Thursday, April 7, 2011

New Moon Chapter 5: Cheater

1. Bella’s unable to retreat into “my protective shell of numbness” after hearing Edward telling her to stop being a self-destructive twit just like in the good old days.

On an unrelated note, at work she hears some hikers (one of whom she endearingly dubs “Leather-face”) talking about seeing a huge bear recently. Forget about that because it has nothing to do with anything.

Further endearing her to exasperated people everywhere, Bella talks some about how she always has nightmares. “My nightmares probably wouldn’t even frighten someone else.” So Bella’s not weak, huh? The dreams are just her walking through somewhat dark woods before, and the scary thing about them is Bella can’t remember what she’s looking for in the woods. “That was usually about when the screaming started.” As she drives home she notes “I didn’t want to remember the forest.” Yet she refuses to move away because it would make it harder to remember Edward.

I know this is another thing I can’t let go, but if we’d seen an attraction instead of just being told one was there, this might have some meaning. As it stands, Bella was born thirty-five, huh?

2. The shell of numbness our mature heroine apparently thought she could spend the rest of her life in refusing to return, Bella freaks out a little. “I curled over, pressing my face against the steering wheel and trying to breathe without lungs.” I’m sorry but that one line makes Bella sound like the biggest idiot who ever lived. The way she lives comes a close second.

3. She reflects on the insanity of Edward’s promise about how it'd be like he'd never existed, “a promise that was broken as soon as he’d made it.” Much as I hate to do it, I have to agree with Bella. That's not something even he can promise.

With Edward unable to hold up his end of the bargain, Bella gets it into her head she’s got no reason to hold up hers. “Who cared if I was reckless and stupid? There was no reason to avoid recklessness, no reason why I shouldn’t get to be stupid.” Had to raise herself, huh? Born with an old soul, huh?

And to harp on something else, wasn’t being reckless and stupid exactly what she was doing by going out with a boy who subconsciously wanted to feed on her every moment they were together? What’s different now?

4. Reflecting on how hard it’d be to be stupid and reckless in Forks without a family of vampires around, Bella has an epiphany. Or to use her words, "Sometimes, kismet happens."

What the heck is she talking about? Somebody’s left two old motorcycles for sale out in their front yard, and they agree to let Bella just pile them into her truck, glad to be rid of them. She’s not just breaking her promise to Edward by riding a motorcycle, she’s breaking a promise to Charlie never to ride a motorcycle too. Yay for selfish, immature protagonists who supposedly aren’t!

Not that she’s brave enough for her farther to know about her rebellion, since she gets the boy selling the motorcycles (nobody we’ve ever heard about, but then we’ve barely heard anything about the people we have heard about) to help her get the bikes into her truck without telling his parents who relieved them of the bikes. That’s something that might require her to stand up for herself, after all.

5. Confronted with the problem of the motorcycles being old, beat-up and not knowing jack about getting them in working order and having to interact with someone difficult to get them fixed (which in Bella's worldview probably includes just about everyone in the universe), suddenly “Inspiration hit like a bolt of lightning.” But not if you remember anything about the only boy besides Edward to be given any appreciable attention last book. You know, the one who jokingly asked if Bella had a certain car part, and whose joke she ruined by pointing out she had no idea what that was?

Bella drives out to La Push to meet up with Jacob. That is, with a call to her dad (which is picked up by someone named Deputy Steve like we should have any clue who that is), to make sure she'll get there before his father gets home. “Billy would probably tell on me if he knew what I was up to.” Funny how he never did when he knew she was going out with a vampire. And she knew he knew.

6. Upon seeing Jacob again, “I felt an unfamiliar surge of enthusiasm at his smile. I realized that I was pleased to see him. This knowledge surprised me.” I'd be willing to put down money that was the first time in Bella's life she experienced that feeling.

After they have their reunion, Jacob tells her to “Come inside! You’re getting all wet.” She probably didn’t notice until he told her.

She tells him about the bikes and they bring them to his secret little retreat where Bella finds a car he's rebuilding. The one that needed the part that prompted Bella to demonstrate her humor-destroying powers when he mentioned it before.

She dwells a little on on Billy's concern for her life. “It turned out that his concern was, in the end, unnecessary. I was all too safe now. But I was going to see what I could do to change that.”

7. She tells Jacob about how she wants to learn to ride the bikes she brought over, but they need some fixing up. Which means Bella’s even using Jacob, the only non-sparkly person she met since coming to Forks that she felt she could truly be friends with. Yeah, she felt the first spark of something else when she saw him again, but she came up with the plan to get him to fix up the bikes for free before she got there. And stuck with it after she got there.

Cementing their plans, Jacob says “Sounds like a date.” Bella quickly decides “I needed to reign in the enthusiasm before I gave him the wrong idea.” I suppose you could use the word “reign” like that, but it always made more sense to me to spell it without the “g,” as in those straps you use to get a horse under control. Which is what Bella’s trying to do with Jacob’s enthusiasm at hanging out with her.

8. Bella promises to pay for parts out of her college fund. “It wasn’t like I’d saved up enough to go anywhere special--and besides, I had no desire to leave Forks anyway.” Because Bella has no thoughts for the future beyond being able to hang onto her memories of Edward.

“Jacob just nodded. This all made perfect sense to him.” I could buy Bella learning the signals with Jacob after they’ve been hanging out on a regular basis for a while, but they’ve only had a few scattered visits since she moved back to Forks. How can she be so sure now? Don’t say she’s got this kind of insight with people when you give her a background and personality that says she wouldn’t.

“Only a teenage boy would agree to this: deceiving both our parents while repairing dangerous vehicles using money meant for my college education. He didn’t see anything wrong with that picture. Jacob was a gift from the gods.” Bella says things like that about every boy she likes. Melodramatic, much?

And one last time, Bella’s supposed to be really smart, mature, and selfless, huh? I might be able to believe the shock of Edward leaving her had changed her if I had seen any of those traits in the first place. That sounds like the exact same Bella, hanging off a new boy.

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