Friday, February 4, 2011

Twilight Chapter 23: The Angel and Chapter 24: An Impasse

1. This chapter’s Bella drifting though a haze after the pummeling James gave her, and seeing an angel who--I hope you’re sitting down--turns out to be Edward. Some of James’s venom got into her system, and if the angel doesn’t suck it out, she’ll eventually become a vampire.

The angel’s against letting Bella enter his pale sparkly heaven, because it would mean forsaking everything about her old life and Edward thinks the best gift he can give her is the chance to just live normally (how he expects that to work while she’s going out with him, your guess is as good as mine). This raises questions on what exactly their policy is concerning vampire conversions. Would Carlisle have let Edward die of influenza if his parents hadn’t preceded him into the afterlife? He still would’ve had ties to his old life. Isn’t Carlisle essentially playing God and damning someone to a life they might not have chosen by deciding they’ve got nothing to lose and he could use someone to talk to? Is that something a great guy who fears for his immortal soul would be doing? What about the possible consequences? He’s been pretty lucky so far in his choices of who’d make a good vampire, but he’s not the one who was such a great reader they turned psychic when they got their sparkles.

Look who he let into his family. Edward treats his girlfriend like a doll, Rosalie’s a bitch, Jasper’s a ticking time bomb and the woman Carlisle chose to be his wife conversationally mentions her dead baby and how she decided to kill herself (I’m aware he didn’t convert all of them, and just accepted some into the family who were already vampires). How close he’s come to letting a James of his own under his roof, we can only guess.

2. Edward does suck out the venom from Bella’s body, although unless Meyerpires can control whether there’s spit on their teeth or not I don’t really see how he could’ve prevented some of his own vital venom from getting in her in the process. Nonetheless, Bella’s spared this sparkly fate for a few more books.

Still don't see how he avoids it.

There’s not much else to talk about, except a bit at the end where Bella admits to how James tricked her: “ ‘He tricked me, Edward. He watched our videos.’ The outrage in my voice was pitifully frail.” I’d say she’s admitting she’s useless AND stupid, but she’s been admitting that the whole book.

Oh, and Bella smells gasoline before she finally goes under. Take a wild guess what that means.

Since that was a little nothing of a chapter, I’d feel like I was gypping you guys by calling that a full review. So let’s just keep rolling right into…

Chapter 24: An Impasse

1. Bella wakes up in a hospital, and figures she must still be alive. “Death shouldn’t be this uncomfortable.” That depends on where you go after it happens, and I can’t say you’ve got a strong case to give Saint Peter, Bells.

So saying, she acts out of what can only be assumed to be her instincts and tries to rip a tube off her face because it’s somewhat uncomfortable. The only reason she doesn’t is Edward stops her, which does a nice job of establishing how she’ll act in the next book.

This also means all the action of dealing with James happened off-page, as it were. We read through over 450 pages of Smeyer slop for the biggest anticlimax I’ve seen in a long, long, long time, and people defend these books?

2. She apologizes for trying to rip off a piece of equipment helping her to stay alive. Then she apologizes for ending up in there.

Bella: “I was so stupid, Edward. I thought he had my mom.”
Edward: “He tricked us all.”

Which is either an admission that every character in this book I’m supposed to support is a moron, or Edward's being nice and doesn’t think she needs to learn a lesson from this experience that nearly got her killed and was entirely of her own making.

Think about the latter a minute. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been desperate enough to see a girl I was willing to do something that could get me sent to jail, but all this would seem to indicate even a guy like him can’t be around to protect his squishy girlfriend all the time. Bereft of that protection, she’s willing to do some really, really inadvisable things. You’d think he’d at least tell her “yeah, you’re lucky we got there in time” and impress the need to take an interest in her preserving her own life. If not right now in the hospital, at least when things have had a chance to settle down again.

3. Edward explains that Bella’s mom will be back soon, and her cover story is she fell down two flights of stairs and out a window. Because that’s possible, and doesn’t carry any dark undertones coming from a guy who treats their girlfriend the way Edward does.

4. They get into a little discussion about how Edward likes the smell of Bella’s blood (which is supposedly constantly tempting him to drink it let’s remember), how he enjoyed the taste of it when he sucked out James’s venom, and she apologizes for being so appealing like that. He says that’s a stupid thing to be sorry for, and if she should apologize for anything it’s doing something that would remove her from his life.

Yeah…what’s the plot of the second book again? Edward dumps Bella and leaves Forks, never to return, for the sake of her safety. What Bella did was done under the (stupid, mistaken) belief that what she was doing was also for the safety of a loved one. What’s the message? That as the man Edward knows what he’s doing and Bella doesn’t? Except without him around to supervise her, Bella starts treating her life like some kind of easily-replaced household item even more than she does by going out with a vampire. So yeah, both of our leads are unlikable idiots.

5. They talk some about what happened to James. “Emmett and Jasper took care of him.” The dudes handled that, of course. When Bella happens to mention Alice and Carlisle’s names, Edward puts in, “They love you, too, you know.” Why? Because Meyer says so, that’s why.

Alice also saw the video where James explained to Bella that he’d hunted her before, which is mentioned to give some closure to a subplot that was barely worth mentioning in the first place. “She was always in the dark, that’s why she didn’t remember.” There’s no indication what that means, but as I said the stories of the vampire kids never interested me much. There isn’t a whole lot indicating they interested Meyer either, specially on account of that "memories fade" rigamarole that doesn't seem to affect vampires who aren't teenagers.

6. There’s a bit about Bella not liking needles that Edward uses to make some kind of contrast to how she doesn’t mind hanging out with vampires but gets grossed out by the everyday stuff. Because that had in no way been established anywhere in the previous 460 pages and doesn’t feel like Meyer’s treading water to get this thing up to a certain page number.

Edward adds the rest of her cover story, that he and his family had come to Phoenix to talk Bella into coming home--because families do that when teenage infatuations don’t pan out--making a point that he was there with parental supervision. So that’s seriously  their story. Wow.

Alice had a lot of fun making it look like Bella really had fallen down the stairs at the hotel, and Bella could probably sue them if she wanted. Bella doesn’t notice anything of the sort, but why do I get the feeling Edward was amused by the possibility?

7. Bella’s mom comes in and Edward pretends to be asleep while they talk. Bella’s mom asks, “He never leaves, does he?” Since she thinks he chased Bella across the country to convince her to move back to Forks…probably not! Can tell where Bella got that razor-sharp intellect of hers…

She’s been told the story, right?

8. Maybe not, as next mom tells Bella her new husband got signed after all and can come live with them and Bella has to make up some BS protests that she likes it in Forks after all and has friends there and Charlie can’t take care of himself even though he’d managed just fine for the years she spent in Phoenix. Bella’s been a morose little whiner girl for so long it takes some doing, and I have no trouble imagining Edward was having a grand old time listening to Bella try to make her case.

Mom doesn’t take long to figure out the real reason is Edward, which Bella confirms while thinking, “No need to confess how big a part” (read: the only) reason she has for wanting to live in Forks. Mom shares her thoughts that Edward’s in love with Bella, who replies she thinks she feels the same. Because we need to have this relationship validated even further, but still without anything except people’s say-so for the depth of their love. Check out this one line, “that sounded like something a teenager with her first boyfriend might say.” She has to fake being subdued but what she has with Edward is so much more, isn’t it?

Bella, however, would rather not be having this conversation with her mom. Don’t know why. It’s not as if there’s anything bad about Edward to find out, or like she really cares about getting her parents’ approval. Edward might want her father’s blessing, but try and tell me Bella cares. At least as of this chapter.

9. Bella’s Mom: “I’ll be back soon. I’ve been sleeping here, you know.”
Bella: “Oh, Mom, you don’t have to do that! You can sleep at home! I’ll never notice!”

Translation: “Go away, Mom! I’m smarter than the people who brought me up, just like every teenager! It’s cute that Edward breaks into my bedroom!”

Bella’s never going to go through this; her daughter will practically raise herself. She’ll never need to worry about what’s wrong with her child, if she’s teaching her the right things, if her daughter’s seeing someone who isn’t right for her, or having to detach herself from Edward’s hip because her child needs something in the middle of the night. Just knowing that, even if she doesn’t at this point, makes her even more unlikable when she tries to get rid of her worried parents. Sorry for trying to be a good caregiver, a responsibility that’ll never be asked of you. You Sue.

Somehow I don’t think they let you sleep at a hospital unless you’re a patient. Especially when the person you’re there to see has serious but non-lethal injuries like Bella. No, “the Cullens greased some palms” isn’t an acceptable explanation.

Good lord, why are there still 11 pages of this chapter when it’s all Bella lying in bed?? Because this is Twilight, and that’s what Twilight is: endless stretches of boring as sin dialogue that tell us what to think but show something very, very different. That the worst example shows up right at the end is no surprise.

10. Bella’s mom leaves, and as she does she delivers the random news that someone torched the dance studio where she went a few weeks as a kid and left a stolen car outside.

As if there was any doubt, once they’re alone Edward confirms that was them. “He smiled, unrepentant,” of course. Why the hell should it bother him that they destroyed someone’s livelihood and stole a car when Bella’s party had driven to Phoenix in the first place? Was either of those acts really necessary? Is there some reason Carlisle couldn’t have mopped up the blood in the studio while the others went to burn James’s bits somewhere isolated? The way they did it most people will probably think there’s a deranged criminal around anyway, setting random buildings on fire. In my version, people would just think somebody vandalized the studio. The owner would have to get a better lock and maybe some burglar bars, but not a whole new damn building. Then again, it would've also required the Cullens to actually do a careful job.

The problem is I don’t really see why burning a vampire’s remains is such an integral part of making sure they’re dead, considering the first step is ripping them limb from limb. Are a vampire’s dismembered limbs still alive until immolated? I’m thinking of the scene in New Moon, the movie, where they show a vampire getting his head and arms ripped off. It’s hard to imagine James being a threat anymore if that’s what they did to him. It wasn't as vivid in the movie of this book, but still, they ripped James apart. Is that not final? I don't know, because Meyer doesn't think it's worth explaining.

The Twilight wiki only has this to say on the matter: "In the Twilight universe, vampires are not known to be killed by human effort, are unharmed by sun, garlic, holy water, silver, wooden stakes, and can enter homes without permission. The only known way to kill a vampire is to to dismember his or her body and burn the remains. Thus their weakness is the strength of their kind and fire"

But Meyer doesn't explain that in this book. Despite having an evil vampire as the climax, how vampires are killed in her books isn't really explained, let alone something like how their parts are still animate and they could put themselves back together if they aren't burnt completely to ash. Burning down the whole building seems like serious fncking overkill.

11. At any rate Edward has this to say about her choice of where to live: “I’m surprised. I thought Florida…and your mother…well, I thought that’s what you would want.” I know he can’t see into her mind like I can, but how clueless can you get? I won’t bore you with another rant on how he’s her reason for existing as much as she’s his, but God almighty is Meyer using this chapter to remind us of every stupid fixture of the book like she’s got no faith in her readers?

12. Looks that way, since Edward goes on that if she lived in Florida he’d stay in Forks so she wouldn’t be exposed to danger via their association again. If you guessed Bella still wants him around despite this little escapade, congratulations, you’ve almost made it to the end of Twilight.

They discuss this some more (“I’m the reason that you’re here,” “The reason I’m here -- alive”), but you know what? She’s the reason she’s there. She’s extremely lucky Edward’s the reason she’ll be in a cast for a while instead of a coffin after the extremely thoughtless thing she did. I can’t duck the feeling she subconsciously did what James said in the hopes that if she survived, it would prove to Edward she needs him around to keep her safe.

13. What’s next on our list of unnecessary reminders? Edward telling us for the nineteen-billionth time he gets the urge to drink Bella’s blood himself and he had to fight the urge to feed when he was sucking the venom out (“But you didn’t,” “I could have. So easily”).

He didn’t, and he won’t, and maybe it’s time to stop tossing out the baloney warnings. They won’t, of course. Meyer even made it the kickoff for the next book.

She asks why he sucked out the venom when it could’ve meant they’d be together forever. I already answered that, but maybe it’s also got something to do with how Bella gets so sick she can’t even stand up around exposed blood. Imagine that problem magnified by having a vampire’s super-acute senses. No, I don’t really see how her aversion would be magically fixed by eating that instead of food. Generally speaking, it’s bad practice for a writer to ignore things once they’re no longer useful to the narrative.

She even tries to convince Edward that if she was a vampire maybe she could save him sometimes: “I’ll be the first to admit that I have no experience with relationships. But it just seems logical…a man and woman have to be somewhat equal…as in, one of us them can’t always be swooping in and save the other one. They have to save each other equally.”

That’s just funny because she obviously doesn’t mean a word of it. When Edward treats her like a sexist bastard who hasn’t done anything to update his attitude over the decades, she might get a little annoyed but never considers the possibility maybe he really isn’t worth all this.

They argue a little more, Edward saying “You have saved me” but not elaborating. She says he’s the only thing in her life it would hurt her to lose, which makes you question her willingness to do anything to save her mom. He says “It’s possible to take bravery to the point where it becomes insanity,” not realizing they crossed that line a long time ago. He reminds her of her parents and she says they’ll have to learn to live their lives without her at some point. Different stance for a different argument, huh? She even mocks him a little for thinking that becoming a vampire is a bad thing, and compares it to someone regretting they won the lottery.

Know what? Shut up, you stupid know-nothing bimbo. I’m not in favor of Edward angsting over his condition (especially not right after he says he doesn’t regret Carlisle making the decision to change him), but she’s talking about something she has no understanding about whatsoever. Becoming a different species isn’t like trying a new hairstyle. Then again, this is an inept series where the downsides of being a vampire are either phased out completely or never made out to be very believable dangers. How many times do we actually see a veggie vampire give into bloodlust and threaten a person’s life in all four books? Not hear about, see for ourselves. One that I remember.

14. Bella isn’t ready to give up, and for some reason tells Edward as much. “If you think that’s the end, then you don’t know me very well.” No he doesn’t, and I must once again ask why they’re so sure this is the real thing.

Bella figures the reason Edward’s so uncomfortable is Alice has already seen that Bella’s going to become a vampire and he doesn’t want that for her. “You’ll never catch me betting against Alice,” Bella challenges. I know we saw her having visions of where major stuff would go down, but even if they were accurate this time, all she saw were rooms. Plus it took someone else to make sense of them. She also didn’t catch what the VCR was for. I still don’t see what all the fuss is about.

15. The nurse comes in to give Bella some meds, and there’s some more cheesy banter. She’s still afraid if she closes her eyes for too long, she’ll wake up and Edward won’t be there anymore. Isn’t that an entertaining idea, that these books are nothing but the fantasies of a deluded emo girl.

He tries to assure her that one of the nice things about being human is things change, with Bella firing back with “Don’t hold your breath.” The sad thing is this is one of the few times Bella gets to be right, and Meyer evidently supports her.

As she goes under Bella says she’s still betting on Alice. Not so much because it means supporting the only person in the family who genuinely seems to like her as much as it’s because it’s the outcome she, Bella, wants. Ain’t she lovable.

16. By the way yes, they're completely forgetting about the other dangerous vampire, Victoria. Meyer really wasn't ready to have villains in her stuff.

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