We’re already on chapter 21 and we’re not even a third of the way through this book? Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.
Chapter 21: Named
The last chapter ended with Wanderer going on another goddamn tour of the cave with Jeb, Jamie, Ian, and the doctor.
Don’t worry, we don’t have to put up with this for much longer.
I wasn’t able to concentrate much on the rest of Jeb’s tour. My attention was not focused on the second set of gardens he led me through – one with corn growing waist-high in the blistering heat of the brilliant mirrors – or the wide but low-ceilinged cavern he called the “rec room.”
It’s okay, Wanderer. I haven’t been paying attention to these tours way before this point. Melanie feels otherwise, though. Because she’s stupid.
[Melanie:] I wish you would pay more attention to Uncle Jeb. This is fascinating.
[Wanderer:] Do what you want with your time.
[Melanie:] I can only hear and see what you hear and see, Wanderer
I really wish Stephenie Meyer would just tell us what the rules of body-possession are already, because I’m getting sick of learning something different every few chapters. First the Soul can access any memory of the host’s, but the host can block specific memories, then the host can present specific memories to the Soul, then the host can hear the Soul think, but the Soul seemingly can’t read the host’s thoughts, but can kind of infer their mood, and now the host can pay as much or as little attention to what’s actually going on as they see fit but limited to what the host is actually experiencing. I would say this is too complicated, but it’s pretty close to this other word, “inconsistent.”
Anyway, Wanderer can barely focus on the tour because Ian and the doctor make her nervous. The tour goes to the medical wing and Wanderer thinks it was all a ruse to get her where they could operate on her without her resisting, but then they’re like, “Oh, we didn’t even think of that!” No, really, this is literally what they say.
“Oh!” Ian said as he understood, and then he laughed. “That wasn’t a bad plan. I’m surprised I didn’t think of it.”
Things are a little interesting when they talk about how the Souls got rid of human medicine in favor of their own medicine, and the doctor asks Wanderer if she can explain how any of it works, but Wanderer can’t because she never studied medicine. Which is a bit of a bummer, because that might have been an interesting scene. And it would have been okay if they just left it at that, because at least she admitted that she doesn’t understand medicine, which is more than Stephenie Meyer does:
I took a deep breath, then whispered, “I’m not a Healer. I don’t know how they – the medications – work. Only that they do work – they heal, rather than merely treating symptoms. No trial and error. Of course the human medicines were discarded.”
Oooookay, let’s get something straight here, Jenny McCarthy. Not all medicine just treats symptoms, and there’s nothing that doesn’t “work” about medicine that just treats symptoms either. It’s hard to say that relieving pain isn’t “work”. As long as we’re being nitpicky, let’s talk about how the main character has visible scarring from when she fell down an elevator shaft and the alien Healers fixed her up. Doesn’t sound like that medication “worked”, does it?
And, sure, I get that technically this is the character talking and not the author, but this character is speaking with authority about things she clearly doesn’t understand and is dumb. We already have people like that.
Eventually Jamie is left to watch Wanderer, and Wanderer freaks out because Jeb gave Melanie’s younger brother Jamie the gun.
You may recall that Jamie is the only character in the story who actually asks Wanderer any goddamn questions, and thankfully (for my patience with this insanely slow-paced book) he doesn’t disappoint, and resumes his questions where they were last time, which was with where Wanderer came from. So she tells him about some of the other planets she’s been to, because Jamie is the only person who cares about this story moving forward.
“Are the See Weeds” – he laughed at the pun – “the only other aliens?”
In case you ever wondered what an author laughing at their own jokes looks like.
Jamie points out that they must have had bodies to invade earth, because he’s so good at moving the plot forward he’s actually noticing all the gaps in the plot. Wanderer offers the perfectly rational explanation that they used an alien race called “Spiders”, which were cow-sized aliens covered in scales with four arms with twelve-fingered hands and twelve eyes to secretly invade Earth without anyone noticing. Right.
She isn’t too delicate with her story of taking over the human race and Jamie starts crying and then she ends up holding him and Wanderer understands “the mysterious bond of mother and child”. Although Jamie is her host’s brother.
Jeb comes back and nicknames Wanderer “Wanda” because apparently “Wanderer” is too hard to say.
“That’s a real interesting name you’ve got there […] Maybe sometime you’ll tell me how you got it. Bet that’s a good story. But it’s kind of a mouthful, don’t you think? Wanderer?”
Dude, you should meet Fords Deep Waters.
Chapter 22: Cracked
Jamie leaves to get food or something, I don’t really care. Jeb asks Wanderer to tell him some of her stories from other planets, and this is actually mildly interesting, because this is the part of the sci fi novel that Stephenie Meyer actually remembered to put some sci fi in. But then things get more interesting when Jeb figures Wanderer out entirely, because this novel has set the bar so low that it’s actually surprising when a character figures out what Jeb does.
“Everyone here thinks you hunted us out to turn us over to the Seekers. […] But they’re just trapped in fixed notions, I think. I’m the only one with questions…”
Dude, don’t remind me.
“I mean, what kind of a plan was that, to wander off into the desert without any way to get back? […] you must’ve had a different goal. You haven’t been real talkative since you got here, ‘cept with the kid just now, but I’ve listened to what you have said. Kind of seems to me like the reason you almost died out there was ’cause you were hell-bent on finding that kid and Jared. […] Only why would you care?”
Jeb then waxes poetic about how maybe instead of the Souls taking over humans, it is actually the humans who take over the Souls. Except he actually says “you have all the same feelings we have, because you’re really us, not just hands in a puppet”, which is okay, but also more than a little bit of a mixed metaphor. Basically, I could write this book better. Womp womp, Stephenie Meyer. Womp womp.
He then muses a little bit about what it’s like for Melanie – “are you just… gone? Erased? Like being dead? Or is it like being asleep? Are you aware of the outside control? Is it aware of you? Are you trapped there, screaming inside?” – and it’s nice to know that he, you know, gives a shit about his niece maybe being dead. They don’t discuss the matter further, of course, and it’s left unclear whether Jeb’s figured out if Melanie’s still alive, although he probably does because crazy Uncle Jeb knows everything.
Then Jeb asks for more stories about the other planets, because he’s a sci fi nerd. Then Wanderer can’t figure out what emotion Melanie is feeling about Wanderer hanging out with her brother and uncle and Melanie is all “OH MY GOD. IT IS JEALOUSY. YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS ONE BY NOW.” And then, uh, there’s a reference to The Office?
“Now – why did they call you Wanderer? I’ve heard a bunch of odd ones, Dry Water, Fingers in the Sky, Falling Upward – all mixed in, of course, with the Pams and Jims.”
Dude, The Office would have been, like, the one thing improved by the world of The Host.
It gets really dark and everybody gets sleepy and goes to bed. Wanderer lies down in her new bed but something is moving in her room! Aaaahhhh! It’s not the cliffhanger The Host needs, but it’s the cliffhanger The Host deserves.