I really don’t like where this book is going. I know I just complained in the last chapter that it didn’t seem to be finding a genre to fit into, and in this chapter it leans more toward the romance again (a little bit), but this…this is not the way to go about doing that. And this chapter felt like Meyer’s typical style – drag chapters and plot points out for a ridiculously long time, then suddenly tie everything up in a neat little bow within the space of a few paragraphs. Things just don’t work like that in real life, and they shouldn’t work like that here. It leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.
…Well, now I’ve had some hot chocolate, so problem solved.
So at the beginning of the chapter, we learn that Ian sits in the dark of the game room with Wanda for 3 days while she grieves; only leaving to get food (and, presumably, use the bathroom; since we had to hear about Wanda “dealing with her physical needs“, I felt I should bring it up), even though Wanda doesn’t eat the food he brings back, so Ian eventually stops eating, too. What exactly is the point of that? Solidarity? She says he stops because he realizes that her not eating is not because of a loss of appetite, so I guess it is supposed to be solidarity, but it doesn’t make sense on either of them. Not eating won’t bring back the massacred souls or help her in her grief.
Not even halfway into the first page I get the first indication that I’m going to hate this chapter down to the very depths of my soul, when Wanda mentions that she couldn’t keep herself from sleeping but did not make herself comfortable. This is more martyrdom bullshit, like the not eating, and it’s also illogical; being uncomfortable during sleep won’t bring the souls back either. I get it; when we grieve, we don’t always act based on logic…but she’s consciously making these decisions. She’s deciding not to be comfortable, as though that will somehow make a difference. It seems like it’s more for attention than actual grief, the way Meyer writes it. Or maybe I just hate her so much, and have seen so much more of this than is reasonable in this book, that I can’t see it as any different than any of the other false martyrdom shit she’s pulled before.
I’m having a hard time writing this. It feels like my brain is resisting, and I feel disconnected from what I’m saying. It feels, to me, like what I’m writing isn’t making any sense. I apologize if that’s true; I’m not sure what’s wrong with my thought patterns right now. Maybe it’s just that I know what’s to come and really don’t want to actually deal with it, but I’m forcing myself to…I don’t know. The point is simply that I apologize if this is confusing, disjointed, weird, or if I miss something important. Man, this is two recaps in a row I’ve had to make that apology for…
Anyway, back to the not being comfortable during sleep thing. Wanda explains that on the first morning she wakes up there, she wakes up cradled in Ian’s lap, which makes her recoil and shudder. I know this is supposed to just be because she doesn’t want to be comfortable while she’s grieving, but I really feel like it’s more because it’s Ian once again touching her without consent, in a very intimate way. But maybe that’s just because I want to believe that she sees how wrong this stuff is.
In any case, her reaction finally gets the message home to Ian that she doesn’t want him touching her, so he doesn’t try to do that with her again the next night, so she gets to sleep just as uncomfortably as she claims to want to.
On (what Wanda guesses is, because Meyer always has to mention this crap about not being able to tell what day it is every time something ‘important’ happens) the third day, Ian finally says something, begging Wanda to eat (probably because he’s hungry) as he pushes a tray of food toward her. He touches her, but she flinches away again, so he just keeps begging her to eat and apologizing for what happened. He says he’d have stopped it if he’d known it was going on, and that he won’t let it happen again.
Wanda doesn’t believe him because he’s “one of them”, and because he didn’t object to the ‘testing’ before she showed up, but mainly because “even in the most compassionate, humankind’s limited scope of mercy was reserved for their own“. Seriously? These aliens claim to have studied Earth before they invaded, yet they believe that humans have a “limited scope of mercy” and that their mercy applies only to other humans? That’s bullshit! I mean, we’re no saints, that’s for sure, but that is way too far to go! The aliens have already done far worse; where is their mercy toward humans??
The next paragraph is Wanda using Doc as an example to prove her belief about humans and their mercy by saying that he would never be able to intentionally inflict pain on another person or even watch it happen, but that he wouldn’t be bothered by murdering a ‘worm’. She asks why it would bother him to murder a baby if it had no mouth to scream with, and this is the biggest fucking bullshit she has said so far. Doc was a MESS when she saw him, crying and needing to be comforted by Jeb, and she heard people saying he didn’t want to do it in the first place; how can’t she put two and two together and realize that maybe it does affect him, hurting them?! Especially babies! No one ever wants to hurt a baby anything, alien or otherwise, least of all a doctor! What is wrong with you, Wanda, that you can think this way about him? Seriously, what the fuck??
Ian says he should have told her what they were doing, but she still doesn’t respond, just wonders if the pain would have been any less strong if he’d told her than it was seeing it. Um, yeah, definitely. How is that even a question? Hearing about tragedy is bad; witnessing it is far worse. That’s really just common sense.
He begs her to eat one last time, but she still doesn’t say or do anything, so he waits a while in silence and then gets up and leaves. When he leaves, Wanda finds that she wants him to come back, which she hates because she doesn’t understand it. Oh, god, here we go; she’s going to mistake the desire for companionship after going through something painful (which is a natural thing that almost everyone feels in times of trial and grief) for romantic feelings for him, isn’t she? Greeeeat.
Soon after Ian leaves, Jeb shows up and starts in about her not eating, and for some reason, the fact that it’s not Ian seems to make her realize that she’s no longer in mourning and is angry instead. Jeb tells her if she wants to die, there are faster and easier ways, so Wanda takes a stab at Doc again (as the first words out of her mouth since running away; how nice of her), which doesn’t surprise Jeb.
He explains why they have to keep trying to make the removal work, how hard it is on Doc, and that they are just trying to find ways to save themselves as a species before they become extinct, and Wanda is impressed that he’s talking to her like a soul instead of a human for a brief moment…but then she refers to him as a ‘courteous monster’, and there go all her positive thoughts of him, out the window. She’s making me hate the word ‘monster’ now, because she’s overusing it so much. Fuck, Meyer, how much of life are you going to ruin for me??
Despite just calling him a monster again, Wanda admits to herself that what Jeb is saying is true, and that there’s sense to it. She says the shock of what happened has worn off, and she is herself again, and it’s in her nature to be fair. What the fuck? No it’s not. You have been fair such a small amount in this book that I can’t even think of any examples right now, Wanda; only examples where you have been incredibly fucking selfish and bitchy. Fuck I hate you. So fucking much.
She decides that since some of the humans can see her side of things, it’s only fair that she consider their perspective too, calling them “monsters who were justified in what they were doing“. Why the fuck are they still monsters if you, yourself, are saying they’re justified in what they’re doing?! YOUR KIND DID FAR FUCKING WORSE TO THE HUMANS, and you don’t think of yourselves as monsters, specifically BECAUSE you think you were justified in doing it, even if you JUST ADMITTED A FEW CHAPTERS AGO THAT YOU WERE WRONG ABOUT THAT. So you think your aliens aren’t monsters because they justified their actions, even if their justifications turned out to be WRONG, but the humans do something with a REASONABLE justification, and yet they’re still monsters? How the hell can you possibly think that makes sense???
Oh, for fuck’s sake, now we’re into another paragraph about how “of course” humans would think violence is the answer. IT WAS NOT FUCKING VIOLENCE, IT WAS MEDICAL/SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENTATION YOU STUPID FUCKING BITCH! You have outright fucking acknowledged that humans don’t have the technology the aliens have, especially not now that the aliens have gotten rid of everything the humans used, so how the fuck else are they supposed to do this shit? It’s not violent; they’re specifically trying not to hurt anyone, because hurting people OR aliens WILL NOT HELP!
“Could I blame them that their genetic programming restricted their problem-solving abilities in this way?”
FUCK YOU!!!! YOU restricted their problem-solving abilities, not ‘genetic programming’! What the sweet fucking shit is wrong with you, Wanda? I know I’ve asked that countless times in this chapter alone, but seriously, what the fuck?? If they COULD fix this problem in any other way they WOULD, and they would make it as non-violent as possible to SAVE MORE PEOPLE!
What Doc did wasn’t violent! Hell, it sounds like the things just fucking exploded when he tried to remove them, since they were all over the goddamn walls, and it’s not like he would have gone into a frenzy of chopping them up and throwing them around so he’d have to clean it all up later! He’s a DOCTOR, for god’s sake! Aggggghhhh!!!!!!
Meyer, why do you write this infuriating fucking bullshit?? Are you trying to piss your readers off? How stupid are your readers that they don’t see how insulting you are, and how can they identify or empathize with Wanda at all?!
Also, how am I going to finish this chapter without stabbing something? I really, honestly don’t know…
Wanda tells Jeb that “hacking up babies” won’t save anyone, which is just meant as a stab at him because she’s a bitch, so Jeb explains that they can’t tell the souls’ young from their old. Wanda ADMITS THAT SHE KNOWS THEY CAN’T TELL THE DIFFERENCE, after JUST trying to guilt Jeb about it and making her stupid bullshit claims that Doc doesn’t care about hacking a baby up, SPECIFYING THAT IT MAKES HIM A MONSTER BECAUSE IT’S A BABY HE’S KILLING.
They argue over who does worse to whom between the aliens and the humans, with Jeb pointing out that the aliens don’t spare human babies (when, I should point out, they can clearly TELL that the humans are babies), and her saying that they at least don’t torture them, and I’m not sure why Jeb doesn’t point out here that they were NOT torturing them, they were trying to REMOVE them! They agree that both erase each other, but Jeb argues that they have to do that to try to survive, in the case of the humans (which is not the case for the aliens, because they could go anywhere else and survive just as well, if not better).
Wanda drinks an entire water bottle in one pull, so I’m assuming they have very small water bottles in this cave, and then explains to Jeb that they will never be able to succeed in what they’re doing because the souls are strong, and their hair-like attachments will shred the brains of the humans they’re attached to if Doc tries to cut them out. Jeb agrees that that is what has happened, and that it makes him and Doc sick.
They discuss how the souls don’t respond to sedation (how are they sedating anyone? They didn’t have anything to sedate people with before Walter died, and they supposedly used all of the morphine to kill him, except, of course, the stuff they magically conjured up for Wanda…so they’ve used more than what they had, so they should definitely have nothing else to practice with. And even if they did, they should probably save it for if someone gets injured…) or poison because their chemical makeup is completely different, and then Jeb tells Wanda about how one time, one of the souls destroyed its human host’s brain from the inside before Doc could even knock the human out.
Wanda is impressed at the soul’s bravery, since she didn’t have the courage to do that even when she was sure she was going to be tortured, and that makes me wonder, once again, why she’s supposed to be such a unique and beautiful snowflake in her species. If she’s not even brave, what is it they value so much about her?
She thinks about how she never imagined the humans would try to “slash the answer out for themselves” (the answer as to how to save themselves, I guess?), because she says that course would obviously be doomed to failure so it never occurred to her…but come on, you know the humans don’t know what the souls are like or how they work; you should be able to use logic to figure out that they wouldn’t know that course would be ‘doomed to fail’. But then, I did just say “logic” and assumed that Wanda could utilize it, and I should know better than that by now, so that’s my bad.
Because this is another of those conversations that never seem to end, they discuss how the souls wouldn’t have survived if they didn’t have some defences, and how Jeb knows that and doesn’t deny that they have a right to defend themselves, but that that still doesn’t mean the humans are going to stop trying to fight back.
Wanda gets all stupid again and says maybe he should have Doc slice her up, because what good is she otherwise, and Jeb says humans “aren’t as logical as all that“, and that they have a greater range of good and bad in them than the souls do, but mostly the bad…and I hate this paragraph. I’m not even going to get into why, because I feel like there’s no reason and a lot of reasons at the same time, so I’m just not going to bother. Fuck this paragraph.
Jeb explains how humans value the individual, and how the way people behave doesn’t make sense if you look at the world as equals, but it is the way it is. He says on the same token, she (Wanda) is valued in a way that doesn’t make sense either, from humanity’s perspective, but there it is; they value her more than they would a human stranger, and he even counts her as a friend, even if she hates him. He shouldn’t, but he does, so point made.
Wanda says she doesn’t know how she can live there anymore if they’re going to be slaughtering her ‘family’ in the other room, but she can’t leave, so she doesn’t see any other option for her but to be cut by Doc. Jeb agrees with her, saying it’s not fair for him to make her live like that, and she says if she has a choice in the matter, she’d prefer if Jeb shot her. PLEASE DO. Oh god please do; make this book END!
Unfortunately, Jeb says no one is going to be shooting or hacking anybody up, so I really will have to do the next 19 chapters. He says he knows she isn’t lying, so if she says that the way they’re trying to remove the souls isn’t going to work, he believes it won’t, so no one will be bringing any more souls back to the cave until they figure out a new method.
Wanda points out that he could be lying to her in saying that, because she likely wouldn’t be able to tell, and he says she’ll just have to trust him then, because he’s not going to shoot her…or let her starve herself. He orders her to eat, which she does, after a moment of thought about how confused she is by how much she likes the people in the cave even though she STILL, after this entire fucking conversation, considers them to be “monstrous”. Holy fuck, does anything sink in with this girl? What’s the point of talking to her, when she never actually gets the point in the end, and refuses to change her views or opinions on something? Just because she acquiesces to their wishes doesn’t mean she got the point. If she’s still calling them monsters, she clearly didn’t.
Jeb praises her for eating, and then Ian shows up again. He’s relieved to see Wanda eating, which makes Wanda feel guilty, so she can whine about how hard human emotions and lives are again, because we haven’t heard that enough in the last 40 chapters.
Ian addresses Jeb, and Wanda pulls herself closer to Ian, then puts her hand on his and apologizes. They have a sappy discussion where they both basically tell each other not to apologize and that they understand one another’s position, and I’m not going to bother going into the details of that conversation, because it makes me a little bit sick just to read it, for more than one reason.
Jeb breaks up Ian and Wanda’s little love fest and tells her he’s not done, and not to freak out. She freezes and holds Ian’s hand tighter, bracing for the bad news that is obviously about to come, and then Jeb tells her that something’s wrong with Jamie. Before we get to find out what, we get some stupid crap about how she was Wanderer for three days but now is Wanda again with the mention of Jamie or whatever the fuck, and then she jumps up.
Jeb tries to calm her, telling her that Jamie is okay, he’s just really anxious about her, and that he (Jeb) doesn’t think it’s good for him. He says he came down to ask Wanda to go see Jamie, but he doesn’t think she should go as she is because she looks horrible, so she’ll have to eat more before going, or else he’ll just be more upset.
Wanda inquires about Jamie’s leg, and Ian tells her he has a little infection, so Doc wants him to stay in bed, or he’d have been down to see Wanda long ago. He tells her Jared is keeping Jamie where he is, and Jeb tells her that Jared intended to come knock her out and take her by force to Jamie, but that Jeb asked to speak to her first.
Wanda asks what’s being done for Jamie, and Jeb tells her there’s nothing Doc can do because it’s a bacterial infection and they don’t have any antibiotics, so they just have to wait for Jamie to fight off the infection. Wanda says they don’t have antibiotics because they don’t work because the bacteria are smarter than human medicines, and I don’t know what the fuck she’s talking about here. Is Jamie infected with alien bacteria somehow? Have all the bacteria on Earth become alien or something? Did I read this entirely wrong somehow? I think Jeb’s point is that the aliens destroyed all the antibiotics, not that the infection is resistant to the antibiotics, so what the hell is Wanda talking about, and why isn’t Jeb as confused as I am?
Ian urges Wanda to eat something again so she doesn’t worry Jamie, but Wanda just keeps wallowing in her fear for Jamie, thinking about what will happen if Jamie isn’t able to fight off the infection. This is all very dramatic, and I want to say it’s effective, but it’s just not. Wanda walks off toward the exit without eating any more, so Ian tries to get her to stop, but goes with her anyway. Effective.
Jeb catches up to them and shoves more food at Wanda, which she does eat, and then there’s a bunch of blah blah blah and walking through the cave, with all the usual explanations Meyer gives of how important the people Wanda passes aren’t, as though we haven’t had that same description EVERY DAMN TIME WANDA WALKS THROUGH THE CAVES WHEN SHE’S IN A BAD MOOD. I know I’ve said it a million times, but god, I hate this book.
When she gets to her room, there are a bunch of people there, which worries Wanda, because it makes her think that Jamie is in worse condition than anyone is saying. Everyone’s all happy to see Wanda, but she doesn’t give a fuck about them of course, so she just keeps going through until she gets to Jamie, and sees Doc next to his bed. Jared is against the wall, looking worried.
Meyer describes Jamie, and he sounds like he’s in pretty shitty condition, even though the wound sounds incredibly tiny and the infection isn’t even described to sound that bad. Maybe his body just doesn’t fight off infection well? That’s how it seems; his body’s reaction seems disproportionate to his wound…
Jamie is relieved to see Wanda, so of course he starts talking like a dying 80 year old, and Wanda falls down beside him, dragging Ian with her. She touches Jamie’s face and finds him feverish, then starts talking to him about how he is and assuring him he’ll be fine. Jamie tries to talk about what she saw, but she shrugs it off, saying if she’d had any idea he was sick, she’d have been there sooner. Jamie argues that he’s not really sick, it’s just an infection, but he’s glad she’s there.
Wanda realizes that Jamie could never be a monster, like she had previously claimed he was, and let’s hope that fucking sticks this time, not like the “our kind was wrong” shit from Walter’s funeral that lasted exactly two pages or some shit like that.
Jamie starts talking about Wanda playing soccer before he got back from the raid, and says he bets that Stryder loved her ‘schooling’ Wes, and Wanda agrees that she did. Jamie asks if Stryder is okay, hoping she’s not too worried about him, and Wanda tells him that she is, of course, worried, but then realizes that she doesn’t know where Stryder is. She searches through her head for Stryder’s voice, but finds nothing, and starts to panic when she realizes that Stryder isn’t even reacting to Jamie’s condition or feverishness (and I also noticed that she doesn’t react to Jared being within 10 feet of her, either).
Jamie notices something is wrong with her, but she says she’s just tired and needs to get cleaned up. He tells her he’s fine and that she should go eat something, so Ian says he’ll go get her some food. He asks if Jamie is hungry, but he says he’s not, which worries Wanda because Jamie is always hungry, so she tells Ian to send someone else. Ian acquiesces and sends Wes to get some food for both of them.
Wanda studies Jamie again, and decides that as worried as she is about him, he’ll be okay if she leaves for a few minutes. She asks him if he minds if she goes to wash her face, and he can tell she’s lying, but agrees to let her go anyway. Wanda says she’ll be right back, and takes Ian with her, confusing Jeb because he, too, could tell she was lying, but doesn’t know why.
She drags Ian through the tunnels until she finds a dark, empty corridor, and then tells Ian she needs him to help her. He tells her he will do anything she needs, so she puts her hands on his face, looks into his eyes (which she can see in the dark because they’re so blue or whatever, and as we know, blue is a glow in the dark colour), and tells him she needs him to kiss her, right now.
And that’s where it ends.
So…Ian is going to get what he wants, but not for the right reasons. He’s not going to understand why Wanda needs him to kiss her, so he’s going to either think it’s because she’s frantic with worry over Jamie and needs some human affection, or because she’s suddenly realized she’s in love with him, when really it’s just because Wanda wants to see if she can stir Stryder into showing up. What a great reason to kiss someone. There’s a lot of people using other people for things in this book…but you’d think Wanda would know better than to do that to Ian, knowing how he feels about her, after what Jared did to her with the kissing Stryder thing. But I guess not. Well, this’ll be awesome.
As for Stryder disappearing…yayyy. More room for Ian’s creepiness, especially if he finds out that Stryder’s gone, and no one to make sure Wanda isn’t a blithering idiot all the time. And it’s pretty much the worst timing ever for Stryder to disappear, what with Jamie sick and all. Yeah, I’m so looking forward to more of this book. It can only get awesome from here. *sigh*
Till next time…
(See Mike’s take on this chapter at http://emptystress.wordpress.com!)