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.

1 comment:

  1. I really never understood what Jacob saw in her. Honestly, I never saw what Edward saw in her. Not even in Midnight Sun. I have yet to see one reason anyone would want to be with Bella.