Monday, October 17, 2011

Eclipse Chapter 3 - Motives

1. You remember Edward bringing up the plane tickets he bought so he and Bella could visit her mom in front of her dad so she’d be forced to go. Well, this chapter opens on that visit. The end of it. When they’re on the plane back to Forks.

Here I was hoping to see Edward interact with Bella’s mom, who we hear so much about but as for the times we’ve actually seen her…well, you can leave your shoes on to count those. I mean, you can’t have a character keep going on and on about a relative of theirs without ever seeing them unless it’s supposed to be some kind of gag. And you couldn’t have a gag like that in something that takes itself as seriously as this series. Plus, I wanted to see how he’d socialize with this woman who knows nothing about the real him and why he can’t do things outside the house with them.

Apparently I somehow forgot that Stephenie Meyer’s a total wimp when it comes to giving her characters actual problems. Because we get one flashback of one conversation Bella had with her mom, while Edward made up some BS about having a term paper to avoid going outside and bringing the Volturi down on his future mother-in-law.

In fact it seems like he only did all this so Bella’s mom could tell us how in love he and Bella are.

2. Or maybe it was to give a chance to see how stupid people in the Meyerverse really are. You see, “I’d forgotten how much my mother saw,” and Bella’s surprised to hear her mother point out how Bella instinctively makes sure she’s always close to Edward. Because it’s not Bella’s plans for her future consist only of surgically grafting herself to Edward’s side or anything.

Yes, I’m pretty sure Bella’s supposed to be unusually perceptive for noticing something strange about the Cullens in the first book, but I’ve already been over that. That her mom’s supposed to share that heightened awareness because she noticed Bella making a point to stay close to her boyfriend is pretty darn stupid in its own right. I almost want to say this was to set the stage for a couple even dumber non-surprise reveals later in the book.

3. They get back, and for some reason Jacob’s extremely eager to chat with Bella. He’s been calling nonstop, you see, leading to this little exchange.

Bella: “Now why are you harassing Charlie?”
Jacob: “I need to talk to you.”
Bella: “Yea, I figured that part all by myself.”
Starofjustice: “Then why did you ask, smart perceptive protagonist person?”

He asks if she’s going to be at school the following day, and after getting an answer in the affirmative, hangs up. She tries to figure why it matters to him, and “I tried to think about it logically.” Probably for the first time ever. However “My brain refused to come up with any brilliant insights.” Oh how I’ve lost faith in you, Bella! I thought you’d never let me down!

His sudden concern after being quiet so long disturbs Bella a little. After all, “What difference could three days make?” Fair point, I mean, that’s only about how long it would take her to become a vampire. Hmmm, wait a sec…plus she knows a killer newborn vampire’s on the loose not all that faraway, and if the law of the universe is upheld it’ll eventually come straight for Bella. And there was that time Jacob dropped out of sight for a few days and then next thing you know he’s a werewolf. Not to mention she’s pretty close to ending her high school career. Yeah, a lot can change in a short amount of time.

At least she realizes that a couple paragraphs down too.

4. The next day at school, Edward asks for Bella to do something for him, and it’s to stay in the car while he confronts Jacob who’s waiting for her out front. She tells us she doesn’t hate Sam the way she used to, she’d learned “to like him, even” (gee, would’ve been nice if we could’ve seen that). But when she sees Jacob trying to hold back his emotions, he looks too much like Sam for her tastes. “I’d never been able to completely shake the resentment I felt when Jacob mimicked Sam’s expression. It was a stranger’s face. He wasn’t my Jacob when he wore it.”

Everything has to cater to her wants, huh? He has to be “her” Jacob, huh? This is why that malarkey from the illustrated guide about Bella becoming more important as the series progresses annoys me. It’s always been about her, what she wants, who wants her, who’s jealous of her, and who’s out to get her. I know she’s the main character, but every single thing that happens ties back to her. Maybe it would seem less like that if she actually reached out to other people other times than when they had something she wanted. And spending forever with Edward or having Jacob there as an emotional crutch count as something she wants.

5. Edward does indeed confront Jacob but Bella’s still close enough to hear. We hear about some people named Tyler Crowley and Austin Marks, and I’d be prepared to say those were just names to give us a sense that a crowd’s forming as Jacob and Edward argue if Meyer didn’t think nearly every single person in her books needs an identity of their own.

Jacob’s not happy because apparently Emmett crossed into the Quileutes’ territory the night before, and Bella realizes something’s up that Edward doesn’t want her to know about (but which Jacob wouldn’t try to hide from her). I’d say maybe Edward should let his girlfriend know when something dangerous is around, since we’ve hardly seen anything to prove they’re as competent fighters as the book would have us believe, but on the other hand the slightest flicker of unpleasantness immediately takes over Bella’s mind. Sort of makes you wonder why Edward puts up with her, really.

In any case, Bella realizes Victoria’s still after her, and having to listen to Jacob’s complaints makes Edward look “like…like a vampire.” Meaning what? That he looks like a bloodthirsty monster? That his sparkles have started to show? The books have put so much effort into portraying vampires as these inhumanly pretty creatures, not terrifying creatures of the dark, that it competes with Bella's moaning and groaning to be the most annoying thing about the books. It doesn’t go along with the idea that Edward’s supposed to look scary by saying he looks like a vampire. In Meyer's universe vampires are breathtakingly beautiful, not scary. And Bella won't shut up about that, so that's what I think when I'm reading Twilight and she says "vampire": beautiful. Not scary.

6. The boys argue over the merits of the their policy of informing Bella of danger, with Jacob saying “She’s tougher than you think.” Which was proved when she went insane from losing her boyfriend and started playing suicidal games to hang onto his memory. Then again, does Jacob know why she was doing that? If not, and I find that pretty easy to believe, nice to know she’s being so honest and open with the boy she wants to keep as a best friend.

And perhaps the principle failing of the Twilight series strikes again. She remembers Dakota Fanning using her fiendish power to torture Edward and, “I’d rather Victoria kill me a hundred times over than watch Edward suffer that way again.” Not really sure what one has to do with the other, but again Bella doesn’t sound selfless when she’s never placed any value on herself or anything she’s achieved. Maybe because she has yet to achieve anything.

7. Another deadly sin of these books appears when it appears Bella might be too physically ill to attend class because of the argument between the two major men in her life and/or the threat of Victoria hanging over her head. It’s kind of justified that everybody tries to keep her as far from the action as possible if she’s such a flake, but it also means she's almost never around when the exciting stuff happens. Why bother trying to have exciting stuff at all if that’s the case?

8. She gets Edward to admit that Victoria is in fact on the loose and they have in fact been trying to protect Bella without her knowledge. “All of them had been in on it - Emmett, Jasper, Alice, Rosalie and Carlisle. Maybe even Esme, though he hadn’t mentioned her.” Reminding us of all the lesser characters with weird names, huh? “And then Paul and the rest of the Quileute pack. It might so easily have turned into a fight, pitting my future family and my old friends against each other.” Is she so sure she wants to sign up for a group that’ll think nothing of withholding vital information from her? I mean, yes, obviously she is, but they’re certainly not making much of an effort to make her part of the group.

You know what book I want to read sometime? The story of a human and a vampire falling in love, but the woman’s the powerful, beautiful, ageless vampire.

9. The chapter closes out on the various unimportant students placing bets on the outcome almost fight between our male leads. Another of the series’ deadly sins rears because it’s trying to pretend it's not nearly as predictable as it actually is. In this case, the outcome of a fight between what's-his-face and who's-his-name.

Edward would win. Not because he’s necessarily a better fighter or anything, but because we all know he and Bella are going to end up together. Meaning he’s ultimately safe from any possible danger he might encounter, especially with how consistently phony-baloney Meyer’s been about the “terrifying” “threats” she puts up against our “heroes”.

Even more so because she ups the ante in this book. The villains this time are a group with equal powers but the advantage of numbers, so the only way they’ll get through this is to make nice and forget about fighting each other.

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