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.


  1. "of course vampires can't have babies. They're not real. lol It's a fantasy" Oh, Meyers.

    This really helped brighten my week.

  2. I just found out about you, and let me just say I'm hooked! I can't wait to see your next chapter review. Keep it up!