It was true that I did not smell good.”

That’s how this chapter begins.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is the very first line!  What a winner.  I’m pretty sure the last time Wanda’s scent was mentioned was when Jeb did so, three pages and what would have been an entire day’s worth of work for her ago, and she’s just thinking about it now.  Slooooow reaction time there, Wanda.  Also, this chapter is clearly going to be just as overwhelmingly interesting as the last few, with a starting line like that.

Oh, if only...

Oh, if only…

Wanda tries to recount how long she’s been in the cave without a bath, but she’s not quite clear on whether it’s been more than one week or more than two. Really, though, the bigger question to me here is why she was given her freedom (to a certain degree) by Jeb about three chapters ago or something like that, but still was not allowed a bath until now.  Why did they spend all frigging day talking instead of allowing her a bath, if Jeb cares about her comfort like he claims to?  Why didn’t he let her have a bath on one of her trips to the bathroom?  And how was Jamie able to touch her and sleep near her without throwing up, if it had been that long since she was clean, and she was as disgusting as she’s about to outline in this chapter?

Riveting stuff, by the way; all this excessive description of how dirty she and her clothes are.  Thanks for that, Meyer; I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t known how crunchy and gritty her hair was, and how many shades of disgusting her clothes were.  Knowing she’s dirty from the cave and desert and hasn’t bathed in a long time just wasn’t enough for me; I needed that vivid picture.

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I’m starting to wonder if Meyer had some sort of word count she had to meet for this book, and that’s why she padded everything out the way she did.

As if that description wasn’t enough, Meyer pads out the word count even more by going on for the next paragraph about the different clothes Wanda was and was not offered to replace her own, as well as detailed descriptions of the clothes she does take with her disgusting cactus soap to the bathing room.  She mentions that she doesn’t take any of Jamie’s clothes because she doesn’t want to stretch them, but she mentioned before how much Jamie has grown, and she’s been described as pretty tiny (and has since been completely starved, dehydrated and malnourished, so I would think she’d be even tinier), so I’d be surprised if stretching them was really a worry unless she had gigantic boobs, buttttt meh.

…Oh god, Meyer has actually managed to get me so used to her inane descriptions that I’ve started to notice and care about shit like that enough to say something.  Please shoot me.  Please?

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Half a page is wasted with Wanda and Jeb waiting for Wanda’s turn in the bath, and I say ‘wasted’ because all this section is is more people giving Wanda dirty looks, and some description of how disappointed she is that other people even exist at all.  Then she finally gets to take a bath!  SO EXCITING!  Except not at all.

It takes an entire page for Meyer to finish describing Wanda’s bath adventure, despite that all she does is figure out how to get around in the dark, describe stuff, complain about stuff, wash her clothes, complain about how much the soap burns, complain about her bruises for the 9000th time, complain about all of the previously mentioned stuff in one paragraph again, and then go back out to Jeb.  That entire page was useless, at least in my opinion, because I can’t see why any of that will be relevant later down the road.  Unless Meyer means to write a chapter or two in which Jeb and Wanda try to come up with a new recipe for soap that doesn’t burn as much, in which case I am seriously going to stab everyone.

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The only question I have about this entire section is why the hell haven’t they found a way to light the bathing room yet?  They could at least have candles lit in there, or take in a lantern, or take in a lantern and light the candles to save on lantern fuel or whatever they use and candle wax, or something like that.  They bring light when they go to the bathroom, and they apparently found a way to light the rec room, which would be used far less frequently, so why not the bathing room?  It’s slightly more important, and since the whole area is made entirely of rock, it’s a bit hazardous to have wet people moving around in there with absolutely no light.  They came up with ingenious solutions for everything else, but couldn’t be bothered to light the bathing room.  Smart, guys.

Oh wait, I have another question.  Do they not have towels, or something they can use as towels?  Cause she just pulled dry clothes onto a soaking wet body.  She didn’t put on her original clothes because they’d be wet after she cleaned them, but the new clothes will be soaked by her wet skin anyway, so what’s the point?

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Anyway, her bath done, Wanda once again doesn’t respond to Jeb because other people are around, because being rude is better than taking a risk that isn’t even a risk since Jeb is right there…and then Ian comments on how she looks better.  Wanda’s first thought after he says that is that she can’t tell if he’s surprised or annoyed that she looks better, and I can’t possibly see why he would be either of those things, or why she would ever think he might be.  Everyone looks better after they get clean, especially if they’ve been dirty to any significant degree, so he wouldn’t be surprised, and why the hell would he be annoyed?  He’s been nice to her; it’s not like he’d be annoyed that a nice thing happened to her with Jeb’s help.  Agh, so, so sick of her attitude.

Ian reaches toward Wanda’s bruises and apologizes to her, and she can’t figure out if he’s apologizing for scaring her by reaching out or for causing them in the first place, and I personally think that it DOESN’T FUCKING MATTER BECAUSE AT LEAST HE’S APOLOGIZING, SO STOP SAYING HE SURELY STILL WANTS YOU DEAD, YOU UNGRATEFUL LITTLE BITCH.

shut-up

Sorry about that.  Moving on.

Wanda and Jeb start to leave the bathroom area, discussing how bad a day it wasn’t (because she didn’t get murdered; of course she needed to add that in) as they go, and how much Jeb loves planting.  Soooo interesting, and not depressing at all, with the whole Jeb alluding to his own death thing.

He leads Wanda to the kitchen because he says he’s not going to provide room service for her anymore, so we are treated to more of her complaining about how scared she is to have to be around other people and how much that ruins everything, including the taste of food.  Then, thankfully, Meyer speeds up the pace a bit, even if she does piss me off by describing Jeb as a “curmudgeonly taskmaster” as she does so, which Jeb does not deserve at all because that is an incredibly fucking inaccurate description of him.

Now, by ‘speeds up the pace’ I certainly do not mean that she actually skipped over things she should have, just that she didn’t go into as painful an amount of detail as she usually does.  She still goes on about what Wanda does for work the next day and who is there, how she has to eat in the kitchen again, which is the WORST THING EVER, even though Jamie is there too, breaking the silence by telling stories…and how they (Jamie and Wanda) stay up all night talking about her stupid shit, and sleep together in the same bed now.

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Jeb no longer has anyone guard Wanda at night, since she’s sleeping with Jamie, so he just gives Jamie the gun, and blah blah blah, Wanda doesn’t like it; we know all this stuff.  There’s a lot of skimming going on in this recap, because we already know all this shit.

Jeb teaches Wanda how to work in the kitchen, then one day he leaves to go get flour, doesn’t let Wanda come with him, and doesn’t come back for a while, so she is left alone there with the other people in the kitchen. Amazingly, despite all her paranoia and freaking out about him leaving her, NO ONE GIVES A FUCK.  Nothing happens. At all.  Not even the slightest bit of action.  No one says anything, no one does anything except for continuing on with the jobs they were already doing; nothing.  So we’ve had chapters and chapters of lead up, and absolutely nothing comes of it.   Yay.

When Jeb comes back, he and a woman named Trudy tease each other back and forth about his absence, but not one iota of their conversation has anything to do with Wanda, so she calms down, and that’s the end of that.

Moving on, Wanda cleans mirrors with Ian and Jeb, because this book was really not exciting enough already, and then Wanda realizes that Jeb hasn’t been carrying his gun around anymore.  She is startled, which Jeb notices, but when he asks her what’s wrong, she doesn’t answer because Ian is there and it takes her forever to say things around people that are nothing but nice to her for extended periods of time.  She does, of course, make bitchy remarks about both Ian and Jeb in her head at this point, but nothing out loud.  Classy girl, that one; especially with that bit about Jeb “lying like only a human could“.  Y’know, because he’s the one that has lied the most throughout this book, not her.

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Wanda starts to wonder if Jeb is leaving the gun behind and did leave her alone in the kitchen and blah blah blah in an effort to get her killed, because she is STILL a stupid, ungrateful bitch, and I cannot possibly express how overwhelmingly SICK I am of her continuing to expect that Jeb is trying to kill her after everything he’s done for her.  We are 24 chapters in, and we’ve spent MOST of those chapters in this damn cave with Jeb at this point, and he has never ONCE tried to kill her, or even alluded to doing so unless told outright by Jared, and yet she STILL doesn’t trust him.  This is NOT believable behaviour, and it is INFURIATING.

Meyer informs us that it’s Wanda’s fourth day of eating in the kitchen at this point, so I assume she wants us to buy her a fucking trophy, but this time, no one stops talking or eating when Wanda comes in, because they finally care as little about her as we, the readers, do.  Ian talks to a girl named Paige, and this section is pointless because it’s only supposed to remind Wanda of Jared, who we are not stupid enough to think she forgot about, and how fucking great he is in the eyes of everyone, just like Wanda supposedly was in the eyes of her alien friends.  Well, I guess ‘friends’ is a bit of a stretch, but you know what I mean.

Wanda is, for some reason, confused about why Jeb looks satisfied that everyone is acting normally, then Ian and Jeb converse about how things are settling down, Wanda gets annoyed that Jeb claims the people there are “reasonable folks”, even though they are not doing and have not done ANYTHING to her, so that’s just more bitchiness on her part, annnnd then even more bitchiness as Wanda insinuates that Ian shouldn’t count himself as one of the reasonable folks, and assumes he just hasn’t noticed that Jeb doesn’t have his gun.  Oh, lay the fuck off, Wanda.

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When they’re done eating, Jeb walks Wanda back to her room, and she confronts him on why he’s “trying to get her killed” by not bringing the gun anymore.  Oh, come the fuck on, Meyer.  We KNOW Jeb isn’t trying to kill her, you are just dragging this out to INSANE degrees, and I’m not sure if it’s because you secretly hate Jeb and really like calling him a liar and saying he’s trying to get her killed, or if you just really don’t fucking know how to write at all.

I’m just going to skip over their whole conversation, because though there are things I could say about it, I’m not going to waste my time, and I think the reasons why should be obvious by now.  Jeb has to flat out explain to her that he’s been trying to get the others used to her, despite that that was the most obvious thing that has happened in this book yet, but it still takes her some time to understand what he’s talking about and see that it’s true.  She has to be the single dumbest individual that has ever existed.

Even when she realizes the truth of it, though, she has to say that it’s “silly” of her to have hope “in her situation”, because she still doesn’t realize that all of that, combined with the freedom she’s been given, means that she is in an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SITUATION than when she was saying that shit before.  NO ONE sympathizes with you, Wanda, because there is NO GODDAMN REASON TO ANYMORE! Nothing bad is happening to you, you’re not in danger, you’re getting food, a bed, baths, socialization, etc., and no one is even looking at you weirdly or saying bad things about you! Your life has significantly improved! I would even say it’s better than when you were in San Diego, because now you don’t have the Seeker following you around, you do have someone you love in your life, and you’re being given everything you need!  So your “situation” is fucking fine!

Oh, how I wish I could shoot her...

Oh, how I wish I could shoot her…

Wanda asks Jeb why he’s her friend, and he reveals that it’s because he’s a curious man, he’s had questions about the ‘souls’ since their invasion, and he thinks it’s possible to get along with anyone if you try, so he wanted to try with an alien.  He refers to Wanda as “one of the nicest gals I ever met“, and my respect for him took a major downturn there, because she is still, even this far into the book, the worst character I’ve met, and has made bitchy and horrible comments about Jeb himself multiple times in just this chapter alone.  Actually, now I feel bad for Jeb.  He has no idea what a bitch she really is. Buuut I’m sure he’ll find out. No, wait, probably not, since everyone’s supposed to think she’s the greatest person ever.  Great.

Oh, and I hate this line:

It’s real interesting to have a soul as a friend, and it makes me feel super special that I’ve managed it.

Given how intelligent he’s seemed to be at multiple points throughout this book, I hate that Meyer keeps randomly making him say things that sound far below his intelligence level.  It just irks me.  A lot.

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Jeb leaves, there’s another section break, and then we learn that Jeb apparently escalated his plan to integrate her by never taking the gun anywhere anymore (which leads to a paragraph about how she’s glad Jamie doesn’t have the gun even if it makes him less safe, but maybe it makes him more safe because no one would hurt him if he wasn’t a threat, except that no, that’s fucking stupid if they really wanted her dead, especially with the way she views the humans and their motives, but anyway…) and sending her on errands by herself.

The errands terrify Wanda, even though nothing bad ever happens when she does them.  I’m not going to get into the look Sharon gives her, because it doesn’t go anywhere, so really, all we’ve got is more and more paragraphs of nothing happening.

On one errand to see Doc, Ian goes with Wanda, which freaks her out because she STILL thinks he’s going to kill her (aaaaaaaaaaaghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh), even though she knows Jeb doesn’t want her dead, and he trusts Ian to go with her enough that he endorses it.  Amazingly, she survives long enough to give Doc the message she has for him, at which point Doc apparently exchanges a ‘significant glance’ with Ian about being there with Wanda, which she immediately thinks must be them psychically discussing their shared desire to strap her to a gurney and presumably torture her, when it’s actually obvious that Ian is supposed to be a love interest, so if he wants to strap her to a gurney, it’s for entirely different reasons.

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Doc sends them on their way, and as they go, Wanda makes note that Doc is looking at books of sketches, and I do not know what the hell that has to do with anything.  Wanda gets up the nerve to ask Ian why he hasn’t killed her yet, following the question with what sounds like her attempt at trying to convince him to kill her, because no one would do anything to him if he did.

Ian admits that he knows he could kill her and get away with it, but says that he doesn’t think it would be fair to kill her, because it would be “like executing a private for a general’s war crimes“, and it wouldn’t make anything any better.  He says he doesn’t believe Jeb’s theories about her, but he doesn’t think she means anyone any harm, and she seems fond of Jamie, so as long as she doesn’t put anyone in danger, it would be cruel to kill her.

This…is not exactly an answer that I really believe coming from Ian, but meh, had to be something I guess.  It does show the moral fiber he has seemed to have so far, and furthers my belief that he only choked her because he was afraid of Kyle, but still, it seems unrealistic, and his analogy doesn’t really fit the situation because…oh, never mind, I’m not wasting my time getting into all the invasion bullshit again.  Sorry, but no.

No!

Wanda asks why he came with her to see Doc if he doesn’t want to kill her, and he says that while Jeb thinks everything has calmed down, he and Doc aren’t sure that that’s entirely true, so they’re keeping an eye on her in case something does happen with someone, and that particular quest to Doc seemed a little too risky to him to let her go alone.

Wanda is, of course, shocked that Ian is trying to protect her, but Ian basically just shrugs that off, and then the chapter ends with nothing at all having happened in it except for Wanda taking a bath and people not caring about her existence.  10 and a half pages, and that’s all that happened.  No wonder this book is so fucking long.  And Stryder wasn’t even in this chapter, beyond ‘stirring’ or some shit one time, because she’s apparently completely unimportant now.  Awesome.

More next time, as much as it pains me to say that…

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

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