Happy Fireworks Day, everyone! Let's celebrate with a predictable anticlimax!
1. As they crawl up the one entrance to Volterra, traffic slows to a crawl. “ ‘Alice,’ I moaned. The clock on the dash seemed to be speeding up.” They’re in a race for Edward’s life. This is supposed to be all tense. I get that, but again I’m having to start off a chapter by saying it would help the actual tension a lot if Bella didn’t make every single one of her problems sound like the end of the world.
After a bunch of mentions how everything and everyone seems to be decorated in red in accordance with this holiday, which seems a touch unnecessary now with how much effort went into letting us know the city’s secretly ruled by vampires, Alice admits she may have to drop Bella off sooner than planned. “Just keeping asking for the Palazzo dei Priori, and running in the direction they tell you. Don’t get lost.” Aren’t most of the people around tourists? You’d think so with inbound traffic being so slow. And is there any guarantee that even people who live in Volterra will know that off the top of their heads? It just seems to me they’re taking an awful chance with thinking every single person Bella might ask would be able to tell her that.
2. A guard stops them, saying only tour buses are allowed in the city on festival days. “He was apologetic, now, as if he wished he had better news for the strikingly beautiful woman.” Then recanted his words when the author remembered Bella’s one of the only people not instinctively put off by vampires. Not really, but I can’t get over how the author didn’t see a problem there.
Alice bribes their way past (with American money), in the process reminding us that the Cullens are both incredibly beautiful and fabulously wealthy. Yeah, yeah, that’s nice and all but could I could get some glimpse Bella can see past that? Because of how dubious her relationship is with Edward, I have a seriously hard time thinking she really wants to be a Cullen because she likes them and not because it’ll mean she’ll be immortal, super-powered and have more money than she’d ever need.
3. Anyway, Bella gets out and runs for Edward’s life. There’s some blather here and there about an unsuspecting family of tourists, which I guess is to either be a contrast to the emotional turmoil Bella’s (always) going through, or maybe to drive home the point further that the Volturi are cultured but predatory creatures all the same. Which won’t work out that well for reasons I’ll get into later.
4. She spots Edward standing where Alice said. “It was really him, no hallucination this time. And I realized that my delusions were more flawed than I’d realized; they’d never done him justice.” Typical. And reinforcing that feeling of mine that Bella doesn’t see anything beyond his sparkly shell.
“Edward stood, motionless as a statue,” and just as emotive. Then he stepped into the sun. “The light reflecting from the pavement of the square gleamed dimly from his skin. I’d never seen anything more beautiful.” Except she did, when they went up to that meadow so he could show her this with nobody else around. That meadow she threw herself into finding again hoping to remind herself of that time.
“And the last seven months meant nothing. And his words in the forest meant nothing. And it did not matter if he did not want me. I would never want anything but him, no matter how long I lived.” Because shut up and look at his perfect body, that’s why. Really. Seeing his beauty is what makes Bella think like this.
|Oh yeah, all's forgiven. Totally.|
“It was very strange, for I knew we were both in mortal danger. Still, in that instant, I felt well.” Girl, you don’t even know what that is.
5. You might want to sit down before you read this next part, but Bella does get Edward to see her and does get him out of the sun before anyone else notices. “ ‘Death, that hath sucked the honey of they breath, hath had no power yet upon they beauty,” he murmured, and I recognized the line spoken by Romeo in the tomb.” Oh will you give it up already Steph? The only way Bella and Edward are like Romeo and Juliet is they’re hormone-afflicted ninnies who think they know way more than they actually do after one or two tries at romance.
6. That’s when some envoys of the Volturi show up and demand they have this conversation elsewhere. Edward protests. “I know your instructions, Felix. I haven’t broken any rules.” Felix?
Moving right along, maybe he didn’t end up breaking any rules, but he sure as hell tried to, and the only thing that stopped him was the sudden evidence that his girlfriend’s still alive. Plus, there’s all that buildup of the Volturi as being completely ruthless and intolerant of anybody who breaks their rules. Wouldn’t backing off now because Edward exploited a loophole be a sign of weakness on their part?
I get how now that he knows Bella’s, in fact, alive, Edward wants to stay alive too and protect her. Since he was banking on the Volturi’s reputation to end his suffering not two minutes ago, though, he looks like an idiot for acting like he can get out of this with a feeble excuse after being caught. Wouldn’t the smart thing to do be to just go along with it so as not to provoke the vampire heat more than he already has, and hope he can work out some kind of deal with the Volturi on the grounds of their friendship with Carlisle? That’s part of the reason they didn’t want to kill Edward too, the friendship they’ve had with Carlisle for centuries.
“Edward didn’t move an inch. He was dooming himself by protecting me.” Yeah, step back and seriously think for a minute about who all this chaos is about. Is she really worth it? Can you present compelling evidence for your answer?
7. Eventually Dakota Fanning shows up, and Bella’s quick to note the “wide-eyed, full-lipped face would’ve made a Botticelli angel look like a gargoyle.” Because vampires are pretty, have I told you that yet?
It’s after this that Edward finally accepts there’s nothing for it and agrees to let the other vampires lead them away. And Alice has caught up with them and is led away for a stern talk too, for what it’s worth. Edward asks for the truth behind the story he’s heard, and Alice explains “Bella’s all about the extreme sports these days.” That’s a nice way of putting it.
Just as amusing is Edward’s response. “ ‘Hm,’ Edward said curtly, and the casual tone of his voice was gone.” So he’s back to being his cold, aloof self then? And this is from him saying “hm”. A really short one, even.
8. It embarrasses me just to tell you this, but most of page 458 is spent describing how Bella gets down a hole so they can get to their meeting with the Volturi. Seriously? The act of moving the narrator down a hole merits a page? And as usual Bella’s carried and dropped and caught and stood up by her precious vampires like a totally useless baby. No, I suppose we can’t all be slayers, but most of us can probably manage to fall down a hole without needing someone to drop us.
I know the previous book made a point of what a klutz Bella is, but that’s another one of those things the author seemingly forgot about when it wasn’t convenient to the narrative anymore. After all, who was able to make a successful mad dash through an unfamiliar city full of people out and about when they had a matter of minutes to save their “true love”? The vampires don’t even need to carry her because they’re being chased by other vampires and she can't keep up.
9. If you’re planning to say Bella needed help being dropped down a hole because she’s scared, she’s actually quite relieved because, you guessed it, she’s with Edward again. “For now, it felt like he wanted me, and that was enough to offset the horror of the subterranean tunnel and the prowling vampires behind us.”
In fact, “At least I could be with him again before I died. That was better than a long life.” Because why stop glamorizing death and suicidal tendencies as the best way to prove your devotion to someone now?
Then again, maybe Bella’s just plain obsessed with death. “I wanted desperately to know how we were going to die--as if that would somehow make it better, knowing in advance.”
With that, they enter Volturi HQ to meet their fate.