Monday, March 28, 2011

New Moon Chapter 4: Waking Up

1. Bella’s shaken out of her month-naming stupor by Charlie telling his daughter he’s had it with her being a catatonic shut-in and he’s about to ship her off to be her mom’s problem again. Actually, threatens is closer to what he does. Maybe Charlie lost some of his patience for Bella’s shit after she threw her little fit as part of the plan to fake out James, so there is a reasonable explanation for the way he’s acting (oh boy, is there one).

Still, since Meyer transitioned so awkwardly from the last book (it said Bella was living with more rules but I don’t remember it saying Charlie suddenly turned into an asshole), it feels like something she might’ve also done because Charlie wasn’t the oppressive authority figure all teens as whiny as Bella see their parents like no matter how tolerant that parent might be in reality. Perhaps Meyer made him like that to make Bella more “sympathetic.” I don’t know, but that’s kind of a problem. That I don't know, because the storyteller doesn't tell.

2. Anyway. Charlie. Sick of Bella’s shit. At long last. She makes lame excuses for wanting to stay in Forks, but because Meyer evidently doesn’t understand that the narrator is supposed to convey information to the reader, doesn’t explain why she’d want to stay in Forks when the only thing that made it appealing to her vanished months ago. At least not until nearly the end of the chapter, and that’s just annoying.

Bella also resists advice to get her psychoanalyzed, and she avoids the possibility because she’s sure she’d be locked up if she tried to tell anyone she was going out with a vampire. I can honestly believe Bella isn’t aware of this, but she has plenty of issues plenty of morose teenagers who haven’t gone out with vampires suffer from. Even if she doesn’t realize a psychoanalyst could get rich off her without ever bringing her fling with Edward into it, why exactly would it be necessary to mention he was a vampire? As I kept saying, no one else ever questioned their pitiful act. Couldn’t she say she was attracted to his impossible good looks and massive amounts of money, and not the fact that he represented an escape from the ravages of time? I know I can’t let this go, but was Bella actually attracted to anything beyond the superficial?

Meyer’s been drawing comparisons with Romeo and Juliet, and that wasn’t given any explanation beyond love at first sight either. Then again, Romeo and Juliet weren’t constantly pissing each other off.

Before I move on, I love Bella’s reaction to Charlie catching her in being mopey in the first place. “I’d been careful to avoid all forms of moroseness, moping included.” Since that’s her natural state, that would be kind of hard for her. Even if, once again, she’s even aware of anything taking place around her that doesn’t involve the guy currently enabling her happiness. A lot of the time it sounds like someone else is in control of Bella’s actions and she’s only reporting distantly from the shadows.

3. At school all of Bella’s mortal “friends” have started avoiding her because of how she’s grown so distant even they’re not cool with it anymore. I hate to keep doing this, but Meyer doesn’t leave me much choice: why were they interested in including her before? It’s not like she was an actual part of the group even before she started chasing Edward.

To get some breathing room with her father, Bella tries to wrangle a trip to the movies out of Jessica and I care even less about Bella’s problems as a result. Bella leaves no room for doubt why she’s doing this, and it’s not for the sake of connecting with another human being or patching things up with someone who she’s now realizing she treated like crap.

“It had been weeks, maybe months, since Jess had even greeted me when I passed her in the hall. I knew I had offended her with my antisocial behavior, and she was sulking.” Love how Bella admits she’s being antisocial but thinks Jessica’s the childish one for not talking to her anymore because of it. Rather than Bella, who’s still trying to figure out how to deal with the world four months after her sparkly Ken doll ran away. I might have more sympathy if Meyer had actually shown an attraction instead of assuring us there was one (I just love Bella's birthday party in the movie, where Alice takes a picture of them and says "Show me the love!" One of the few things I've run into in life that honestly made me LOL).

And she doesn’t even let up. Try a taste of, “I wasn’t about to face Charlie without some social interaction to report.” For that matter, “I knew from experience that once I got Jessica talking, I would be able to get away with a few mumbled responses at the appropriate moments. Only minimal interaction would be required.” Not to mention, “I sensed a long story. I clutched at the opportunity.” And just to put the cherry on the sundae, “I was happy to go along with whatever she wanted; after all, I was getting what I wanted--Charlie off my back.”

So I was right all along? Bella only sees her “friends” in regards to how they can be useful to her? And I’m supposed to see her as a good person done wrong by the hand of fate or something? For that matter, to want to see her get together with some kind of Mr. Perfect? Sorry Steph, try again.

Also gotta love the part where Bella says she doesn't dare lie about this girls' night out thing. Supposedly (I use that word a lot when I talk about this book, huh?) Jessica’s mom is the biggest gossip in town and if Bella told Charlie she’d been out with Jessica, sooner or later he’d run into Jessica’s mom and Bella would be caught. Bella looks like an idiot if you think about it for two seconds. If she doesn’t care about doing this for the sake of spending time with another person (she doesn’t), then say she went out with one of her other “friends” who doesn’t have chatty parents.

4. Demonstrating once again that she’s so much more mature and intelligent than the people knows, Bella agrees to see a zombie movie. Because seeing a movie about the undead is the best way to forget she’s feeling like this because she got dumped by the undead.

Further proving Bella’s neither of those things, when she sees a couple walking along a beach she immediately thinks “I had not bargained for a romance.” She turns to Jessica and after being assured this is in fact the zombie movie, asks “Then why isn’t anyone getting eaten?” The way she describes it, it’s the first scene in the movie. I wouldn’t exactly call myself an expert, but even I know lots of horror movies start with some unsuspecting couple getting whacked by the monster or psycho killer. Yet, the first thing Bella sees is a couple on a beach and she thinks it’s a romance. Hell, I watch even fewer of those, but isn’t the plot generally about two people getting together? As in, they’re usually not together at the beginning of the movie? And Meyer brags about how much she knows about romance stories?

Every time Bella does anything I see less of that image Meyer wants me to see.

5. After the movie, Bella comes to the realization that, “It was depressing to realize that I wasn’t the heroine anymore, that my story was over.” If only, my dear. If only.

Now, my definition of a “heroine” is a female lead who actually takes part in major events beyond simply being around to see them (and as she was unconscious when the Cullens showed up and killed James, even that’s up for debate). Generally, it means the main female character. Still and all, wouldn’t she have to have been opposite someone you could consider a “hero” for her to be a “heroine”? Because Edward doesn’t count. Not that Bella sees it that way, but then, I can’t be sure of the accuracy of what Bella sees because almost nothing’s well-explained in these books. Except Edward being pretty.

6. But just to show people I don’t ignore the good things when I see them, Meyer shows she might have a better understanding of “irony” than most people. Real irony is when something happens that’s the opposite of what you expect. Like if you’re watching a movie and you see that the next scene happens in a lawyer’s office, but then the door opens and the office is full of jugglers, fire eaters and acrobats. That’s the opposite of what you expected, so it’s ironic.

Bella thinks it’s ironic that she’d become a zombie. Because she wanted to be undead, but she wanted to be the beautiful, romanticized, super-powered kind and not the hideous, slavering, mindless kind. So when she starts acting like a mindless spawn, that’s a genuine reversal of expectations. Hers, anyway.

7. “It was inevitable that I would have nightmares, but they wouldn’t be about zombies,” thinks Bella as they leave the theater.

I’m supposed to believe Bella’s capable of not being morose, huh?

8. Because they’re in Port Angeles, which is a little rougher than Forks, and Bella acts an idiot with a death wish whether she’s willing to admit it or not, on the way to get dinner she sees a guy hanging out on the street who reminds her of one of the guys who almost raped her that other time she was in town.

The even more idiotic plot of this sequel gets going then as she decides to walk over to this guy who might have once tried to rape her. Why? I don’t know! For once even Bella admits she’s in the same boat as me: “Why was I stepping, dazed, into the street?” Maybe because she’s an idiot with a death wish.

Ignoring the protestations of Jessica (who, after all, already served her purpose), Bella keeps going until she hears “his” voice. She doesn’t drop a name, but who else could it be than the only person she ever bothered to pay any attention (notice I didn’t say “listen to”)? His voice reminds her of her promise not to do anything stupid (which she was too numb at the time to actually be capable of promising), and Bella realizes she’s having a hallucination.

Almost if she’s making allowances for the people like me reading her book, Meyer has Bella entertain two possibilities. “Option one: I was crazy. That was the layman’s term for people who heard voices in their heads. Possible.” While it’s amusing for her to admit she could in fact be crazy, don’t act like Bella understands things better than normal people, if you please. She doesn’t. You only have to read a chapter of any of these books to see that.

“Option two: My subconscious mind was giving me what it thought I wanted. This was wish fulfillment--a momentary relief from pain by embracing the incorrect idea that he cared whether I lived or died.” Yes, that’s why he exacted a promise from her not to do anything stupid or reckless before he left. Because he doesn’t care if she lives or dies. Because he really was only thinking of Charlie when he asked. Then again, I don’t have to say the only thing Bella’s honestly good at is deluding herself, do I?

“My reaction was hardly sane, though--I was grateful.” Yes, she’s grateful to hear Edward rebuking her for being a dumbass again. It says more than I could ever put into words that the only way for Bella to reconnect with her happy memories of Edward is to do something dangerous and trick her subconscious into making her hear him telling her not to be a suicidal retard. How can anybody read these books and not see how flat-out disturbed Bella is?

But then it turns out “They were probably nice guys. Safe. I lost interest.” There you have it, Bella’s criteria for interesting guys.

9. Maybe Bella hasn’t got a death wish so much as she’s got no conception of what a threat to her life actually means: “ ‘What were you thinking?’ Jessica snapped. ‘You don’t know them--they could have been psychopaths!’ I shrugged, wishing she would let it go.”

Yeah, she took an interest in Bella’s life, but what does Bella care? She already got what she wanted out of Jessica for the night. Bella tries to initiate conversation on the way home to smooth things over in case she might need Jessica again (she doesn’t say that but do you really think there’s any other reason?), but Jessica’s not buying it and ignores her. Is Meyer admitting Bella’s a disturbed asocial creep or what?

10. Maybe she’s just dumb, on account of “As much as I struggled not to think of him, I did not struggle to forget.” You see, “the precise color of his eyes, the feel of his cool skin, or the texture of his voice. I could not think of them, but I must remember them.”

Meyer probably thought she was being all deep and metaphysical with descriptions like that for how Bella refuses to think of Edward but can’t let go of the good times they had, but since remembering something is thinking about it, she instead succeeded only in creating an oxymoron. Sorry Steph, try again.

And that’s why Bella refuses to move out of Forks. “Because there was just one thing that I had to believe to be able to live--I had to know that he existed.” If she left Forks, she’d find that harder to do. Because even after he’s gone and she’ll never see him again ever, the only thing that keeps Bella going is Edward. Congratulations, Meyer. You’ve created the most pathetic “heroine” ever published.

I don’t like to attack authors for anything besides their writing abilities or lack thereof, but with all the parallels people have drawn between author and narrator…

11. Gotta love how Bella bids Jessica farewell. “I’d forgotten her by the time I was inside.” Isn’t it sweet how Bella wasted Jessica’s time and scared her by going up to a bunch of strangers in an unfamiliar town for no reason? Suddenly I can see why every guy around wants her so bad.

12. That’s how Bella got her groove back. By giving in to her suicidal instincts and letting her mind trick her into thinking she was hearing Edward’s voice. If only I could say anything was different from before, besides Edward actually being around to save her from this kind of thing.

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