Oh I just know, from the title of this one, that I’m gonna love it.  Yep, this chapter is absolutely going to be worth my time, isn’t it?  I hate my life.

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We start out an indeterminate length of time after the stupid food fest/argument that happened after Wanda healed Jamie, and the veeeery first line of the chapter is a complaint.  Yay, off to a great start!  This time it’s not Wanda complaining, though, it’s Kyle, complaining that raiding is no fun anymore because it’s too easy.  Awww, poor muffin.

Apparently, it’s the middle of the day, and Kyle is in the back of a windowless van these people somehow acquired (convenience) with Ian, going through the stuff that Wanda picked up from the grocery store, since she can just walk in and do that now.  Goodbye, any tension this book ever could have hoped to have!

They’re in Wichita, it seems, and Jared is driving, making sure to keep to the speed limit so he doesn’t get caught by the aliens.  So…they do police this?  I can’t imagine why, if all the souls stay under the speed limit all the time…do they have rebellious souls?  Or is it just a sure-fire way of weeding out humans, because they know humans are the only ones who will speed?

If that’s the case, I’d think they’d have to have a damn good system in place for catching them once they’ve identified them as speeding, because I doubt the humans would stick around long if they knew the aliens were after them.  Also, being a police officer must be an incredibly boring job in a world where no one ever does anything bad…you’d probably look forward to the rare days you ran into a human.

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I’d say some of them would likely guard places to keep humans from raiding, but raiding seems to have been fairly easy for the humans up to this point, so I’m going to guess they don’t do that either, so…yep, outrageously boring job, and further proof that the aliens really aren’t all that bright.

Ian asks Wanda if she’s getting tired of shopping yet, and she says she doesn’t mind it, which seems to annoy Ian for some reason.  He asks if there’s anything she does mind, and she lists off a few things, but Kyle doesn’t think she has any right to complain, because at least she gets to stretch her legs.  As Ian pointed out, though, Kyle wanted to be there, so he should probably just shut up about that.

Ian says he wants to hear her complain because it’s a nice change from Kyle complaining, and because it’s “so uncommon“.  Oh god, Ian, no it isn’t; she has spent a good 90% of this book complaining about one thing or another, you just either can’t hear it because it’s in her head, or ignore it because you want to bone her!

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Wanda tunes Ian and Kyle out since she expects them to just keep arguing like usual (really shows Ian’s maturity there, eh Wanda?  Super huge turn on), and starts talking to Jared about where they’re going to shop next.

Then we get a whoooole lot of  stuff about how great Jared is again for never losing his focus while on a raid (which Ian and Kyle do), how much Wanda likes her shopping trips being referred to as “missions”, a description of exactly how easy these trips are for her, as if we cared, what treats she brings back for Jared, Kyle and Ian (again, as if we cared; obviously it’s very relevant to this story that Kyle and Ian have favourites but Jared gave them up because he’s Mr. Wonderful and is obviously so much more advanced than these other piddly humans), and some examples of generic conversations she has with aliens she meets in her travels.  This shit is riveting, Meyer.  Fuck, you really deserved all the money you made from this one.

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Blah blah blah, changing her backstory so guys don’t hit on her, because apparently she’s so fucking sexy every guy wants to do her, and the aliens still do that even though that would be, from her descriptions up to this point, a human desire that the aliens don’t generally have, so I guess they are all becoming human anyway and soon no one will give a crap that she’s hanging out with humans…annnd now she’s talking to a pharmacist.

Okay, so…they have pharmacists, so…are they prescribed things?  Are there some things the alien medications that were mentioned before can’t heal that require prescriptions?  Because that doesn’t add up at all.  But if their medications can cure everything, then what do they need pharmacists for?  Are the aliens able to get medications (like Wanda got from the Healer) from a pharmacist and have them in their homes?  If so, why the hell didn’t Wanda just go get stuff from the pharmacy instead of injuring herself to get them from a Healer?  Or hell, why didn’t the humans just raid a home or a pharmacy before Wanda was ever in the picture and steal the alien meds, to have for the reasons I’ve mentioned before?  None of this fucking makes sense!

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It seems Wanda talked to this pharmacist to get nutritional supplements for everyone, and the supplements are, ever so creatively, called Health.  Ugh.  Yeah, Wanda, you should feel “silly” for asking what you needed when you were looking for shit like that; “Health” is pretty fucking obviously what you want.  My god, I just cannot believe the lazy writing here!  And again, if suggesting what supplements to get when they only have one kind that covers everything is all a pharmacist does, we’ve got another incredibly boring, pointless job…but this one is even worse than being a police officer.  Life must be so great for the souls, being bored out of their minds all the time.

Wanda thinks about the cyanide pill she’s still got (were any of the people in the cave mentioned as having been in a position in their normal lives where they had easy access to cyanide pills?  How the hell did Jared get this?), and how that’s the only thing she’s ever afraid of, and then Jared starts talking to her about how she should get some new clothes.

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Wanda agrees to get clothes to keep up appearances, but only because she can give her old ones to people in the caves, so she doesn’t feel she’s being excessive.  Yep, that’s our Wanda; selfless and good and I’m probably going to start gagging soon.  Isn’t this chapter interesting?!  We’re on page 4 now, and so far exactly NOTHING has happened!

Jared decides that Wanda needs a shower (lol) so they will have to stop at a hotel for the night, and then for some reason Meyer switches back to talking about clothes for another paragraph before following up on the hotel comment.  This leads to another few paragraphs of very obvious information; how much it scares the guys to stay in hotels because it makes them vulnerable, how Kyle sleeps in the van during the day to keep watch at night, and how easy it is for Wanda to stay in the hotels, because it’s just like anything else.  Yep, we definitely needed all this crap; especially the bit about the names she gives for all of them, and the planets those names come from, and FUCK THIS SHIT SHOWING UP AGAIN.  Stupid fucking alien species.

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And just to remind us how selfless and wonderful Wanda is, we then go on to hear about how she changes the names she uses for them every time because it makes Stryder feel safer, and how the only part she minds about all the shopping is that she’s taking a lot without giving back.  She says before she took what she needed and nothing more, so it didn’t bother her, but now she’s taking a lot of stuff and doesn’t have a Calling to give anything back to the community, so she feels guilty about it.  Yeah fucking right.  She sure didn’t feel bad about taking without thinking from anyone else in the first few chapters.

She says she previously collected garbage and cleaned streets, because everyone took their turns doing that, but NO YOU FUCKING DIDN’T, you have been a teacher since the beginning of the goddamn book, which was the beginning of your LIFE ON EARTH, and never before Earth has there ever been a planet where you had a reason to be doing garbage collecting or street cleaning, because there WASN’T GARBAGE OR STREETS.  Fuck, Meyer, keep your fucking story straight!  This is not hard!

Stryder tries to make Wanda feel better about feeling selfish by telling her that it’s not for herself, it’s for others, but Wanda says it still feels wrong.  She asks if Stryder feels that too, and Stryder says not to think about it.  I assume Wanda took that to mean that Stryder does feel it, but I absolutely do not think Stryder feels bad at all about taking from the aliens.  Not one solitary bit.  And why should she, considering they took ALL of that from her and her kind?  How can Wanda even ask that question to Stryder?

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And why hasn’t Wanda thought about how she’s taking stuff for the humans, whose stuff it was in the first place, so she’s not really doing ANYTHING wrong!  She’s just bringing it to where it belongs, rather than leaving it with the aliens!  She always seems to find ways to make things not be her fault, so why doesn’t that apply here too, where it’s at least partially warranted?

Wanda reflects on how glad she is that their raid is almost over, and how they’ll soon be heading back to a moving truck that they apparently have stashed away to put all the stuff from the van into.  How are they hiding a moving truck?  And again, where did they get one in the first place?  These are the kinds of things that are pretty obvious when they go missing, and I’m damn sure none of the inhabitants of the cave just happened to have them when they showed up!

Can there even once be something that’s not just obviously convenient, Meyer?  Please?  There’s no tension in this story if they always have exactly what they need all the time (and the one time they didn’t, with Jamie’s injuries, they should have, using any logic)!

After a brief description of the path they’ll take to get home, which I’m assuming only exists because Meyer wants us to applaud her amazing skill at reading a map, Wanda gets back on the subject of hotels again.  She mentions how they usually checked in after dark and left before dawn so no one would really notice them, but to me, that would draw more suspicion than anything else.

Most adorable suspicious glance ever.

Most adorable suspicious glance ever.

Oh wait, the souls aren’t suspicious; I forgot.  And here, instead of outlining how they aren’t suspicious but Wanda still acts like they’re going to be suspicious of things, we are told that Ian and Jared are actually starting to realize that the souls aren’t suspicious as well.  Because, of course, Meyer needed them to stop at a hotel before dark in order to set up her next scene, so she had to make them feel that way.  Yep, Meyer, people’s feelings change on a dime because you say so, because you need to make a scene work.  You really fucking suck at this.

So yeah, they decide to stop at a hotel during daylight because Ian thinks Wanda looks tired (she couldn’t even say Wanda was tired, because that would make her next scene bullshit as well…I really fucking hate this convenience shit, if you hadn’t noticed) and because they had such a good day stealing shit.

They go into their room, eyes to the ground because they need to be inconspicuous so the unsuspicious aliens don’t get suspicious of them, and it’s here we learn that Ian now has a scar on his neck too, for camouflage.  Yep, camouflage.  Do these aliens have superpowered eyesight or something?  How can they see scars from a far enough distance that that would be useful?  If an alien got up close enough to see, I’d think they’d have already noticed these guys weren’t aliens by their eyes, or the fact that Ian and Jared would try to fucking kill them.  So what is the point of scarring them?

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When they get in the room, they draw the curtains shut and settle in.  Ian begins to watch TV on the bed while Jared gets out a rather disgusting sounding dinner for them, and Wanda looks out through the corner of the curtains to watch the sun set.  Ian starts to talk about how humans had better TV than the aliens do, and for some reason Meyer decides we need to talk about that at length again too.  Oh joy of fucking joys.

So now we get a long paragraph telling us what’s happening on TV between two people who used to be other fucking alien races that I hate, and it seems here that Meyer is making fun of cheesy romances, which is fucking hilarious considering this book proves she couldn’t write a romance to save her life.  People in glass houses, Meyer; people in glass houses.

She makes sure to note that all the souls’ scripts have happy endings, and it seems like that’s supposed to be a bad thing considering she’s basically saying the souls’ scripts are boring and all the same, yet I’ve already been told that Meyer couldn’t stand to have the characters in this book not have happy endings, no matter how little sense it made, so seriously, who is she to talk?!

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Why write this shit in your book if you’re gonna do the same damn thing?  Sure, your premise for this book was more unique, but that doesn’t make it better, because you sure as fuck did not pull it off well at all!  You have no room to criticize anyone else’s writing when you’ve released this atrocity into the world!

Ian says he wishes they would run old human shows again, and Wanda replies that they were too disturbing and violent (they weren’t all violent; there are plenty that are not disturbing or violent at all).  Ian tries to give an example of a show that wasn’t, but the show he chooses portrayed a child punching a bully once, so that makes it horrible and him wrong.  There are examples that do not include that, though, I’m just not going to bother with them right now, because why the hell would I?

Ian goes back to watching TV, though according to Wanda he’s doing it wrong, and Wanda goes back to looking out the window because even she knows it’s more interesting than the souls’ boring TV.  Somehow, despite that the curtains are closed and Wanda is only peeking out through a small corner, she is able to describe everything that’s across the road from the hotel.  That’s impressive.

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She sees a bunch of scenery and a playground, and at the playground is a little family (mother, father, baby) playing on the swings.  This scene is actually pretty cute the way it’s described, and is something I have both seen on playgrounds and have done myself, so I’ll give props there, despite that Wanda shouldn’t be able to see it as clearly as she claims to.

Jared shows up behind Wanda and asks what she’s staring at, and she explains that she’s staring at hope.  He peeks out behind her, apparently, though I really can’t see how he would see anything unless they pulled back the blinds, and asks what she means.  He looks around, but because he’s a guy (I’m assuming that’s Meyer’s reason), he doesn’t notice the family playing.  I thought he was supposed to be uber observant and awesome?  An observant person definitely would have noticed aliens; especially one who’s so afraid of being caught by them.

Wanda grabs his chin and turns it so he looks at the family, because she couldn’t have just said something instead because Meyer wanted to make note that Jared no longer flinches when Wanda touches him, even though he hasn’t done that in a while.

Jared asks what he’s looking at, and Wanda tells him it’s the only hope for survival she’s ever seen for a host species.  Ian is apparently listening now too, as a confused Jared asks where this hope is, and Wanda points out the mother, noting how much she loves her human child.  Ooooh.  Shit just got real.

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Because life always conveniently proves Wanda’s points, the mother grabs her baby and the baby reacts in baby-like ways, which apparently would not have happened if it was implanted.  She says if it carried a soul, it would be a miniature adult, and that is incredibly fucking disturbing to me.  I don’t like the thought of that at all, and I can’t imagine it would be pleasant to be one of the aliens stuck in a baby’s body.

You couldn’t just jump to being able to walk and talk, because the baby’s body would need to develop the proper muscle tone and other functions necessary to be able to do those things, so it would be almost as frustrating as being stuck in a body you couldn’t control.  It’s a wonder they’ve yet to realize how horrible that is to do to the humans, if they’ve got aliens trapped in babies who have had to experience it to some degree. …Though I’d be willing to bet Meyer would say the babies with souls in them can walk and talk from the get-go, because she doesn’t give a flying fuck about science.

But this all answers my questions about whether the host bodies still reproduce and if they need to have insertions after birth to make the babies souls…and it’s a yes and yes.  So the souls really do mutilate babies, Wanda, and not for purposes of survival, since they clearly don’t need to mutilate them.  It’s your kind that are the monsters.

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Jared is shocked to learn that the baby is human, and understandably asks a lot of questions about it, but Wanda doesn’t know the answers to most of what he asks because she’s never seen it happen before either.  She says Motherhood is all but worshipped among the aliens, so she can’t imagine the mother would be forced to give the child up for a host if she didn’t want to, but she doesn’t know how it would be handled in society.

She blames the emotions of the human host bodies again, saying they outweigh logic, and logic is what would have made the mother give her baby up to become a host.  I guess she just loves her baby for the person who was born into it, not the person who would be shoved into it.  What a concept, eh, aliens?  There’s already a person in there, and even an alien sees that that means there doesn’t need to be another one.  So fucking stop.

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Jared and Ian are both now staring at the family in the park, which makes me think they must have opened those damn curtains, because I don’t know how they could all see otherwise.  Wanda reaffirms that she knows that no one would force the parents to give their child a soul if they wanted a human child, and she’s amazed by how they are interacting with the child.

Annnd then Wanda ruins all the wonder and sweetness of the moments relating to the family in the park by going on about how the humans have the first planet they’ve discovered aside from theirs that has live births.  Because bears and beasts and whatever the fuck else don’t have live births, they definitely all hatch from eggs.  Yep.

As stupid as that is, Wanda uses it as the reason why something like this would happen; either live births or the helplessness of human young, because usually the aliens wouldn’t have met their children at all due to them being in eggs or seeds, so they wouldn’t have grown attached.  Uh huh.  I’m just…fuck this.

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Wanda comments on how strange it would be if her kind and the humans lived in peace, and I’d like to posit that that could have happened all along if they hadn’t been such dicks about the whole thing, but perhaps not, so meh, best that could be done, I guess.  Though it would be hard for the humans to live in a society comprised mostly of individuals who destroyed the lives of their ancestors, I would think…but hey, maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe everything would be just peachy keen.

Jared and Ian continue to stare at the family until they (the family) leave, and then no one talks for the rest of the evening, and they all go to bed early.  Instead of letting the chapter end there, though, Meyer decides to ramble on about how Wanda sleeps alone while the guys share a bed, and how uncomfortable that makes her, because Meyer needs to shove down our throats how selfless Wanda must be to feel so guilty about having a bed to herself.  I am SO FUCKING SICK OF HEARING ABOUT THIS, Meyer.  LAY OFF.

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I don’t give a sweet fuck whether Wanda sleeps in a ball or mounted on a fucking cross, just SHUT UP ABOUT IT!  It is not relevant!  And we know why no one asks her to share a bed; it’s not because – as the rest of this scene lays out (a flashback of Wanda’s where she overhears a conversation between Ian and Jared while she’s in the shower) – Ian “knows how she thinks” and believes it’s unfair to make her choose who to sleep with, it’s because Ian knows damn fucking well that if Wanda is given a choice, SHE WILL CHOOSE JARED, and he doesn’t want that!  He’s a manipulative fucking asshole, and that much is INCREDIBLY obvious, so much so that I can’t imagine Meyer doesn’t intend it!

Buttt Wanda says Ian does know how she thinks, and that he’s right about not making her share, but she doesn’t even seem to see that the fact that she says she would pick Jared there IS the reason why Ian is not okay with her choosing, and he IS jealous; it’s not at all that he knows she’ll worry about how he feels!  She’d like to think she’d worry about how Ian would feel if she slept with Jared, because she feels that would make her a better person, but the fact of the matter is that if she was sleeping with Jared, she would enjoy it too much to give a fuck how Ian felt.  And Ian damn well knows it.

And what the fuck is this shit about worrying about making Jared unhappy by sleeping with him if he gave her the indication he wanted her to?  Why would he be unhappy to get what he wanted?  That’s just fucking stupid.  Shut up, Meyer.  You’re not even making sense anymore.

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Clichéd homophobic lines between Jared and Ian, Wanda admitting she sleeps better alone, even with her guilt, and then a complete subject change that seems like it could have used a minor section break but of course didn’t have one, and they’re on their way home, with the days apparently passing quickly.

They’re all eager to get home, and because when the plot suits, people’s characters change, Jared is now becoming careless when she just said that one of the best things about Jared was that he never did that.  Kyle and Ian are driving the moving truck and Jared and Wanda are driving the van, and Kyle and Ian are behind them, going slowly because the truck requires it or something convenient like that.

Wanda is excited about seeing Jamie and having a real homecoming where no one wants to kill her, so she’s not paying attention either, and because they’re both careless all of a sudden, Jared is speeding. Not by just a little bit, but by 20 miles over the limit, because when Jared’s character changes, it really changes. It takes Meyer a while to get to this, though, because she has to divert us with Wanda’s thought that the lights behind them are the moving truck catching up somehow, but then the chapter ends with a police siren and blue and red flashing lights behind Jared and Wanda’s van, and the fear that causes to them.

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So, that’s two chapters in a row I have absolutely hated and found stupid.  Yay, we’re on a roll!  The shittiest roll ever!  I hate all 13 chapters that I still have to read in this book, because I know they’ll be terrible even without reading them!  This book is getting worse as it goes, and I’m going progressively more insane!  Yayyyyyy!!!

More next week, because I hate myself!!

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