Wanderer Wanders in the Desert: The Host Chapters 11 and 12

Previously, in The Host:

Melanie: View all my distractionbacks! They serve the dual purpose of distracting you whilst forcing you to fall in love with Jared.

Wanderer: Your plan was successful, I now love Jared as well!

Melanie: So let’s work together to follow some squiggly lines my crazy uncle showed me, lines that will lead us to Jared who may or may not have figured out what these squiggly lines meant.

Wanderer: We’ll I don’t know…

Melanie: C’mon…it’ll be fun. Besides, you aliens have no real aims anyway.

Wanderer: Okay, let’s go to the desert together and follow some damn squiggly lines.

Chapter 11

The girls have apparently run out of gas in their car but are apparently are still a ways away from their destination. Apparently Wanderer done fucked up and now they have to backtrack on foot. Melanie tries to convince Wanderer to cover the car with nearby…branches in order to hide it. I don’t know, you guys, that plan sounds pretty fucking stupid. So Wanderer ignores Melanie and thinks that even if someone does find her, she can just say she got lost hiking. Hiking is legitimate thing that people do, and I’m sure the aliens have taken over the body of someone who saw 127 Hours. I wonder what the lives of souls in celebrity bodies are like. Do they still make films?

I could easily and honestly explain what I was doing here to any rescuer: I was lost. I’d lost my way…lost my control…lost my mind.

Jesus fuck, Wanderer. Just stop with, “I was lost.” How the hell were you the one chosen to complete a difficult mission of any sort in the first place?

There’s more useless inner turmoil about Wanderer and whether she’s doing the right thing, and inner turmoil from Melanie about protecting Jared and Jamie, and more inner turmoil for me because I still am barely through chapter eleven and still have to read chapter twelve.

I sorta feel for Wanderer in this chapter. Melanie is still only releasing clues to her about the squiggly lines and map markers in increments, so she’s just kind of wandering (omg, like her name, you guys) in the desert not really knowing how long their journey realistically could be. It still baffles me that Melanie is able to keep information from her, given it seems like sometimes they can feel every changing emotion the other soul/person has? And hear all their thoughts. The rules in this book confuse me.

At night, Melanie is as unhelpful as ever.

You want me to just sleep on the ground? Right here?

You see another option? She felt my panic, and her tone softened, as if with pity. Look— it’s better than the car. At least it’s flat. It’s too hot for any critters to be attracted to your body heat and

“Critters?” I demanded aloud. “Critters?

There were brief, very unpleasant flashes of deadly-looking insects and coiled serpents in her memories.

Don’t worry. She tried to soothe me…

Again the rules of what they can and can’t hide from each other become unclear:

You’re bigger than anything else out here.  Another flash of memory, this time a medium-size canine scavenger, a coyote, flitted through our thoughts.

Oops.

The chapter progresses as slowly as Wanderer and Melanie on their journey. Obstacles like drinking too much of their water supply and running out of food occur, but I feel no sense of urgency reading this.

I don't give a shit

As the girls continue to move forward, they suddenly make out a house in the distance. Melanie is immediately terrified, but Wanderer tries to convince her that souls only live in societies and would never be off on their own out here. Then for some reason she thinks it’s time to have a personal crisis about whether or not she’s always been unhappy as a soul and that’s why she’s wandered from planet to planet. Melanie clearly does not give a fuck and continues to stress about the house. They determine maybe humans live there and would kill them, but Melanie thinks it’s unlikely given how thorough the souls are at taking over planets.

So then it turns into well if your kind isn’t there…and my kind isn’t there…maybe no one is there and we can search the house?

Inside the abandoned house, Wanderer finds a newspaper that is filled with grotesque news articles, which sparks a debate between her and Melanie again about whether or not the souls are living as humans better.

That’s how we realized you were here, you know, she said, thinking of the sickening news headlines again. When the evening news was nothing but inspiring human-interest stories, when pedophiles and junkies were lining up at the hospitals to turn themselves in, when everything morphed into Mayberry , that’s when you tipped your hand.

“What an awful alteration! ” I said dryly, turning to the next cupboard.

Again, what the fuck is their goal that they’re all apparently working towards together in perfect harmony? And why can’t this book me more interesting or at least more fun to make fun of and not so damn boring!

Wanderer find crackers and twinkies and even water stored in a bottle of bleach. Apparently this is a thing that people do because the bleach residue keeps anything from growing in the water. At least this book taught me something new.

The chapter ends with them heading back outside to continue on their merry way.

Chapter 12

But then chapter twelve begins with Melanie freaking out that Wanderer’s gotten something all wrong. They do see the next map marker, but it turns out it’s completely in the opposite direction, and they’ve already run out of food and water…on day four. Jesus, I thought it had been much longer. For some reason they conclude that uncle Jeb was just crazy and there’s nothing out here. And that they are going to die.

As our heroes eventually lay dying, having discussed their beliefs (Melanie) or lack of beliefs (Wanderer) in the afterlife, someone of course comes to save them. God damn it.

Why, it’s crazy Uncle Jeb! I don’t think he’s gonna be too happy when he realizes there’s a soul in this body. He probably already knows because of the incision thing in her neck. Anyway, the chapter ends with hilarious first words from Jeb. He’s literally just like, “Well, now, here’s a pickle.”

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8 comments

  1. Bellomy Reply

    The mental/thematic conflicts in this book, I just realized, are almost exactly the same as those in “Brave New World” – is it better to lose some form of freedom, whether it’s, in “Brave New World”;s case, to genetically programmed dispositions and mind-numbing drugs, or, in “The Host”‘s case, to aliens, in exchange for no more war, class warfare, rape, murder, or general societal problems of any kind? Or would you rather keep your freedom, warts and all?

    Here is “The Host”‘s problem: It’s GLARINGLY obvious that the aliens suck. In “Brave New World” you obviously sympathize the most with John the Savage, but at least you could see the appeal of the new world that was created (Who doesn’t want happy drugs?), and there’s an illusion of freedom (Or is it an allusion? That’s part of the conflict).

    In “The Host”, *aliens have enslaved the human race*. Think about this for a second. Would ANYBODY, ever, want, not the *illusion* of choice, as offered in “Brave New World”, but literally *aliens in their brain, enslaving them(!)*? This is no different than any other form of slavery; however you slice it, you’re forced to do another person’s bidding. This is another difference from “Brave New World” – at least there’s no concrete person who’s will you are forced to obey. The aliens are SLAVE MASTERS. They completely suck. They’re evil.

    But Meyer is trying to create this moral dilemma about whether the Souls are better than humans or not and whether taking over their society is better for humans or not. But I can’t buy it at all. Like, I can’t even consider the idea. Humans are not only slaves, they’re being killed for the Souls to use! And we’re supposed to believe this is a GOOD thing?

    It’s just not believable.

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    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      Yes! The fact that Meyer presents this like we’re genuinely supposed to read the book, scratch our heads and go, “Ya know, maybe the souls are right! Maybe we are so bad that we should be erased and some aliens live in our bodies instead!” is so ridiculous. There’s absolutely no real moral conundrum, it’s like, get these aliens out of everyone’s bodies and tell them to fuck off.

      Brave New World’s happy drugs > The Host’s “moral dilemma”

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      • Bellomy Reply

        I mean, there’s a workable concept buried somewhere in here. Going back to Animorphs, Applegate touched on something like this briefly. There’s a semi-insane voluntary controller named Taylor who joined the Yeerks to heal serious injuries she sustained in a fire and get her life as a “popular girl” back. Applegate managed to raise some interesting questions about the value of freedom and what it’s worth losing for.

        Notice though – Taylor gave up her freedom VOLUNTARILY, the big difference. These humans have not. Some have even been killed…most, apparently. It’s impossible for me to have any sympathy with the aliens the way it’s structured now.

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    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      Ha! So true. It’s weird because you’d think since the book was longer it was taking time for us to get to know the characters in meaningful ways, but I still feel like I don’t really know Melanie or Wanderer. Nor do I care about their inner plights.

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  2. E.H.Taylor Post authorReply

    I’m honestly shocked that it was crazy Uncle Jeb who found her!
    I mean, this was an opportune moment for Meyer to once again do the whole ‘weak female character who I’m saying is strong but really isn’t, once again finds herself in trouble and is saved by the hot guy who I’m trying to portray as exceptionally manly by having him rescue the damsel in distress every few chapters.’
    Opportunity = Lost
    Don’t mind me though. I’m just sad that we haven’t officially met Jared yet.

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    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      Don’t worry, I read ahead a bit and SPOILER meeting Jared is not so far away…and he’s not mister nice guy anymore!

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