Monday, November 29, 2010

Twilight Chapter 2: Open Book


Better, because the school’s a little more familiar and Bella decides the attention of a boy named Mike is now (sorta) welcome and flattering. Worse, because she couldn’t sleep due to the sound of rain. Worse, because gym’s not an elective at Forks High and Bella becomes a danger to everyone around her when asked to do anything physical. Worse, because the guy who almost made her cry with some unfriendly body language wasn’t in school. Which is the first serious indicator that Bella’s kind of screwed up.

2. Bella almost immediately changes gears on the “Mike being nice to me is flattering” item because he “was taking on the qualities of a golden retriever.” This results in her thinking, “It looked like I was going to have to do something about Mike, and it wasn’t going to be easy.” Bear in mind, she only calls him “overly friendly” at this point. Based on who she hooks up with, maybe that’s the problem. That is, Mike doesn’t think acting like a superior douche is a good way to impress her.

What kind of people does Bella want to associate with, anyway? Out of her circle of “friends,” she’s annoyed by Mike and Eric being nice to her, she’s not interested in listening to Jessica, and there’s a girl named Angela who Bella hardly even bothers to describe. The only person she’s eager to see almost made her cry and disliked sitting next to her so much he tried to get switched into another class. Are these other people just a shield against scrutiny, so she won’t stand out sitting at a lunch table all by herself?

Oh, and somewhere around here Mike mentions a beach trip out to La Push, the local Indian reservation. Bella accepts the invitation, “more out of politeness than desire.” This will come up again later, but it’s given such short shrift you might well forget until the trip actually happens.

3. Right after school Bella notices the other Cullens leaving, and in particular notices the fancy clothes they wear and the brand new cars they drive. Most of the other kids drive older/used cars, which is part of why Bella doesn’t mind her old truck. Nobody asks how a small-town doctor who's the only breadwinner for a family of seven affords all this? Again, the Cullens are doing a lot to draw attention to themselves when we find out the reason they live in Forks is it’s the best place in the world for a bunch of vampires to hide out.

Seriously, they look like they should be on 90210 and they're supposed to be lying low?
 4. Since her dad can’t make anything besides fried eggs and bacon, Bella appoints herself head chef of the Swan estate. What a good girl. After school she goes shopping at a supermarket so big she’s spared the sound of rain falling on the roof (Bella hates the weather, thanks Meyer), then puts the food away “wherever I could find an open space.” Why would that be hard? There was “no food in the house,” so the refrigerator and cabinets should be empty. Is the kitchen a huge mess or something? Because Bella only described the color scheme in the last chapter.

And she sends her mom an e-mail saying dad bought her a truck. “It’s old, but really sturdy, which is good, you know, for me.” Suddenly not feeling so deluded, eh?

5. Dad watches TV while Bella makes dinner because “we were both more comfortable that way.” Afterward he goes back to the TV while she does the dishes. “I could feel a tradition in the making,” our heroine remarks. She’s right, in more ways than one.

6. Over dinner Bella tries to pump her dad for info on the Cullens. This makes him launch into a ridiculously longwinded speech that sounds like he prepared it in advance in case he heard anyone badmouthing the family. Blah blah the Cullens get along perfectly like a family should and go camping all the time, the patriarch Carlisle is a surgeon who could be making ten times what he does in Forks, he’s as pretty as his adopted kids, people have to talk just because they’re from out of town blah blah blah. Sheesh, thanks, Chief Infodump. Maybe people talk because the Cullens are pale even for Forks and buy food just to throw it away.

7. The next morning Bella’s in a bad mood because there’s been a small snowfall, but things turn around suddenly when, out of the blue, Edward shows up next to her in biology again. Immediately the gushing observations of every aspect of his presentation start flying. His musical voice, his dazzling face, how he looks like he just stepped out of a hair gel commercial…Edward’s pretty. We get it. Even his handwriting is so pretty, it’d be blasphemy for some mere mortal to write on the same worksheet.

And remember what I said last time about the way vampire eyes look after they’ve fed? They’re “a strange ocher, darker than butterscotch, but with the same golden tone.” Bella wonders if Edward got contacts. Is she really supposed to be special for being the only person who notices this?

Edward actually talks to her this time, and we find out Bella’s pretty special too. She was in an advanced placement program back home, and while Edward’s pretty good at reading people, Bella’s a mystery to him. I’m honestly trying not to be overly mean (for right now, anyway), but maybe Bill, Kevin and Mike are right that the reason Edward can’t read her is the pages are blank. Deep, our heroine is not.

He asks why she came to Forks if she loved Phoenix so much, hears her story and says it doesn’t sound fair. Bella fires back with “life isn’t fair.” No, it’s not, but the only thing forcing Bella to move was Bella. Seriously, all the wangsting about the weather and the people when she knew she’d hate it has pretty well eaten away any reader goodwill she earned from giving her mom space.

Edward gets under Bella’s skin by being able to see how much she’s torturing herself by living in Forks. That’s pretty good with her being the one person he can’t read. And as we’ll find out he’s gotten used to doing so with means available only to him, so the inclination would be to think his ability to just read people the same way everyone else does would have suffered. Especially with how little contact the Cullens have with non-Cullens.

8. Like the first, this chapter ends with Edward getting on Bella’s bad side. Since they actually interacted this time, Meyer has to up the ante. While pulling out of the parking lot Bella’s almost in a collision, and Edward laughs as she drives away. Actually, it’s even worse than that because the exact line is “I would swear I saw him laughing.” She thinks she saw him laughing at her near-miss, she couldn’t confirm it, and continues to think about him incessantly. Less as the raging jerk, and more as the pasty demigod who’s left her hopelessly entranced. Bella’s making herself the victim, and it’s poking all kinds of holes in my desire to see them get together.

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