAKE; SOMEONE REMEMBER THE CHILD PLEASE!

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Meyer jumps back to Jared and Jeb’s conversation, where Jared is saying he should get some things organized.  Jeb says he’ll take over with Wanderer and wishes him well, and they say their version of goodbye, which is kind of depressing. Jared then gives Jeb his gun back and leaves.

I have to say, I think it’s quite unrealistic that Jared wouldn’t even look back at Wanderer before leaving.  Maybe he only didn’t to save face in front of Jeb, because he doesn’t want anyone to think he has any warm feelings toward her at all (I keep assuming he does, but it’s only because I can’t see why else he’d have kept her alive at all, so I have to think that most of what he does now is just for show), but still, if he thinks there’s any chance she won’t survive until he’s back, you’d think he’d at least glance.  Oh well.

Wanderer listens to him go, and then bursts into tears, and the chapter is over.

Not much else to say about that, really; Jeb probably just made things a lot better for Wanderer, whether she sees it that way or not.  Until next time…

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

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