Sunday, October 9, 2011

Eclipse Chapter 2 - Evasion

1. Bella’s actually feeling pretty good as she goes to lunch, “and it wasn’t just because I was holding hands with the most perfect person on the planet” yeah it is. Who tossed herself off a cliff and would’ve happily drowned having Edward’s voice ringing in her ears as she did? Who was willing to endanger herself to keep Edward around, before she “went” crazy?

She goes on to add that it was because her “sentence was served and I was a free woman again.” Since we never saw her having to suffer through the horrible isolation of being able to see Edward every day at school and every single night, it feels like she’s getting out of another problem without having to actually deal with it. In fact, as my sarcasm indicates it sounds like it wasn’t really a problem for her in the first place, she just couldn’t be as open about her time with Edward. Since almost nothing about their relationship’s something the rest of the world can know about anyway, that doesn’t sound like much of a change of pace.

2. Bella runs into some of her “friends,” somebody named Ben and somebody named Angela who I think might have appeared once or twice. Alice is there too, and the newbies get to hear about her fixation with fashion. “If I’d allow it, she’d love to dress me every day - perhaps several times a day - like some oversized three-dimensional paper doll.” Ha! Bella! Three-dimensional! Couldn’t you just die?!

Besides, sounds like even Bella’s best friend among the Cullens sees her more as a toy than as a friend. You have to wonder if it’s because Rosalie’s too bitchy to put up with that and strong enough to stop Alice if she tries.

3. Anyway, they ask Bella about sending out graduation announcements, and Alice suggests going out and doing something to celebrate. Bella isn’t sure she’s “free” enough yet even with Charlie loosening his strictures, like “I’m sure I still have boundaries -- like the continental U.S., for example.” Is that some kind of hip in-joke? I almost want to say it is, because “Alice grimaced in real disappointment.” Like she can’t really take Bella to Milan to try on the newest styles from Giancomo Madeupguy.

4. Right on cue, Bella’s suddenly not getting into the spirit of being free, either from school or Charlie. “I’d been plagued by a persistent, uncomfortable intrusion of a specific mental picture. It popped into my thoughts at regular intervals like some annoying alarm clock set to sound every half hour, filling my head with the image of Jacob’s face crumpled in pain.” It’s just so sad that she hurt Jacob by picking Edward, isn’t it? Maybe if there’d ever been any room for doubt over who she’d pick, like sparing a moment’s thought for what she was doing by dropping everything to fly to Italy to save Edward, I might have more sympathy. But one guy or the other wasn’t gonna get picked, and that guy was going to feel hurt by her, and we all knew that guy wasn’t gonna be Edward.

Plus, it’s not even like Bella’s got a track record of actually doing things that make some kind of impact on the plot, and thus creating some sympathy for her when she wonders what she could’ve done differently to make Jacob happy too. The only fairly major thing Bella’s actually done in these books, with her own two hands, was to run through Volterra to stop Edward from looking like an idiot covered in body glitter in front of tourists. Which was stupid both because of how big an idiot Edward had to be to decide to kill himself over talking to Jacob on the phone, and because the official series compendium says nobody knows about vampires sparkling except vampires. No it’s not a big, brave thing she did, and it’s annoying listening to her trying to take responsibility for everything when she’s just a spectator for most of the series.

“Sure, I was free to go anywhere I wanted - except La Push; free to do anything I wanted - except see Jacob. I frowned at the table. There had to be some kind of middle ground.” Free to do whatever she wants - as long as Edward allows it. I know a lot of people get mad about this, and I do too, but I believe Dave Barry once said something in regards to being in favor of gender equality along the lines of “If a woman makes a mistake, she should be ridiculed just like a man would.” Which is to say that while the way Edward treats his girlfriend is deplorable, that doesn't make Bella any less of a stupid little whiner-bitch. Remember what she started doing with her free time without Edward around? Yeah, you do. Eclipse doesn’t try to pretend that didn’t happen, either. In fact it uses that to justify Edward being with her while his family fights the evil vampires.

For that matter, Bella’s such a dim bulb she continues to consider Jacob her best friend and wish for his happiness despite him being far more jerky and abusive to her than Edward ever was. She even realizes she’s still in love with him at the end of it all. As degrading to women as Edward’s treatment is, I’m tempted to call Bella the exception that proves the rule. She sure comes across as dangerously stupid to me.

Bella’s ruminations of her lame problems are interrupted when she realizes Alice has zoned out, which means she’s having one of her visions. Is that how it works again?

5. Some guy named Mike’s car breaks down, and Edward offers to fix it for him. Alice reminds him he’s really not that good with cars and suggests he get Rosalie to help him. Oh look, Meyer’s not sexist. One of her female characters is good with cars!

Except Rosalie’s supposedly away at college and it wouldn’t do for her to be seen in town taking some nobody character’s car apart. She hasn’t even left? Then what exactly do the Cullens do with their time, if the ones who supposedly aren’t there don’t leave? What about the treaty with the Quileutes, since that obviously happened more than at least one generation ago and the Cullens are still here? Do they rotate through a series of properties and identities every time they’ve been in one place too long? I mean, they can’t have stayed in Forks pretending to be a doctor and his teenage kids that whole time, right? Their act is supposed to be really tight. How does it work? Or  is this a case of “you’re thinking again, Dave”?

6. Bella lets this discussion filter in the background by settling into “my patient mode,” then when she gets home she gets anxious about what Alice saw and what Edward’s not telling her, drumming her fingers frantically until he remarks “Are we a little impatient today?” Love how these books are so lame they can contradict themselves in just over a page.

She’s about to make a biting comeback, but his perfect face totally disarms her. “If I had my way, I would spend the majority of my time kissing. Edward. There wasn’t anything I’d experienced in my life that compared to the feeling of his cool lips…” What exactly has she experienced in life, anyway? Edward’s the first boy she ever took an interest in ever. She’s got no experience with romance. Yeah there was Jacob, but things were just getting started with them as a couple rather than friends when she chucked it in the trash to run back to Edward. She doesn’t know he’s the best, it’s the hormones talking.

Further showing why she’s so well-loved by readers the world over, Bella reads an e-mail from her mom talking about doing some stupid thing or other and “I felt a little frustrated with Phil, her husband of almost two years, for allowing that one.” Because it’s the man’s responsibility to keep the woman on a tight leash. And wait, wasn’t she indignant about Edward not letting her see Jacob? Even if it was for her own safety?

“I was a very different person from my mother. Someone thoughtful and cautious. The responsible one, the grown-up. That’s how I saw myself. That was the person I knew.” I have nothing to add to that.

We finally find out why Bella’s reluctant to tie the knot with Edward despite him being her whole life, and it’s because she’s afraid of her mom’s disapproval. Marriage isn’t something smart people don’t rush into, sayeth Bella’s mom, and you know what, she’s right. Then again, this is a series with no credible problems no matter how many evil vampires the author sends after her narrator.

7. Edward reveals that Alice saw Jasper off somewhere, doing something. She thinks he’s meeting with some of his old vampire buddies from before he joined the family, but she doesn’t think he plans on rejoining them. It just goes to show how not-ready-for-primetime Meyer is that you’re more interested in that than you are about what goes on with Bella and Edward. I know I said I didn't care about the secondary characters' backstories before, but that was partly from how forced it felt when Meyer tried to tell us Alice's life story. In this book, she manages it better. And yes, it shows how thinly-etched the characters we spend the most time with are in comparison.

Edward finds the plane tickets he’d meant for Bella and him to visit her mom with, and they’re still good for a little while. Yeah, the guy who can’t go outside on sunny days thinks it’s a good idea to visit his girlfriend’s mom who doesn’t know he can’t go outside on sunny days. I guess I’m not surprised Meyer ends up handling that the way she does, but I’m still surprised she thought it was a good idea in the first place. Edward even mentions the tickets to Charlie to force Bella to go. That Edward, what a great guy. Although I’m surprised that Charlie’s surprised that Bella forgot she got plane tickets for her birthday. Remember how four months went by in her journal or whatever without Bella mentioning anything? She was that destroyed by Edward leaving her. The angst is the most pervasive thing about these books and Meyer forgot about that?

Again Bella contradicts herself by threatening to move out when Charlie tries to ground her, because she’s a legal (if not mental or emotional) adult now. She then goes on to say about mom that “She’s just as much my parental authority as you are.” Who was just saying her father wasn’t her parental authority anymore? “Naturally, as soon as I’d won the fight, I began to feel guilty.” And I began to care less about her. She feels guilty for standing up for herself.

Even if it's Charlie, who I like a lot more than her, she can at least have the gumption to stick to her decisions. Just because she doesn’t have supernatural powers doesn’t mean she has to lack a backbone. Edward compounds this last problem by noting Bella’s been talking about her mom in her sleep, “But, clearly, you were too much of a coward to deal with Charlie, so I interceded on your behalf.” That Edward, what a great guy. Not that I feel any sympathy for Princess Whiner-Pants. “It was just like with Charlie before - just like being treated like a misbehaving child.” Then stop being one.

8. They go to hang out with the rest of Edward’s family, where Edward plays Alice at chess. Apparently to Bella, “it was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen.” He was reading her mind to figure out her moves and she was seeing the future to see his, you see, and so they were just sitting there. “I think they’d each moved two of their pawns when Alice suddenly flicked her king over and surrendered. It took all of three minutes.” Gee, that sounds like one of the most boring things I’d ever see, even if you enjoy watching people play chess. But then, Bella’s not hard to entertain if the Cullens are involved. They’re just soooo perfect you know.

9. Afterward Charlie decides now’s the time to have The Talk with Bella, and responds to her horror that “I’m just as embarrassed as you.” She doubts that’s “humanly possible,” because nobody in the history of the world’s ever had to go through what she has. And for some of the vampire stuff that might be true, but when she keeps acting like a typical teenager that’s another one of the many things making her obsession with Edward seem less like undying love and more like a high school crush.

What’s worse is Edward knew this was coming, from the mind-reading. “No wonder he’d seemed so smug in the car.” That Edward, what a great guy.

For all that, when he mentions Jacob to his daughter Charlie’s sure she’ll do the right thing. “You’re a good person.” Quit sayin’ and start showin’, Meyer.

“Nice. So if I didn’t figure out some way to make things right with Jacob, then I was a bad person?” Does everything have to be completely one way or completely the other in these books! Darlin’ I don’t know why I go to extremes! Too high or too low, there ain’t no in-betweens!

10. Anyway, thinking about Jacob gets Bella to thinking she needs to talk the problem over with one of her human “friends,” someone with no perspective on Jacob or his secret identity whatsoever. Look, as much sense as it sounds like it might make to discuss this with someone who isn’t prejudiced against werewolves, Jacob has gotten a lot more crass and volatile as a result of his wolfing out. We haven’t even seen how much yet. Personally I don’t find it so hard to agree with Edward that he or one of his friends might slip around Bella and make her the new Emily (that doesn't mean I approve of how Edward handles the situation, though). It won’t, of course (even Bella, as if she can read the author’s mind [yeah, yeah], is all like “I knew that there was really no problem on that count”), but we have actually seen someone who carries the scars of that happening.

11. It’s time for THAT part. She figures she can sneak out to La Push to see Jacob “and be back before Edward realized I had gone.” I really don’t know why she thinks Edward doesn’t spy on her anymore now that they’re a couple, especially when he’s shown he’s clearly willing to override what she wants if he thinks it’s for her own good. Plus he knows full-well that she wants to keep being friends with Jacob.

Bella gets to her car, but it won’t start. The next thing she knows Edward’s sitting next to her, since Alice saw Bella disappearing off her radar, meaning our narrator went to hang with some wolf-dudes. Yeah, Edward’s not even above bribing his precognitive sister to make sure his girlfriend doesn’t overstep his authority. Maybe if they like, talked about their problems instead of Edward just deciding he’s right and using every superhuman resource at his disposal to make sure Bella does what he wants? He does admit he was wrong later, but like everything else in this series there’s no shades of gray and he agrees to totally go along with whatever Bella thinks is right. And, well, she's been a remarkably bad judge of that up to now.

12. As usual, Bella can’t even stay mad at what’s-his-face. After closing the window so hard “it crashed shut and the glass trembled,” she “sighed, and opened the window as wide as it would go.” The author seriously can’t understand why people complain about her books. And she’s the one saying they’re for “children”.

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