Monday, May 23, 2011

New Moon Chapter 11: Cult

1. Bella still can’t get through to Jacob, and realizes (yes, realizes) she misses him, especially with Victoria after her. “I wanted to believe that it was worry for his friend that was occupying all his time, not that he was just giving up on me.” What happened to nobody can heal the hole left by Edward dumping her? I’m curious about how Bella records her exploits, like did she write this all down as it happened, so when she said she was broken forever, she still thought she was? I’m also curious as to how she decides which parts of her life to share, like why doesn’t she brag about her summer with Edward before the start of this book by including part of it? No, she’s not above that.

I know, I’m thinking too hard about a stupid book. But you wouldn’t still be reading if that bothered you. Or maybe you would, for the same reason I’m still reading this mess.

In any case, Bella wondered “Were the phone lines still having problems? Or had Billy invested in caller I.D.?” Why she thinks Billy owes her the time of day, let alone contact with his son, after she ignored both his advice to stay away from Edward, and Edward’s advice to stay away from Edward, and then started inflicting her insane influence on his kid on a regular basis…

2. Bella decides it’s safer for Jacob if she stays away from him with Victoria on the warpath, she won't kill him too. Even though Victoria’s not a “good” vampire and feeds on humans anyway, but whatever. “It was bad enough that I couldn’t figure out a way to keep Charlie safe.” It’s bad enough she can’t even figure out a way to keep herself safe, but I did it for her: kill yourself, Bells. I know you’re used to being the victim, but at least that way you can meet your maker with one victory to your credit because you’ll have denied Victoria the satisfaction. And wasn’t one of Meyer’s criticisms of Pride and Prejudice that if a member of the spotlight couple died, the other would “carry on bravely”? Is this better than that because Bella's carrying on pathetically?

What else is she going to do? She’s already accepted the wolves didn’t kill Laurent (“I knew that Laurent had gone back to Victoria by now”) and there’s nothing she can do to keep Victoria from hunting her down sooner or later. If there’s only two possibilities, what would Edward be more proud of? Bella just rolling over and dying, or giving Victoria the finger by doing the deed herself? Then again, I’m not Edward Cullen.

I admit that with her concern for Charlie’s life (if no respect for his desire to protect her by risking her life to keep from having to let go of a past phase of her life) there’s a flicker of Bella not being a completely selfish waste of oxygen. Of course, one flicker doesn’t erase all the idiotic things she’s done, all the selfish thoughts she’s had, and all the closed-minded judgments she’s made.

3. Another course of action does present itself when Bella thinks “So I couldn’t run away. Even if I could, where would I go? To Renee?” What about Denali? Where the other “good” vampires live? Edward and the other Cullens have gone up there to get away sometimes, they must know him. By mentioning she’s his ex-girlfriend and if necessary his reason for breaking up with her, couldn’t she earn their help? Hell, maybe he's there now and she could tell him about his little oversight.

4. As she drives home from school, Bella realizes that Jacob’s been avoiding her on purpose. You can’t say he doesn’t have any number of reasons, but the one Bella figures is the cause is Jacob having been absorbed into Sam Uley’s gang too. Or “cult.”

“Sam would pull him deeper into his frightening, compulsory gang.” The one that gets rid of drug pushers. It’s impossible that what they do really isn’t that bad and Jacob’s just been able to see so for himself, huh? Believe it or not, there are people who want to do more with their lives than just hang out with someone attractive all day and night. What are Bella and Edward going to do to fill eternity?

This is a serious question, because Meyer’s so hands-off about the issue of what you do when you have no concept of time it’s ridiculous. A week later, Victoria still hasn’t killed Bella, “so I must not be a priority.” What’s Victoria doing that’s more important, then? I know the real answer as to why Bella isn’t dead yet, but what does Bella think Victoria’s doing instead?

With that thought of not mattering even to Victoria, Bella decides to risk a trip to La Push. “This was a rescue mission.” Oh, that’s rich. She hasn’t been able to stand up for herself once and she thinks she can make a difference now?

5. Of course if there’s anything Bella’s better at than having no control over her life, it’s deluding herself. “I’d once seen a PBS show on deprogramming the brainwashed.” And I’ve seen Top Gun. Does that mean I’m qualified to fly fighter jets? I’ve seen Star Cops. Does that mean I’m qualified to be an astronaut and an officer of the law? I’ve read some of The Dresden Files. Does that mean I’m a wizard? Of course it doesn’t, it just means Bella’s ever stupider than I thought. And that Meyer seems to think ability means nothing compared to passion.

As well, “I decided I’d better call Charlie first. Maybe whatever was going on down in La Push was something the police should be involved in.” I’m pretty sure La Push is separate from Forks, and as a result I kind of doubt Charlie has any authority there. In the end it doesn’t matter because Charlie doesn’t see what there is to dislike about Sam Uley and his anti-drug, daughter-saving ways. Plus, Charlie lives in the real world and reasons that unlike his daughter, Jacob has other things going on. “ ‘He can’t spend every waking minute with you, after all,’ ” indeed.

6. Charlie tells Bella he’s got more important things than her teenage insecurities to deal with, since some tourists went missing and were apparently killed by the wolves. It blows Bella’s mind that a bunch of wolves bigger than bears could have survived an encounter with a lone vampire, but I already talked about that. “What I’d seen in the meadow just got stranger and stranger--more impossible to understand.” No, you’re just too enamored of Edward to even realize there might be things capable of threatening perfection such as his.

7. Bella does indeed drive out to La Push and runs into Jacob’s other, non-cult-inducted whoever friend who doesn’t understand why Jacob and the other whoever friend would get involved with Sam Uley. The whoever friend talking to Bella’s afraid he’s next. “What was happening here?” Okay, Steph? YOU SUCK AT BEING MYSTERIOUS. I suck at being mysterious too, but at least I know that and don’t attempt it.

Yeah, I did come into this knowing about the werewolves, but if the reader was paying any attention at all they noticed the “descended from wolves” legend before Jacob started talking about his tribe’s legends about the Cullens. Am I really the stupid one for thinking that one legend about a mythological species being true leaves the door open for others to be true too? I’d say the evidence indicates I’m not.

In any case, Bella pulls up outside the Blacks’ house to wait for Jacob. Billy sees her, but closes the curtains. “I was prepared to stay as long as it took, but I wished I had something to do.” Boy Bella sure is with it, huh? Bring a book, idiot. You might learn something about being a sympathetic character while you’re waiting.

8. It doesn’t take that long before the new and improved Jacob shows up, and he’s all but unrecognizable. “There was a darkness in Jacob now. Like my sun had exploded.” Based on how she reacted to Edward’s warnings about the darkness in him, I thought she found that sexy. He’s all tough and big and edgy and stuff now, and he’s there with the rest of his new friends. “I couldn’t even pick Embry out of the group.” Giving these mostly pointless second-tier characters weird names doesn’t make them more memorable, Steph.

Bella sees Sam and realizes how much she wants to hurt him for daring to do this to her beloved Jacob. But to have the power to do that, “I wanted to be a vampire.”

Then comes her next thought. “The violent desire caught me off guard and knocked the wind out of me.” A subconscious urge had a physical effect on her. Drama queen. Why did it knock the wind out of her? “It was the most forbidden of all wishes…because it was the most painful. That future was lost to me forever, had never really been within my grasp.” Am I missing something here? If she’s pained by memories of her past dealings with the Cullens, why was she ecstatic when she found a way to trick herself into hearing Edward talk to her? Seriously. This isn’t funny, and it sure as hell isn’t how you make a sympathetic protagonist.

9. Bella wants to walk and talk with Jacob, and without any kind of response he obliges her. As they walk “he was right beside me, his feet having somehow found a less noisy path than mine.” Try this, Meyer: “I suck.” Bella’s saying the exact same thing, and it frees up a ton of space you could fill with something of actual substance to partially justify the length of this trip through Sawitcomingamileawayville.

10. I won’t bore you with the details because you already know what happens. Jacob says what Sam does isn’t bad, he just couldn’t see that before. Bella, who has no idea whatsoever that could be, belittles Jacbo’s new association and says he doesn’t need her anymore now that he’s got Sam. Those are pretty close to her exact words.

He tells her not to blame Sam, and she asks who she should blame. How about herself, because she can’t deal with life without a hot guy and the author’s behind her 100%.

“I want  to know, and I want to know now” Bella demands. It was wanting to know that led to that huge hole being punched in your heart, Bells. This sounds like something just as big…

He tells her she doesn’t really want to know, and she snaps back with “Don’t you dare tell me I’m wrong -- I’m not the one who got brainwashed! Tell me now whose fault this all is, if it’s not your precious Sam!” Fine, I won’t tell you you’re wrong, I’ll tell you you’re stupid. You have no idea what’s going on here, but you’re jumping to the conclusion that fits your desired outcome best. Oh, it’s just so impossible that maybe what Sam and his people are doing is good, and Jacob knows what it is now and wants to be part of it. But it leaves him less time for Bella, so it must be bad. No, it leaves him less time for Bella, so he must’ve been brainwashed and she has to get the Jacob she knew to fight his way out again so he can devote all his time and attention to making life less miserable for her again.

Somebody, fan or anti, please explain this to me. Tell me what Bella’s appeal is supposed to be. Not as someone you want to read about, but someone every person in the book’s universe finds so enthralling.

11. Then Jacob blows her out of the water: he knows the Cullens are really vampires. Bella’s feeble denial of the truth gets her nowhere as with anything.

“How did he know this?” Because their attempts to blend in were pathetic? “And how did it have anything to do with Sam’s cult? Was it a gang of vampire-haters? What was the point of forming such a society when no vampires lived in Forks anymore?” Gee, maybe it’s not that simple? And what about Victoria?

Jacob tells her they’re going back. “There’s nothing more to say.” She fires back “There’s everything more to say! You haven’t said anything yet!” And what exactly entitles you to hear it, Bells? You yourself have repeatedly said you’re nobody special, and you haven’t done a thing to work yourself into these people’s good graces. It feels like I’ve said that before.

12. In the downright laughable conclusion to the conversation, Bella asks “Are you…breaking up with me?” They were going out? Wouldn’t they have to have been before he could “break up” with her? “After all, what Jake and I had was more than any schoolyard romance. Stronger.” I’ve heard that before, Miss Swan, and it wasn’t any more convincing then. At least then people were saying she and Edward were in love. Here I was just beginning to get the feeling things might be blossoming when Jacob hit his tough guy phase here.

Jacob at least tries to dispel the notion that this is her fault (which does seem to be her natural reaction to most things). “Don’t blame yourself, don’t think this this is your fault. This one is all me. I swear, it’s not about you.”

Her response? “ ‘It’s not you, it’s me,’ I whispered. ‘There’s a new one.’ ” A new what? A new hole in her soul? “There’s a new one” could mean a ton of different things.

13. She probably does mean Jacob left a new hole in her because she moans about it once she’s home and by herself. “I’d thought Jake had been healing the hole in me--or at least plugging it up, keeping it from hurting me so much. I’d been wrong. He’d just been carving out his own hole, so that I was now riddled through like Swiss cheese.” That’s some choice poetic imagery for a shattered existence, there. “I wondered why I didn’t crumble into pieces.” Because people don’t work like that? You hurt for a while, but then you move on. Except if you’re emotionally disturbed or Bella Swan. Which isn’t to say the two things can’t be one.

14. Charlie comes to check in on Bella and try to help because he’s, you know, a sympathetic character. He asks if she really thinks there’s something up with Sam Uley. “I know there is. Jacob wouldn’t tell me what, though,” she tells him. Again, this is evidently based on nothing more than Jacob finding a new crew to hang with and not spending time with her. No, Bella doesn’t do pretty well, all things considered. She’s a kindergarten brat with an English major's vocabulary.

Charlie calls Billy to demand some answers, and Bella overhears him say “What do you mean I don’t know my daughter as well as I think I do!” I have nothing to add.

Charlie promises, threatens, really, to keep an eye on Sam’s gang. Bella’s thoughts? And before you ask no, I didn’t leave out anything that would allow this to make more sense. “So Billy was going to blame me. I was leading Jacob on and he’d finally had enough.” Well, yeah, pretty much. I’m surprised it took him this long.

15. The day’s events have made Bella suspicious. “It made me think that whatever secret they were keeping was bigger than I’d been imagining. At least Charlie was on my side now.” So now she’s abusing her father’s position as head of the local police force. I love you, Bella. Besides, as I said before, hasn’t she learned knowledge can be deadly, not to mention emotionally painful? If she’s supposed to be smart, couldn’t she be put in a situation where the smart things isn’t to cut her losses and move on? Could she maybe say she’s doing this because Victoria’s going to kill her anyway and she’s got nothing to lose at this point? That wouldn't make the story better, but at least we could tell some effort was being made.

16. She dreams of seeing Jacob in the woods, but then he turns into Edward, and then he disappears. Yes, yes, it’s all very sad that two crushes in a row haven’t worked out. If Victoria wasn’t going to murder her she’d be scarred by this for the rest of her life.

She wakes up to the sound of someone throwing rocks at her bedroom window.

17.  I would like to stress that I don't support suicide despite my advice to Bella in this chapter. It's not funny and it's not romantic, in a book or in real life. But Bella's just a made-up character, and one who wallows in her helplessness and self-destructive tendencies at that. I wouldn't shed any tears if she ate a bullet.

1 comment:

  1. "Somebody, fan or anti, please explain this to me. Tell me what Bella’s appeal is supposed to be. Not as someone you want to read about, but someone every person in the book’s universe finds so enthralling."
    I don't think one fan of the book likes Bella. I was told by a friend, before reading New Moon, to be prepared for the worst book in the series because with Edward gone it becomes all about Bella. The Jacob and Edward characters, along with some of the smaller ones, are what draw people in.

    Btw, I really look forward to you chapter reviews. It is nice to see someone just rip the books apart and not just to be a hater. You really get down to the essence of why the writing in so bad.