When we left off, Wanderer had just fled a therapy…I mean comforting session with her, erm, Comforter. She flees when her Comforter Kathy suggests that maybe a soul will possess Jared’s body and she and that soul will fall in love. Melanie and Wanderer are both like, “OH MA GERD NO!” After fleeing, the Seeker who was there when Wanderer woke up shows up for some random ass reason and starts asking too many questions about what Wanderer knows about Melanie’s past.
The chapter opens with possibly the stupidest soul name yet. Okay, maybe not stupider than Fords Deep Waters, but damn close. Faces Sunward. He’s one of Wanderer’s students, and he’s got a question that shows just how little effort Meyer’s has put into world building.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but…” The white-haired man paused, struggling to word his question. “I’m not sure I understand. The Fire-Tasters actually… ingest the smoke from burning the Walking Flowers? Like food?”
He tried to suppress the horror in his tone. It was not a soul’s place to judge another soul. But I was not surprised, given his background on the Planet of the Flowers, at his strong reaction to the fate of a similar life-form on another world.
It’s like she just asked a six-year-old to make up the name of planets for her! And characters! God, what the fuck does ingesting the smoke from burning the Walking Flowers even mean?
Wanderer gives us a convoluted explanation that when the souls first inhabited Fire World, they only possessed the bodies of the Fire-Tasters who viewed the Walking Flowers as unintelligent lifeforms. When the souls realized that burning the Walking Flowers was actually pretty horrific because they are intelligent creatures, they were like, “Oh fuck,” and are working on finding a dietary substitute. Then they’re hoping to start taking over the Walking Flowers as well. So basically this demonstrates that the souls are nice…and horrible? As Matt has pointed out before, they just seem really aimless. What the fuck is their deal?
A bunch of pages go by, and Wanderer and her class keep debating whether or not they should abandon Fire World because it’s too barbaric. For some reason the Seeker is there watching this. After class, she starts pestering Wanderer about whether or not she pities humans. Then she starts going on about how terrible humans are and how the souls are making life there better blah blah.
The Seeker has apparently been trying to get information from Kathy, which shocks Wanderer as it’s supposed to be confidential. Wait. You mean Comforters are like therapists?! No way. Anyway, she suggests that Wanderer find a new host and someone else try this body. And Wanderer accidentally reveals more than she should.
“Hah!” I shouted. “Melanie would eat them alive!”
Her expression froze in place.
She’d had no idea, no matter what she thought she’d discerned from Kathy. She’d thought Melanie’s influence was from memories, that it was unconscious.
Damn it, I hate when I accidentally reveal my host is still present in my head! It’s just the worst.
Turns out the Seeker herself wants to try to take on the body for a little bit, just to get the memories she needs. When Wanderer resists she tries to scare her by telling her once a human starts to resist usually they end up taking over and the success rate for souls in those bodies is pretty shit.
And then somehow the book becomes…even more of an attempt at social commentary?
“You’re losing yourself, Wanderer. All the worlds you’ve seen, all the experiences you’ve collected— they’ll be for nothing. I saw in your file that you have the potential for Motherhood. If you gave yourself to be a Mother, at least all that would not be entirely wasted. Why throw yourself away? Have you considered Motherhood?”
Do you think she’s trying to make a metaphor about Western societies’ ideas on motherhood? SUBTLE!
I jerked away from her, my face flushing.
“I’m sorry,” she muttered, her face darkening, too. “That was impolite. Forget I said that.”
Wait so this is where they draw the line at being appropriate? And what the even fuck is going on? For once I do want an explanation about this shit! Do the souls breed in host bodies but still create an alien? Or a regular human baby in this case?!
There is a really schizophrenic conversation between Wanderer and Melanie where Melanie tries to convince Wanderer to murder the Seeker.
When they get home, Wanderer starts looking up flights. For a sweet vacation?? Not so much.
I decided to save her the search. I’m going to Chicago.
The panic was more than a flicker now. Why?
I’m going to see the Healer. I don’t trust her. I want to talk to him before I make my decision.
There was a brief silence before she spoke again.
The decision to kill me?
Yes, that one.
Considering I have no emotional attachment to Wanderer or Melanie, considering I can’t identify any real stakes in the book for any character, I just do not give a fuck about this decision. Who the hell are we supposed to be rooting for? And this isn’t one of those interesting situations where you love two characters from different sides and don’t know who to root for. I’m just so bored and apathetic that I don’t know who to choose.
Turns out Fords has moved to Arizona, so Melanie and Wanderer are taking a road trip! The Seeker is annoyed they’re driving, but Melanie gets motion sickness. Wanderer then explains to us why she won’t just ditch earth for another planet. Apparently, she actually likes our feelings!
For some reason, Wanderer takes some time to explain what superstition feels like to her.
I’d never had a host that was capable of superstition. It was an interesting sensation. Like knowing you were being watched without being able to find the watcher. It raised goose bumps on the nape of my neck.
Meyer picks the most random and pointless things to describe from Wanderer’s point of view!
Melanie, clearly depressed and thinking Wanderer is about to kill her off has retreated into her memories. Oh, great, another Jared memory. They’re in a cabin in the desert:
“Who built this place?”
“My father and older brothers. I helped, or rather hindered, a little. My dad loved to get away from everything. And he didn’t care much about convention. He never bothered to find out who the land actually belonged to or file permits or any of that pesky stuff.” Jared laughs, throwing his head back. The sun dances off the blond bits in his hair. “Officially, this place doesn’t exist. Convenient, isn’t it?” Without seeming to think about it, he reaches out and takes my hand.
So basically Jared’s dad was a turd muffin. I also hope that I don’t have to read about how beautiful Jared is for the next ten pages.
To be fair, Melanie questions whether or not he’s actually as sexy as she thinks or if it’s just because he’s the only male human besides her brother she’s seen in a long time. Oh, yeah, her brother Jamie is there too. And, woah, get this Jared makes him happy too!
Jared says more pukey shit like,
He looks around us. “Yes. But then, isn’t home always beautiful?”
“It was a miracle— more than a miracle— when I found you, Melanie. Right now, if I was given the choice between having the world back and having you, I wouldn’t be able to give you up. Not to save five billion lives.”
Why is the Seeker at all worried about hunting these people down?
Despite his romantic declarations, Jared is reluctant to move forward with Melanie because apparently he’s twenty-six (and she’s seventeen). Melanie points out that this seems to be a stupid time to worry about conventions, and I have to agree. But I guess we’re supposed to be super impressed with what a Good Guy Jared is for insisting they don’t have to rush…or it’s because of this:
“See,” he explains, hesitating. Under the deep golden tan of his skin, it looks like he might be blushing. “When I was stocking this place, I wasn’t much planning for… guests. What I mean is…” The rest comes out in a rush. “Birth control was pretty much the last thing on my mind.”
Safe sex, people! Jared’s right – ain’t nobody want to bring a child into a world of souls. Can’t he just pretend to be a soul pretending to be a normal human and just go get a fucking condom? We already know the souls love to bone in human bodies. I feel like it wouldn’t be all that hard for a human to blend into a human world where the aliens are also trying to blend into a human world.
Jared’s like, “Don’t worry, we’ve got tons of times! And we’ve only known each other for a month!”
“Don’t worry, Mel. Miracles don’t work that way. I’ll never lose you. I’ll never let you get away from me.”
When people say shit like this, it obviously is going to be undermined almost immediately.
The chapter ends with Melanie and Wanderer crying together.