Friday, March 4, 2011

New Moon Chapter 2: Stitches

1. Yeah, Bella gets stitches in this chapter, but man does Stephenie Meyer pick lame names.

2. The others manage to grab Jasper and get him out of the room before he drinks Bella dry (damn). As Rosalie helps escort Jasper out, Bella notices “her divine face [was] strangely smug.” Strange, you say? Look, Bella may not be able to explain why, but she’s certainly noticed Rosalie doesn’t like her. Maybe it's because now Rosalie's got evidence they shouldn’t let Bella be around them. Or more darkly, maybe she thinks it’s funny that Edward tossed her across the table and she was cut up even more by the broken crystal. What happened to Bella’s inexplicable ability to know what people are thinking from the last book? I complained about it often enough.

3. Carlisle checks out Bella’s slashed arm and makes a tourniquet to staunch the bleeding. He offers to take her to the hospital or take care of the cut she got flying across the table right there, and she elects to stay there because if she went to the hospital there’d be no way to keep news of the visit from getting back to her dad. I’ll buy that in a small town, so while the offer makes Carlisle look gracious it doesn’t make him look very wise. And he’s supposed to be the one who’s got everything under control.

Neither does Edward when he decides to hang around and watch as his girlfriend’s treated. Excuse me, wasn’t he the one saying he hungered for Bella’s blood just because her smell’s so much nummier than a regular person’s? When it’s still on the inside of her skin, that is. Edward seems like a very emotional, very obstinate guy. He also doesn’t seem very smart, as isn’t being there as his girlfriend gets sewn up supposedly a constant exercise in restraint so he doesn’t try to chomp her too? What makes him think he needs to be there? To know Bella’s okay? Is that worth the risk of making her worse, which we just saw to be real? How is this guy the ultimate boyfriend again?

Also, does it seem like I try to have the whole “temptation to eat Bella” thing both ways? I feel like I do.

4. As Carlisle picks the glass out of Bella’s arm and sews her up, they (what else??) sit around and talk. I must once again question why Bella wants anything to do with the Cullens when Carlisle tells her what happened could’ve happened to anyone, she says, “But it usually just happens to me,” and he laughs. Again, that is, because he’d just laughed at her crack at how she can clear a room if nothing else. Does she actually get off on being miserable? That would explain a lot.

The conversation turns to Carlisle’s view on what happens to someone’s soul when they become a vampire, which is part of why the Cullens gave up munching on people. Now, one of the rules I always try to uphold is I don’t attack religious beliefs. I may voice disagreement with the way the beliefs are presented, but I try to stay away from the beliefs themselves and yes it’s possible to do that. Since they’re talking about how religion applies to something that doesn’t exist no matter how much Stephenie Meyer wishes otherwise, I’m prepared to waive that rule here.

Sayeth Carlisle, “By all accounts, we’re damned regardless. But I hope, maybe foolishly, that we’ll get some measure of credit for trying.”

Okay, what accounts? Where does it say you automatically forfeit your soul by becoming a vampire? Someplace more official than Joss Whedon or Anne Rice’s body of work, I mean. Is that so even if it’s through someone else’s will? And if Carlisle believes that, it sounds like he was saying “screw your soul, I could use someone I can relate to” when he converted the other members of his family. Gee, that’s not consistent with the image that’s been presented of him at all. Bella reinforces that image when she thinks, “I couldn’t imagine anyone, deity included, who wouldn’t be impressed by Carlisle.” But let’s remember she thinks Edward’s her perfect guy so what the hell does she know about psychology?

Not a lot, judging by how “the only kind of heaven I could appreciate would have to include Edward.” Neither does Carlisle: “I look at my…son. His strength, his goodness, the brightness that shines out of him--” This is part of why it’s a fact Meyer’s a bad writer. She can’t actually write Edward as a character with redeeming qualities without ruining his mystique or something, so she has to have everyone else say how awesome he is. Sorry Steph, try again.

5. She can’t even keep the theological implications of turning people into vampires consistent. Carlisle asks Bella if she’s willing to risk Edward’s soul by having him convert her into a sparklepire. Wait, does he or doesn’t he think they already lost their souls just by becoming vampires? That’s what Edward believes. So what does he figure he’s got to lose by converting Bella? With how comfortable he is with his superiority, especially over Bella, I find it hard to believe it’s because he honestly cares about screwing up her life. That just sounds like a cheap excuse to keep the climax of their relationship from coming too early. As for Edward not wanting to convert Bella because he thinks it would cost her her chance to get into heaven, well, he's deluding himself if he doesn't see what a shallow, selfish, manipulative little witch she is. Since he appears to depend on his mind-reading power to learn anything about someone and that doesn't work on Bella, maybe that's to be expected.

Bella thinks she might, in fact, have qualms about asking Edward to risk his soul for her even though she wouldn’t miss a beat doing the same for him. Let me point something out. If she can’t get Edward to make her a vampire, college isn’t really Bella’s backup plan. It’s getting Alice to make her a vampire. Is she willing to risk Alice’s soul? Based on how distraught she is when she hears Alice left and isn’t coming back, cutting off that option, one has to wonder.

Carlisle goes on to ask, “But was it right to doom the others to this life? I can’t decide.” If you’re describing the act as “dooming” them, maybe not, huh? He thinks back on what made up his mind to convert Edward, when Edward’s real mom told Carlisle to save him from influenza as if she knew what he really was and what he could do. He doesn’t seem to consider that maybe she was just delusional from being almost dead from sickness and thinking he could do something for Edward that he couldn’t do for her. I admit I’m not a doctor but I’m probably a little closer to one than Stephenie Meyer.

I could go on about what a religious man thought he was doing by yanking someone back from the threshold of death who was beyond saving by medical means, but instead I’ll just tell you what Carlisle was thinking right before he vamped Edward: “Sick as he was, he was still beautiful. There was something pure and good about his face. The kind of face I would have wanted my son to have.”

6. Bella feels so responsible for what happened she tries to get Esme to let her take over cleaning up after Edward saving her life in the most violent way possible. Selfless acts don’t really seem that selfless when the subject considers themselves a complete waste of skin the way Bella does. That is, if they have no self to begin with. Especially if the only thing to bring meaning to their existence is something as questionable as Edward Cullen.

7. Bella delivers the remark “Charlie was never surprised to see me bandaged.” Yet she doesn’t want him to know she was at the hospital? Getting slightly mixed messages.

As she leaves to have Edward drive her home, Bella’s reminded by Alice to “Take your things!” Because her only personality trait is to use Bella as a mechanism to experience the things she never got a chance to, like playing dress-up and getting birthday presents. And Meyer says Alice is proof she’s not anti-feminist.

8. Bella and Edward have another of their riveting conversations on the drive home. She blames herself for what happened, he tells her she shouldn’t. Edward hints Bella should be going out with some normal guy instead of him, whose entire family doesn’t have the urge to eat her.

Bella, of course, doesn’t take well to the idea that she could ever be with anyone except sparkly stalker boy. “I’d rather die than be with Mike Newton. I’d rather die than be with anyone but you.” As always, the question is WHY??? As always, the answer is there isn’t one, other than because Meyer says so. Besides, Bella has absolutely no regard for herself and probably says that very lightly.

Bella “racked my brain for some way to salvage the evening. When we pulled up in front of my house, I still hadn’t come up with anything.” Since she’s never had a social life, still doesn’t, you wouldn’t really think her people skills would be worth spit, no.

9. Bella asks Edward to spend the night in her room without her caregiver’s knowledge as a birthday gift. He replies she can’t want something for her birthday if she didn’t want a birthday. Even though he made that decision for her by forcing her to attend a birthday party. Dingus.

10. Charlie asks how the party was when she goes inside (Edward of course going in through her bedroom window). He does, in fact, notice the bandage on her arm. She doesn’t even know her own father well enough to predict what he’ll do. She brushes it off by rushing upstairs as fast as she can. Then she spends most of a paragraph talking about how she’s replaced her pajamas since the last book. Because that matters.

11. Edward gives Bella a couple other presents, including plane tickets for the two of them to visit her mom in Florida, which will work just fine because he’ll never be able to go outside during the day when Bella’s mom will be up for, you know, doing things. Which even Bella points out. Like it’s cute instead of retarded, that is.

He also gives her a CD of his piano compositions, no doubt recorded on equipment so cutting edge it would make most of the music industry weep with envy, which moves Bella to tears. All it manages with the reader is to reaffirm how Meyer’s not only a bad writer but blind to her shortcomings. Which is the worst kind of bad writer, and sadly the most common.

12. Bella complains to herself about how her arm’s starting to bother her, and wants ice for it. She’d even “have settled for his hand, but that would have given me away.” Why, I ask. Is she so damn hung up on the time she gets to be with Edward it’s not worth taking a minute to go downstairs and get some ice? I generally find contact with my loved ones more enjoyable when I’m not, you know, distracted by pain. If she doesn’t want to have to deal with Charlie, couldn’t she ask her ninja stalker boyfriend to get her some? Or to put his hand there, which would achieve the same thing without him having to go anywhere? It’s not like he’d be doing anything more intimate with his hand anyway. Is she unwilling to admit weakness because she’s afraid it’ll hurt her chances of convincing Edward she can hack it as a vampire after all?

If I have to ask all these questions of the narrator of all people, something’s wrong with your book.

13. Bella talks some about how she doesn’t feel bad about not telling her dad that Edward spends the night with her a lot. “It wasn’t as if we were up to anything he wouldn’t want me to be up to.” But you would be if Edward didn’t insist on upholding his old-fashioned sensibilities and you weren't in the habit of regularly losing arguments with him, so shut up.

Edward gets up to get Bella some pain relievers, which she takes. “I knew I would lose that argument. Because I suck at everything.” Okay, okay, that second sentence isn’t really in the book. But the sentiment sure is.

14. After Edward annoys Bella again by remarking she’s greedy for wanting another kiss, a paragraph’s spent describing it. Mainly how contact this close almost makes him give in to his instincts. “…and though I was clearly beginning to cross his cautious lines, for once he didn’t stop me.” He doesn’t stop her by letting her hang around him and his bloodsucker family in the first place. Look what almost happened at the party. Bella certainly isn’t. She asks for another smooch and he says “You’re overestimating my self-control,” and she downplays it like another vampire hadn’t almost killed her a few hours ago or something. Which he did.

“It had been a long day in so many ways, yet I felt no sense of relief at its end.” Which is it, Bells? Up til now she was acting like the fact that Jasper almost ate her was like missing that night’s episode of Criminal Minds. Not to imply Bella actually has interests.

“Almost as if something worse was coming tomorrow. It was a silly premonition--what could be worse than today?” A lot with how mellow you were about it. And I don’t know, but if I thought something was a “premonition” when I knew someone who had a supposedly wickedly awesome ability to have actual premonitions, I doubt I’d sweep it under the rug the way Bella does. Maybe that’s because I know pretending a problem doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away. It just means you’re spending extra energy pretending it’s not there.

Maybe if Meyer read this blog she'd say that's proof of how Bella's not a weakling. Look at how fast she recovers from a near-death experience! She can't be weak! The thing is she's being so stupid about it. She hasn't recovered quickly, she's brushing it off as quickly as she can because it's distracting Edward from the far more vital business of having an extremely dubious relationship. This is something Edward's been trying to warn her could happen with anyone in his family since the beginning of their relationship, including him. Even if it isn't an actual danger.

As she drifts off to sleep Bella thinks back to when Edward kissed her in the last book just before the others took her to hide her from James. The kiss he just gave her was like that, a kiss goodbye, "not knowing when--or if--we would see each other again." And if Meyer had actually thought to show us some of the good parts of their relationship along with the bad, like maybe a little of summer vacation, showing us the bad would get more of a reaction. Instead Meyer chooses to start with a bad night that develops into something worse, making her seem kind of like a woman who’s creeping up on 40 who’s still going through her goth phase.

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