Welcome to 2014, everyone. And let me just start it off by saying…my god, this chapter. This was not the way to start a new year. It’s whiney, then stupid and pointless, then something finally kind of happens and there’s anxiety/dramatic tension, but it’s a cliffhanger, so the chapter ends up just feeling completely unfulfilling. And I feel like this is probably a pretty good indication of what’s to come for the rest of this book, but luckily, with “only” 21 chapters to go, it cannot possibly be an indication of what I’ll have to deal with for the rest of the year. I’m going to try to take solace in that.
The chapter begins with Wanda saying the same thing as she said at the end of the last chapter (“Perfect“), which should make the reader think Meyer is just carrying on with the same scene again, but no, this time Wanda is in an especially bad mood, and we’re in a totally different scene, a whole month after the last chapter. Of course, Meyer doesn’t make it entirely clear that any time has passed until a few paragraphs in, so it’s just jarring and confusing again. I love reading a book that makes me wonder if I missed a few pages every so often, for no good reason.
This time, Wanda is apparently saying “perfect” sarcastically, because she is annoyed that Ian is joining her for lunch. Or that he’s smiling, perhaps…or trying to cheer her up. Yeah, it’s not entirely clear what it is she’s annoyed about, just that she is, because that’s our Wanda; all bitch all the time.
Stryder chastises Wanda for being too sarcastic, so Wanda is, of course, sarcastic toward her again, despite that she claims not to have heard much from Stryder recently, so that’s a really terrible way to react to her showing up again. Wanda tries to excuse her rudeness by saying that neither she nor Stryder are “good company” right now, and that it’s better if they both avoid social interaction, even from each other, but I dunno; once again, Wanda is coming off as a gigantic bitch here, while Stryder doesn’t seem to be doing the same. Just because you’re bad company, Wanda, doesn’t automatically mean Stryder is. You’ve been quite clear to everyone else that you’re two different people, so how about actually realizing that yourself, eh?
Ian greets Wanda, and sits down next to her with his very happy bowl of soup, which Meyer makes sure to compare to Wanda’s oh so sad, “woe is me” bowl of soup. Wanda ignores him, because – well, surely you know the reason by now – so he puts his hand on her knee, because he STILL HAS NOT LEARNED BOUNDARIES, EVEN THOUGH IT’S BEEN A MONTH AND SHE JUST ACTIVELY IGNORED HIS EXISTENCE. I really cannot decide which of these characters I like less, at the moment.
Just so you don’t get the wrong idea and think that maybe Wanda is upset with Ian because he won’t leave her alone in that regard, which would be entirely reasonable, Meyer makes sure to point out that Stryder is vaguely angry about Ian touching her, but too used to it to get worked up about it (which is NOT A GOOD THING, let me add; she shouldn’t be USED to someone touching her in ways that make her uncomfortable, and Meyer, you are HORRIBLE for letting that be the case), and have Ian mention that “they” will be back today, so we know that the emo bitchiness is about Jared and Jamie. Surprise surprise!
So Wanda is angry that Ian has told her that Jared and Jamie will be back “today” for the past few days, which is stupid, because if they left and there’s no way to communicate with them, how could Ian possibly know when exactly they’ll be back? Wanda knows he can’t possibly know; why can’t she just be happy that he’s trying to be optimistic to make her happy? Oh, wait, because she’s Wanda and therefore can’t truly appreciate anything. Sorry, I forgot.
Ian teases her about sulking, saying it’s “so human“, and that grates on me, but meh, it’s a joke, so whatever. Wanda says she’s not sulking, which sounds pretty sulky to me, but she says she’s actually so worried she doesn’t have the energy to sulk. Uh…okay…
Wanda continues to be a sarcastic bitch (just so you know, I love sarcasm, but not when it’s used to be bitchy) when Ian tries to make her feel better about Jamie being on the raid, but at least she realizes she’s overusing the sarcasm this time. Apparently everyone Wanda loves is on the raid for some reason, but Wanda doesn’t want to talk about that anymore, so they don’t.
Wanda appreciates Ian letting her “stew”, and the fact that he understands her well enough to give her what she wants even when what she wants makes absolutely no goddamn sense at all. Of course, that is, with the exception of now, when his attempts to make her feel better are just annoying to her because she wants to worry. Because that’s useful.
At this point, a page after the chapter begins, we finally actually find out that a month has passed, and apparently Wanda’s been staying in Jamie and Jared’s room all that time. From her description, it seems that the sleeping arrangement in their room has been Jamie and Wanda in a bed, and Jared on a mattress wedged behind the bed that she and Jamie sleep in, which…makes absolutely no sense. Jared and Jamie’s room was supposed to be spacious enough for the three of them, not just big enough to shove a mattress in somewhere with only one other bed present, so what the hell happened to that? And what happened to Jamie saying he’d get Wes’s extra cot to bring to their room? Did he just take the mattress instead, for some reason?
And while we’re at it, why the hell, if Wes had an extra cot, did Jamie and Jared only have one bed in the first place? Is it because they somehow actually have a smaller room than Wes? If so, why didn’t Wes, who was living alone, switch to Jamie and Jared’s room, and they take his room so they could have two beds? What the hell is going on here?
In any case, Wanda has been on her own for a week, and she misses Jamie and Jared’s breathing, since she’s gotten used to sleeping with them there. She hasn’t, however, gotten used to Jared being in there in the morning, despite that it’s exactly what she wanted and she did it for three weeks before they left, which is PLENTY of time to get used to it. Oh, poor muffin; how will you ever survive when what you say you want is NEVER what you actually want??
Jamie’s constant euphoric state apparently breaks the tension between Wanda and Jared, though, so that’s good, if a little weird because seriously, how is this kid happy all the time, after what he’s been through?? Wanda says he talks to Stryder a lot, which makes things easier, and that life there has gotten easier in general. She even says that she and Stryder are happy. Amazeballs.
But then all the happiness ever in the world is shattered when Jared and Jamie leave to replace broken tools. Why did Jamie have to go on that raid? Is it just to get him used to raiding? I know he’s done it before, but Jared’s only reason for wishing he’d taken Jamie on the last raid was because Jamie got all close to Wanda while he was gone and Jared didn’t want that, but since that’s not a risk anymore, why would Jamie have to go? Wouldn’t it be better to have him there, where he could continue to be with Wanda at night, for safety’s sake? It’s not like Jared wants Ian sleeping with Wanda to keep her safe, and if Ian’s not, nobody is…
Ian asks Wanda if she’s tired, and they discuss her sleeping problems briefly before Ian offers to sleep with her, then immediately deals with the silent wrath of Stryder for saying that. Wanda reminds him that he said Jared and Jamie would be back that day, so he drops that subject and instead suggests that Wanda take the afternoon off work. She says she’s got plenty of energy to work, so Ian says he needs her help with a project, but won’t tell her what the project is because he wants to show her. Yeah, I’d really trust something like that from a guy who won’t stop touching me even after I’ve asked him repeatedly to do so. Great idea.
Annnnd just because I pointed out that he does that, Ian takes Wanda’s hand and leads her from the kitchen. She asks where they’re going as they go, but Ian ignores her, grinning all the while, which is definitely a good sign, and then they get to the games room, where Wanda can hear a soccer ball being kicked around. Wanda says she’s not in the mood, but Ian guilt trips her into agreeing to play, which we knew she would since even as she was protesting playing, she was still walking toward the goddamn field. Could you be more transparent, Wanda?
They meet up with Lily and Wes, some taunts are tossed around, Wanda agrees to play even though she clearly doesn’t want to (again with Ian not respecting wishes and boundaries and Wanda just giving in to that and letting it happen; such a good message for young girls, isn’t it?), so Ian hugs her, because !@&^#*&^*%^*&, and says she’s his favourite person in the known universe. Ah, so Ian is 5, too. That explains things. Actually, nope, it just makes them creepier. Good times.
More taunts, including a horrible alien joke that I can’t imagine a real person saying, and then Stryder is excited to play, so she starts coming up with a strategy. Blah, blah, blah, people talking, Wanda stretching which is supposed to be oh so impressive because it’s just like a human, as if, you know, she wasn’t IN THE BODY OF A HUMAN WHO USED TO PLAY SPORTS OR SOMETHING, some crap about her healing injuries, including the scar on her cheek which bothers Stryder but not Wanda, probably because Wanda is secretly happy that Stryder’s appearance is marred, since she doesn’t want guys to like her because of Stryder’s looks…and then they set up their teams and start playing.
As you could have guessed, Meyer goes into far too much detail about them playing soccer, including every inane fucking detail about how great Wanda is at playing the game, and how awesomely her strategies work. Stryder’s strategies, that is.
I’ve got to say, I’m surprised Wanda would do so well when she apparently let Stryder’s body get so out of shape. I know that working in the caves would have rebuilt some muscle mass, but still, seems a little strange that she’d still be able to do so much with as little as she has in her. Stranger things have happened, though, of course.
Lily calls the game after Wanda and Ian slaughter them for a while, they talk about Wanda for a bit and how awesome she is at soccer, just like everything else she actually bothers to try (or so we’ve been told), and then Wes and Lily get all close and romantic and Ian and Wanda are surprised. Wes leaves, throwing the ball away as he does, because it’s a dick move that he had to do to make Ian wander off to get the ball so Wanda and Lily can dish about her new boyfriend.
They do so, with Lily telling Wanda it’s her “fault” that she and Wes got together, because it was his reaction to Wanda that showed Lily he was a better guy than she had thought. Blah, blah, blah, stuff about how strange everything is, and then Ian’s back, putting his arm around Wanda, because she obviously wanted that. Ian talks to Lily about Wes for a minute, then asks Wanda if they can play some one on one, which she agrees to.
They play, and my god, why are there so many pages of this? They’re just playing fucking soccer; who gives a shit? We still have a third of the book to go! Why do we need this crap??
Ian plays badly on purpose to let Wanda win, which neither she nor Stryder like, so against Stryder’s wishes, Wanda proposes to Ian that if he wins, he can sleep in her room with her while Jared and Jamie are gone. Great, lead him on; that’s just what you need. Fuck, you’re smart. Why not listen to Stryder for a change, dumbass?
Unsurprisingly, Ian wins, and immediately claims to be “ready for bed“. Fucking sleazeball. I hate you so much, Ian. He leers at Wanda “in a melodramatic way“, which makes Wanda wince, so Ian tells Stryder to be nice because he’s just joking. Except what if it wasn’t Stryder that winced? I know I’d wince if you said shit like that to me, even if I knew you were joking, after the shit you’ve pulled in the past. But Wanda doesn’t seem to be rational here, and I guess Ian probably knows that about her by now.
Lily is confused by Ian referring to Wanda as Stryder, so he explains to her that Stryder “objects” to him, and then changes the subject, saying he wonders why Wes is taking so long. Wes apparently went to get Kyle to use as a reinforcement in another game against Ian and Wanda, but hasn’t returned, so Ian and Wanda decide to go find out where he’s gone, and get water while they’re at it. Lily stays behind to wait for them to bring the water. Everything is always so convenient!
Ian puts his arm around Wanda’s waist as they leave, telling her that it’s unfair of Stryder to make Wanda suffer when she’s mad at Ian, which is another ridiculously fucking disrespectful thing to say, but Wanda just shrugs it off by asking when humans are fair. A LOT, fuckwit. …Sorry.
Wanda tells Ian that Stryder would be glad to make him suffer if she’d let her, which makes Ian laugh, and then he changes the subject to Wes and Lily again, because that is really important enough to warrant talking about multiple times in this chapter. Ian uses it to be creepy toward Wanda again, then jumps right in there and asks if Wanda thinks Stryder would make Wanda feel uncomfortable if he kissed her. YES, of fucking COURSE she would, you horrendous fucking douchebag! Give it up!
Stryder responds more simply than I just did, with an “Oh, yes“, so Wanda tells Ian she definitely would, which displeases him. At that moment, Ian and Wanda hear Wes shouting for Wanda, telling her “they” are back, so Wanda runs off toward Wes’s voice while Ian mumbles about wasted effort because he’s a creepy asshole who doesn’t actually care about Wanda’s happiness if he doesn’t get what he wants.
Wes tells Wanda that the guys are in the plaza, so she takes off in that direction, easily finding Jamie when she gets there. He calls out to her, but doesn’t come to her because Trudy holds him back, so Wanda runs to him instead and gives him a hug. Wanda asks where everyone is, because Jamie and Trudy are the only ones of the group in the room that were on the raid, though Meyer decides to list the names of everyone else present because it’s oh so relevant…and Trudy says they’re all back and well.
That…didn’t quite answer Wanda’s question, so she asks again, and Trudy says they’re getting cleaned up and unloading, but does so quite awkwardly. Wanda doesn’t notice the awkwardness, because she’s caught up thinking about how she’d like to help so she can see Jared, but knows she can’t because no one will want her to know where they bring the goods in, even though they all supposedly trust her now. What? So she’s one of them, and they don’t think she’s bad, and everything’s all good with life there a month after the trial and whatnot, but they’re still afraid she’s gonna take off and get the Seekers if she finds the exit? Yeah, real trusting, guys.
Wanda tells Jamie he needs a bath, then Trudy says he was supposed to go lie down, which angers Jamie. Honestly, Jamie, if you hadn’t acted like Trudy saying that was a bad thing, Wanda probably would have remained too clueless to notice anything, because she would have just assumed you were supposed to lie down because you were tired after the raid. But getting all angry there gave away that something is wrong.
And what is wrong, exactly? Well, Wanda looks Jamie over and realizes that she somehow didn’t notice that there’s a gaping hole in the leg of his pants that’s covered with blood, and that there’s blood staining all the way to his cuff, too. She ran toward him across an entire room and didn’t notice that at all? How? Those sorts of things kind of stand out, especially when you’ve been worried about someone. And did she really have to run over all the features of his face before noticing the injury? Come on, now.
Wanda asks Jamie what happened, so Trudy puts her arm around Jamie to help him walk, and after some stupid back and forth, Jamie tells Wanda that he tripped with his knife in his hand and cut open his leg. Wow. Seriously? Yeah, wow. That was totally worth the buildup. This chapter has been completely worth my time.
Wanda asks why they’re not taking Jamie to Doc, and he says he’s just come from there, and that the injury’s been cleaned and bandaged, so he’s supposed to go lie down. Wanda is confused as to why Doc would have him walk all that way to rest when he could just rest in the hospital, and Jamie obviously doesn’t know how to answer that, so he looks to Trudy for an answer. She says that Jamie will be more comfortable in his own bed, and Jamie agrees.
Stryder and Wanda both notice that something is up with the way Trudy and Jamie are acting, and they also notice that everyone seems to have gone down the southern corridor, but then Ian shows up, and Jamie has to explain to Ian what happened. Ian then asks where everybody is, and Trudy again says that they had unloading to finish up, but eyes the southern tunnel as she says so in a meaningful way, hoping that Ian will get it but Wanda won’t. And that’s how highly she thinks of Wanda’s intelligence, ladies and gentlemen!
Ian looks enraged for some reason, so I’m guessing the southern tunnel is somehow evil, and then Trudy notices that Wanda was watching her expression when she was talking to Ian. Stryder tells Wanda to distract Trudy and Jamie (I’m assuming that’s who she means by “them”, but Meyer is not clear), so Wanda asks Jamie if he’s hungry. Jamie says he is, they all continue walking until they get to Jamie and Jared’s room, and then Jamie lies down and Trudy leaves to clean up.
Wanda ensures that Jamie is okay, and Ian sits down against the wall, then Stryder reminds Wanda to keep her face down when she lies, before Wanda asks Ian if he can get her and Jamie some food. Ian agrees, though he makes sure to emphasize that he’ll only be gone a second because he’s on to her, and then he leaves.
Jamie and Wanda talk briefly, then Wanda says she’ll be right back because she forgot to tell Ian something, and takes off. She knows Ian noticed that she noticed that Trudy was lying, so she knows she has to be quick, so she walks briskly through the caves so that everyone will think she’s just on an errand, not in as much of a rush as it would look like she was if she ran. Meyer lists off the people she passes and what they’re doing, like usual, making sure to note exactly how little attention those people pay to Wanda, as though that matters (the only one that strikes me as odd is Lily, since they just kind of left her there alone in the room), and then she gets to the pitch black corridor, where she starts to run.
She thinks this is another situation where people are trying to hide something from her to protect her, and she’s not sure for a moment if she does actually want to know what’s going on, because it must be bad, but Stryder reminds her that she does want to know, even though they’re both frightened, so they keep running down the tunnel, and that’s the end of the chapter. I don’t see why Ian didn’t just cut her off instead of going to get food, if he knew what she was going to do, but hey, I guess he’s not that smart.
So see? Complete fucking waste of time. Nothing happened, aside from the dramatic tension at the end, but I have a hard time really getting into that dramatic tension when the history of this book has told me that nothing that seems anxiety provoking in this book ever leads to anything that actually deserves the amount of anxiety it built up. So I’m not excited for the next chapter. Not at all.
But hey, at least that’ll be officially two thirds of the way through the book! Which is still one third too little.
(See Mike’s take on this chapter at http://emptystress.wordpress.com!)