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.

1 comment:

  1. Bella thinks she is in love because Edward makes her feel all tingly betwixt her legs. Teenagers often confuse sexy time for love. At least, that is what I tell myself to try to explain it. This next part drives me crazy. Edward is just as stupid as she is.