Thursday, December 9, 2010

Twilight Chapter 6: Scary Stories

1. The trip out to La Push is almost upon the students as the chapter begins. Of course, the only thing Bella’s thinking about is seeing Edward again, and agonizing over not knowing the exact minute he’ll get back from his “hiking” trip.

Look, I really am trying not to be overly nasty (and failing), but this is getting into a seriously unhealthy area. Her entire existence is starting to revolve around this guy. This guy who regularly aggravates her. And does so totally knowing what he’s doing. It’s pathetic, but Meyer won’t acknowledge it.

Making our heroine even more endearing, the day before the trip it’s almost sixty degrees out. “Maybe the outing wouldn’t be completely miserable.” Why is she even going if she’s approaching it with that mindset?? Like I’ve said she doesn’t actually seem to care about anyone she’s going with. Is she going just to be miserable outside the house for once?

2. We hear about another girl in their little group named Lauren, and the point of her existence is to show not everyone’s in love with Bella after all. Or more specifically to show there are people who’re jealous of the way everyone’s in love with Bella. “…don’t know why Bella doesn’t just sit with the Cullens from now on,” she says, not noticing the victim of her scorn is right behind her. “I’d never noticed what an unpleasant, nasal voice she had,” Bella notes.

Are you really sinking that low, Meyer? It’s not enough that people who dislike Bella have to do so seemingly out of nothing but jealousy, they have to be stuck with annoying characteristics too. Heck, it’s not as if there’s actually anything to dislike about a whiny little kid who seems to enjoy abuse and misery.

3. Bella and her “friends” meet up outside the outdoor store Mike’s family runs (do the Cullens give his family a lot of business with all the “camping” they do? What’s his parents’ opinion of them?). Lauren “eyed me scornfully” upon seeing Bella. “So it was going to be one of those days.” One of what days? We hear Bella talk so much about how miserable everything makes her, it sounds like she deliberately gloms onto every opportunity.

“At least Mike was happy to see me.” Thought she wanted him to be less friendly. Especially with her “wishing that a miracle would occur, and Edward would appear.” Sigh. Then again, the scenery on the trip to reservation’s so nice Bella spends a whole two and a half pages talking about that before inevitably bringing up Edward again.

4. Bella’s fixation on Edward is interrupted for a minute by the introduction of Jacob Black, a member of the tribe that lives on the reservation (the Quileutes), and whose dad was the former owner of Bella’s truck. He and Bella knew each other as kids and he’ll be the closest thing Edward ever has to a rival for her affections (in case you somehow have never heard the term “Team Jacob”). It’s kind of a shame knowing things won’t go anywhere between Jacob and Bella because frankly he comes across as a much nicer guy. He taunts Mike a little for having no chance with Bella, but he doesn’t taunt her for being a klutz and knowing nothing about cars. Then again, a modicum of respect doesn’t seem to be what she wants out of a relationship.

5. The actual meeting between Jacob and Bella begins when he uses her full name, which she hates. “It was like the first day of school all over again.” I’d have a little more sympathy if she actually seemed to interact with people so they’d remember things about her. Not that Jacob would know she doesn’t like her full name anymore, but come on. If she’s going to be annoyed over this, at least she could do something to keep it from coming up. When she’s with her “friends” all it sounds like she does is sit there passively, devoting most of her mental energy to thinking about Edward and occasionally saying something to sound like she’s listening.

6. We learn Jacob builds cars in his spare time and asks if Bella might happen to have a master cylinder from a 1986 Volkswagen Rabbit. She promises to keep her eyes open, “as if I knew what that was.” Thanks Meyer, but we knew he knew she wouldn’t know, and therein lay the joke. Such as it was.

7. Even in this book where his presence is pretty minimal, it’s obvious Jacob’s smitten with Bella. Because hey, it’s Bella. She’s even finally catching onto what exactly all the boys’ interest is in her, with Jacob “looking at me appreciatively in a way I was learning to recognize.”

And Meyer really is that unsubtle about everyone either loving Bella or being some kind of freak, with a point being made of Lauren’s “pale, fishy eyes” as she glares in response to Bella hooking another boy. Presumably we're not meant to think Bella’s pointing out these features because she doesn’t like their owner. When Lauren was first mentioned in the meeting outside the camping store, Bella thought there was no way Lauren could know her well enough to have a reason to dislike her. Surely pure, innocent Bella would never form a negative perception based on so little information either. Because then she'd be a hypocrite, and who would want to read 2000 pages of the life of a hypocrite?

In fact if Bella’s supposed to know anyone in this town well enough to form an opinion of them, well, that just doesn’t line up with the way she’s been paying practically no attention to anyone outside the awesomeness that is Edward. I’ve read a review of the movie that notes how Bella’s friends are actually given some characterization on screen, but I’m tempted to say it's the difference between seeing the world through the eyes of a monomaniacal emo girl and being a third party observer.

8. In an effort to have a measure of control in a relationship, it seems, Bella tries out her “sure-to-be pitiful” flirting abilities on Jacob. To borrow a phrase, you had him at “hello.” Don’t try to fool us, Meyer. All Bella has to do is make eye contact with an unattached male in her age bracket and we know it. And even the "unattached" thing's up for debate.

The topic of the Cullens comes up, of course, and Jacob says they’re not supposed to come onto the reservation. He isn’t supposed to say why, but if it’s Bella…

He tells her about tribal legends, briefly mentioning one that says he and his tribe are descended from wolves. That will never be relevant so you can forget I even mentioned it. The juicy stuff is in the story about the “cold ones.” Things get ridiculous when Meyer seemingly draws on Westerns she saw as a child to write a Native American character. Mainly when she has Jacob refer to white settlers as “pale-faces.” Seriously?

Anyway Jacob’s people and the cold ones are traditionally enemies, but this particular group didn’t hunt like the others did, so the tribal elders made a deal not to expose the cold ones if they’d stay off the tribe’s land. Not really sure how you’d broker an agreement like that with an entire tribe, unless the Quileutes really are Movie Indians who do whatever the speaker for the Great Spirits tells them.

And the Cullens aren’t like them, the Cullens are them. Shock, horror! Or it might be if not the for the line “First, Edward was a vampire” on the back of the book and all the evidence backing that up in the first few chapters alone
9. Bella feels a little guilty about using Jacob like that (and she should. Dang girl, is Edward really so pretty you’d die to find out his secrets?). On the other hand Jacob “was someone I could easily become friends with.” I’m not sure why but I want to believe her. Maybe because this time the supernatural guy actually seems like a nice person, instead of a complete slime who's forgiven for everything because he's good-looking.

On the other hand Bella hooking up with Jacob brings up the whole “imprinting” thing, and I’d really rather not go there…

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