Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Villains and Vigilantes - The Centerville Incident

***This review of an RPG adventure is for GMs’ eyes only***

With the revival of Villains and Vigilantes in the 21st century, perhaps it was inevitable that anime influences would start finding their way into the new material. Speaking personally, while I was something of a glutton for this new and exotic take on animation when the invasion proper started back during my high school years, nowadays anime’s like any medium. If a particular one looks good I’ll watch it, if it turns out not to be I’ll stop. Unless I’m planning to make a snarky review out of it, but that’s another discussion entirely.

A strange object makes ground near Centerville, Anywhere Convenient. As will be revealed one way or another regardless of how thorough your players are, that object was actually an invisible spaceship (a real one, and not a basement in Ladysmith, Wisconsin) carrying a Crushers-sized load of super-powered alien fugitives. They attack a lab to get the parts they need to fix the ship and make it to space-Cuba, but even if the PC’s don’t stop them the lab doesn’t have enough of what they need. But the branch in Guess Where does! Road trip!

The PC’s aren’t alone, though. There’s also the one (1) space cop on the trail of these galactic ne’er-do-wells who’s set up to disappoint any of your players hoping to hook up with a catgirl. And a group of mysterious Japanese heroines that are somewhere between a Sentai and the protagonists of Bubblegum Crisis.

Anime-inspired artwork aside, I have to say I didn’t find this module terribly impressive and almost nothing contained within fired my imagination as to use in further adventures. The character profiles are very bare, with most of the villains having backgrounds as deep as “she stole a suit of winged armor” or “he’s a remorseless killer,” with mention of which planets they’re from and which articles of the Galactic Code they’ve violated. Which is really just a cutesy way of telling you which crimes they’re wanted for by referring you to the relevant passages in the V&V rulebook.

The Sentai was especially disappointing because they don’t even get real names, which makes gaming out the suggested night on the town after the fight problematic. I assume the villains are using theirs, because monikers like Cor, Procyus, Aidri and Rux don’t really strike fear into the hearts of men, much less do a lot to make them stand out. And isn’t standing out a big part of what makes somebody a supervillain?

The details on the Galactic Police were a nice try at coming up with something to survive this adventure in a V&V campaign, but police IN SPACE aren’t really that special when visitors from (and visits to) other planets aren’t that uncommon in superhero universes. Besides, if I’m meant to take the Galactic Police seriously, I simply must ask: is Koniji’s uniform regulation?

Since she's written as being all mission-focused and stuff, I assume yes.

If nothing else, consider this: the final battle takes place on the slopes of Mount Fuji. Wow, that’s just…wow.

Like FGU’s other new releases, The Centerville Incident’s only $4 for the download. The whole thing’s so bare-bones, though, that I didn’t feel like I got much for it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Moon Chapter 18: The Funeral

1. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but the guy ringing the bell “was Jacob, of course.”

Some of his wolf buddies are in his car, too. “I understood what this meant: they were afraid to let him come here alone. It made me sad, and a little annoyed. The Cullens weren’t like that.” With what I’ve seen of the Cullens, I don’t think they’re nearly as angelic as Bella does either. It’s not like these two factions of NATURAL ENEMIES would have interacted socially and know that anyway, treaty or no treaty. Stop saying that like it’s obvious the Cullens are so “good” and that it’s easy to turn off your nature like a light switch. Yes it's nice they don't want to take a sentient life to prolong theirs, but that doesn't just do away with the rest of their transgressions.

2. “I locked gazes with first Jared and then Embry--I didn’t like the hard way they eyed me; did they really think I would let anything hurt Jacob?--before I shut the door on them.” It’s possible to over-punctuate, you know. Besides, do they really know any different? She did, after all, use to be a vampire groupie who just swung into their group out of nowhere. For all they know maybe the Cullens are having her exploit her childhood friendship with Jacob to spy on them.

Jacob angrily asks, “Slumber party?”, prompting Bella to think, “I didn’t like Jacob when he acted this way. ‘What’s it to you?’ ” Screw you, you dumb bimbo. You know exactly what it is to him. And can you honestly blame him for being indignant when he knows you’ll probably jump right out of what you have with him to get back together with Edward if and when the opportunity presents itself? And it will, let's not kid ourselves.

Bella doesn’t ease up on the biting defensiveness even though Jacob’s supposedly (I use that word a lot, huh?) her best friend and she admits she did start this by picking “the bloodsucker” over him the night before.

He warns Bella he can only protect her in La Push. “Jacob was becoming more like Sam…I wondered why that bothered me.” Bella…y u no use brain? Didn’t you always see Sam as this tyrant? Didn’t you immediately jump to the worst possible conclusion when it seemed like your precious Jacob had seen something in Sam he didn’t before? Does it have anything to do with realizing you might lose Jacob over something neither of you can really control?

In a work that takes itself as seriously as the Twilight series does, shouldn’t we have a main character who can understand how complicated the situations are? They don’t have to like it, but I’m not convinced Bella understands that maybe it’s not as simple as “don’t be a monster.”

“Well, run along now. Go tell Sam that the scary monsters aren’t coming to get you.” Screw you, character I’m meant to want to see get a happy ending.

3. “How could I have alienated him so completely in such a short amount of time?” By being a stupid brat? I dunno.

“How had I made such a mess of everything?” That really wasn’t within her ability to control. “Even in hindsight, I couldn’t think of any better way, any perfect course of action.” That’s the thing about people, they’re not perfect. And that seems to be the point of Bella’s entire “character.” She’s not perfect because she’s human.

Not that the vampires she longs to join are much better. Hell, they’re frozen in time from the moment where they got their sparkles, meaning they’re physically AND mentally 17 forever. They don’t seem to have matured much in all the decades they’ve been around. Maybe that’s got something to do with why it’s so hard for the kids to learn to be anything other than hunter-killers.

“I could see the revulsion in his eyes. I wanted to explain to him what Alice was really like, to defend her against the judgments he’d made, but something warned me that now was not the time.” Again, what’s her word worth? She’s lied to everyone, exploited everyone. Including him.

“Can’t I be friends with both of you at the same time?” I hope I’m not coming across as racist, but that’s sort of like asking why lions and tigers can’t be friends. But what the hell am I complaining about, it’s a fantasy!

Jacob does promise to be her friend, because all conflicts can get a happy ending in this universe, but sniffs Bella. She protests everyone doing this because she doesn’t smell, but he gives the obvious revelation that vampires and werewolves do have a distinct scent that the other can pick up. He even has to explain that it’s not just werewolves who can smell vampires, but vice versa too. There’s a difference between being ignorant of the ways of supernatural creatures and being just plain stupid.

Jacob tells her “That’s the way things are, Bells,” to which she responds “I do not like the way things are.” How do things have to be before she’ll like them? All she does is bitch and moan and do stupid things that could easily get her killed. And as I won’t stop reminding everybody we don’t really get to see what things are like with her when they’re “good.” I kind of appreciate it when a character seems capable of finding something they do like before endlessly whining about what they don’t.

4. Bella ruminates on the contrast between Jacob and Edward. “In so many real ways, I did love him. He was my comfort, my safe harbor. Right now, I could choose to have him belong to me.”

Absentee sparkleboy on the other hand, “True love was forever lost. The prince was never coming back to kiss me awake from my enchanted sleep. I was not a princess, after all. So what was the fairy-tale protocol for other kisses? The mundane kind that didn’t break any spells?” Holy mother of…is that why Bella’s so messed up? She thinks of her relationships in terms of picture-perfect storybook romances? I can’t be sure of anything in these florking books, but that would explain a whole lot.

“Besides, who was I betraying, anyway? Just myself.” It’s called “moving on with your life.” Look into it, won’t you?

5. The phone rings and Jacob gets it, when asked where Charlie is, Jake tells the caller “He’s at the funeral.” When asked who that was, turns out it was “Dr. Carlisle Cullen.”

After he leaves, Alice explodes in evidently having had something pretty scary beamed into her head from the Great Beyond. Something involving you-know-who. “My body reacted faster than my mind was able to catch up with the implications of her reply.” So what? We’re talking about Bella’s mind. What she’s talking about is losing it and keeling over at the mere implication that there’s bad news about Edward.

Jacob’s by her side when she’s coherent enough to process anything again, cursing a blue streak. “I felt a vague disapproval. His new friends were clearly a bad influence.” Because he didn’t get all coarse as a matter of just having his lycanthropy set in.

6. Remember how I talked about the utility of Harry Clearwater’s death to the plot and how stupid it was? Yeah, here we go.

That wasn’t Carlisle on the phone, it was Edward. And when he heard Charlie was at “the funeral,” he put two and two together and came up with Bella’s funeral. Which prompted him to do what Alice just saw. Which is to go to the Volturi (the enforcers of vampire law? Remember them?) and ask them to kill him.

That’s the chain of events kicking off our big climax/heartfelt reunion/revelation of the primary antagonists of the series, huh? Meyer established Harry Clearwater just to set up this misunderstanding? That could’ve been avoided if Edward managed to keep his dramatic thinking in check long enough to ask whose funeral?

See, if you want us to sympathize with your main character, make them sympathetic. Also, come up with big problems for them that couldn’t have been avoided if they had the presence of mind to ask one damn question. Come on…

There’s some rigamorale about how Edward believed it because Rosalie told him Bella’s dead (Alice's vision of the cliff diving and all), but if he can’t remember how Rosalie hated her and was even against saving her from James, then I’ve got even less sympathy.

7. Bella blubbers that Edward didn’t love her anymore, so why should he care if she’s dead, but Alice tells her, “I don’t think he ever planned to outlive you by long.”

This gets Bella going. “How dare he!” How dare he what, Bells? You may have felt some  lingering loyalty to him, but didn’t you think he left because he didn’t feel anything back? Bella still thinks Edward doesn’t love her anymore for several chapters, and it’s hard to think she’s mad at him for violating some cutesy promise they had about Edward not risking himself back when they were still a couple at the beginning of the book. Why the hell would she think he cares what she thinks about what he does (that was a fun sentence to type)?

Granted Bella’s pretty emotional right now, but even with all the internal monologing you can’t say she got a lot of use out of her gray matter, period.

8. Anyway Alice has only seen that Edward plans to ask the Volturi to kill him, not what they’ll decide. She does, however, know that if asking nicely doesn’t work, he’ll do something to make them want to kill him. “They’re very protective of their city. If Edward does something to upset the peace, he thinks they’ll act to stop him. And he’s right. They will.” And it won’t be at all suspicious that he’s obviously doing something to piss them off right on the heels of being turned down for assisted suicide?

It’s not all bad news, though. “If he gives into his more theatrical tendencies…we might have time.” So in this love story for the ages that takes itself deathly seriously, they’re pinning their hopes on the fact that Edward’s a melodramatic prick. This is not a little thing, this is the resolution to the book we’re talking about.

9. Bella asks what the hell they’re waiting for, prompting this little bit of literary genius.

Alice: “Listen, Bella! Whether we are in time or not, we will be in the heart of the Volturi city. I will be considered his accomplice if he is successful. You will be a human who not only knows too much, but also smells too good. There’s a very good chance that they will eliminate us all--though in your case it won’t be punishment so much as dinnertime.”
Starofjustice: “You’re wasting your breath, you know.”
Bella: “This is what’s keeping us here?”
Starofjustice: “Told you.”

Alice reiterates she’s afraid of Bella getting killed during their mad race to stop Edward, to which our idiot replies, “I snorted in disgust. ‘I almost get myself killed on a daily basis!’ ”

10. Realizing there’s no talking Bella out of a bad idea, Alice pleads, “Please tells me you have a passport. I don’t have time to forge one.” Isn’t that awesome how the only thing stopping her is a tight deadline? I know having no restraints is pretty common in personal fantasies, but in stuff you plan to share, giving the characters’ capabilities some limits helps us believe in their problems.

11. When Bella comes back down from her two minutes of packing she finds Alice and Jacob arguing again, with Alice explaining to him some about the Volturi. “The Volturi are the very essence of our kind--they’re the reason your hair stands on end when you smell me. They are the substance of your nightmares, the dread behind your new instincts. I’m not unaware of that.” Wow, these guys sound totally badass! I’ve got every faith waiting through all of Bella’s wangsting will have been worth it to finally see them!

12. This time Jacob pleads, and it’s with Bella not to go. She tries to tell him she has to, but he tells her, “You don’t, though. You really don’t. You could stay here with me. You could stay alive. For Charlie. For me.”

As I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, Edward’s just too darn pretty to let die, and Bella’s got nothing to live for in a world without him. Even though she does, and he’s standing right in front of her.

With a perfunctory goodbye note to Charlie, they’re off.

13. Well, not quite. “As Alice stomped on the gas and--with the tires screeching like human screams--spun us around to face the road, I caught sight of a shred of white near the edge of the trees. A piece of a shoe.”

You really want to go out on that?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Loonatics Unleashed - Attack of the Fuzz Balls

Sorry guys, no second Twilight chapter this week. I don't want to just do a blog about that.

For a comprehensive history on this ‘ere show, you can skip on over to the video that inspired me to take this on as a new review series. For a shorter one, at some point somebody at Warner Brothers came up with the idea to do the same thing they’d done to Batman and that other people were thinking of doing to Zorro to the Looney Tunes characters. That is, recreate them as futuristic superheroes. You might have noticed that two of those properties already were about superheroes. They only had to add some flying cars and some (more) laser guns, find a plucky teenager to stand in for the original hero, and they were good to go.

You might also have noticed the number of times Looney Tunes took anything it did seriously can be counted on one hand (and yes I’m thinking of Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue). This would seem to hinder the ability of anyone familiar with the characters to be able to get into a more "extreme" version about Bugs and Daffy’s descendants fighting crime in the far-flung future.

And that, by and large, is what happened. Loonatics Unleashed was a fiasco. I can still watch the classic cartoons without thinking of this, but there are plenty of others who don’t claim the same. The show ran for 26 episodes and though they were obviously setting up to have more, that mercifully never came to pass.

At the risk of being branded (more) insane, I’ll say the second season did evolve a little because the show embraced its roots more. Rather than just the great-great-great grandkids of Bugs, Daffy, Lola, Taz, Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner, the other classic characters started showing up too.  I don’t want you to think the show was exactly good after that, or that the premise wasn't fundamentally flawed from the get-go and that this fixed it, but there were parts that came surprisingly close to being watchable.

There were ways the second season was a step backward, however, such as an exponentially more terrible intro sequence. For that matter, as you can probably imagine the reintroduction of pretty much the entire lineup makes the idea that the characters are descendents of the ones from the shorts look a little raggedy. Especially when you see the future counterparts of Pepe LePew and Foghorn Leghorn.

Since Ryan Lohner already explained the details of the first episode in his video (or what there was to explain; that was one of the clunkiest debut episodes I’ve ever seen), I’ll be skipping right to the second one. So, without further ado…

Things open on a news report about a scientist, Prof. Zane, who’s created something called a bio-pet, which I guess is like a regular pet but artificial. After he explains what a “Fuz-Z” is (a little fuzzy head with a tail), we suddenly hear an ad jingle for them. What the hey? Are those parts of the same segment? Is that normal in the future?

Afterward we see a kid cuddling up with his Fuz-Z in bed and giving it a bite from a candy bar. I guess it’s a candy bar.

When the kid wakes up, however, his Fuz-Z’s gone and there’s a hulking monster in his bedroom. I probably don’t have to tell you what happened.

The kid runs away, and as his parents join him we see just how tight continuity was in this show.

What's wrong with your commeeeeeeeeeercial?

We get our intro sequence about a meteor striking “the city-planet of Acmetropolis,” knocking the planet off its axis and releasing forces that create superhuman beings. Like our heroes. And referring back to the video, yeah that does sound like something that would end the story right there.

As we see snippets of the characters there are also little blurbs that presumably point out their powers. But what the hell does “power orb randomizer” or “quantum quack” mean? Maybe I’m biased here because I also consider myself a storyteller, but it’s generally considered bad form to thrust the audience straight into a strange and complex universe with no idea what’s going on. Even Stephenie Meyer knew better than to start her later books without bringing new readers up to speed.

Oh, and for the record, like Ryan I'm not going to bother referring to the Loonatics by their new names besides Lexi, as her predecessor was as much of a boring female stereotype as she is. I don't care that these aren't supposed to be the Looney Tunes themselves but their descendents in the future. The franchise put the characters in different settings all the time, and this show barely makes an effort to distance the Loonatics from the originals. So it's hard not to think of this as just another spin on the same characters.

Besides, if the crew wanted so badly for me to think of the Loonatics as characters apart from the ones they're based on, they could've done more with that idea in the show itself than two or three ten-second mentions across the span of the whole show. So I'm not counting the Word of God mentions that these are Looney Tunes's grandkids in the future. If you have a problem with that, you probably don't like me anyway for pissing all over a show you like.

We cut to Bugs in the Loonatics’ Danger Room fighting off little flying saucers with his sword and laser vision. To me, he epitomizes the problem with trying to “hero-ify” these characters. Sure, Bugs was considered the “good guy” of a lot of the cartoons, but watch them and pay close attention. He doesn’t just defend himself from Elmer and Sam, he flat-out screws with his enemies. He's as much of a con artist as anything else.

What kind of role model would that create for kids in this age of ridiculous censorship, though? Thus we have Ace Bunny, a hero with a personality every bit as bland as the powers I described. He tosses out the occasional quip, but that's about all you'll see from him as unique character attributes. And that's not really something you want people to say about Bugs Bunny for crying out loud, especially not in what was supposed to be the new generation of Looney Tunes.

His distaff counterpart, Lexi Bunny, enters the room and shows off her own brand new Fuz-Z. To answer Ryan’s rhetorical question, Lola Bunny was given a futuristic counterpart for the same reason they came up with Lola in the first place: so there would be a girl.

By the way, I'm not using the characters' new names. I know they're supposed to be descended from the old ones, not new versions of the old ones, but all the designers really did is slap on some generic powers and squeeze the characters into black tights, and that's not a complete reinvention in my book.  Nor is talking fast a personality. I'll go ahead and acknowledge the token female in her new identity, but only because they actually tried to give the previous version who was a no-nonsense tough girl another personality trait: she's a shopaholic. Even if they never work that into the plot besides a few sparse mentions.

Taz tries to eat her new pet, misses, and knocks over a laser cannon that nearly fries Wile E. Coyote, the team’s resident super genius. Except in this show, he actually is. Well, maybe. He was working on some kind of experiment in the same room where Bugs was having battle practice, and what kind of idiot would do that?

Lexi explains that besides being lovable creatures, Fuz-Z’s can also be used as fashion accessories. So the scientist managed to combine a Furby with a Thneed. Damn.

By the way, I’ve never understood why their exposed mouths are neon colors. Especially since they look just like the original characters during the rare moments when they’re not in costume.

Plus, they're pretty much the only anthropomorphic animals around. It's not to disguise themselves.

Daffy comes in and demands to know how she got a Fuz-Z while his has been on order for weeks. Lexi angrily tells him to leave Zozo alone. He laughs at the name, and I have to agree. Zozo?

Oh don't I wish I was watching that show instead.

With all due respect to Mr. Lohner, Daffy's about the only Loonatic I can stand. Mainly because, with the sarcastic worldview of his ancestor, he reminded me a lot of me as I watched this wasteland of entertainment. It helped that he was one of the only first-season characters who had a personality in the first place to hang onto it during the transition. That's something you find yourself appreciating a lot more when the episodes are three times longer and take themselves way the hell more seriously.

But that’s enough of the “humorous” banter, time for the team’s handler to pop in and give them their mission for the episode. That would be the mysterious Zadavia, voiced by Candi Milo (man, it’s been a while since SWAT Kats). She’s so mysterious even the Loonatics don’t really seem to know her that well. Establishing little things like how the team was set up and why they take orders from this woman when they don’t seem to know who she is would’ve been a good idea.

Daffy asks, fearfully, where the monster’s going, with Zadavia pointedly replying, “The idea was for you to go there, Danger Duck.” She says his name like that obviously communicates his duty, but the thing is he was still trying to pick a superhero name in the previous episode and she picked that name for him just to make him shut up. What I’m saying is it makes Zadavia sound like a bitch.

Even Bugs seems to realize it, as once she signs off he quips, “She gets to go out, and we get to battle mutant spiders.” With that he trots out his catchphrase, “Let’s jet!” It’s meaningful, I guess, because they get around via jetpacks, but you’ve probably heard somebody say that when all they meant was “let’s leave.” It doesn’t sound that cool anyway.

Lexi wants to bring her new pet, not seeming to get that if she loves it so much, a superhero battle is probably the last place she wants it to be. Say what you will about the size of Darkwing Duck's ego, he at least was trying to keep his daughter away from his clashes with evildoers. Lexi does try, but can’t resist the thing’s puppy dog eyes and sneaks it along anyway. Wow, what willpower. I feel safer having someone like her around protecting my great-great-great-great grandkids.

The Loonatics find the giant bug, and defeat it by luring it onto a bridge that they then collapse. When they go down to make sure they took out the monster, it’s nowhere to be found. Just another Fuz-Z the same color as the monster. Yeah, they can stop pretending it’s a mystery now.

Bugs asks what the odds are that they’d just find a Fuz-Z where a giant bug had just disappeared, and because he’s a genius, Wile E. comically does calculate the odds. Both of the creatures jump into a pocket of Daffy’s jetpack and munch on the chocolate power bars in there, monstering out exactly like we knew they would.

Another fight starts, and again the comedy falls flat as Bugs yells “Duck!” meaning “move to avoid an incoming attack” and Daffy thinks it means him. That seems like something that would’ve come up before. It’s not quite made up for when one of them smacks Bugs into a wall and he hits us with “Of course you realize this means war…”

There’s some more fighting, but before the Loonatics have to actually use their offensive powers on the monsters the sugar high wears off and the creatures turn back to normal. Having figured what changes the monsters, Zadavaia appears on a billboard and tells them where Prof. Zane’s lab is. She also knows about the kid who fed his pet chocolate before the first monster sighting. Why does she know what happened in a little kid's bedroom...?

They’re unsure as to how they’re going to round up all the creatures before they can monster out, and during this we appear to see two guys using them to wash a car. Huh?

Seems Wile E. already invented a flying vehicle with a huge vacuum cleaner built into it, evidently because Taz get so enthusiastic at lunch time he covers the entire room with his meal. Why was it built into an aircraft, though?

That sure is an impressive...something.

Ah, that's better. Sort of.

While the rest of the team is doing that, Daffy and Lexi go to the lab to talk to Prof. Zane. Only guess what, the thing about the creatures he invented turning into monsters was totally intentional. This show’s one shocking twist after another.

Meanwhile we see the others going around Acmetropolis collecting the various creatures. Isn’t Acmetropolis the entire planet? Those guys work fast. Although I question the wisdom of putting the mindless glutton in charge of aiming the vacuum gun.

Down on the ground, we have the sixth Loonatic, the Roadrunner, running around picking up the other creatures at super-speed. Again with all due respect to Mr. Lohner, I actually found Rob Paulsen’s super-fast banter to actually be kind of amusing when not overused, like when he takes 600 words to suggest a lady with a Fuz-Z get a cat instead.

Don't mess with him, or he'll rip out your eyeballs and show 'em to you.

Prof. Zane unleashed the Fuz-Z’s because, surprise of surprises, his work was ridiculed by the scientific community. He didn’t actually invent the Fuz-Z’s, though. They’d been living underground and he happened to be right there when the meteor impact cracked the ground open and released them.

The rest of the Loonatics show up and another fight breaks out. Taz and Roadrunner spend the fight evacuating Prof. Zane’s stash of processed cacao bean products so they don’t get overrun by new monsters. Which means, *gasp*, that the people who wrote this episode are smarter than the ones who wrote the chicken episode of Dino Squad.

These are two different trips. The effort that went into this show is just staggering.

After another tepid action sequence Bugs manages to get his hands on a ray gun that turns the Fuz-Z’s back to normal. Then they drop the critters down a crack to wherever it was they came from. Seriously, we’ve got no idea what’s down there, if chocolate grows there or if the critters can even survive the fall in their regular forms.

For our limp end-of-episode jape, Daffy’s moved on from Fuz-Z’s and has a personal flea circus. Except the fleas have escaped. Guess where they went.

Remember how the old cartoons were still funny even without butt jokes?

Monday, June 13, 2011

New Moon Chapter 17: Visitor

1. So the vampire in Bella’s house? The one who drove Carlisle’s car there? Yeah, it’s Alice, not Victoria. Whew, that was scary. And yeah, I know it's romance, not horror.

They have a little reunion that gets kind of weird. “I locked my arms around her, gasping to inhale as much of the scent of her skin as possible. It wasn’t like anything else--not floral or spice, citrus or musk. No perfume in the world could compare. My memory hadn’t done it justice.”

After Bella has a nice little cry when faced with proof that her time with Edward was real, Alice asks, “would you like to explain to me how you’re alive?” Would you like to explain to me why you’re inside her house, by yourself, if you didn’t think she’d be coming home? For such “good” vampires, the Cullens sure don’t give a crap about the sanctity of anyone’s home but their own. What was Alice hoping to find at Bella’s house that she couldn’t find in the obituaries?

2. See, Alice saw Bella jumping off the cliff in a vision and came to check on it. Edward told her not to go scrying into Bella’s life anymore, because apparently Alice can seek visions about specific things after all. Would it have been so bloody hard to say that before? When she had her visions in the last book they came at random, and because it was never explained that Alice could try to have visions about specific things, it sounded weird when the story said she could like it was obvious. Certainly it didn’t help to have Bella call them “her strange, imperfect visions of the future” back in the third chapter of this book.

To boil this down to a more specific complaint, if Alice can have specific visions why in blazes didn’t Meyer have her do that when they were fighting James and Victoria? At least say it wouldn’t do anything useful because if the Cullens knew what James would do, that would invalidate her vision because it would alter the chain of events leading up to it. Soon we hear how Alice’s visions have a blind spot for werewolves, but the explanation for that is she can’t see them because she never was one. That doesn’t work if we’re talking about James and Victoria. Did she look for visions about their enemies while Bella was asleep? Am I thinking about this more than the author again? Because sometimes it seems like Meyer left Alice’s power as vague as possible to always have her as a handy escape route.

Alice reams Bella a little for her thoughtless action, but if this news to her then that probably explains why Alice thought of Bella as a friend before. Bella basically explains that she was doing it for fun and didn’t pay any attention to the strength of the waves or the storm or anything. I know Meyer wants us to think of Bella as a “danger magnet,” but when a lot of the dangers are of her own making, and when she outright tells us she’s willing to risk her life to make sure Edward’s always at arm’s length, it’s kind of hard to care what happens to her after a while.

“He was a fool to think you could survive alone. I’ve never seen anyone so prone to life-threatening idiocy,” indeed. Once upon a time, I said I usually give something less grief if it’s willing to acknowledge its faults. Unless those faults lie in the core of the work. Acknowledging that Bella’s a suicidal idiot doesn’t make my time with her more enjoyable.

“I survived,” Bella limply retorts. Yeah, because you found a new guy willing to protect you from your own stupidity.

Upon learning Bella’s been hanging out with werewolves, Alice flips out a little. “A young werewolf? Even worse! Edward was right--you’re a magnet for danger. Weren’t you supposed to be staying out of trouble?” Weren’t you the one who just said Edward was the stupid one for thinking Bella could manage it?

“Leave it to you, Bella. Anyone else would be better off when the vampires left town. But you have to start hanging out wit the first monsters you can find.” Pardon me, but aren’t they supposed to be friends? Not that Alice isn’t working her way back into my good graces by pointing out Bella’s stupidity (I like the character more, that doesn’t mean I like the book more), but she sounds more like Rosalie, in that she’s calling Bella an idiot who it’s dangerous to be around. Or maybe this proves Alice does care, because she’s not afraid to stick the truth right in Bella’s stupid plain mortal face.

3. Bella explains that the werewolves are actually why she’s still alive because, not in so many words, the Cullens were kind of idiots and didn’t think of James’s buddies wanting revenge and coming after the powerless human to get it. Being told this catches Alice unwares and she asks Bella to tell her everything, which Bella does, leaving out the parts about dicing with death for the sake of Edward delusions. Really. “I glossed over the beginning, skipping the motorcycles and the voices, but telling her everything else right up to today’s misadventures.” Part of getting better is admitting you have a problem, you know. But then, being with Edward solves every problem. For some reason.

“Our leaving didn’t do you any good at all, did it?” And who’s to blame for that? The Cullens should’ve known there was another vampire involved in the hunt for Bella. And Edward certainly should’ve known that Bella was trying to stay friendly with the kid from the werewolf tribe that his family had a peace treaty with. Maybe that kid was a werewolf too, which would make it easy for a stubborn idiot bimbo like Bella to get involved with them. He skipped town without addressing, and quite possibly even realizing, that those threats were still around for the girl he was trying to protect by removing himself from her life.

Not that Bella sees it that way. “That was never the point, though, was it? It’s not like you left for my benefit.” Because Edward wasn’t constantly protecting her from one thing or another. Especially herself, as I won’t stop saying. When he was faced with evidence that all those warnings about wanting to suck her blood weren’t just hyperbole (even though they are), what was he supposed to do? James he could fight, rapists in Port Angeles he could fight, speeding vans he could push her out of the way of. But his loved ones? It’s not like Jasper’s attack was a matter of not understanding the rules of society better or he had some kind of unwholesome interest in Bella; he’s a predator fighting his urges just like the rest of them.

Faced with a situation like that, what was Edward going to do? Well he could’ve done the smart thing and tried to develop some kind of system to maintain their contact while protecting her (like maybe not dragging her to vampire gatherings against her will), or he could’ve left like he did in order to protect her. Like he always had. But hey, Bella’s a reactive idiot who never thinks things through anymore than Edward. Of course she bought his line about not loving her anymore, and never once thought he only said that because it was the only way to shut up her pleadings about unconditional acceptance.

“It goes deeper than that. You’re a mess,” indeed. Not that anything more than having Edward back in her life is called for, that is.

Bella: “Alice, What did you think you were going to find? I mean, besides me dead? Did you expect to find me skipping around and whistling show tunes? You know me better than that?”
Alice: “I do. But I hoped.”
Starofjustice: “Then why are you guys supposed to be friends again?”

4. Despite the tone of their conversation up to now, Bella begs Alice to hang around for a while. “You can stay here--Charlie would love that.” Would he? I know he was fond of the Cullens before, but that seemed to evaporate in the face of Edward breaking up with his daughter and the family skipping town without notifying him. Or are we supposed to know he only feels that way about Edward?

Alice leaves to get a snack, after Bella extracts a promise from her to return in an hour. “Alice would be back. I suddenly felt so much better.” She’s suddenly rather trusting considering they bailed on her with only Edward saying goodbye.

5. After Alice leaves, “I wondered what Alice had meant about smelling bad.” I didn’t bring this up before, but Alice did in fact mention that Bella smelled bad and knows now that Bella’s been hanging out with werewolves. Who Bella should well know by now are vampires’ natural enemies. Is it that florking hard to figure out? For Bella, the answer’s probably yes.

6. At Charlie being happy that Bella invited Alice to spend the night, “ ‘Of course,’ Charlie said mechanically. ‘We’d love to have you, Alice.’ ” So is she even lying to her dearest friends because it means having some news of what the Cullens have been up to? Why should I like her again?

Bella tries to stay up to talk Alice but she’s only a worthless human and soon submits to sleep. At least there’s nothing about annoying nightmares this time.

7. Bella wakes up to hear Charlie telling Bella what a strain it is to be the father of a codependent lunatic. “It was hard listening to this, knowing how much pain I’d caused him.” Not that she feels the need to change her ways to lessen the pain she inflicts on him. That would require character development.

I don’t need to go into this because it’s basically what I’ve been saying about Bella the whole time, and lord knows you’re sick of that. Charlie does admit he’s fond of Alice, and just for the sake of not having another annoyance with this book I’ll take that as gospel and move on.

8. Charlie leaves to help set up Harry Clearwater’s funeral (pulls at your heartstrings, don’t it?). Once he’s gone Alice starts talking about research she did into her past with the little information she acquired from the video of James’s villain-about-to-be-defeated bragging. I suppose I could go into more detail, but if you’re reading reviews like this, you probably only care if there’s something to complain about.

Which there sort of is. This portion feels really forced. It’s like after having Alice come back, Meyer remembered the bit about Alice’s murky past and decided she needed to mention that or people might think she was a bad writer or something. All that’s really mentioned is Alice’s real name, and that she has a niece.

She talks about other things regarding the family, while not talking about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. “It was enough to listen to the stories of the family I’d once dreamed of belonging to.” For any other reason than because Edward belongs to it? I mean, any other reason besides Edward belonging to it that isn’t being young and beautiful forever?

9. Charlie comes down the next day in an ill-fitting suit for Harry’s actual funeral. “His tie was a bit wide for the current style.” And how in the holy fuck would Bella know anything about the current fashion for neckties? I’ve complained about Bella knowing things she probably shouldn’t, but that’s just retarded.

Bella does chores while she and Alice make meaningless small talk. Meaningless in that it’s yet more of that dialogue that gets summed up in a paragraph. Since this is about goings on at school, maybe that’s for the best. However, “I sensed her disapproval when she realized how little I could tell her.” It’s not like they haven’t talked already, and about the things showing Bella’s even dumber and more disturbed than Alice perhaps thought.

10. This goes on until the doorbell rings, surprising Alice. “Since when did Alice have to guess anything?” Since the author appears to be making up her precognition on the fly again? I already explained why Alice is surprised, so let’s get into why what Bella’s saying is stupid.

Is Alice supposedly seeing everything that’s going to happen in relation to her and those close to her? Because when she had one of her little vision/attacks before, I remember it being the swoony kind of sudden otherworldly vision. That hardly ever happens to her “on-camera,” and it’s hard to think of her being able to pass as a normal high school student if she swoons every time she has one of her random visions. At least if they happen so often she can foresee everything as Bella implies.

Even if it’s the case that Alice is supposed to be seeing everything before it happens, I still don’t buy it. Mostly because she can interface with what’s going on around her as well as she can. If you’re seeing everything that’s going to happen at the same time you’re seeing what’s happening right now, don’t you think you’d either go insane or end up looking like it? Based on the things she’s said to Bella this chapter, Alice is easily one of the sanest characters in the entire series.

I’m not willing to hear “Alice grappled with all the info for a while but learned to filter it out eventually.” Vampires might have sharpened senses, but from the way all the vampires have acted I wouldn’t say any of them operate on a mental level higher than their prey’s.

I’m arguing for more believable characters here, yeah, but really I’m arguing for Meyer to come up with an explanation for how Alice’s power works and sticking to it. Like I said last chapter, just because something's fantasy doesn’t mean the author's excused from making sense. Meyer even uses "it's a fantasy" to evade complaints about vampire copulation in the behind the scenes book (in that she basically says "of course vampires can't have babies. They're not real lol it's a fantasy"), so I hesitate to say she understands that.

As you can see, I didn't take too many liberties.

Also consider the second blurb I ended up displaying from that interview. How it seems to say if something you're writing's fantasy, that's carte blanche to do whatever you please. Not really. If you're so damn proud of what you write, you can have the decency to stick to the rules you made up. Take say, Stellarman. I've had a ton of fantastic things happen in that story: ginormous robots, travel to other planets, even a cult leader who can do just about anything with a semi-mystical fire. That doesn't mean I'd think it was in synch with my fictional universe for a Jedi knight to show up and start throwing Risen around with the Force, or a Green Lantern to show up and give Stellarman a hand because it's a fantasy and that means there's no such thing as limits.

Hell, remember how in the last review, how instead of a scan of the book, I had a picture of card? That's from one of several card games where the players pretend they're making an incomprehensible B-movie. You can shuffle the different games together to have Clint Eastwood and Robin Hood teaming up with Conan the barbarian on Saturn to search for the priceless tribal idol while racist cops and ninjas plot their downfall, and the main fun of the games is how stupid things get as you chaotically mix genres. The thing is, those games don't take themselves the least bit seriously. Twilight sure as hell does, and if it's serious we expect it to respect our intelligence. And that means caring some about logic. Internal logic, at the very least.

Then again, these things probably require a protagonist who isn't a moron, too.

11.  Just so everybody knows, even though I've got the behind the scenes book with the official explanations for nearly everything, for the most part I'm not going to be looking to it for answers when I have a problem with something. Books like that can be helpful in making things clearer, sure, but a work should be able to stand on its own. A TV show you're watching or book you're reading should be clear to people who don't have the official guidebook, too.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New Moon Chapter 16: Paris

1. Just when things were looking promising in the last chapter, Bella finds herself being saved by a handily-returned Jacob. And she’s pained because the first voice she hears is his and not Edward’s. “Was I dying again, then? I didn’t like it--this wasn’t as good as the last time.” My heart bleeds to hear DEATH isn’t catering to your every whim.

After two and a half pages of internal whining Bella returns to the real world enough for Jacob to ask, “Oh Bella! Are you okay?” Considering she jumped off a cliff just as a storm started to hit, methinks not. At least Jacob thinks so too (“Why would you jump, Bella? Didn’t you notice that it’s turning into a hurricane out here?”) Also, she’s not together enough to actually process them and give answers. “None of this words sank in at first.” Again, explain how that’s a change.

Oh yeah, Bella can process one thing: “His chest was bare and warm.” Because even a near-death experience is no reason to stop admiring shirtless hunks.

2. Granted, there was also this: “a spark of color caught my unfocused eyes--a small flash of fire was dancing on the black water, far out in the bay.” There you are folks, Victoria’s only actual appearance in 563 pages. With all the things happening as a result of her thirst for revenge, is that seriously it? It’s not like she’s a firmly-established character, even for these books. We saw her one time before this, and the focus was on James and Laurent.

3. Jacob ask if “do you mind saving the stupid stuff for when I’m around? I won’t be able to concentrate if I think you’re jumping off cliffs behind my back.” Bella agrees to do so, but “I sounded like a chain-smoker.” She means her voice sounds like a chain-smoker, since in the next sentence she talks about clearing her throat, but considering it’s Bella I thought for a second she meant she sounded like a chain-smoker in their inability to follow through on promises to quit their dangerous habit.

Anyway, the wolves report that they didn’t in fact catch Victoria, she escaped into the water because vampires swim better than giant wolves. There’s an even greater tragedy at work, though: somebody named Harry Clearwater had a heart attack. This actually is a big deal, but only in the movie, and only if you’re someone like me. Which I’ll explain when I finish up the book. In any case, the utility of Harry’s life being imperiled to the plot ends up being as ridiculous as how we’re apparently supposed to care when this is one of the many, many, many, many characters who’s little more than a name without even a face.

Bella asks if Harry’s going to be okay and is told “It doesn’t look so great right now.” Because sometimes, a problem can’t be fixed and it honestly seems like Bella might not know that. “What a stupid time to be reckless.” Is there a smart time?

4. “Poor Harry. Poor Sue.” Who? “I knew Charlie was going to be beside himself.” Maybe we would too if Meyer would stop creating characters like popcorn and did something with them instead.

5. Bella gets to sleep, and “For the first time in a very long time, my dream was just a normal dream.” It’s about a production of Romeo & Juliet, and this leads to Bella thinking about other ways the story could’ve gone (what if Romeo stuck it out with Rosaline [the book says Rosalind]? She’d never be able to forget Romeo, but what if Juliet married Paris? What if he turned out to be a decent guy?). As you can imagine, she's imagining other possibilities to be able to compare her own romantic situation to a famous romantic figure so we needn't get too deep into specifics here. Except to say the comparisons aren't doing anything to help, either the effectiveness of New Moon or to do anything about the idea that Stephenie Meyer's a pompous hack who really does think this is comparable to Shakespeare.

Bella closed her eyes, “letting my mind wander away from the stupid play I didn’t want to think about anymore. I thought about reality instead.” That arty little internal monologue isn’t doing the narration any favors either, because as I just said, that's what she was doing.

Our super-mature heroine thinks instead about how she’s been risking her own life and how it would affect the people in her life if she actually had an author willing to let something happen to her as a result. “What if something bad happened to me? What would that do to Charlie? Harry’s heart attack had pushed everything suddenly into perspective for me.” Mind you, this wasn’t what I was talking about when I mentioned Harry’s plight and its utility to the plot.

“Perspective that I didn’t want to see, because--if I admitted to the truth of it--it would mean that I would have to change my ways. Could I live like that?” Bella, sweetie, you’re not going to “live” if you keep living the way you do. At least not for long. Those extreme athletes are just that. Athletes. Plus, they do it for the thrill. You do it for the sake of something that’ll distract you in life-threatening situations. You don’t really expect to live long enough to collect social security like that, do you? At least not without some supernatural guy around who’s willing to spend his eternity pulling your fat out of the fire. Which I’ll remind everyone she considered doing to keep Edward close in the first book, page 211. Bella’s not in love, she’s deranged. Sorry, Steph.

6. “I couldn’t imagine my life without Jacob now--I cringed away from the idea of even trying to imagine that.” That’s what you said about Edward amidst the even more constant warnings that he was bad for you. Which leads into “Somehow, he’d become essential to my survival.” Yes he has. He and his friends are protecting you from a vampire who wants you dead. Why make it out like a mystery? I know, I know, she means she depends on him emotionally and would snap even more without him around, but that’s not how that sentence reads.

“I remembered wishing that Jacob were my brother. I realized now that all I really wanted was a claim to him…I could stake a claim. I had that much within my power.” Then it finally enters Bella’s skull that she’s already staked a claim. He’ll already take her, warts and all. For reasons fathomable only to the author.

“Would it be so wrong to try to make Jacob happy? Even if the love I felt for him was no more than a weak echo of what I was capable of, even if my heart was far away, wandering and grieving after my fickle Romeo, would it be so very wrong?” Moving on is what most people do when a relationship doesn't work out. Bella sounds like she doesn't know that, but I'm not surprised anymore. And I know damn well their relationship never gets any deeper, but the whole “weak echo” bit is the most annoying thing about the Twilight books. I’ve seen the “love at first sight” gimmick in plenty of stories, but if you’re going to go that route, at least show an attraction. The first book showed two people who insisted on being around each other, but who were constantly annoyed with each other. It makes it really hard to understand what Bella misses.

Besides, mentioning what she feels for Jacob is a “weak echo” of her feelings for Edward, well, that pretty much kills any suspense over who she’ll eventually pick. Because if Meyer thinks she's fooling anybody with the premise that Edward's gone for good, it's only herself.

“Wouldn’t Edward, indifferent as he might be, want me to be as happy as was possible under the circumstances? Wouldn’t enough friendly emotion linger for him to want that much for me? I thought he would. He wouldn’t begrudge me this: giving me just a small bit of the love he didn’t want to my friend Jacob. After all, it wasn’t the same love at all.” I admit I didn't really make this clear before because the reality of the situation's so obvious, but Bella’s under the impression Edward left because he decided he really doesn’t love her after all. This is where not knowing what was so great bout their time together REALLY hurts the story. Why the hell does she care that Edward would approve of her moving on and going out with somebody else? What did they do together to foster this kind of loyalty in her so long after he dumped her? I’m reading a romance novel, right? Why am I still waiting for the romance to kick in?

Delusion Edward even tells her to “Be happy.” I’d take that as about as strong a sign as I’d ever get that it’s okay to move on. But then, I’m not Bella. And I don’t just mean she’s a hormonal emo idiot and I’m not. I’m just an idiot.

7. Jacob drives Bella home but tenses up when he smells a vampire inside her house. A surge of hope fills her as she recognizes Carlisle’s car in the driveway. And where the hell was that after they left? They probably just left it at their old house. They can certainly afford as many new cars and new houses as they need want, but remember how cautious they were about potential invasions? Remember the automatic metal shutters in the last book? If they’re that worried about somebody breaking into their house it seems kind of strange they’d just leave their stuff at the house when they left, never intending to return. And, well, that's what they did.

8. She tells Jacob “It’s okay. No danger, see? Relax.” Yeah, no danger. There really isn't. Glad to hear they're finally catching on.

“There’s a vampire in your house. And you want to go back?” He really doesn’t get her, even knowing what all her life involved, does he? I mean, I don’t either, and I know more about her life than maybe even Jacob does, but I'd have no desire to be her boyfriend even if she was real and I had supernatural powers.

He lets Bella go inside, but warns her that even with their treaty with the Cullens, he can’t go in there and he has to warn Sam right away that one’s back. “Jake, it’s not a war!” Bella tries to argue, but “He didn’t listen.” And really, what’s her word worth?

As he leaves, “Remorse pinned me against the seat for one long second. What had I just done to Jacob?” Why is everything her fault? One of the Cullens came back. That was their choice. How it influences Jacob has nothing to do with any decision she made. At least, as far as she knows right now.

9.  As Bella heads inside she realizes what that fleck of fire on the water really was, and how close Victoria had managed to get. Yeah, I’m sorry she didn’t get closer too. Both because Bella’s still around and because the villain’s not even in the book.

Then the lights suddenly come on, and Bella “saw that someone was there, waiting for me.” I guess that’s supposed to be suspenseful, except we already know it’s not Victoria, it’s one of the Cullens who probably didn’t come all this way to finish what Jasper started.

Pardon me, I think I need to go watch a slightly more intelligent take on Romeo & Juliet. Like the one with robots.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Moon Chapter 15: Pressure

1. “It was spring break in Forks again,” which isn’t actually a time for rejoicing. “Last spring break, I’d been hunted by a vampire too. I hoped this wasn’t some kind of tradition forming.” Me either. These books are predictable enough already.

There’s some blather about Jacob apologizing for not having more time to hang out with Bella, because of that tiny little detail involving an evil vampire on the loose (and until Eclipse at least, it only ends up being a reminder that Victoria’s still around). Wouldn’t want Bella to think he’s avoiding her when she knows perfectly well what’s going on.

There’s some more blather about how one of the whoever wolves called Bella Jacob’s girlfriend, and how she’s not but she DOES totally enjoy his company and it brings a measure of peace to her existence. This lead to Mike asking if she and Jacob are going out. “He asked, poorly disguising the resentment in his tone.” Let it go, man. It doesn’t matter how hot she refuses to believe she is, you can do so much better.

She denies it’s like that between her and Jacob, and Mike tells her it’s obvious how Jacob’s crazy about her. “I know. Life is complicated.” To which the redoubtable Mike replies, “ ‘And girls are cruel.’ I supposed that was an easy assumption to make too.” Is she implying she isn’t? What exactly are we supposed to think of her with the way she insists nothing’s going on with her and Jacob and she’ll never love again, yet the way she acts around him is hard not to think of as leading him on? Hell, she never stops being cruel to herself, which ends up being cruel to her audience who get to listen to her every emo thought.

I envy guys like the Spoony One and Nostalgia Critic who base their opinions on Twilight solely on the movies. Where you’re on the outside looking in, not inside Bella’s brain for the whole experience. Those guys don’t have to put up with half the crap I do. I’m gonna get you for this, Bill.

2. Time to listen to Jacob explain how Meyer’s version of werewolves work and get it out of the way, but the only thing really worth mentioning is how Bella was actually delaying his change. Apparently it’s caused by teenage angst or something, because the enjoyment he got from their time together held it off for a while. Because Bella’s so gosh darn special. Hell, maybe there is something about her worth pursuing. Having spent nearly this entire book listening to her bitch and moan about how desolate she’ll be forever, I’m pretty much past the point of it making any difference even if it ever comes to light.

3. There’s a little something where Jacob asks if the “bloodsuckers” creeped Bella out and she curtly replies in the negative. Again I can’t shake that feeling that it’s because if she were one she’d be young and pretty until the end of time, and that outweighs any potential downsides. Whereas being a werewolf means you turn into something bestial when you lose your cool, and there’s nothing glamorous about that. He also asks about the extra powers some vampires have, and since the Cullens are gone forever Bella tells him what she knows. It’s just an excuse for her to angst some more about how she’ll never be a part of that wonderful sparkly family now, though (“It hurts to think about them,” which is why she does suicidal things in order to hear Edward yell at her again).

Jacob asks why Edward killed James and gets a shorter version of the story than I did. He examines her arms and notes “This is your funny scar. The cold one.” The cold one? Oh I get it, because vampires are naturally cold and it’s where vampire sleaze got into her system. I’m pretty sure "cold" is just the absence of heat, which makes this kind of stupid with how Meyer once prided herself on her vampires being scientific, but I really don’t want to get into something I’m probably not equipped to debate. I value coherence more than scientific feasibility in fantasy books anyway. Regardless, a permanently cold scar as a reminder of her time with Edward is kind of pointless when hardly a chapter goes by where she doesn’t think about Edward in some fashion no matter how much she tries not to.

4. More angsting as Bella tries to fill the time where Jacob’s not around with Emily. When not doing housekeeping stuff, “She complained lightly about the increase in the boys’ appetites from all their extra running, but it was easy to see she didn’t mind taking care of them.” I find it easily believe “It wasn’t hard to be with her--after all, we were both wolf girls now.” That and both of them have no desire to do anything themselves. Besides, as a “wolf girl,” doesn’t that mean she’s acknowledging her relationship with Jacob? I mean, “wolf girl” Emily is Sam’s girlfriend.

It’s not so great when Sam shows up to check in. “The aura of love and contentment that surrounded that surrounded them was hard to take in concentrated doses, with no one else around to dilute it.” You’re broken and will never experience love, you’ve told us. Please stop telling us. It makes it harder to care every time you do.

The alternative to being with the lupine lovebirds isn’t so great, though. “Alone time wasn’t good for me.” Is anything, besides hanging on some hot guy’s arm? Ten chapters to go…

5. The impossible longing for Edward’s getting so bad that her concern for Charlie, for Jacob and his friends, and the very real danger of a vampire killing, well, “none of these very real, very deserving of thought, very pressing concerns could take my mind off the pain in my chest for long.” I’m tempted to just end this chapter right now. Yes, Bella’s caught in an ugly situation. Yet the most we see of Victoria in the entire book is a glimpse of her hair. All I’m trying to say is a happier medium probably could’ve been found between doing the smart thing (keeping Bella as far away from the vampire as possible), and actually showing us that action is happening (the aforementioned glimpse being as close as we come to a confrontation with the antagonist). Doing the intelligent thing is what writers should strive to do, certainly, but playing it totally safe doesn’t make for the most interesting narrative. Drama thrives on conflict. Believable conflict.

6. Jacob sorrowfully notes he’s ruining her spring break, but she tells him it’s okay. “I don’t think I like spring breaks, anyway.” When I can only name two things she does like after 851 pages, it occurs to me our author might have yet to learn anything about “character development.”

He promises her some fun, remembers he promised to take her cliff diving once upon a time, and then sends her to bed. “The idea of a distraction from all my worries had me almost excited.” Maybe if there were things that interested her beyond vampires and Jacbo's bare torso, she’d be weathering this all a little better. And I should’ve said this a long time ago, but “it’s fantasy” isn’t a magic phrase to dismiss any and all complaints about plausibility. Flesh this character out a little, give her some actual traits and interests. Her desire to be a vampire (more specifically, Mrs. Edward) shouldn’t completely erase her personality. Not when the narrator’s an actual character and the story’s all about their trials and their relationships, as opposed to say the Bhagavad Gita where the guy telling the story isn’t really part of the story.

7. The next day Billy explains Jacob and the others left suddenly because they think they have Victoria cornered. Bella’s scared (what other way does she see out of this, other than Victoria killing her way through the wolves, Charlie, and then her?), and tells Billy not to joke about the situation. “This is too scary for that.”

“ ‘You’re right,’ he agreed, still complacent. His ancient eyes were impossible to read.” Are we talking about in general or just to Bella? I’ll always find this ability she supposedly has to know what people are thinking inexplicable with her supposed background.

8. After Bella refuses yet again to be reassured by the fact that they’ve been doing this for centuries and everything they need to know is programmed in by instinct, she goes down to the beach anyway. “Being outside didn’t help as much as I’d hoped.” Life is one big disappointment for you. We get it.

The weather soon starts to pick up and starts looking like a storm. “The animals must be bunkering down.” Yeah, bunkering down. And an error in tense. Don’t listen to all those mean naysayers, Steph.

As she heads up to the cliff Bella wangsts some more. “I tried not to think about the danger Jacob and his friends were in. Because nothing could happen to Jacob. The thought was unendurable. I’d lost too much already.” And what was that, exactly? Again, what did she and Edward do together? Show us a little something to make it seem like that wasn’t really the hormones at work. And I find it hard to include the chance to be a vampire in there, what with how hesitant everyone seemed to be to take that step.

9. Turns out that hearing Edward was what Bella was counting on to get her through the day. “The hole had been festering lately, like it was getting revenge for the times Jacob’s presence had tamed it. The edges burned.”

Even though Jacob’s not around, she decides to try cliff diving anyway. After all, “why not? Why not quench it right now?” Maybe because there’s techniques to help you survive? I’ve never gone cliff diving and I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s the kind of thing I’d look into before doing it. Then again, I’m not a suicidal emo ninny. Just that last one.

“I knew this was the stupidest, most reckless thing I had done yet. The thought made me smile.” And I’m supposed to find that endearing? Am I supposed to see that this is how far Bella’s gone down the road to ruin thanks to her separation from Edward? That would’ve kind of required her to not seem so crazy obsessed with him when things were going good. The time away hasn’t done anything for her, because she does hallucinate Edward who tells her to stop, to which she counters “But you won’t stay with me any other way.”

10. She does dive off the cliff, and survives. “That was when the current caught me.” Dumbass. Oh, even better, “It felt like the waves were fighting over me.” Even when she’s drowning it sounds like everything’s about her.

Her insanity-induced vision of Edward’s there as she fails to get above water again. “He owed me that much, considering that I was dying.” Keep in mind she’s talking about a delusion brought on by being in danger. There’s nothing to the effect of “I wished the real Edward could’ve been here.”

Her life doesn’t flash before her eyes. “Who wanted to watch a rerun, anyway?” So true, Bells, so true.

Delusion Edward yells at her not to give up, but since his voice is coming through clearer than ever, she doesn’t mind giving up and going under. I don’t mind her doing that too much either.

11. I was just goofing, Bill. I’m not really gonna get you for this.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

New Moon Chapter 14: Family

1. When she’s brought before the rest of the pack, “they weren’t what I was expecting. I’d gotten the image of the wolves stuck in my head. These were just four really big half-naked boys.” If that’s not the most thinly-veiled attempt at making your audience go “squee” I’ve ever heard, I don’t know what could be.

2. As they approach Sam demands, “What have you done, Jacob?” Really. You hooked up with HER??

“One of the others, one I didn’t recognize” (like it really matters) forces his way past the others to get all up in Jacob’s grill. These guys do have names, but it just annoys me the way Meyer will give everyone, no matter how small their part or non-existent their distinction, a name and then keep using it like it means anything. That’s why I coined the term “whoever friend.”

“What the hell are you thinking? Is she more important than everything--than the whole tribe? Than the people getting killed?” the whoever wolf demands. Exactly. What’s so great about Bella? What about her attracts people, especially guys like Jacob and Edward? What makes her worth fighting for or giving special attention when they’re protecting everyone in the area from Victoria? What makes someone like Edward or Jacob call up all the resources and allies they have in the name of her defense?

Yeah, the relationship between her and Jacob is less far-fetched than the one between her and Edward, but she’s still stupid, judgmental, thinks she’s worthless, habitually jumps to the worst possible conclusion…Sure Jacob says the reason is she can give them inside information on their enemy, but of course his interest runs deeper than that. But WHY??? Does she hide her real personality well? Maybe she should hide it from the reader a little better, then.

3. Things get so heated Jacob and the other guy wolf out and start fighting, soon disappearing into the woods. “The black and white scraps--the remains of Jacob’s clothes--fluttered to the ground where he’d disappeared.” Oh thank you so much for clearing that up, Steph.

Enhacing Bella’s appeal even more, she thinks of Jacob in his wolf form as “Jacob-wolf.” I could kind of see that if they showed up in their wolf forms again, but here it sounds like she’s demeaning him. That he’s not her Jacob, he’s some creature that used to be Jacob. That just doesn’t sound right after she’s forgiven him for all the bad things she thought he was doing.

After they run off to have their little macho fight Embry Call (did we ever even hear his last name before now?) comes to take Bella someplace to wait for them to get back. “Suddenly, he seemed to remember me” and asked if she was “going to faint or puke or anything?” Turns out she is feeling that way. Used to weird by now, huh?

“ ‘Well, the wolf’s out of the bag now.’ Embry sighed.” Wow that was an incredibly stupid and not clever in the slightest thing to say.

4. It turns out Jacob’s incredibly special too. “Even Sam couldn’t have phased on the fly like that. He saw Paul losing it, and it took him, what, half a second to attack? The boy’s got a gift.” Only the best for our Bella, after all.

Meyer tries to have some interaction between the werewolves by showing they like to make bets. This one is about whether Bella will puke on the ride to their house, which being the first example makes the practice seem really stupid and juvenile. Given that the wolves are supposed to seem like a credible threat to sparklepires, it’s not a good thing. I can’t believe Embry’s the one who thinks she can make it. Because she hung out with vampires, you see.

5. They take her to the house of an Emily, who turns out to be Sam’s girlfriend, and warn Bella not to stare at her. When Bella asks why she might do that, she’s told “hanging out around werewolves has its risks.” Fine, plausible. But after all the shit we got along those lines from Edward, we really don’t need more from anyone else.

Oh, and when Embry says her truck’s slow, she apologizes. Because she didn’t even pick it out. Wait, what? Again, this isn’t really that big a deal, but with the many, many previous examples of Bella apologizing for things that weren’t her fault, it transforms into pure aggravation, dilute before using.

6. When they meet this Emily, “I thought the reason Embry had told me not to stare was because the girl was so beautiful.” Well she’s not. “The right side of her face was scarred from hairline to chin by three thick, red lines, livid in color though they were long healed. One lined pulled down the corner of her dark, almond-shaped right eye, another twisted the right side of her mouth into a permanent grimace.”

Bella’s going to mention Emily’s scars or her once-beautiful face or something like that every time she brings Emily up. Emily’s not around as much as Edward so it’s not as annoying as Bella’s overtures to his perfection, but damn, could you make Bella more superficial, please?

“She stared at me, and neither half of her once-beautiful face was friendly.” Considering you’re an intruder in their affairs, not to mention kind of a bitch, I can't say I feel much of a compulsion to jump in on your side. This is yet another of those things that could have just been an innocuous remark, but with the way Bella seems to think she implicitly deserves people’s trust…

And before we move on, “Emily rolled her good eye.” Shit…

7. The wolf boys strike Bella as being awfully like a family (with Emily being the one who cooks and cleans for them all, it seems). I’m amazed this doesn’t dredge up any unpleasant memories of the supernatural family that was almost hers. Amazed and grateful. I'm a little disturbed by how Emily is so happy with Sam and his buddies when he lost control and mauled her, though. This book doesn't really address that, even with Bella's fixation on her marred features.

More about Emily’s deformity. “I could see that the scars extended all the way down her arm to the back of her right hand. Hanging out with werewolves truly did have its risks, just as Embry had said.” Kind of a new experience to be around supernatural creatures where the evidence of their wild side is there from the beginning instead of a year into the relationship, huh?

Sam shows up and kisses Emily’s “ruined mouth.” Why am I expected to hope for a happy ending for this twat again?

“This was worse than any romantic movie; this was so real that it sang out loud with joy and life and true love. I put my muffin down and folded my arms across my empty chest. I stared at the flowers, trying to ignore the utter peace of the moment, and the wretched throbbing of my wounds.” I repeat my previous question. And maybe this would actually carry some weight if we had any idea what she missed about her time with Edward. Remember how I complained about Bella describing their happiest summer ever with one sentence?

8. Jacob and the guy he was fighting come in and Bella finds out werewolves heal really fast, although this won’t really matter until the end of the next book. They discuss strategy for dealing with Victoria, and Emily doesn’t like that Sam’s in the smaller group. Just pointing it out at this stage, but in case it’s not clear Sam’s the one who ruined her beautiful face. Anyway, looks like none of the women in this stupid story have any faith in their supernatural friends, even Emily who’s presumably around hers more often than Bella was around the Cullens before the so-called “climax” of the last book.

They discuss keeping Bella at La Push as much as they can for safety, from Victoria if perhaps not from the wolves. Meyer, could you please let it go? If that’s a danger, fine, but could you please at least stop bringing it up so the wolves aren't annoying in the exact same way Edward is? Anyway, Bella asks after Charlie and they figure he’ll probably be up there a lot too, what with it being March Madness and Charlie possessing this strange alien commodity called “friends.”

So. Bella’s just going to be sitting on the sidelines again. Love how Booklist said “Teens will relish this new adventure and hunger for more.” Not my emphasis, but serves my purposes well enough. I know I can safely ignore anything said in that review if this is what whoever wrote it considers an "adventure."

Anyway, the wolves are willing to do what they can to shelter Bella. Sam asks “If there was somewhere else you felt safe…” She again thinks about not wanting to bring her mom into this, but I again ask why not Alaska? The vampires there are friends with the Cullens and would probably be willing to offer another friend of the Cullens their help. Plus, anybody she’s worried about getting mixed up in Victoria’s little quest for revenge would be pretty well out of the way.

9. For his part, Sam’s kind of satisfied to have Victoria’s prey right on hand, means they won’t have to go far from home to “end this.”

“I flinched. I didn’t want Jacob or any of the rest of them trying to end Victoria.” What’ll it take to convince her maybe he can kill a vampire after all? Or at the very least that this is the most ideal of their available options? Maybe if the books weren’t quite so long, all the “I’m just a weak little human, I’m not worth the risk” stuff wouldn’t be quite so irritating.

Then Emily “met my eyes, and I could suddenly see the symmetry underlying her deformity.” Hold it in, star, hold it in. “Her face was still beautiful, and alive with a concern more fierce than mine.” Bella can’t even compare to other people when it’s about being concerned for other people. I mean, I knew that, but damn. You’ve got to give a character flaws, but you’ve got to give them positives too. I see what you’re saying, Liz (can I call you Liz?).

“Her expression clearly stated that this was her family. All in all, it wasn’t exactly what I’d been expecting from a pack of werewolves.” Isn’t she used to the movies being wrong by now?

10. While both Charlie was up on the reservation for the night, he was “eyeing the two of us suspiciously all night.” It’s not even like Bella’s been up to anything behind his back, either.

Jacob informs Bella that “since they’d chased her away from the hot springs last night--chased her halfway to Canada, according to Jacob--she’d yet to make another foray.” That was during the previous night, was it? So why are they acting like they expect Victoria to make another move already? And during the day? Wouldn’t that risk bringing the Volturi down on her (I’m getting to that part)?

“I had no hope at all that she might just give up. I didn’t have that kind of luck.” Because you have an author with no idea how to write balanced characters or compelling conflict, sweetie.

Jacob leaves to join his buddies on another night’s work, leading to this.

Jacob: “You’re silly. Hunting vampires is fun. It’s the best part of this whole mess.”
Starofjustice: “Notice he didn’t say anything about getting to hang around Bella…”
Bella: “If I’m silly, then you’re dangerously unbalanced.”
Starofjustice: “He thinks you’re girlfriend material, doesn’t he?”

11. “I wondered where Sam and Jared and Embry and Paul were…” Oh cut it out already, Meyer. The names don’t matter and you know it.

When Bella gets back to the Swan household, she tells Charlie some of the day-to-day stuff to silence his questions and mentions about Emily being Sam’s “fiancĂ©e,” which prompts Charlie to say “I hadn’t heard that he and Emily had made it official. That’s nice. Poor girl.” There’s just something about this that makes me doubt Charlie’s ability to back up his threat against Sam’s gang, if he doesn’t hear news like that when he actually has friends on the reservation

12. Alone again, Bella starts to think about Jacob’s accusations of hypocrisy. Which he apologized for, remember? “I didn’t like to think that I was a hypocrite, only what was the point of lying to myself?” I’m not completely sure what she means (which some might say isn’t a good sign), but I think it’s automatically assuming Jacob was a murderer but automatically giving Edward the benefit of the doubt when he said to her face he wanted to drink her blood. Yeah, that is pretty hypocritical. Welcome to Bella Swan, huh?

We follow up with “No, Edward wasn’t a killer. Even in his darker past, he’d never been a murderer of innocents, at least.” What proof do you have either way? Then again, a simple “no, I’m not the one killing people in the woods” was all she needed. Stupid bimbo.

13. Time for another nightmare. “I was holding Emily’s scarred hand as we faced into the shadows and waited anxiously for our werewolves to come home.” Since when have they been “our” werewolves?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Moon Chapter 13: Killer

Quick Note: On the day I posted this I also bought a new copy of Eclipse (and because it was there, The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide. That one looks really funny). So I'll probably do the next book eventually too.

1. Bella drives out to La Push, intent on telling Jacob “to this face that I couldn’t just overlook what was going on. I couldn’t be friends with a killer and say nothing, let the killing continue…That would make me a monster, too.” Don’t think too highly of her yet.

“It was bad enough that my best friend was a werewolf. Did he have to be a monster too?” I see what you did there, Steph.

Billy actually deigns to talk to Codependent Ranger and is somewhat surprised to hear Charlie and a bunch of crackers are hunting down the giant wolves. He gently warns her, probably accepting he’s not getting rid of the crazy bimbo by ignoring her, that maybe she shouldn’t disturb Jacob but she mutters “It’s my turn.” If that sounds like an awkward transcription, it was an awkward line in the book.

When she goes up to Jacob’s room and sees him asleep, “Pity shook me.” Just can’t stay mad at the men in your life, huh Bella? Wuss.

She asks Billy to pass along that she’s waiting to talk to him. “I wondered if he really would. Well, if he didn’t, I’d tried, right?” Yeah, you really pulled out all the stops there

2. While she waits Bella monologues to herself. “Seeing Jacob like that--innocent and vulnerable in sleep--had stolen all my revulsion, and dissolved all my anger. I still couldn’t turn a blind eye to what was happening like Billy seemed to, but I couldn’t condemn Jacob for it either.” And just like that, she’s not blaming Jacob anymore. I know I kept saying that because the legend about the Cullens was true, the one about the wolves could’ve been too, but that doesn’t mean werewolves can learn to control themselves the way vampires can. Vampires change once and that’s it, you know? Werewolves change, physically and mentally, all the time. Probably makes it harder to subvert whatever urges they develop during that change, if such a thing’s even possible.

As an addendum to the above quote, “Love didn’t work that way, I decided. Once you cared about a person, it was impossible to be logical about them anymore.” And if anybody’s an expert on love, it’s her, right? Jacob’s her second relationship ever, and both of those relationships have been with creatures with inhuman drives. Then again, that’s the real deal in Meyer’s eyes, isn’t it?

“When I pictured him sleeping so peacefully, I felt an overpowering urge to protect him. Completely illogical.” Yeah, but given what we’ve seen of Bella’s “logic” at the best of times, I don’t see how being in “love” has affected her much. And if she honestly expects the “happily ever after” feeling where she can’t be rational about her partner to define her relationships, should they even survive a significant period of time, then she’s a big silly. But I already knew that.

3. Jacob does come along, and cue the plodding dialogue! He’s warned about Charlie and his buddies looking for Jacob and his buddies. Bella asks if “Could you…well, try to not be a werewolf…?” Because hey, it worked for vampires, right? Even though they warned her most of them had never quite conquered those temptations.

Jacob: “You’re such a hypocrite, Bella--there you sit, terrified of me! How is that fair?”
Bella: “Hypocrite? How does being afraid of a monster make me a hypocrite?”

Because that’s the only possibility, huh? Even when she knows an evil vampire it out to get her, and being evil she probably has no compunctions about snacking on people in the area should the need to feed hit her. And having been the girlfriend of a hunter might prefer that method of acquiring food herself.

Jacob: “Well, I’m so sorry that I can’t be the right kind of monster for you, Bella. I guess I’m just not as great as a bloodsucker, am I?”
Bella: “No, you’re not! It’s not what you are, stupid, it’s what you do!”

Because like I just said, obviously the ability to subvert the unconscious desires of their kind is the same for a creature that changes once and one that changes constantly. Guess so, at least according to the incredibly wise Bella, “Is it really necessary to kill people, Jacob? Isn’t there some other way? I mean, if vampires can find a way to survive without murdering people, couldn’t you give it a try too?” Because they obviously kill for the same reasons vampires do, too.

4. That last question takes Jacob by surprise, and he asks “You’re just scared because I’m a murderer? That’s the only reason?” That leads to this scintillating exchange that, seriously, solves everything.

Jacob: “I’m not a killer, Bella.”
Bella: “Really?”
Jacob: “Really.”
Jacob: “Sorry I called you a hypocrite.”
Bella: “Sorry I called you a murderer.”

That’s it. Jacob says he’s not a killer, and all’s forgiven. Not only that, Bella’s bad feelings that people are dying morph into fear of a few certain people (Jacob, Charlie) dying rather than the fact that people are dying once she figures out who’s really doing the killing.

He reminds her that the werewolves are protectors, but they only protect people from their (the werewolves’) natural enemy. Seriously, again, Bella needs this spelled out for her. “I thought you, of all people, would have realized what was really going on,” indeed.

Once she gets it she tries to tell Jacob how much danger he was in by attacking Laurent before. I admit it’s kind of hard to make fun of someone for being an idiot when they themselves just said they’re not behaving logically, but since I already pointed out this isn’t really a change for Bella, I’m going to do it anyway.

He tells her that they are, in spite of Bella’s worship of the sparkles, a danger to vampires, and that he’s worried about being around Bella, because “If I get too mad…too upset…you might get hurt.” So they might kill people thanks to their bestial nature after all? Frankly I'm glad that he largely drops that right after mentioning it, we don't need another contender for Bella's affections regularly angsting about the threat he poses just by being around her.

Sweeping that aside, he laughingly tells her “Hollywood’s version doesn’t get much right.” Even if the truth behind the legends was known to screenwriters, maybe somewhere along the line some changes were made to make the stories more compelling? Not that that’s something I’d expect Meyer to understand.

Anyway, Jacob goes on to say he knows about Victoria but she acts weird, like she’s trying to find a way through their defenses rather than attack them to avenge Laurent. Even though she knew Victoria was out to get her, thinking about this with any intensity actually makes Bella sick. She does pretty well, all things considered? This is also when it seems to occur to her that the, you know, evil vampire she’s known was after her for a while is the one killing people in the woods.

Bella doesn’t have to disembowel people with her bare hands (like I said a long time ago, I don’t need every female protagonist to be Wonder Woman), but she can at least be intelligent. Like the book would have you believe.

5. Bella does eventually recover enough to tell Jacob about what Victoria’s doing, even though “things aren’t like that with us anymore. Not for Edward, anyway.” Maybe not, but Victoria’s “mate” is still dead, and Edward did leave Forks for Bella’s sake, because he does care about her for some reason. Killing Bella's still striking back at him.

I just love the way she reveals Victoria’s goal.

Jacob: “Did he tell you anything else, Bella? This is important. Do you know what she wants.”
Bella: “Of course. She wants me.”

Well of course. Everybody wants something big from Bella. Or resents the way everybody wants something big from Bella.

Bella begs Jacob not to risk himself protecting her, even though they’ve already killed one vampire. And, you know, he’s probably not entirely in control of what he does in this regard, as implied by his behavior during their midnight rendezvous.

Also, seriously, why does the book insist on using designations like “her mate” and “the female”?

6. Jacob leaves to tell his wolf buddies about this new development. “Seconds after Jacob was out of sight, I was hyperventilating. I dragged myself into the cab of the truck, and mashed the locks down at once. It didn’t make me feel any better.” Nothing makes you feel better. Even when you were surrounded by vampires willing to go to the ends of the Earth to protect you, all you did was bitch and mope.

Bella’s experiences really haven’t fostered any growth whatsoever. “No matter what Jacob said, the thought of him coming anywhere close to Victoria was horrifying. I didn’t care what he could turn into when he got mad. I could see her in my head, her face wild, her hair like flames, deadly, indestructible…”

Would I be picking nits if I pointed out Bella’s only seen Victoria once at this point in the story, and it wasn’t for that long? Then again, being in life-threatening danger does wonders for her attention to detail. Like she was some kind of huge drama queen or something.

“Only another vampire could do the job.” For someone experiencing the things you are, boy are you a closedminded little twerp. Damn, I never thought I’d miss Edward. Yeah he’s an ass, but at least I wasn’t focusing all my disgust on one character with him around.

“None of us were safe! Jacob the very least of all, if he was trying to put himself between Victoria and Charlie…between Victoria and me.” Because everything’s about you, Bella. I mean that. And would Victoria really kill Charlie unless Charlie tried to interfere? I mean, he would if he knew to, he’s actually a caring parent. But that makes it sound like he’s one of Victoria’s priorities and the book says it so often, yet they don’t know Victoria’s not planning to just sneak into Bella’s bedroom and kill her in her sleep. Edward proved it’s not that hard. And Victoria’s stealth abilities are probably even more impressive than his.

7. More disbelief that anything could threaten a vampire. Jacob laughs, “You’ve got to have a little more confidence in us than that. It’s insulting.” What does Bella think? “I just shook my head. I’d seen too many vampires in action.” And even with the revelation that other supernatural creatures exist too, I’m too in love with Edward to think there might exist something that’s as dangerous as he says he is. Besides, when did she actually see a vampire fight?

“I’m sort of used to weird by this point, you know,” she goes on to say. Yeah, so used to it she can’t shake her preconceived notions about vampires being God.

8. Jacob explains that he and the other werewolves are telepathic with each other. “It’s embarrassing--having no secrets like that. Freaky, eh?” Oh I get it, it’s ironic or something because the only edge Bella has on Edward is being immune to his mind-reading. Very clever, Steph.

Bella: “Is that what you meant last night, when you said you would tell them you’d see me, even though you didn’t want to?”
Jacob: “You’re quick.”
Starofjustice: “If she was, these books wouldn’t be 500+ page long.”

“Is anything just a myth anymore?” Bella asks after she surprises Jacob with the news that some vampires have special powers. See, she sort of makes it sound like he’s the one who’s silly for thinking stories he’d heard about vampires with extra gifts are just stories. When she’s the one unable to process that maybe another supernatural race really is a threat to vampires. And when she was the one who took so long figuring out that whole “descended from wolves” thing.

I hate these damn chapters where nothing happens except twenty pages of talking. That’s why I say these books are so full of nothing. You keep things from dragging by having things actually happen in your narrative. But hey, Bella can’t perform, you know, actions, so that option’s out.

9. Jacob tells Bella he’s afraid Sam “would tell me I couldn’t bring you.”

“ ‘That wouldn’t have stopped me.’ I couldn’t get rid of my perception of Sam as the bad guy.” Yeah, we’ve been over that. You’re closedminded and have a black and white worldview. We know.

Jacob tells her it’s more than that; Sam is the alpha of the pack, and if he tells them to do something, there really isn’t anything the rest of them can do to directly disobey. There’s just something about being a werewolf that forces the others to obey him.

“ ‘Huh’ was the best response I could think of.” Says volumes, really.

10. Jacob hopes that Bella’s exposure to vampires will give them some inside information they can use against Victoria. “I wasn’t a spy, though. I hadn’t been collecting that kind of information.” No you didn’t, you just stared at Edward and argued about him letting you become a vampire too.

She notes that it seems like Jacob can read her mind, and he replies, “Naw. I just pay attention.” Something she might try sometime. He also apologizes for bringing up Edward, which brings up a small but nagging question. When did Edward ever apologize for anything, except for bringing her to the baseball game which led to her being targeted by James and his girlfriend who’s back to get even?

Jacob: “Yeah, I had a hard enough time keeping a secret from you for two weeks. It must be hell to not be able to talk to anyone.”
Bella: “Hell,” I agreed.
Starofjustice: “Aside from the guy she’s currently orbiting like her life depends on it, when does Bella ever want to talk to anyone in the first place?”

11. To send us off a note of idiocy, as Jacob takes her to meet the rest of his pack to discuss how they’ll deal with Victoria, “My hands were trembling like Jacob’s had been before, but with fear rather than rage.” Even though he assured her they’re not killers unless you’re a vampire (making this probably the only time Bella’s grateful she’s not one) and she apparently believed him. Maybe not about them being able to handle vampires, but at least about not killing innocent people.