Friday, July 1, 2011

New Moon Chapter 19: Race

1. “We made our flight with seconds to spare, and then the true torture began.” So what? It costs the wait for the plane to take off so they can save Edward some of its dramatic impact when she sounds like that about everything.

“Alice lifted the phone on the back of the seat in front of her before we’d stopped climbing, turning her back on the stewardess who eyed her with disapproval. Something about my expression stopped the stewardess from coming over to protest.” Well Bella is a dangerous crazy person. And aren’t you not supposed to say “stewardess” anymore? Not that someone with an apparent attitude on gender equality like Stephenie Meyer would care, that is.

2. Alice starts talking to Jasper, lowering her voice “till it was nearly inaudible…Contrarily, I listened harder.” Business as usual, then.

Alice dissuades Jasper from having any of the other Cullens go to stop Edward. “If he sees any of us, what do you think he will do?” Implement contractions? Aren’t they supposed to be blending in? Oh well, I’ve already been over how much they suck at that.

Seriously though, maybe he’ll think his family loves him and he’s got something to um…live?, for after all? I’d feel for Bella and Edward a lot more if most of their problems didn’t seem to spring from them being such mopey twits.

She promises to get out of the city alive, then confides in Bella, “I hate lying to him.” Maybe that’s got something to do with why I’d rather read about Alice.

3. Alice explains why the Cullens can’t stop Edward, and it’s because he’d pick them up on his telepathic radar and just act faster. Wouldn’t he see that BELLA CAUGHT A PLANE WITH ALICE AND ISN’T DEAD too? Bella’s immune to his mind-reading, after all, and would have to get right up in his face. Look, you can’t just ignore the super-awesome powers when it gets inconvenient to the narrative.

Alice tries to explain why that wouldn’t work because “it’s possible to lie with your thoughts.” Still, doesn’t Edward’s mind-reading spring from him being so good at reading people? I know I’ve said his ability to do that probably would’ve suffered thanks to his reliance on his mind-reading, but Meyer doesn’t seem to have thought so and she’s shown Bella having a similar ability despite it making no sense at all besides. Can you only thought-lie if you know somebody’s listening in? Because people lie to themselves in their heads all the time and there’s no discussion about how Edward reacts to that.

4. Bella asks why Alice said she hates lying to Jasper, even though that should be fairly obvious even to a champion lackwit like her. Bella’s romantic relationships are the only thing she devotes any serious mental energy to, after all. Oh, and on the previous page Bella just had this thought: “She was protecting Jasper, at our expense, and maybe at Edward’s too. I understood, and I did not think badly of her.”

I’m not going to tell you why Alice is reluctant to tell her boyfriend they’re going on what may be (but isn’t) a suicide mission. Unlike certain people I don’t think my readers are idiots.

Bella (surprise!) doesn’t get why Alice is so scared of the Volturi. “ ‘What makes them so much more dangerous than Emmett, Jasper, Rosalie, and you?’ It was hard to imagine something scarier than that.” That’s because she has no imagination. Or maybe it’s because she has no ability to comprehend a threat to her life.

5. Alice is about to answer that question, “and then abruptly leveled a dark glance over my shoulder. I turned in time to see the main in the aisle seat looking away as if he wasn’t listening to us. He appeared to be a businessman, in a dark suit with a power tie and a laptop on his knees. While I stared at him with irritation, he opened the computer and very conspicuously put headphones on.”

Why in the hell are they discussing SUPER SECRET vampire stuff on a plane full of PEOPLE in the first place? In fact, why are they talking at all? There are other ways to fill space, you know. Such as having things happen. Dialogue is the cheapest special effect, indeed.

6. As long as they’re talking, they get back to basking in how cool the Cullens are. “We Cullens are unique in more ways than you know.” Not really. Not much effort’s been made to make them seem anything less than totally sooper speshul awesome. Alice is specifically talking about how rare it is for vampires to live in regular groups, even though this was mentioned in the last book.

“It’s the same for Tanya’s family in the north, and Carlisle speculates that abstaining makes it easier for us to be civilized, to form bonds based on love rather than survival or convenience.” Ah, the elusive Tanya again. I know we’ll see her at some point, but dang does Meyer handle her characters awkwardly. And ain’t Carlisle awesome?

“Even James’s little coven of three was unusually large--and you saw how easily Laruent left them.” Yes but once again, didn’t Laurent join them in the first place out of fear, not survival or convenience? Not that we’ve seen, well, much of anything to actually make James and Victoria seem all that threatening. The only reason James’s plans enjoyed any success at all was because Bella’s an idiot, after all.

7. “Carlisle’s family is the biggest in existence, as far as I know, with one exception. The Volturi.” Why does Alice say it like that? Isn’t she talking about her own family? Is she trying not to say “our” family around Bella to avoid stepping on her feelings or something?

“There were three of them originally, Aro, Caius, and Marcus.” Yay for more peripheral characters with strange names!

She adds that later “two females joined them.” Who the hell talks like that?! Especially someone I’m asked to believe is blending in at an American high school. It’s probably got something to do with Meyer having an issue with calling female members of another species “women,” which I can kind of see, but it still sounds really unnatural.

But if you’re saying “that only makes five, and there’s seven vampires in Carlisle’s family,” well, Bella beat you to it. Alice tries to explain “Five that make up the family.” That’s not counting their “guards,” but I’m holding her to previous terminology. She said “family,” and there’s five in the Volturi “family” and seven in the Cullen “family.” So it’s stupid to say the Cullens are the biggest with the exception of the Volturi.

8. Alice also explains how some of the Volturi have powers too (can you believe these last three points came off of two pages? I’m having trouble with it). They have “formidable gifts, gifts that make what I can do look like a parlor trick.” Considering how her power is inconsistently written, yeah.

Having established how nasty these guys are, Alice explains, as Edward already did, that nobody’s stupid enough to mess with them. What shocks Bella, however, is the idea that the Volturi set out rules to being a vampire. If there weren’t rules, how could anybody break them? Edward did tell her he was planning this exact same stunt if he wasn’t in time to save her from James. But then, we’ve established Bella’s a moron who has trouble retaining the unpleasant things, too.

Bella’s indignant that nobody told her about the “rules,” since she wanted to become a vampire and all. Even though Edward resisted giving her an answer on that with all his sparkly might. Did she forget about that too?

There’s some junk about how protective the Volturi of are the secrecy of vampires in general but the city where they live (Volterra) in particular. They forbid even hunting within its walls (the “guards” bring in humans to be eated).

9. Alice goes back into a trance to try to figure out what Edward decided (can’t one decision derail a whole vision?), leaving Bella to her own devices oh joy.

She gets to thinking that even if she saves Edward, they won’t pair up again. “I was no different, no more special than I’d been before. There would be no new reason for him to want me now.” This thing about Bella always being down on herself isn't cute or endearing. It never was. Sorry Meyer, even if I hadn't seen the movie I wouldn't have been convinced Edward really wanted to break it off.

Oh, even better. “They showed a movie, and my neighbor got headphones. Sometimes I watched the figures moving across the little screen, but I couldn’t even tell if the movie was supposed to be a romance or a horror film.” Because for someone so read up on the classic romances, Bella doesn’t know the difference. She’s an idiot. I remember. I hardly ever watch romances and it seems like I know more about them than Bella.

“I was grateful that I’d had so many months’ practice with controlling my thoughts.” Which was what she was doing when she was crashing motorcycles to trick her subconscious? The hell…?

“And Jacob? He’d promised to wait for me, but did that promise still apply? Would I end up home alone in Forks, with no one at all?” Can’t say I’d feel sorry if you did, but considering what a wimp we have for an author I’m not even remotely considering the possibility.

10. Alice comes out of it and tells Bella the Volturi have decided to turn him down. An attendant asks if they need pillows and Alice politely declines. “Alice beamed up at him, her smile shockingly lovely. The attendant’s expression was dazed as he turned and stumbled his way back.” Ah, there we go. I was wondering when Meyer was going start failing to trust us to parse how the Cullens are unbelievably beautiful again.

But back to the so-called plot, Alice reports the Volturi will invite Edward to join their little Legion of Doom. Have you forgotten how Edward is totally awesome and special? Because he is, and there’s your proof. They don’t want to kill somebody with a power as useful as his, but that still counts.

Since, whether you believe it or not, I’m not just taking shots at anything and everything, I’ll include this bit where Bella asks how Alice is pulling this off when the performance of her powers is so erratic. “It’s clear because it’s immediate and close, and I’m really concentrating. The faraway things that come on their own--those are just glimpses, faint maybes. Plus, I see my kind more easily than yours. Edward is even easier because I’m so attuned to him.”

11. Alice mentions she’s thinking about just converting Bella now, and you can predict what happens next. “Oh, Alice, do it now! I could help you so much--and I wouldn’t slow you down. Bite me!” Maybe she ought’n’t be yelling like that on a plane, and maybe she should be remembering this is a process that takes days. She’d totally be slowing Alice down. Which Alice points out too.

Bella fears that Alice will change her mind, while Alice fears she doesn’t have the control to vamp Bella and not just feed on her. Bella of course thinks she does, because the only thing that matters is seizing that opportunity. In case you forgot Bella places no value on her safety.

“If Alice made good on her promise--and if she didn’t kill me--then Edward could run after his distractions all he wanted, and I could follow. I wouldn’t let him be distracted. Maybe, when I was beautiful and strong, he wouldn’t want distractions.” Because being a vampire is the only way to make Bella feel good about herself and feel secure about whatever she thinks she and Edward have.

But seriously, there’s that “distraction” thing Edward mentioned right before he left. How much you want to bet that was only a convenient excuse for the author and will be forgotten when he and Bella move past this (whoops, spoilers!) and start thinking about their relationship again in earnest? The fact that the Cullens are so tightly-knit for a bunch of vampires is regularly made a big deal of, after all.

12. Then Alice tunes into some bad news. The Volturi have turned Edward down. And he’s going to just walk outside during a sunny day. Do you remember how I made a point in the last book, where Bella was doing research on vampires? Do you remember hearing anything about sparkling? I didn’t, and said as much. Won’t most people just look at him and think “hipster freak,” not “bloodsucking freak”? This is one time I will consult the behind-the-scenes book, because there’s a section on vampire myths and one the Volturi were able to quash was “Vampires reflect sunlight prismatically.” Bottom of page 80 if you care to look yourself. By word of the official guidebook itself, nobody would look at Edward sparkling and think “vampire.”

I’m not sold by Bella thinking back to the day he showed the sparkling to her. “No human who saw that would ever forget. The Volturi couldn’t possibly allow it. Not if they wanted to keep their city inconspicuous.” I will refer once again to what I’ve heard about Bree Tanner, which is that it was narrated by a character far less given to melodrama than this one.

Is Edward just hoping to piss the Volturi off by defying their authority with such an act? I don’t know what I’m meant to think, and when it’s a matter of “why would this make the vampire cops mad and provide us with a dramatic climax,” that’s a bad thing. No you can’t please everyone, I know that too, but if confusion like this is what happens when you think about the proceedings at all…that’s a bad thing.

13. Edward “Is planning to flout that in their own city--the city they’ve secretly held for three thousand years, since the time of the Etruscans. They are so protective of their city that they don’t allow hunting within its walls.” Edward’s going to expose himself as a vampire in the Volturi’s hometown because that will piss them off more, huh?

I don’t know, but since they’ll kill vampires for revealing they’re vampires no matter where it is, why couldn’t the reason that Edward would do it there be because that way he won’t have to wait for the Volturi to hunt him down? That they’re especially protective of “their” city doesn’t really add any layers to the Volturi or make them more intimidating. They’re already supposed to be unassailable even by the mighty Cullens.

14. Alice “eyed me speculatively. ‘How strongly are you opposed to grand theft auto?’ ”

Ha ha ha! She’s asking if Bella has scruples! Couldn’t you just die?!

15. Alice does indeed steal a fast luxury car, and “It felt safer inside, like nighttime.”

I have to ask, is this going to happen in every book? I mean, our heroes committing crimes for the sake of a relationship we’re asked to take at face value despite each book being even longer than the last? With all that space, Meyer can’t devote any space to explaining why Bella and Edward are “in love”? It’s the centerpiece of the story, the reason all the other shit happens. Make that work first! If everybody who actually stops to think about this is saying the same thing, maybe there’s something to it.

There’s some kind of festival on the day they’re going to be getting into town. They talk some more about how one of the Volturi is actually mentioned historically as someone who forced all the vampires out of Volterra, but it doesn’t matter and I don’t care. Except that Alice goes on to mention that Volterra “is an amazingly safe city. The police get the credit.” My, how gracious of those all-powerful vampires. I’m sorry, but everything’s done in absolutes in these books. It gets annoying hearing about how perfect vampires are after a while. A short while.

16. Alice mentions Edward’s still planning to reveal himself exactly at noon. How convenient that they have an exact time, and a nice round one like that. Yes, they explained that’s because of his “dramatic tendencies,” but it still feels like the heavy hand of an amateur author.

17. The plan is for Alice to drop Bella off, point her in the right direction and then our idiot will run like bejeebers to stop Edward. Through a city filled with people on a massive holiday. Sure, whatever. It’s already gotten way stupider than that.

Alice makes sure to mention “Try not to trip.” Indeed. “That would be just like me--ruin everything, destroy the world, in a moment of klutziness.” Her world, maybe the Cullens’, but come on. I know Bella’s liable to be extremely emotional right now. Like I said at the top, the thing is she sounds like this all the time. It makes the times that actually are tense sound less so.

So does this. “I supposed the city was very beautiful.” Because she’s drowning in concern for Edward and a world without him is no world at all and DAMN girl get on with it already.


  1. Is it just me, or does it seem like the story takes a very off the wall turn here?

  2. How do you mean? As in it's kind of weird in that things are sort of happening now? Or at least setting up to happen?

  3. Maybe stewardess is not so bad. I mean, if people say that word more often than "flight attendant". And this is the only time I've felt like defending Meyer's choices of words, believe me.

  4. It is a pretty minor complaint of mine, yeah.