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?

1 comment:

  1. I don't understand why the book took so long to get to this point, to be honest.