This chapter should be impactful. It should be emotional, it should be powerful, and it should definitely be a big deal. But because this is Meyer, all I can remember about this chapter is gardening. Fucking gardening. Way to go, Meyer.
We start with Wanda discovering that the shadowy figure in her room is Jamie, who apologizes to her for scaring her, and explains that he didn’t announce his presence because he didn’t want to wake Doc up. He tells her that Jeb is snoring too loudly for him to sleep, so he had to leave and come share the room with her. Man, that was definitely worth the cliffhanger. Some really tense shit here.
Wanda is confused as to why he wouldn’t be used to Jeb’s snoring, so Jamie reveals that he doesn’t normally sleep with Jeb, he sleeps with Jared, annnd…the room she is sleeping in is Jared’s room. OMGWTFBBQ! Wanda is freaked out by this, because she thinks Jared will kill her and Jeb both when he finds out she’s been staying there, but Jamie says it’s his room too, and he offered it to her. They decide not to tell Jared anyway, though, because he ‘doesn’t have to know’, but really it’s because everyone’s afraid of Jared. Good times.
Jamie asks permission to stay in his own room, and Wanda says it’s okay with her, but explains that she doesn’t think he should because people might come looking for her, and if they do, they might hurt him too. Instead of being scared away, Jamie decides that that’s all the more reason he should stay, to protect her, and despite her arguments, he holds strongly to that position.
Wanda gives up and tells him he must at least take his own bed, but of course he’s a gentleman, so he lays down on his mat on the floor instead. This doesn’t bother Wanda, since she knows he sleeps like a log, so she’ll be able to move him later. I’ll get into why that seems problematic to me when we get to there.
Jamie offers Wanda his pillow and then takes Jared’s, and they both lay down, and Jamie starts talking about how nice Doc’s snore is before getting into the actual conversation he wants to have. He asks Wanda if she will tell him the truth if he asks her something, and then proceeds to tell her that Jeb thinks that Stryder is still alive inside her body, with Wanda.
This sparks Stryder’s attention, so she is present enough when Jamie tearfully asks Wanda if it’s true that Stryder is alive in there to tell Wanda to tell Jamie that she loves him, and this is perhaps the best writing we’ve seen in this book since chapter 8 (though only briefly, unfortunately, as you’ll see in the next sentence). Wanda eventually gives him a hug and lets him cry onto her shoulder as she tries to convince herself that Jamie is just being used as a tool by Jeb to get her to confirm his theory, so he can…do what? Even she doesn’t think Jeb means to do her harm, though of course she needs to go on again about how horrible humans are to convince herself that maybe Jeb has nefarious reasons for wanting to know if Stryder is still alive, while once again pretending her species is above all that, when clearly they aren’t because Seekers.
Stryder tries to fight Wanda’s control so she can give Jamie her message, but Wanda gives in on her own and reminds Jamie that Stryder had promised him she’d be back, and that she wouldn’t break a promise to him. Jamie clings to Wanda and then whispers to Stryder that he loves her, so Wanda tells him that Stryder loves him as well, and that she’s happy he’s safe, and awwwwwww loveness.
They are silent for a while, then Jamie asks Wanda if everyone stays present once an alien is implanted in them, and she tells him that they don’t; that Stryder is special, which Jamie agrees with. He asks if she thinks his dad is still present, and she says no because his body brought the Seekers back to his kids, which Stryder did not let happen, and wouldn’t have happened if he’d been fighting for control like Stryder was.
Wanda realizes that Doc is actually awake and probably listening to them, as does Jamie, so they both start talking more quietly so that he won’t hear them…though that seems pointless now, because if he heard the rest of it, he’s heard more than enough.
Jamie asks why Wanda would go along with Stryder and not hurt them, so she has to confess that she loves them too. They discuss the fact that Jared hates her, but Jeb and Jamie don’t, and Jamie explains that he doesn’t blame her for what happened because she wasn’t there when the aliens took over Earth, and she didn’t decide to take Stryder’s body.
For once in her life, Wanda takes responsibility for something, saying that while she didn’t decide to take Stryder’s body, she has taken many other hosts besides Stryder, because it’s how she lives. Jamie asks if Stryder hates her, presumably for that, and Stryder reveals that she doesn’t hate Wanda at all anymore (which makes more sense now than it did before), which Wanda passes along to Jamie.
Jamie asks how Stryder is, and then they discuss how Wanda believes the others are going to kill her because they’ll think she’s lying about Stryder being alive to trick them, and warns him that they’ll want to kill her more if he tells them. Jamie reveals that he knows she’s not lying, and decides that he won’t let them kill her, telling her that Jared will think of something because even if he doesn’t believe Stryder is still alive, he’ll still protect her, just in case. Wanda isn’t so sure about that, but doesn’t say anything more than “We’ll see“, because she’s too busy trying to think of a way to dissuade Jamie from protecting her.
After a while, Jamie falls asleep, and Wanda moves him from the floor to the bed. This is where I find a problem: She mentions that Jamie is heavier than before, but she’s talked repeatedly about how physically different he looks now, and how much taller he is, and I have to think that with the weakness and dehydration she’s suffered and the fact that her body wasn’t in the best physical shape before she suffered all that, since she struggled with a flat of water, she should be too weak to lift him without it being so awkward that he would have to wake up, even if he was a deep sleeper. Meh, oh well.
Wanda lays down on the mat on the floor and goes to sleep, and then wakes up to Jeb waiting for her. Jamie is still asleep when she wakes, but he wakes up when she starts talking to Jeb, and then explains to Jeb why he slept in Wanda’s room instead of Jeb’s. They joke a bit about Wanda moving Jamie to the bed, then Jeb sends Jamie off to ‘class’ with Sharon.
When Jamie is gone, Jeb tells Wanda that everyone is too busy to be wasting time guarding her all day, so she’s going to have to come with him to do his chores, and this is where the chapter gets into territory I don’t understand why we ever needed to enter. Wanda leaves with Jeb, and off they go, to do work in the northeast field.
…Seriously, Meyer?? Why the hell do we care about them doing work in the field? How is this going to help the story at all?? The entire rest of the chapter is Jeb, Wanda and Ian working together in the field, tilling the soil. That’s all it is. Nothing else. Lengthy descriptions of them getting to the field and the people they see on the way, a brief conversation with Ian so he can join in with them, incredibly pointless split second conversations with someone named Wes and the doctor, more about how people look at Wanda when they get to the field, and then a whole bunch of description of how they till the field.
I do not understand at all why this is in the book. It is useless. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAPPENS! No one tries to attack Wanda, no one even says anything, they just work, and then they agree to work again tomorrow, even though Wanda doesn’t want to, and then the chapter fucking ends! And there were like 3 or 4 pages describing all this! WHY?!? No wonder we’re so far from the end of this book! WHY IS NOTHING HAPPENING???
Was the whole point of this entire section just to describe Ian taking his shirt off, and sweat running down his body? Because if so, it was NOT FUCKING WORTH IT!! Wanda doesn’t even care about it when it happens! Or was it to show Wanda that Ian isn’t against her anymore, which we ALREADY FUCKING KNEW??
Wanda does think that the water tasting funny is NOW suspicious, even though she’s already admitted that it tasted funny before and nothing bad happened, and if they were going to poison her, they’d likely have done it the first time…and that’s all of any note here! As you can see, that’s not even halfway interesting or important, since we know that the water is NOT poisoned, so, once again, it’s fucking pointless. My god. This many pages, all for nothing.
At the end of the chapter, Wanda decides that Jeb likes that she’s uncomfortable with working with them, which is a great assumption given how nice he’s been to her, and that he’s trying to get her involved. She uses this assumption as an excuse to refer to Jeb as her “crazy friend“, and you know how I feel about that, and says that she realizes that him finding her discomfort amusing is the best that can be expected of human friendship. Because she hasn’t seen Stryder’s memories and therefore knows otherwise, even if you forget all her talk about ‘bonds thicker than blood’, which proves she knows better.
Uggggh, I am so done with this. Every time it seems like the story makes progress, it takes many steps back, and we end up stuck in a random rant of Meyer’s about something no one gives a shit about. I’m so looking forward to more of that. I’m pretty damn sure that nothing is going to happen in the next six chapters that’s even halfway interesting, so we’re going to effectively make it through half the book without any compelling storyline to keep us reading.
How, how, HOW did this book do well? Why are the reviews so good? What is wrong with the world??
(See Mike’s take on this chapter at http://emptystress.wordpress.com!)