Thursday, December 9, 2010

Twilight Chapter 8: Port Angeles

1.  Bella, Jessica and Angela (does it even matter who they are?) head out to Port Angeles, the nearest relatively big city, to do their clothes shopping. “The dance was billed as semiformal, and we weren’t exactly sure what that meant.” I realize Bella’s probably never been to a dance in her life (right after this she admits not a single boy asked her out before the move to Forks), but I still find that statement hard to swallow for someone with her vocabulary.

2. As mentioned, Bella’s never been in a relationship of any kind. I’m going to skip ahead a little and say Edward never has either (Dr. Cullen tried to pair him off with one of the other vampire kids, but it didn’t take). And yet they know their connection is the real deal. I had long-reaching plans for my first crush, but it didn’t take me too long to realize I wasn’t attracted to anything besides her looks.

3. Bella hears Tyler’s telling everyone in school he’s taking her to prom in some effort to make things up to her and presumably also to take one desperate stab at having a relationship with the most awesome girl ever to walk the Earth. How Tyler thought this could possibly work, especially with someone as withdrawn as Bella, I don’t know. Sounds like he’s had less contact with people than Bella.

4. Because there really and truly is only one thought taking up space in her head Bella asks the other girls if it’s normal for the Cullens to be out of school a lot. They reply yes and remind us the Cullens are really outdoorsy. While it’s reasonable for the Cullens to come up with a cover story for their vampiric activities I have to ask once again how a couple teenage girls know it when the Cullens don’t socialize with anyone outside the family. Is Jessica the principal’s daughter or something?

5. Dress shopping wraps up sooner than they expected and Bella goes looking for a bookstore by herself, but the only one she finds is a hippie New Age-kind of place and she doesn’t even go in. Not knowing when Edward will be around to evade her questions again takes its toll on Bella’s concentration as she goes walking around. “I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should to where I was going,” and she soon finds herself trapped by a bunch of guys with less than noble intentions for our heroine.

Have to give credit for what a sharp memory Bella has. Like how she flawlessly remembers the outfit one of her assailants: “He was wearing a flannel shirt open over a dirty t-shirt, cut-off jeans, and sandals. He took half a step toward me.” Yes she thinks a little about what they want and how to defend herself, but for someone so keenly aware of her physical shortcomings and thus you’d think minimal chances of escape, she’s awfully calm about her situation.

This makes me think of when a bunch of readers signed a petition and sent it in to get an answer out of Meyer about various things in Breaking Dawn. Meyer’s brother refused to deliver it, and said among other things Meyer didn’t give details on how a vampire could have kids because she wanted to keep things "clean" and vampire reproduction isn’t something her young readers need to think about. Even though the girls these books were aimed at are entering that period in their lives where they start learning about the birds and the bees and how to recognize when a guy’s trying to take advantage of them.

What are these same young readers supposed to think of a bunch of low lives who herd Bella someplace where she can’t escape and might be “something worse than thieves”? Hmmm? Bella attracts guys like flies to honey, and it sure isn’t with her sparkling personality. Are we supposed to think the thugs aren’t going to want to…you know? How is having a scene where it’s easy to imagine that characters are rapists “clean,” as was supposedly the intent of not explaining how Bella and Edward were able to conceive?

6. A car speeds up and Bella dives in front of it to force it to stop, but it stops anyway because it’s Edward’s car. I love how when he’s driving her away, “he still wouldn’t look at me.” I know it’s because he’s filled with rage at what they almost did to her, but, uh , he’s driving. If he just went to the trouble of saving her, he probably doesn’t want to wrap his Volvo around a streetlight and let his effort go to waste.

It doesn’t matter anyway because, like everything else, he’s a perfect driver, shown when he parks outside the restaurant where Bella was supposed to meet the other girls. Even though the space looks way too small to her.

Not only that, Jessica and Angela are absolutely floored by the way he asks “Would it be all right if I joined you?” Give me a break. Okay, part of his charm has to do with factors other than him being a Marty Stu, but if Edward has that effect on everyone because he’s a vampire, just how true is Bella’s love? She mentions something about how he “unleashed his talents” on them, but why would he consciously enthrall them? Would they really have a problem with it if Bella just said she’d run into him and asked him to hang out? Jessica would be all over it for the gossip opportunities. Then again Edward seems to enjoy the power he has a little too much for the perfect boyfriend...

The man automatically takes charge with his “voice full of authority” and Bella realizing “obviously, there would be no further discussion” when he tells her to eat something even though she says she’s not hungry. I get the feeling Meyer really did draw influence from all those classical love stories, but didn’t quite process what she had Bella notice in the previous chapter: that this is the 21st century. There was this little thing about certain members of the population resenting being looked down on and not afforded the same opportunities because they were born with ovaries. Edward was even around when it happened. I don’t ask that every female protagonist be Wonder Woman, but I generally prefer it when they do things like make their own choices.

7. They go inside (the other girls go home by themselves) and Bella has possibly the stupidest, most deluded thought in the first half of the book. The hostess “welcomed him a little more warmly than necessary. I was surprised by how much that bothered me.”

Edward is the one point of light to come into her life since moving to Forks. She thinks about him all day everyday and even when she’s asleep. She’d prefer death to not having him around (and from what we see in the next book, she means it). And she’s honestly surprised to feel jealousy when another woman takes an interest in this guy who she’s interested in to the point of flat-out obsession. A lot of people use that word when it doesn’t really apply. It applies to Bella.

Meyer paints her characters in such broad strokes, with Bella the vulnerable human who’s quick to point out each and every one of her own flaws, and Edward the invincible and inscrutable demigod who’s always in control. Why is Meyer suddenly changing gears and having Bella be surprised when her negative traits show themselves?

8. After enthralling the waitress too (and slipping the hostess a little gratuity for a more private table when he probably could’ve asked for one), Edward says he’s still waiting for Bella to go into shock from her ordeal. The rest of the world truly doesn’t exist when he’s around. When Bella remembers she left her jacket in Jessica’s car and Edward gives her his, she even admits she never noticed how he dressed before because she was too busy focusing on his perfect face. And this is the same person who was so surprised at how jealous she got because another woman wanted her treasure.

9. They talk some about how it seems like Edward can read minds, all but Bella’s, and how he just popped out of nowhere to save her from those guys. He can’t resist taking the opportunity to say how only she could get into that much trouble in a town like Port Angeles. Really? Would those guys have only assaulted Bella out of all the helpless teenage girls in the world? Or is she the only person he’s ever met who’s dumb enough to walk into a dark alley in an unfamiliar town?

Once again I must ask, did Bella really have these regular brushes with disaster before she had a vampire to come to her rescue? If so it’s hard to believe this book didn’t end before it began with her living in a place without a lot more cars and criminals to do her in. Edward admits he followed her to Port Angeles because he was sure she’d get into trouble.

10. “Your number was up the first time I met you,” Edward says, again trying to make us think he might actually give in and suck her dry. “And yet here you sit,” Bella counters. And yet here you sit. Maybe the real reason they think they’re soul mates is they know they’ll never find another person who talks like they do.

11. Edward admits he can read minds, and he found her when he listened in on the thugs because he can’t pick up on her thoughts. And again he reiterates how hard it can be to ignore his need to feed because he would’ve gone back and ate them if Bella hadn’t distracted until he calmed down. So not only will he not eat her, her presence helps him forget his desire to eat other people when he’s worked up. If it’s not a danger, stop saying it is.

12. It’s finally time to go and Edward pays for the meal, telling the waitress to keep the change. He doesn’t have to worry about money, isn’t that cool?

13. The chapter ends with Edward getting Bella situated in the car and her remarking how she still hasn’t gotten used to the beauty of his every movement when he walks to the other side of the car. We have. Can we skip those descriptions from now on?

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