When this chapter begins, it’s meant to feel like it’s carrying on right from where the last chapter ended, but then the fourth paragraph provides a pretty solid indication that it isn’t, since they’ve had time to do something that was three days long, at the least. I know Meyer thinks that this is a good literary tactic, but it’s really just very much not; as I’ve said all the other times she’s done this, it’s jarring, confusing, and just makes the reader have to reread everything to ensure they haven’t missed something. It’s not clever, Meyer, it’s just annoying and pointless, so stop fucking doing it.
The chapter starts with Meyer describing how Wanda is standing and the expression on her face, as compared to how she is feeling inside. She’s feeling pretty upset because Jamie is not doing well, or at least that’s what I gather from her dramatic talk about how bringing Stryder back hasn’t saved him.
A bunch of people are in the hall outside her room with her, three of which are Jared, Kyle and Ian, who apparently went on a raid together to, presumably, get medication for Jamie, but only came back with a cooler of ice. This is where we learn about the time that has passed, as it is mentioned that their journey took them three days, so I’m not sure how long has actually passed since the last chapter, but it was long enough for Jamie’s condition to worsen enough that they felt the need to go look for medication, then three days after that. So maybe a week or something?
In the next paragraph, we learn that Jamie is actually dying (at least in Wanda’s view, which could be overdramatic since it usually is), and Wanda is worried about what will happen when the ice runs out, because at least it is cooling his fever. She’s so afraid that she can’t move.
Kyle tells Doc that all the antibiotics must be completely gone, because they should have been able to find them easily if they weren’t (since humans didn’t hide that sort of thing), while Ian tries to comfort Wanda, telling her that Jamie will pull through.
Wanda continues to be upset, thinking that if they have to bury Jamie they’ll have to bury her too, while Stryder is angry, feeling that the guys didn’t do well enough in their search for antibiotics. She thinks they have to go back out and try again, but Wanda doesn’t see the point because she doesn’t think the antibiotics would be any good even if they did find any. Her justification for that opinion is that they “only worked half the time anyway” and are “inferior“, but the better justification would be that it’s been multiple years since the aliens took over, and the antibiotics probably expired if the aliens didn’t develop new ones…but oh well.
As Wanda complains about the human antibiotics, she realizes that what Jamie needs is her medicines; the alien medicines. How did it take her however long it’s been since the last chapter to figure that out? She’s been watching Jamie die, and it never occurred to her that maybe she could use that amazing medical technology she keeps going on about to remind everyone how much better aliens are than humans to save Jamie? A little dense, are you not??
Wanda and Stryder are both awestruck by how obvious and simple the idea is, as well they should be, because goddamn. Wanda manages to speak to tell the others that they need to get him the alien medicines, but Doc says they don’t know what they do or how they work. Wanda is annoyed that he’s bothering to bring that up since they do work, so it doesn’t matter how they work, but no one else seems to agree with her plan.
Jeb says they can’t get the alien meds because they can only get into deserted places, and there are too many aliens in the hospitals, so they’d get caught, and Kyle suggests that Wanda is trying to get the aliens to come heal Jamie and then make him (and, of course, everyone else) one of them in the process.
This comment understandably angers Wanda, and she glares at Kyle and even feels like she might be capable of making an “aggressive move toward” him…which is something I’m actually glad for, because maybe this change in attitude will end the constant complaining about violence that we’ve seen in the rest of the book up to this point. Of course, she doesn’t actually do anything to him, in part because Ian holds her back, so she just says that there has to be a way.
Jared tries to back Wanda up, saying if they went into someplace small with enough people and knives, they might be able to overwhelm the aliens and get the antibiotics…and my hopes from the last paragraph I wrote here are immediately dashed by Wanda responding that she doesn’t want killing, and that that’s not what she meant. Ugh. There is never any real progress in this book, is there?
Jeb argues that even if they were able to pull it off, one of the aliens would alert the Seekers, and they (and likely their cave) would be found. Kyle agrees, saying as much as he doesn’t want Jamie to die, they can’t risk everyone’s lives for one person, and he’s very right about that…but then he takes it too far by saying “people die here“, which diminishes the significance of Jamie’s death too much, especially since he’s a child. Well, teenager really, but still.
Wanda starts thinking violent thoughts about choking Kyle, so we’re back to that again, but only speaks to say that they have to save him (Jamie, not Kyle). Jeb tells her they can’t just walk in the hospital and ask for antibiotics, so she says that they can’t, but she, as an alien, can. She starts to develop a plan in her head of how to do it, which Stryder is apparently impressed by, and because everyone else in the room has gone silent, she starts to explain it.
She says that the aliens aren’t suspicious by nature, so even if she’s a bad liar, they won’t notice, because they won’t be listening for lies. Um…how exactly has their species survived for so long if it just blindly trusts all the time? They know that there have been instances before when host bodies have fought back and/or tried to take control, so why wouldn’t they be more cautious about that? This species as a whole is incredibly fucking stupid, from what I’ve seen.
Anyway, she goes on to say that they would do anything to help her because she’s one of them, so she could just say she got hurt hiking or something, find a way to get them away from her long enough that she could find antibiotics (or whatever alien substitute there is; is there just some kind of catch-all medication the aliens use to heal everything? She certainly makes it sound like that’s the case), and then leave. She tries to convince everyone by saying she could get enough medicine to last for years, and she’s very excited about her plan until she sees the hatred and fear in people’s expressions.
Stryder is confused as to why the others can’t see how helpful this course of action would be, but Wanda explains to her that they still think she will hurt them. She begs them to let her do it, but Kyle makes a comment about her “biding her time”, so she turns to just Doc, instead.
Doc tells her that even if they could let her go outside, they couldn’t trust drugs they didn’t understand, and tries to reassure her again that Jamie will be okay. Ian tells her that he, Jared and Kyle will go out again to look for medicine, and that they won’t come back until they find some, but Wanda tells him that that’s not good enough. She tries to beg Jared, reminding him that he knows she wouldn’t let anything hurt Jamie, but he looks to everyone else and then tells her no.
Before he says no, Meyer lists all of the people she’s named thus far that live in the caves as people who Jared looks to before answering (because they’re all apparently there at once, which seems strange to me unless Jamie is supposed to die in the next five minutes, which he isn’t), and then adds this description:
“He stared at the next row, which I couldn’t see.”
That is just lazy writing, Meyer. You bothered to list off every single person you’ve named in the book thus far, even though it was completely unnecessary, but you were too lazy to bother naming anyone else, so you just summed them up as people she couldn’t see. Apparently they’re people she can never see, and hasn’t since showing up in the caves, since they didn’t and probably won’t ever have names. You should have either not listed anyone’s names unless they were essential, which would have saved us time, or listed all of them. It’s just obvious that it’s laziness otherwise.
All of the named and unnamed people sigh in relief when Jared says no, but Wanda collapses, pulling free of Ian’s hand that she’s apparently been holding (have they established a relationship in these past few days?), and crawls to Jamie’s bedside. She starts to cry and “croon” (I hate that term) over Jamie as she wipes his head with the cold compress and everyone leaves.
The fact that everyone just up and leaves after this conversation proves that Jamie isn’t just about to die (unless he is and they all suddenly don’t care anymore), and that they were all just there for plot convenience. That fact pisses me off more than it rightly should. I don’t understand why Meyer can’t avoid doing things if they don’t make sense, or come up with explanations for things if she absolutely needs to make them happen.
In this case, she needed everyone to be there so they could all hear Wanda’s suggestion and stop trusting her again (because she can’t come up with new plotlines so we have to keep repeating the losing and rebuilding of trust on both sides crap), but then she also needed them to go away to serve the plot of the rest of the chapter, so they just all showed up at once for fuck knows what reason, and went away for just as little reason. Yaaaaaaay! You are a terrible fucking author, Stephenie Meyer.
Ian tries to explain to Wanda that he knows she wouldn’t hurt anyone, but after what she saw in the hospital and her reaction to it, they’re afraid she might be looking to get revenge, so they can’t let her go. He tries again to reassure her that Jamie will be alright, but she turns away from him, so just as conveniently as everyone else, he leaves. Because Ian has ever left without explicit reason before. Yep, totally believable.
Jeb apologizes and leaves, then Jared leaves as well, and Wanda decides that his leaving means he doesn’t love Jamie the way she does. She says he “should” go, and it sounds like something you’d hear from a petulant child, so that seems fitting for Wanda. But why would everyone leave her alone with him, if just seconds ago they were worried that she was out for revenge and might hurt someone? Does nobody care if Jamie is safe??? Well, I guess Doc is there, so that’s something, but it doesn’t seem enough, considering she somehow took Kyle down.
And why did Jared go, anyway? To give her time with Jamie or something? I don’t understand why Jared or Ian would have left. It doesn’t seem like something they would do, at least not with how things have been going.
As the day wears on, the ice melts, but Wanda keeps repeating Jamie’s name over and over, and by this point, it’s fucking annoying. When it becomes completely dark and Wanda can’t see Jamie anymore, she worries that he’ll die in the night, and that the last time she saw him in the light will end up having been the last time she ever saw him alive.
Doc is sleeping, so Wanda keeps trying to cool Jamie down, and eventually is able to convince herself that he won’t die right away, though she knows without medication he will eventually. She thinks she will die too, when he dies.
Stryder and Wanda are both upset that Jared didn’t believe them, and then the silence around them is broken by a cry from Doc, and Wanda sees strange shapes and Doc jerking wildly. She tries to protect Jamie from whatever it is that is happening until Doc stops shaking and starts snoring again, then slumps to the floor. She sees a second shape in the darkness, then, followed by Jared’s voice, telling her to come with him because they don’t have much time to waste.
Stryder and Wanda are excited because they think this means Jared actually does believe them, so Wanda gets up and asks Jared what he did to Doc. He says he gave him chloroform, but it won’t last long, and I have to wonder where the hell he got chloroform from. They couldn’t find antibiotics, but they have a stock of chloroform? Wtf? How convenient is this shit?
Wanda pours the rest of the water over Jamie, hoping that will keep him cool enough while she’s gone, which is an incredibly flawed plan, and then follows Jared through the halls. When they get to the garden room, Wanda can see that Jared has the gun and a knife (how did he get the gun from Jeb if Jeb doesn’t know about this? Does Jeb secretly know, or is he just really damn bad at keeping the gun from others?), as well as a blindfold.
She allows him to blindfold her, then he lifts her up and carries her over his shoulder for some reason, in about the most uncomfortable sounding position imaginable. There are a few paragraphs describing Wanda counting the amount of steps Jared is taking as they go and which directions she can feel him going, which I don’t see the point of since she apparently doesn’t care how to get out and “isn’t paying attention” (this seems a whole hell of a lot like paying attention to me), so I don’t know why she’s bothering…and I certainly don’t give a fuck about any of this crap.
Those wasted paragraphs out of the way, they are outside, and Jared puts her down, asking if she can run blindfolded. She says she can, so he grabs her elbow (how romantic) and starts to run. As they go, he tells her that if they can get to the Jeep they’ll be in the clear, and Wanda/Stryder (I don’t know which) gets all nostalgic about the Jeep, since Stryder hasn’t seen it since before her Chicago excursion.
Wanda asks what will happen if they can’t get to the Jeep in time, even though it’s pretty goddamn clear, and Jared gives the obvious answer that they’ll kill her. Wanda tries to run faster, supposedly not to save her life but because she feels she’s the only one who can save Jamie’s, so she needs to not get caught. She stumbles, and Jared tells her he’s going to take off the blindfold so she’ll be faster.
He makes her promise not to look around, which she does, because he obviously still doesn’t really trust her either (or maybe fears if she gets caught she’ll lead the Seekers to them if she knows the way…giving him the benefit of the doubt), even though he’s doing this…so he takes off the blindfold, she focuses on the ground, and off they go again.
Blah blah blah, paragraph about nothing important, random filler, then Jared asks if she can hear anything for some reason, she says no, she guesses he stole the gun because the others couldn’t stop them from a distance without it (which still doesn’t explain how he stole it), and after apparently another hour of running, Jared puts his hand over Wanda’s eyes and slows to a walk. That’s a lot of goddamn running with no rest or water, in the desert, with no preparation, and god only knows when the last time they ate or drank was…
More random stuff, then Jared tells Wanda to “get in” and takes his hand away from her eyes, and she sees that she is in a cave, with the Jeep.
“It looked just the same as I remembered it, this vehicle I had never seen.”
Ugh. Really, Meyer? 43 chapters in you still feel you have to remind us of this crap? Fuck offfff, please!
They get into the Jeep and Jared blindfolds her again, and then the noise of the engine scares her because it “seemed too dangerous“. What did you expect; the Jeep was going to have a silent engine? You’ve experienced cars before, dear. If you’re that worried about not drawing attention to yourselves, don’t take the Jeep. Plain and simple. You can walk.
They start driving, and Jared tells Wanda they’re going to Tucson because they never raid there due to it being so close (smart), and they’re only going there now because they don’t have time to go anywhere further. Luckily, Jared knows where there’s a hospital in Tucson, which is just super convenient, but Wanda feels the need to verify first that it’s not the same hospital as her original Healer moved to, which it isn’t, so yay for fucking convenience yet again!
Jared asks if Wanda will be recognized and she says she won’t, because they don’t have “wanted people“. Um…Wanda, you weren’t wanted, they were searching for you for your own safety; you’ve said yourself that they’re not suspicious. They might not have wanted people, but they may very well have done bulletins in an effort to find you…
Also, while we’re on the subject of finding her, what the hell happened to the Seeker? Did she just disappear before Walter’s death, never to be seen again? If she was so determined, I’d think she’d be around now, looking for Wanda, which would make this a much riskier mission, especially since it’s not really been all that long since Walter died. But even if she isn’t around, why do neither Jared nor Wanda even think of the possibility that she might show up at some point? They worried enough about her before…
Anyway, Jared gives Wanda something small and tells her that if the aliens figure out that she’s with the humans and decide they want to put someone else in Stryder’s body, she’s to take the pill and bite down on it. She guesses that it’s poison, somehow, despite not being familiar with this crap repeatedly up to now, and Jared confirms that she is right.
Wanda laughs out of nervousness, which makes Jared angry, and he tells her if she can’t do that he’ll have to take her back. She says she can, and that that’s why she’s laughing, which confuses Jared, so she explains that she’s never been able to end her life for her own kind, not even to make more babies (because she is incredibly fucking selfish, which goes against all the crap about how selfless and wonderful she is, and makes me wonder EVEN MORE why she’s so revered among the aliens), because she was too afraid…but that for “one alien child” (Jamie) she can. She says it doesn’t make sense, but she could die to protect Jamie.
Jared says he’s trusting her to do that, but I sure as hell wouldn’t; if she’s been too afraid to do it before, and Jamie isn’t right in front of her in danger, I would have a very hard time believing she’d be able to act the way she had to. I highly, highly doubt that if she had to do it, she’d be able to go through with it. She would get caught; easy as that. Jared should see that about her too.
After a moment of silence, Wanda tells Jared that she doesn’t look right for walking into a hospital. He says he has better clothes stashed with the “less conspicuous vehicles”, whatever the hell that means, and that that’s where they’re going. Why is this shit important, Meyer? Where the hell are you going with this?
They stop at another cave and get out, with much useless description, and then Jared pulls out some brand new clothes, with tags, and gives them to Wanda to change into. Is there a dress code for hospitals now that I wasn’t aware of? If she’s trying to convince them she got injured hiking, shouldn’t she be wearing dirtier clothes, so she looks like she’s been hiking? Brand new clothes are a pretty dead giveaway that she’s lying. She says they won’t be suspicious of her, yet she thinks she needs to change her clothes so that they won’t be suspicious of her, so she changes into clothes that won’t suit her story at all, because that will make them less suspicious of her. What?! This is the stupidest, most utterly flawed plan ever, and I don’t know how Jared isn’t seeing this.
Wanda gets all self-conscious about Jared watching her change, so he goes to get the car, and I hate this bit for some reason. Wanda gets dressed and decides it’s fine if she wears brand new clothes with crappy shoes, because she can make up a lie about the shoes but she totally couldn’t have about the clothes (ugh), and then Jared comes to pick her up in an “unremarkable sedan”. Yeah, okay, whatever.
Jared gets the tarps that were chained on the Jeep and chains them to the car, because that’ll certainly keep it unremarkable and it will definitely blend in that way, and Wanda finally realizes what the tarps were for in the first place (to wipe their tracks, though I doubt they’d do a very good job).
Jared opens the door for Wanda and she gets in, but as she does so, she looks in the side mirror and realizes she can’t go to the hospital with her face scarred, because no alien would have a scar since their medical technology is so awesome and whatnot. She tells him it will make the aliens ask questions, and Jared is angry that she didn’t think of that before they left, because now the others will think it was all just a plot for her to learn the way out, and will likely kill her.
Wanda tells him they’re not going back without medicine for Jamie, so he asks what she proposes they do, and she tells him she’ll need a rock, and he’ll need to hit her.
That’s where the chapter ends.
I am filled with an inordinate amount of glee at the prospect of Wanda getting hit with a rock, especially by Jared, and in the face. Pllleeeeease let that happen, Meyer! Don’t make this just another tease that goes nowhere; I beg of you!
This chapter was largely uneventful and mostly pointless, but I didn’t get aneurysm levels of rage from it, so I guess that’s good. On to the next!
(See Mike’s take on this chapter at http://emptystress.wordpress.com!)