Getting To Know You: The Host Chapters 7 and 8

Posted on May 31, 2013 by

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Previously in The Host, I actually don’t really remember what the hell has been going on. Something about aliens stealing human bodies and maybe there’s problems. It’s really slow-paced.

Chapter Seven: Confronted

Wanderer is teaching a history lecture about a planet she’s never personally lived on, and there’s a bit of controversy when she tries to calmly explain the native species’ habit of burning other intelligent species alive.

“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. […]
“Yes, they receive essential nutrients from this smoke. And therein lies the fundamental dilemma and the controversy of Fire World […] When Fire World was discovered, it was at first thought that the dominant species, the Fire-Tasters, were the only intelligent life-forms present. The Fire-Tasters did not consider the Walking Flowers to be their equals – a cultural prejudice – so it was a while, even after the first wave of settling, before the souls realized they were murdering intelligent creatures. Since then, Fire World scientists have focused their efforts on finding a replacement for the dietary needs of the Fire-Tasters.”

Honestly, and in complete contrast to Ariel’s thoughts yesterday, I found this pretty interesting. The idea of a planet with two different intelligent species in competition with each other and the ensuing moral dilemma that an outside intelligent species faces in intervening with it could actually be a fascinating study in a much better book than this. Sort of like Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide (let’s ignore that Orson Scott Card wrote them because he’s a terrible person) where humanity is trying to preserve an intelligent alien race and realizes that it’s dependent on a parasitic and destructive bacteria that might also somehow be intelligent (let’s ignore how hard these books are to explain in half a sentence).

Except Stephenie Meyer’s The Host is not this book.

Why not tell them? You do think it’s barbaric – and cruel and wrong. Which is pretty ironic if you ask me – not that you ever do. […]
Melanie, having found her voice, was becoming downright unbearable.

And with that the entire moral debate of the Fire World is dismissed, having served its sole purpose of fueling the fire (heh) that is the fight between Wanderer and Melanie, the former who is characterless by design for some reason and the latter who still reads as a stereotypical angsty teenage girl. So, ultimately this whole Fire World thing ultimately 1) is just wasted potential, and 2) does very little to not draw attention to its stupid name.

And it doesn't even have the "technically it's a kid's show" excuse to help it out.

And it doesn’t even have the “technically it’s a kid’s show” excuse to help it out.

The Seeker is there watching the lecture and bothers Wanderer for a while. “Bothers” is really the best word I could think of to summarize this one, guys, because it’s really pretty baffling what her goal actually is. She wants Wanderer to get more information from her host Melanie which isn’t happening as fast as she’d like, so she spends an equal amount of time mocking her as she does being genuinely concerned about her well-being, and also just trying to talk about, like, life and stuff.

[The Seeker’s] question caught me off guard.
“The humans?”
“Yes. Do you pity them?”
“Don’t you?”
“No. They were quite the brutal race. […] But you pity them, it seems.”

The Seeker expresses concern/mocks Wanderer not having more control over her host.

“If you think that someone else would have better luck breaking into her secrets, you’re wrong.” […]
She grinned. “I’ve gotten permission to give it a try. Shouldn’t take long. They’re going to hold my host for me.” […]

Wait, that’s not a bad idea. That literally solves all your problems. This is an option? And you didn’t do it in the first place? Really?

Really.

Really?

“It’s too bad for your investigation that I’m not a skipper.”
The Seeker’s eyes narrowed. “Well, it does certainly make this assignment drag on.”

Much like this book.

“Why do you care so much about a few spare humans? Why? How do you justify your job anymore? We’ve won!” […]
“As long as there are Jareds surviving, I am needed to protect our kind. As long as there are Melanies leading souls around by the nose…”

Guys, there is a very simple solution to your problem and you literally just said it. If this is so important, then why didn’t you give this task to someone with actual experience with humans, like I pointed out from the beginning?

Chapter 8: Loved

Man, with a chapter title like that, you just know this is going to be a rough one, don’t you?

Wanderer plans a trip to her Healer, our old buddy Fords Deep Waters, to get more information about her situation, which is becoming more dire as she learns that not having subdued Melanie yet could prove fatal to her. Wanderer doesn’t want to fly because Melanie gets motion sickness on planes.

“What would you have done if Healer Fords hadn’t relocated to [Tucson, Arizona]? Would you be driving to Chicago?”

Having grown up in the Chicago suburbs and subsequently having personal experience with driving through the midwest, if I had to read that shit I would have given up on this book right now.

If Meyer can't make aliens interesting, I can't imagine she'd have much luck with cornfields.

If Meyer can’t make aliens interesting, I can’t imagine she’d have much luck with cornfields.

The Seeker keeps bothering/mocking/expressing concern over Wanderer’s worsening condition. Wanderer calls the Seeker out on trying to manipulate her and sets off on the road. She debates whether she should give up her human host or not, wondering where else she would go.

A new planet? There was a recent acquisition – here on Earth, they were calling the new hosts Dolphins for lack of a better comparison, though they resembled dragonflies more than marine mammals.

This is fucking stupid. You can just make up new words. That’s how you avoid confusion. This does explain that stupid “she’s been a flower and a bear and a dragon” thing from the prologue, but Christ, you guys, I have a bachelor’s degree in biology and this is so stupid it’s painful for me to read.

Melanie and Wanderer got into a fight about murdering the Seeker at the end of the last chapter, which was more of the same, although it was notable when Melanie contemplatively mused on the hierarchy-less Soul society. Wanderer begins her drive through the desert and notices that Melanie is being very quiet, lost in her memories, which suddenly become lengthy flashbacks, which has to be incredibly distracting for Wanderer behind the wheel. Once again, this means Melanie is narrating, which means young adult fiction!

He hasn’t kissed me since that first night, when I screamed, finding the scar on his neck. Does he not want to kiss me again? Should I kiss him? What if he doesn’t like that?

Melanie, Melanie’s younger brother Jamie, and the sexy stranger Jared are living in a cabin in the desert that his family built illegally and isn’t on record anywhere, making it a perfect hiding spot. In more important matters, they have to figure out the sleeping arrangements and Melanie has feelings.

“I’ve slept on worse things than this couch.”
“That’s not what I mean,” I say, still looking down.
“You get the bed, Mel. I’m not budging on that.”
“That’s not what I mean either. […] I could share the bed with… you.” […]
“Mel, I…” His face, for once, has no smile.

What if Jared doesn’t feel the same way about Melanie?! And they’re the only people on earth? That could be awkward.

“You don’t owe me that, Melanie. You don’t owe me anything at all. […] Just because we’re together, just because we’re the last man and woman on earth…”

After Melanie convinces Jared that she doesn’t just feel pressured/bored and legitimately has feelings for him, he admits he does too but then gives another reason that he maybe should have started with.

“But you’re seventeen, Melanie. And I’m twenty-six.”

Really?

Melanie brings up what a dumb time this is to care about societal conventions since there is no such thing as society anymore, which is a good point. Except I’d be very surprised if they were comfortable trying to make this point in the film adaptation, since it still looks creepy. Anyway, then they talk about fucking.

“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.”

Guys, this is like that episode of The Twilight Zone where the guy breaks his glasses in the nuclear apocalypse, except with condoms.

And instead of reading, it's fucking.

It’s just like it.

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Posted in: The Host