This chapter had some of the worst lines in the book, the first line in the book to make me laugh (not because it was supposed to be funny, but because it was really kind of horrible), and also the first line in the book that actually made me legitimately smile. It’s a mercifully short chapter as well, so I’m hoping this recap will go a bit better than the last two have.
It starts, quite reasonably, with Ian’s shock and confusion at Wanda’s request for him to kiss her. Wanda tells him that she’ll explain in a minute, and admits that what she’s asking isn’t fair to him, which makes this somewhat better, because at least she’s not just going to kiss him and pretend it’s because she wanted it when really she had ulterior motives.
Ian, acting completely out of character, tries to verify that she and Stryder won’t be upset if he kisses her. Of course he cares now, when Wanda is in a rush, despite that every other time he got close enough to be physical with her he tried, without much (or any) regard to how she felt about it. Howwww convenient.
Wanda doesn’t bother with his questions and just remains insistent, so Ian very chastely kisses her, and it’s even less sexy than the last time he kissed her because he’s so worried and confused. Wanda is not pleased with the chaste kiss and tells him to really kiss her…”like you’re trying to get slapped“. That’s the line that made me laugh. I mean, I get the context, and I know Ian does too, but somehow, every time I read it I do so out of context, and it just seems like the most ridiculous thing to say. Yep, remind a guy that if he kisses you well, he might get slapped, and he’ll totally want to do it!
Ian says he doesn’t understand and asks what’s wrong again, so Wanda ignores him, puts her arms around his neck and pulls him down to kiss her. It takes multiple paragraphs to describe this because it apparently feels strange for Wanda and she doesn’t know how to do it, even though she’s been kissed by both Ian and Jared before, and she’s also got all of Stryder’s memories of being kissed to use as reference (and I’ll remind you that in the past, she’s done things ‘naturally’ because of Stryder’s memories, so that should happen here too).
…Wait, does she not have access to Stryder’s memories if Stryder disappears? No, that can’t be the case, since the hosts are supposed to disappear in normal cases, so she must still have Stryder’s memories…so yeah, she should know how to initiate a kiss. It shouldn’t be this hard for her.
“This wouldn’t have worked with another species. Another mind wouldn’t have been so easily overwhelmed by its body. Other species had their priorities in better order. But Ian was human, and his body responded.”
I…cannot even begin to explain the amount of rage that paragraph generates in me. This book is so incredibly offensive and inaccurate, and I don’t even know why the hell Meyer felt it was necessary to put that little aside in here. It adds nothing to the scene, and just serves to offend and remind us how much of a bitch Wanda is. Why? Why do we need that?
Besides which, Ian isn’t just responding because humans naturally give in when others do things to them because they’re led by their bodies, Ian is responding because he loves her. He wants to kiss her, he’s just worried because she won’t tell him what’s going on, and he (apparently, all of a sudden) doesn’t want to kiss her for the wrong reasons. But he does want to kiss her, so if she kisses him, it’s going to be a little hard for him to push her away, for fear that if he does, she’ll never be willing to try again.
If he really didn’t want her to kiss him, he’d make sure she didn’t; he’d push her away, or otherwise stop her from kissing him, because humans are fully capable of doing that when they don’t want something. She’s saying his mind is overwhelmed by his body, but again, his mind wants it too, not just his body…and hey, she has let him touch her multiple times when she hasn’t wanted it, so at least he can do better than she can.
Why is she bitching about his priorities not being in order when she needs him to go through with this, anyway? Just shut up and be happy that you got what you wanted, Wanda! Besides, I’m pretty sure he knows he can find out what’s going on after you kiss, too, he was just trying to be respectful (amazingly) by trying to find out first. So fuck off.
So she kisses him, and it’s amazingly even less sexy than the chaste kiss! Each kiss is worse than the last; what a fantastic progression. She shoves her mouth on his, and then…wait a second, she notes that he tries to hold her away, so what the fuck was all that stuff about how easily overwhelmed he was? Even after her lips were on his, he still tried to stop it; she just gripped his neck when he tried to get away!
She forced him into the kiss, held onto his neck to keep him there, continued kissing him, and then bit his lip (which would seem incredibly sexual to him, and therefore make him think she wanted the kiss, so he was probably, at least in that moment, fooled into thinking that’s really why she made him kiss her in the first place) and then went on about how his priorities aren’t in order because he gave in eventually! What the fuck, Wanda? How are you STILL more of a bitch with each passing chapter? How dare you blame someone else for what you just did, and act like it makes them weak?
Fuck, I hate this character. She is the most judgemental, hypocritical individual I have ever come across, and once again, I have no idea how anyone likes her! Imagine how Ian would feel if he knew what she was thinking of him…
Anyway, Ian gives in and somehow ‘traps’ her face with one hand (how?? That doesn’t sound very pleasant…or possible, without bordering on abusive) and pulls her so close to him that she can barely breathe with the other (okay, yeah, this is sounding scary), and they breathe in gasps and press against the wall and are completely fused so that every bit of them is touching. I’m surprised she didn’t mention what would almost certainly have cropped up there if every piece of them is touching one another, but the scene is supposed to seem sexy without that, it just…doesn’t.
Maybe it’s just me, but the fact that I know that neither of them really wants to kiss the other before it happens (for very different reasons, but still) and that it sounds too forceful but not passionate just…doesn’t work for me. Sorry, Meyer; better luck next time.
Meyer makes sure to repeatedly point out that it’s just the two of them kissing, so we can clearly see that Stryder isn’t showing up, but she goes a bit overboard. We’re not that dumb, Meyer, thanks.
Wanda gives up when she realizes Stryder isn’t coming, and Ian feels that because her arms go limp, which leads Wanda to think he’s less ruled by his body than she thought. What? Because he stopped kissing you when you stopped seeming like you wanted it? He was resistant to kiss you in the first place, but you acted like you wanted it; of course he’s going to take cues to stop when you don’t seem to want it anymore! People don’t kiss forever just because their bodies enjoy it, and he does want to know what’s wrong! Especially if you get all forceful in kissing him and then suddenly go limp! Come on, now; limp is not exactly fucking sexy, Wanda!
Ian keeps his face close to hers for a moment until he can take a deep breath and step back, which is probably his effort to get certain areas of his body back to normal, as well as get himself into a stable mental place so he’s prepared to find out wtf is going on. When he’s ready, he tells her to explain, and she tells him that she can’t find Stryder, even now that they’ve kissed.
Wanda begins to panic about the loss of Stryder and what she’s going to do about Jamie, because she’s afraid he’ll have a harder time healing if he knows Stryder is missing, and she doesn’t want to upset him. Ian stops her talking in an attempt to calm her down (he does so in a way that I would hate, but maybe that’s just me), and asks her when she last heard from Stryder, and what she wants, insinuating that maybe it would be better for her if Stryder didn’t come back.
Wanda continues to freak out, telling him how she made Stryder go away when she tried to defend the humans after Wanda saw the dead souls, and that she can’t erase Stryder because it would make her a monster, too. Hmm…so, erasing Stryder would make her a monster, and killing souls makes humans monsters…yet her kind are not monsters for erasing entire planets. Interesting. Smarten up, bitch.
She manages to get through to Ian that they need to find Stryder, and he questions whether she needs to really be overwhelmed in order to do that, which scares her. She thinks he’s insinuating that they need to do more than kiss, and she’s not sure she can do that, because even if she thinks kissing him could potentially be a pleasant thing (if she wasn’t “wracked with worry“…so she is falling for him, for some reason…), she knows Stryder would not be happy with her having sex with Ian, and she also knows it’s not fair to Ian to use him in that way either.
She’s right; it’s not fair to use Ian that way, as much as he’d probably enjoy it…though maybe he wouldn’t, if she doesn’t even really understand how to kiss, but hey, first time for everything. It just probably wouldn’t be the best if she was all worried during it.
Anyway, that doesn’t appear to be what Ian had in mind, since he takes off, telling her to stay where she is. Unless he’s going for a condom, that is, because I’m sure those became an important raid item at one point. Though…if the souls reproduce asexually, would their host bodies never have sex either? Or do the host bodies still do it? And if they do, do they produce children? There’d be no biological reason why they wouldn’t, unless the souls somehow made it so they couldn’t, so I would think they would…so would they just have babies and then implant them with souls once they were born? I can’t imagine they’d be born with souls. So…condoms would either be an important commodity for the aliens, or not necessary at all…hmm…
…I kinda went off on a tangent there. Sorry about that.
So yeah, Ian takes off, and as much as she wants to go after him to find out what he’s doing, Wanda stays in the hallway and waits. She still thinks he’s thinking of sex, so she’s a bit panicked, thinking that they have to talk about it and think it through first, but she also seems to have accepted that it’s what has to happen because she has no time to waste with Jamie sick. She feels Jamie needs his sister back more than she needs to not have sex with Ian. I love the messages in this book. So good for young girls.
Wanda tries desperately to get Stryder back again, telling her that Jamie is sick and needs her, but there is still no response. The anxiety continues to grow the longer she waits, and she’s not sure she can take much more, but then she hears footsteps again, and realizes that Ian’s on his way back…but he’s not alone, which confuses her.
Wanda can hear Ian talking, telling someone that “it” is “an experiment”, and then she hears Jared respond, obviously confused and unhappy about whatever Ian is telling him. Wanda suddenly understands what Ian meant when he said “overwhelmed”, and she starts to panic even more, wanting to run away and hide instead of facing Jared, but she can’t bring herself to move.
Ian and Jared show up, with Ian pushing Jared forward, Jared seeming angry about having to be there. Wanda comes into view in front of Jared, so he asks her what’s going on, and she tells him what’s happened. Jared is still angry as he asks her how it happened, but sounds pained when she explains that she doesn’t know, but that she can’t hear Stryder anymore.
Jared asks why Ian thinks he has to kiss Wanda, so Wanda clarifies that it’s not her he has to kiss, but Stryder. She explains why, though we already know and so should Jared, but then shies away from the idea and tells him that she’ll try to find her herself.
Jared comes toward her, though, and then this chapter gets better. Jared is much better at all things romance than Ian is, apparently, and I’d say that’s in no small part due to the fact that his advances are wanted by both of them (though he wants Stryder, of course, not Wanda), but his actions are also described much better. I wonder if that was on purpose.
So Jared touches Wanda in some lovely ways while Wanda feels embarrassed and worries that he’ll think she’s tricking him into kissing her, as well as worrying about how it will hurt Ian if he stays and watches her kiss Jared. She doesn’t know if he is still there, but it’s nice of her to worry either way.
Jared keeps touching her in different ways, a hand ending up on her wrist and the other on her jaw, and Meyer keeps describing this stuff like it should be familiar to Wanda, even though she just had trouble figuring out how to do things like this, so…confusing.
He whispers in her ear to Stryder, asking her to come back to him, and I really like that line. Yeah, yeah, I’m a sap and I can picture it, so that’s why, but whatever; I liked it. He kisses her, slowly at first, but just like the other time, it doesn’t stay that way, and they end up making out. Really, really heavily making out, from the description, since he doesn’t even end up kissing her lips anymore, but rather her entire face, as he slams her into the wall. Wow.
Actually, no, but as I said, this was much better done. There was passion here that wasn’t there with Ian. I’m not entirely sure why her legs wrap around his waist, or even really how that happened, given that it’s not mentioned in the descriptions here, but it happens, and it seems like this is going places, but then Jared pulls back and “growls” at Stryder, telling her that she will not leave him, and that she has to prove her love to him.
That bit threw off the whole scene. It took away the passion, it seemed cheesy and contrived, and I just really didn’t like it. “Get back here“? Nobody says that in the heat of passion. It just killed it for me, and that’s sad, because it was finally actually picking up a little bit.
He starts kissing her again, but it’s described as his lips “attacking” hers, and that, too, doesn’t work for me. Stryder slightly shows up then, though, groaning, but Wanda isn’t able to focus enough to talk to her. The heat of Jared and Wanda’s passion apparently makes it to Stryder or some shit, while Wanda pulls up Jared’s shirt like she’s about to have sex with him, but blames it on her hands, saying she isn’t controlling them. But obviously Stryder isn’t, so she’s just trying to pass blame for something she’s doing again.
Stryder is disoriented, but as Wanda touches Jared’s naked stomach and Jared kisses her neck, she (Stryder) realizes what’s going on and cries out at Jared to stop. Wanda lets her go (somehow; you’ll see why this is a problem later), so Stryder claws at Jared’s skin and pushes him away, yelling at him through Wanda’s lips (that’s how they’re described; they’re her own lips, but there’s no other way I can really explain that without thinking harder than I’m willing or able to at the moment. Once again, there are distractions around me, so this recap probably isn’t written very well).
Jared catches Wanda so she doesn’t fall as they part (since her legs were around his waist, in case you forgot), and then she sags against the wall. Jared cries out to Stryder, and she asks him what he’s doing, but Jared is too relieved that she’s back to explain. He kisses her, crying as he does so, but she bites him, so he jumps back, and Wanda falls to the floor slowly.
Jared starts laughing with relief, and verifies with Wanda that she’s “got” Stryder. I’m a bit surprised that while she has control, Stryder doesn’t at least enjoy the time with Jared a little bit, but I guess she probably thinks he’s doing all of this to Wanda, so…reasonable, I suppose.
Stryder starts yelling at Wanda, so Wanda asks where she’s been and if she knows what she (Wanda) has been going through trying to find her. Stryder is sarcastic with her, but Wanda can already feel the pain coming on about Jared not loving her, even though she’s interested in Ian now too.
Stryder flips through Wanda’s thoughts, apparently, and I’m not even going to get into how little sense that makes, because I just do not want to think any more about how this stupid two consciousness crap works, but at least it saves us the time it would have taken Wanda to explain everything to Stryder.
Stryder sees that something is wrong with Jamie, and Wanda says that’s what she’s been trying to tell her, then Stryder asks a stupid question and gets a stupid answer before she sees that Wanda kissed Ian, too. Wanda tells her that she was worried and didn’t know what to do, and Stryder just responds casually, seeming to be over all of it and ready to go see Jamie.
Jared says Stryder’s name, and Wanda tells him she’s there and she’s angry, but she wants to see Jamie. Jared helps Wanda up and tells Stryder she can be as mad as she wants as long as she sticks around, so Stryder asks Wanda how long she was gone, and discovers that it’s three days. Stryder asks where she was, and Wanda is surprised that she doesn’t know, but Stryder says she can’t remember anything.
I feel like we’re never going to get an explanation of what really happened here, and I don’t like that. As much as I don’t want to read any more of this book, and as much as I think Meyer already explains too much, there are some things I’d rather she bother to explain. She can cut out all the crap about which people are and are not looking at Wanda in any given scene, Wanda bitching about humans/monsters, and soccer, and whatever the fuck, and just give important information instead, please.
Jared asks Wanda if she’s okay, and she says she sort of is, which Jared for some reason ignores in favour of asking if it was Stryder he was talking to before out loud. Kinda inconsiderate to ask how someone is, find out they’re not okay, and neither ask what’s wrong nor try to make them feel better, Jared…
Anyway, Wanda tells him that it was, indeed, Stryder, so Jared asks if Wanda can let Stryder talk again, and as tired as she is, she says she’ll try. She asks Stryder if she can get past and talk to him, but Stryder doesn’t know how to do it, and this is just stupid; it’s like they’re trying to physically make room in her brain, and I just…fuck, I’m not even…this is just so stupid. I’m sorry.
In any case, Stryder can’t get out, so Jared kisses her again, and then suddenly Stryder is out, yelling at Jared to stop touching Wanda. Then…
“He smiled, the little creases feathering out around his eyes. ‘Hey, baby.'”
And that’s the line that made me smile. So simple, I know, but I found that line really cute, and to me, it’s one of the more realistic lines of the book. There’s a lot held in it; it’s playful, and I can feel Jared’s love in it better than at any other time in this book so far. It’s one of the only times that one of these characters has felt like a real person, with real emotions. So that simple line is my favourite one so far.
Stryder doesn’t think what Jared did was funny, though, and Wanda tells him as much, since Stryder’s not upset enough to talk anymore (I guess that’s how it works?). Jared keeps his arm around her anyway, though, and they go out of the tunnel, finding that Ian has (thankfully) left. Wonder if he saw any of that…
Jared teasingly threatens Stryder, saying he won’t guarantee what he will or won’t do to get her back if she leaves again, and Stryder teasingly threatens him right back, which Wanda passes along, but is obviously hurt by. The interaction between Jared and Stryder is cute, but it is kind of mean, since they both know how Wanda feels about Jared and they’re willfully disregarding that to make these jokes, insinuating Jared would use her for sex to get Stryder back, so in this case, I don’t think it’s really Wanda being a bitch when she coldly says their jokes aren’t funny to her.
For some reason, though, Jared laughs at that too, which seems incredibly rude, but maybe he just doesn’t get what she’s feeling. For the sake of continuing to like him, I have to hope that’s the case. Stryder, however, realizes that Wanda is hurting, and acknowledges it. Wanda says she’ll try not to let Jamie see, so Stryder thanks her for bringing her back, and Wanda says she won’t erase her, and that she’s sorry she can’t give her more than that. Awwwwww.
Stryder thanks her, and Jared asks what she (Stryder) is saying, since he can tell she’s talking. Wanda tells him they’re making up, and Jared questions her on why Stryder couldn’t talk when she was trying to let her, though that feels like a stupid question, because if she knew the answer, surely she’d have found a way around it or explained it at the time.
Wanda tells him she doesn’t know, but there isn’t enough room for both of them and she can’t get herself out of the way completely, and seriously, this sounds incredibly fucking stupid, because even if this was a thing that was possible, it wouldn’t be because of space between the brain and the skull or some fucking shit, because that doesn’t make any fucking sense whatsoever, and this makes me angrier than it rightly should.
Anyway, she says she can’t make herself not exist, and gives an unnecessary comparison, especially because Jared doesn’t even respond after that. Wanda feels hurt because she thinks Jared would be joyful if she could make herself not exist, and yeah, in this case, she’s probably right. That’s gotta suck. And this feels very familiar. Déjà vu!
Stryder wants to tell Wanda she’s wrong about Jared wanting her gone, but she knows it’s true, so she wants to make Wanda feel better, but she can’t figure out how. Instead, she just points out how upset Ian, Jamie and Jeb would be, not to mention all the other friends she has.
Wanda thanks Stryder for trying, and then it seems they’re back at her room with Jamie, because she’s glad to have something else to distract her from her pain. This time, I do feel bad for her, because Meyer ends the chapter right here before she overdoes the heartbreak bit. So with that considered, there were a couple of small wins in this chapter.
There were also a few things that pissed me off, of course, but y’know what? I’m going to focus on the small wins and call it a day. So there you have it, folks; chapter 42. See you next time.
(See Mike’s take on this chapter at http://emptystress.wordpress.com!)