I really, really, desperately do not want to have to write the recap for this chapter. I hate this chapter so, so much, and I don’t want to ever have to think about it again, but I committed to doing these, so I guess I have to. That being said, I’m probably going to avoid getting into a lot of the stuff that I especially hate to any great degree, because I just do not think I can handle it. This book may kill me, I’ve realized.
I’m sure you’ll be surprised to know that once again, this chapter starts where the last left off, which leaves me wondering why Meyer was never taught how to end a chapter. She keeps breaking the chapters up in the middle of a scene, without even leaving a cliffhanger at the end of the last one, and then just including section breaks throughout the chapters when things actually change. Why not just finish the scene, and end it when it naturally ends? Yeah, okay, nitpick.
Anyway, Wanderer is still walking with the group on her tour of the cave place, and luckily for us, she’s no longer able to concentrate on the tour, so we don’t have to hear more lengthy descriptions of every wall she encounters that looks strikingly similar to all the other walls. We do get a brief summary of the places they go, though, including an indoor corn field, supposedly, which is entirely realistic, and a rec room.
The rec room perplexes Wanderer because Jeb says they “play” there, and she can’t imagine what a group of angry survivors would consider “play” to be. Really? You have access to all of Stryder’s memories, and not a single one of them since the invasion involves her playing in any capacity? How is that possible, especially when she has a younger brother? I’m sure Stryder, Jared and Jamie found things to play to kill time on the long days when they weren’t foraging; surely Wanderer could have looked to those memories to figure out that even if they’re survivors, and even if they’re angry, humans are still capable of play that isn’t related to guns or torture. And even seek it out.
Wanderer is, as usual, paranoid, so she’s splitting her attention between trying to keep an eye on Ian and the doctor and looking out for Jamie. Ian and the doctor aren’t doing anything bad, though, they’re just talking to each other, so there’s no action here…and Jamie isn’t talking at all, so there’s no action there either. This chapter is riveting.
Wanderer describes the length of the tunnels and how dark they are, and blah blah blah, more useless filler…and then there’s more paranoia on Wanderer’s part, as though we didn’t just do that, before Stryder calls Wanderer on being paranoid. This is the exchange that follows:
“I wish you would pay more attention to Uncle Jeb. This is fascinating.
Do what you want with your time.
I can only hear and see what you hear and see, Wanderer…”
Firstly, Wanderer, you’re a bitch. Secondly, if you can see and hear what Wanderer sees and hears, Stryder, and you can also block her thoughts out in favour of your own, since you’ve done that before, why don’t you just…do that? It doesn’t matter if Wanderer is thinking paranoid thoughts instead of focusing on what Jeb is saying; the fact is that she is still seeing what Jeb is showing her and hearing what he’s saying, regardless. Thinking doesn’t keep us from hearing or seeing things. It can distract us, but our eyes and ears can still process the information, which she is obviously doing since she is able to briefly describe what she is seeing.
Oh, and I’d also like to point out that Wanderer thinks that being paranoid is what it takes to keep herself and Stryder alive, when in reality, being paranoid would actually put them more at risk. Paranoid does not equal prepared. Thinking everything you see or hear is a threat may put you on your guard, but it doesn’t mean you’ll deal with the situation better. Remaining calm, focused and aware would be the best method for staying alive.
Stryder changes the topic to Jamie, and they both comment on how they think he’s feeling, and then that’s the end of that. The tour continues with Jeb explaining the room they’re entering, which is the hospital wing, and Wanderer completely panics because she immediately thinks they must be there because Doc is going to perform his…thing he does to aliens…on her. She thinks she fell for their trick of leading her there under her own power, and Stryder thinks the same, contrary to everything she’s said thus far in defense of the humans. Usually she would say that that can’t be what’s happening, even if she’s just being naïve, but no, not this time, for some unexplained reason. Because character consistency is a thing.
Jamie realizes that Wanderer’s freaked out and puts a hand on her arm, then tells her it’s okay, which Jeb confirms. Ian is confused about why she needs reassurance, which paints him to be a pretty overwhelmingly stupid individual, but he figures it out when Jamie continues to reassure her, saying that they wouldn’t bring her there on purpose to give her to Doc. He tells her not to be scared, and Jeb continues explaining about the room and the purpose it serves.
During his explanation, Jeb reveals that the aliens threw out all human medicines when they took over, which seems wasteful to me, and that’s contrary to how they are supposed to be. Even if it were true, though, what does he mean by “throw out”? I doubt they’d go to huge lengths to destroy them, since they’re no threat to the aliens, so is it possible that they’re just all in garbage dumps throughout the world, and the humans could hit the mother lode if they just foraged there?
The doctor asks Wanderer what she knows about alien medicine, and Wanderer doesn’t reply, but then Jeb reassures her that it’s okay to talk to Doc. She shakes her head to indicate that she doesn’t know anything about it, but they misunderstand and think she just won’t tell them, until Jamie asks if it’s a secret, and she finally answers with words. She tells them that she’s not a Healer, so she doesn’t know how the medications work, just that they do, and that they heal entirely instead of just treating symptoms, so the human medicines weren’t necessary. Man, I wish we had some of those alien medicines right now; they must be pretty damn awesome if they completely heal every human ailment despite that the aliens would have known little of human anatomy before coming to Earth, and certainly not the extents of our diseases, etc., and their medications would have had to work on all the previous bodies they had taken, despite how completely different they were in every way in some cases. So these medicines must cure every problem ever in the universe! Yes, please!
“All four of them stared with blank expressions. First they were surprised when I didn’t answer, and now they were surprised when I did. Humans were impossible to please.”
Do you really have to be a bitch all the time, Wanderer? You just told them that your kind have medications that do far more than any human medication does; can you not see why that might be shocking to them? They didn’t yell at you for it or even say anything at all; you can’t claim they’re impossible to please. I’m damn sure they were ‘pleased’ with that information, both because you gave it to them, and because it would be all kinds of amazing in their eyes.
Jeb mentions that the aliens didn’t change much in the world from how the humans had it, aside from their medications and the fact that they use spaceships instead of planes, so now I guess we know why they were referred to as ‘shuttles’ instead of planes way back when Wanderer was supposed to be going to Tucson. It’s sad that with all their advancement, they haven’t figured out how to create spaceships that aren’t turbulent. Might as well have just used the planes…but maybe the ships are faster. Who knows? And who, when it comes right down to it, actually cares at all? Yeah, that’s right, no one.
Wanderer responds to Jeb by saying that the aliens came to Earth to “experience, not to change“, but that health takes over that philosophy, so that’s why they used their medications instead of the human ones. That doesn’t explain why they use spaceships instead of planes, but I can’t expect Meyer to think through everything she’s said throughout the course of one page.
So…if the aliens came to experience, not to change, why did they have to infiltrate all humans? Couldn’t they have just quietly infiltrated a section of the population, since they are apparently so good at imitating humans that the humans wouldn’t have even noticed if it was only a few that changed? No, because they felt that humans didn’t deserve Earth, because they’re angry and violent, so they had to replace them so that the species that was living on Earth would appreciate what they had. Um, hate to break it to you, aliens, but that’s changing shit, not just experiencing it. You knew before you ever arrived that you intended to change the human way of life because you didn’t agree with it, and the humans only noticed you were there because you were turning drug dealers into saints and whatnot, which is obviously change in and of itself, so stop with the bullshit, please.
Wanderer immediately regrets telling them what she has because she thinks it will anger them or “snap their fragile patience“, though I have no idea why that would be the case. Besides, she’s by far the most impatient of all of them, considering how self-indulgent she was in the desert and how many times she shut Stryder down because she couldn’t be bothered to address her thoughts or feelings, so she has no right to describe humans as though they have less patience than aliens.
Jeb says nothing else on the subject and instead continues his tour, though less enthusiastically, at least from Wanderer’s perspective. At the end, they make the walk back in silence, so Wanderer has time to wonder if she offended Jeb, and think about how strange he is and how much she can’t make sense of him, but she can make sense of the people who were hostile and suspicious toward her.
You already know why this bothers me with regard to Jeb’s treatment of her, but on top of that, why the hell is she calling Jeb “strange”? I have seen no evidence of that yet, so I’m assuming it’s just the same as before; that something must be wrong with him if he’s being nice to her. You know, despite that Jamie also is, and Ian and Doc haven’t done a damn thing to her throughout this tour.
When they get back to the carrot garden place, Jeb tells Ian and the doctor to go do something useful, so they both leave. Jeb tells Jamie to come with him and Wanderer because he’s got a job for him, and they all go to the sleeping quarters that Wanderer is supposed to be staying in. Wanderer goes into her room, then Jeb asks Jamie to guard Wanderer because he has things he has to do. Jamie agrees, so Jeb gives him the gun, which upsets Wanderer because she thinks he’ll hurt himself.
She yells at Jeb and tries to take the gun from Jamie, but realizes she can’t…not because she doesn’t want to scare them into hurting her, but because she can’t bring herself to touch the weapon. So there’s that again.
Wanderer and Jeb argue for a bit over his decision to give Jamie the gun, Jeb attempting to reassure her that Jamie is well qualified to carry it, and that there will be no trouble anyway. Wanderer doesn’t back down, though, and the argument continues until Jeb basically tells her that it’s his house, his rules, and leaves. There’s a dramatic moment during that conversation that I’m sure Meyer meant to feel important, but it really didn’t, so I’m not going to bother talking about it.
Jamie is offended that Wanderer referred to him as a child during her argument with Jeb, so he tells her he’s not a child and that she should go to her room, which…I’m sorry, Jamie, but it does sound childish. Regardless, Wanderer goes and sits down inside the room to start worrying again, as she always does. She also listens for the sound of anyone approaching so that if someone attempts to hurt Jamie, she can stop them or die trying, but no one comes.
The next few paragraphs are just descriptions of Jamie’s awkward attempt at guard duty and how bored he seems, but how bored Wanderer is not while she watches him, though I was certainly bored reading all this. An hour or two passes, and then eventually Jamie begins to speak to Wanderer.
Jamie asks Wanderer what the planet she came from before Earth was like, and while I can totally understand why he would ask her something like that in this situation, I cannot help but like him significantly less now for putting me through more stupid descriptions of Wanderer’s past lives. That’s all the next two and a half pages is. She tells him about the See Weeds, the Bats on the Singing World, the Mists Planet, the Planet of the Flowers, the Spiders, and how the little green men at Roswell were not her kind, they were just someone else in the universe, because there are lots of aliens out there.
I know I should get into detail about all she said there, but I just can’t. I really can’t. It is all so incredibly stupid, there’s so much wrong with it both scientifically and just in general, it’s so poorly written, it’s so completely unnecessary to this story, it’s so dull, yet so infuriating…I just can’t say any more than that. Please, spare yourself reading this section; it is absolutely worthless and horrible.
After all of that, she goes into an explanation of how they used their Spider selves to get things started on Earth, and that is so fucking ludicrous I just can’t…Meyer, what the hell is wrong with you? Why couldn’t you write something GOOD to explain this; something engaging and realistic? I think I’m legitimately depressed that that was the explanation. There is SO MUCH wrong with it, not the least of which being that there’s no way in hell they used giant fucking spider creatures to take over the humans in the first wave without causing enough trauma that they’d have trouble with the insertions the way they did with Stryder.
…I really have to move on; I shouldn’t even have said that much. All you need to know is that she goes too far in her explanation and upsets Jamie by hitting too close to home about what happened to Stryder.
Stryder chastises Wanderer for making Jamie cry with her story, and in true bitch form, Wanderer attempts to blame Stryder for it, telling her she should have warned her sooner to stop with the story. God forbid you take any responsibility, EVER, you childish, horrible bitch. Then, because Stryder doesn’t respond to that comment, Wanderer takes that to mean that she was right because Stryder was as caught up in her story as she, herself, was, because she’s so fucking interesting. Ohhh, holy fuck, the ego. I am so fucking sick of this character, in every way possible.
Wanderer apologizes to Jamie, even though we know it’s not a sincere apology since she thinks Jamie crying is Stryder’s fault, but Jamie is good natured and tells her it’s okay, even taking responsibility for the fact that he wanted to know what happened. Wow, her little brother is more mature than you, Wanderer. That is truly fucking sad.
Wanderer gets up the nerve to touch Jamie, so she reaches out and wipes away his tears, then cradles his face with her hand. Jamie at first ignores her, then moves toward her and starts crying into her shoulder, which sounds like it would be all kinds of confusing. Wanderer wraps her arms around him and apologizes a bunch of times, finally for some things she actually SHOULD apologize for, and keeps holding on to him even when he’s stopped crying.
There’s a sappy paragraph here about motherhood and blah blah blah, but it’s largely unimportant and kind of infuriating, so we’ll move on to Jeb showing up and telling Jamie that he thought he’d taught him better than that. Wanderer and Jamie quickly part, but it turns out Jeb was referring to Jamie being careless with the gun, since he left it on the floor, not his touching Wanderer.
Jamie apologizes and goes to leave, but then stops to ask Wanderer her name, which she tells him. He verifies that he heard her right, then takes off, leaving her with Jeb. Jeb starts talking to Wanderer about her name, expressing interest in how she got the name, but before she can tell him anything, he asks if he can call her Wanda instead, because it’s easier.
I hate this. I’m sorry, no offence to anyone named Wanda, but I truly hate this. Wanda is not a stupid name, but for some reason, the shortening of Wanderer to Wanda feels stupid and immature to me, and I do not want to have to call her that for the rest of the book, though of course I will have to. Jeb, this is the first thing I haven’t liked about you. How could you do this to me??
Wanderer doesn’t care what Jeb calls her, so the name is accepted, much to my chagrin. Jeb keeps being nice to her, and when he smiles at her, she finally smiles back, but she’s still got to be a bitch about it, so she goes on about how he’s supposed to be her enemy, and he’s probably insane, and that he’d still kill her but he wouldn’t like doing it. God, she’s so appreciative. She says “With humans, what more could you ask“, but that’s not appreciative, it’s just bitchy yet again. Take another shot at humans, why don’t you, while they’re sitting here being nice to you.
…Oh, that “what more could you ask” line is the last line of the chapter. Well then…that feels like it came completely out of nowhere. I wasn’t expecting it to end there…you know, in the middle of their conversation. Who wants to bet the next chapter starts exactly where this left off, in the middle of the conversation again, making this a weird and jarring chapter end?
Man, I hate this book.
(See Mike’s take on this chapter at http://emptystress.wordpress.com!)