Quick reminder that tomorrow we start the first Good Books, Good Times Book Club! We’re reading The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman, so if you want to participate, our discussion of the first four chapters starts tomorrow! A bunch of you have already said that you plan on reading along with us, and I’m really excited to see how this goes! Because I still have no idea what this is going to turn into, which may sound like I don’t have a plan, but that’s just another way to say there is infinite potential for fun.
In terms of finite potential for fun, Wanderer has been kept prisoner in the humans’ cave, watched over by her host’s boyfriend Jared, for four completely silent weeks, because making decisions is hard.
Chapter 19: Abandoned
The last chapter ended with Jared and Ian demanding to know information about the Seeker (not the Seekers who are Souls with that particular job, but the specific Soul who is a Seeker who was watching Wanderer and doesn’t have a name and the novel only uses context to distinguish between the two and you see why this is a problem?), because they think she knows why the Seeker didn’t give up looking for her. Which seems really dumb because, uh, what is Wanderer going to know? But then if you think about it, they literally know nothing because they never ask Wanderer any questions about anything, and just kind of kept her in a cave for four weeks instead.
“Who is the Seeker in black? Why is it still searching?” Jared’s shout was defining, echoing at me from all sides.
And a lot of Wander thinking/Stephenie Meyer writing way too many words like this:
This was not how torture was supposed to work. […] This wasn’t even the right question – not a secret I was in any way bound to protect. […] Was I truly a coward? […] The real reason I opened my mouth and spoke was so much more pathetic. I wanted to please him, this human who hated me so fiercely.
Any chance did you watch the fourth season of Arrested Development that came out earlier this summer? There are two scenes where George Michael’s character is thinking about how to respond to a question and the narrator narrates his thought process, and the joke becomes that he’s spending such absurd amounts of time thinking/narrating every single thing he’s thinking that the other characters in the scene are reacting to his real-time extended periods of silence with confusion and bewilderment. That’s what reading this book is like.
She explains that the Seeker isn’t just any Seeker. They ask why. She says because that Seeker is the reason she ran away. They ask why. She says because she didn’t like her. They ask why. This is how all the human characters finally slowly get some answers about Wanderer. But it’s really not that bad, and I honestly kind of liked this part, because 1) something is happening, and 2) it doesn’t matter how slow and overwritten it is because by this point you should really be skimming this book anyway. See, all you have to do it cut out half the narration and it becomes way more tolerable!
Ian and Jared exchanged a look. They’d never heard anything like this before. They didn’t trust me, but they wanted so desperately to believe it was possible.
They wanted it too much. That made them fear.
She tries to keep it secret that Melanie’s consciousness is still alive inside her because she knows they won’t believe her, which make it really difficult when she tries to explain how she found their hideout without actually knowing where she was going. She lies about not having perfect access to Melanie’s memories because the body was damaged when she tried to kill herself, but they know she’s lying. Which is actually a nice touch – I’m interested! They already don’t trust her, and they’re hearing all these crazy things they can’t believe, and there’s this one detail they know is a lie, but what about the rest of it then?
“Why isn’t this Seeker giving up like the rest?” Ian asked. […]
“I don’t know,” I whispered. “Shes not like other souls. She’s… annoying.”
Ian laughed once – a startled sound.
It’s this delicate struggle between paranoia and misinformation that makes stories like this about survival and deception interesting, because that creates tension.
He grunted a few times as he squeezed outside the opening of my cave […]
“That was unexpected,” Ian whispered.
“Lies, of course,” Jared whispered back
Although this tension is completely ruined when the narrator has to explain how everyone’s thinking and feeling and acting all the time. Or, worse, when the author has to do this.
I could barely make out their words. They probably didn’t realize how the sound echoed back to me in here.
You mean two people standing a few feet away from a person in a small opening that doesn’t have a door or anything can be overheard?! This is an actual thing that is happening in this book right now. There are two people talking about a person who they know is 1) awake, 2) standing right there, 3) not behind a door or anything, just literally standing right there, and 4) standing right fucking there.
They continue debating how much of what Wanderer said is a lie, even though she’s standing right – okay, I’m just gonna skip ahead in the chapter. Jeb tells Jared that they’re running out of food and other supplies and need someone to go on a supply run and Jared is the best. Exactly where Jared is going and how he’s supposed to bring back over a month’s worth of supplies three days into the desert without attracting attention is completely, 100% fucking beyond me, but these aren’t the sorts of details Stephenie Meyer feels are important to explain to us where there are aliens experiencing Human Feelings like heartbreak to overdescribe.
it wasn’t just ripping, but twisting and pulling in different directions. Because Melanie’s heart broke, too, and it was a separate sensation, as if we’d grown another organ to compensate for our twin awarenesses. A double heart for a double mind. Twice the pain.
What the actual fuck was any of that?
Chapter 20: Freed
Anyway, as you may have inferred from the title of the post, Jared is gone now. I’m totally okay with this, because all his character was doing was quite literally not letting things happen. He was facing a huge dilemma and couldn’t decide what to do about it, and even though other characters were trying to make things happen he kept telling them to go away, and then four weeks passed. So the other characters told Jared to go away.
[Jeb said] “Jared was being real pigheaded about you, and now that he’s temporarily out of the picture, it’s bound to make things more comfortable.”
Which is good news because now things can happen, and bad news because they are all boring things.
THEY GO ON ANOTHER TOUR OF THE GODDAMN CAVE.
My eyes opened wider, stared at him in disbelief. A tour?
Yeah, you’re not the only one, Wanderer.
“Let’s see,” Jeb murmured. “Maybe the right wing first. Set up a decent place for you. Then the kitchens […] I’ll bet the carrots are sprouted today,” he was saying as he led me into the main plaza.
And, sure enough, he takes her to a portion of the cave where people have their own rooms and the kitchens and where they grow their crops and
If you want nothing more than descriptions of a cave and how Jeb converted the cave into a place that can support human survival, this is the chapter for you!
I tugged Jeb’s sleeve and squinted up at the dazzling light. “How?”
Jeb smiled, seeming thrilled with my curiosity. “Same way magicians do it – with mirrors, kid. Hundreds of ’em. Took me long enough to get them all up there.”
This is a book about an alien race of bodysnatchers coming to earth and possessing the bodies of the entire human race, and the hardest thing to believe about it so far is that Jeb single-handedly set up an intricate system of mirrors leading light down into a cave sufficient enough to grow crops.
They go to the kitchen and people are pissed off at crazy Jeb for being hospitable to Wanderer and treating her like a human. But not so pissed off that Jamie, Ian, and the doctor decide to go on the tour with them. Also, speaking of Ian, I’m guessing Wanderer’s gonna have Human Feelings for him pretty soon:
I recognized the tall man with ink black hair and my heart stuttered. I’d thought Jared was supposed to take the hostile brothers with him to make Jeb’s job of keeping me alive slightly easier. At least it was the younger one, Ian, who had belatedly developed a conscience
All this book has going for it is a love triangle that doesn’t exist yet.