Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Eclipse Chapter 4 - Nature

1. “I was having a bad week.” When don’t you?

Bella’s freaked out to hear Victoria’s still after her, although I don’t see why she’d suddenly make up her mind to stop. Yeah, maybe she’d think twice with having to get past the Cullens too, but that would’ve been really pitiful from a dramatic standpoint, when she’s yet to get any appreciable “screen time”. Which I’m not sure I’m willing to overlook in Bella’s thought process with the way she and Edward compare themselves to people in other books.

“Not panicking was easier said than done.” Even though she’s got an entire family of vampires and a pack of werewolves looking out for her and the one person in the area whose welfare she’s shown any interest in. The two groups aren’t working together yet, but it hasn’t occurred to anybody that with the Cullens upping the ante with their very presence, that Victoria might too. As far as any of them are aware, it’s just her. Am I really supposed to be worried that Victoria’s a threat to Bella when her guardians outnumber Victoria seven to one and have the power to see the future, read minds and control moods? Not to mention have resources totaling something like $36 billion? When Victoria has, what, the same powers as any one of them and the clothes on her back?

I know Bella couldn’t protect herself from a vampire, but isn’t she supposed to be really smart? Observant? Can’t she see how badly the deck’s stacked against the threat she’s totally losing it over based on what she knows at the moment? Then again, if she actually was smart it might occur to her to link Victoria’s continued quest for revenge with the vampire killings nearby.

2. The Cullens try to assure her that with Alice around they’re not likely to be caught blindsided, but I still feel like Meyer’s writing her precognition as whatever works best at the moment. The reason for this assurance is Bella wants them to make her a vampire so she can defend herself. Even though she knows it’s taken them ages to learn to control their urges and they’d probably have to protect people from her.

To close the matter, they ask if she’s ever noticed that “Edward is just the teeniest bit prone to overreaction?” Overthinks everything, huh? And I could believe Bella hasn’t noticed that with the way she goes on and on about his sparkly countenance.

3. Edward goes to chow down on some endangered species, and while he’s away Alice promises to be around at all times if Bella needs anything. Which Bella immediately figures out is code that Alice is making sure Bella doesn’t do anything that Edward wouldn’t let her while he’s gone. I understand him wanting to keep her safe (even if I don’t believe in their relationship), but what kind of life does he think he’s giving her if every single thing she wants to do is subject to his approval? And don’t say it pains Edward to have to do this. If their love’s supposed to be everlasting they should be able to come to a compromise once in a while.

4. While Bella’s at home cleaning up and not going out because her future family won’t let her, she starts messing around with fridge magnets and starts comparing them to the Cullens and the Quileutes. That is, how the magnetism pushes them apart. “Why couldn’t they just play nicer?” She’s even complaining that the laws of science don’t play her way now. “I could have flipped one over, but that felt like losing.” It also makes this metaphor even more moronic because you know how magnets work, right? Opposites attract. Alike repel. If the Cullens and the Quileutes realized how ALIKE they are and made friends, then they wouldn’t be acting like magnets. Currently they’re opposed, or OPPOSITES, and they certainly aren’t attracted.

Then she seems to realize what she’s doing. “I stood there like an idiot for a second.” How would anyone tell? “not quite able to admit that I wasn’t having any lasting effect against scientific principles.” If she fixated on it long enough she probably could. Sues are like that.

5. Later she goes to her job at the local sporting goods store and notes that her classmate’s mom who owns the place has professionally done nails “visible through the strappy high heels that didn’t resemble anything Newton’s offered on the long row of hiking boots.” Because to run a business you have to be a client, too. Or you have to wear hiking boots in town. Or something.

Meyer, you write like a moron. I work for a pool supply company, but neither I nor anyone I work with has one.

6. Mom and classmate are arguing because classmate wants to visit Seattle but she’s having none of it while the killings are going on. Bella excuses herself because “I didn’t want to be a source of familial discord when they were already arguing.” STOP TAKING THE BLAME FOR EVERYTHING. Her lack of super-powers when surrounded by people with them doesn’t need to comprise her entire character.

7. Bella sees a poster that says “SAVE THE OLYMPIC WOLF” and rather than thinking about saving endangered wildlife or how she’s friends with people who kill wild animals, this makes her desperately want to see Jacob. She drives down to La Push without the Cullens interfering, and when Jacob greets her “the way he said the words made it sound like welcome home.” That does draw a contrast, doesn’t it? Of how the Cullens are plenty civil and everything to Bella, but sterile and controlling.

I’m really not sure why Bella considers Jacob her BFF, though, considering he starts going off on what a selfish monster Edward is and how Bella says “There’s nothing to forgive” and crap like that. Because she and Edward are in love. Shut up, don’t question it.

She thinks some about how mad Edward’s going to be for this meeting that doesn’t even seem very friendly, and I have to ask, does Carlisle know his son’s having his daughter make sure Bella doesn’t visit her friends his son doesn’t like?

8. Bella accidentally mentions to Jacob that Alice can see things, and tells him what happened when she ran out on him in the last book. “I kept it as succinct as possible -- leaving out anything that wasn’t essential.” I don’t know whether to be flattered or disgusted that Bella thinks I deserve to hear every last little detail.

Jacob’s ecstatic to hear that Alice’s powers don’t work on him and the pack. “I glared at him until he realized his mistake.” His only mistake was doing it right in front of her. The Cullens may not kill people but most of them seem to have no scruples about breaking any other laws or standards of decency.

9. Jacob in turn tells her about their run-in with Victoria, and Paul almost got rammed and “well, you know Paul.” Vaguely. In fact this part kind of calls attention to how bad Meyer is at using all her space to actually flesh out her characters when Jacob can’t remember Carlisle and Jasper’s names. It’s almost like Jacob’s channeling my reaction when Bella tells him and he answers “You know I don’t really care.”

10. Jacob brings up Bella’s little attempt at cliff diving, and how if she’d (just had the brains to) waited for him, the Cullens never would’ve come back and nothing between them would’ve changed. “It was disconcerting the way he said this, like it would be a good thing ot have no vampires in Forks.” I repeat what I said earlier about their scruples. And not everybody’s as shallow as her, you know. You know Steph, maybe there is something to what all the haters are saying, about the way you have a girl marrying a guy right out of high school mainly because he’s good-looking. She claims to see other things, but all she actually seems to notice is how perfectly perfect his outside is.

I just looooooooove the part where Jacob brings up her “jumping off cliffs,” and Bella “made a face. No one was ever going to let me forget that.” Can I hear one good reason why I should? I know what she saw and why she was happy as she was pulled under. People have every reason to bring that up every day for the rest of her idiot life. Edward's the only thing in her life keeping her sane. That's not something to be proud of.

11. I get even more dubious about Jacob and Bella’s friendship when he mentions that “you don’t see the fish trying to plant a kiss on the eagle,” Bella retorts that maybe the fish was trying, and Jacob affirms that eagles are good-looking birds. She’s insulted that he insinuates she’s so shallow, and when he asks if it’s all the Cullens’ money she comes back with “I’m flattered that you think so much of me.” Sweetie, I’m not gonna like you just because somebody says I should. You’re a moron, you fixate on these creatures’ impossible good looks, you sound resentful when people try to be nice to you, and you make every problem in your life, even the ones perfectly ordinary teenagers have, sound like the sky’s falling. Tell me now and tell me true, what about you makes up for that? Because I’m still not sure four chapters into the third book.

What are those things she sees in Edward? He’s “the most loving and unselfish and brilliant and decent person I’ve ever met. Of course I love him. How hard is that to understand?” Oh. My. Lord. I’ve been over how you can’t be unselfish when you have no self so many times, and Edward’s just as guilty of that as Bella. More, because he has a loving foster family.

Brilliant? In what way? In the way that he’d immediately assume some stranger in was talking about Bella’s funeral and decide he had to go out and piss off the Volturi to kill him (after asking nicely, at that)? Or maybe it was failing to anticipate an evil vampire wanting to get even. As I’ve said, not only does Edward not overthink everything, there’s practically nothing indicating he thinks through anything.

Decent?! When did we see that?!! Oh, I know, it was when he broke up with her and did nothing to explain himself or try to find a middle ground with her! Or no, when he came back to her and did absolutely fnck all about the danger that made him break up with her in the first place! Or no, it was when he had his sister spy on his girlfriend to make sure she didn’t hang out with people he doesn’t approve of! Wait, wait, wait! It was when he broke into her house and went through her dirty laundry to get her car keys even though she didn’t want him to!

Look, I know I may draw some fire for this, but I see some validity in Edward’s not wanting his girlfriend to hang around a bunch of crass, uncouth and volatile werewolves that she honestly doesn’t act as if she likes at all anyway. Not even Jacob. But it’s not his right to force his judgment on her. We haven’t even gotten to the part where Alice kidnaps Bella and calls it a slumber party. Because Edward bribed her with a sports car to do it. Gee, Edward almost sounds like a big bully exploiting the fact that Bella’s not as strong as him.

12. Jacob points out that he’s still human, unlike Edward. “I didn’t choose this.” Bella fires back “Do you think Edward did? He didn’t know what was happening to him any more than you did. He didn’t exactly sign up for this.” Does it impact anything that she does want to sign up for that, and she’s enticed by the power and getting to stay young and pretty with her Edward forever? With no acknowledgement at all of the desire to kill people that’ll supposedly come with it until she can learn to restrain herself? She certainly has no ability to restrain herself now, Edward even has to do that for her. What about cutting herself off from her loved ones? Oh right, she doesn’t have anyone that it would believably pain her to lose, Edward’s her entire existence. Plus there’s this apparent belief on the author’s part that protagonists shouldn’t have to work or sacrifice to gain things…

“You have no idea how truly good they are -- to the core, Jacob.” Yes, I’m sure all those people whose cars they stole and whose businesses they immolated would just love to shake the Cullens’ sparkly hands. I repeat, murder is their only reluctance.

13. Why does she put up with all this bile-slinging between her and Jacob? “Because, underneath all the anger and the sarcasm, Jacob was in pain.” You’re certainly helping him through it, Bells. “I didn’t know how to help him, but I knew I had to try. It was more than that I owed him. It was because his pain hurt me, too. Jacob had become a part of me, and there was no changing that now.”

Can I just remind everybody that Bella left the sporting goods store earlier this very chapter so as not to make things any worse between the family? Everything’s her damn fault or would be better without her. That doesn’t make her more likable, it makes her look like she’s got no concept of scale. All the problems she describes sound equally dire.

Damn it, it’s because of these books. They’re why I’ve been writing so many things with female protagonists lately, and why so much of my leisure reading’s been stuff like The Courageous Princess. So I can prove to myself main characters with XX-chromosomes don't have to suck.

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