Thursday, November 24, 2011
Eclipse Chapter 6 - Switzerland
1. Oh man, she actually named the chapter after that part.
2. “As I drove home, I wasn’t paying much attention to the road that shimmered wetly in the sun.” Oh, please tell us what Bella was thinking! I’ll just die if I don’t know!
Oh, thank you Steph! Despite all the arguing, Bella’s feeling lighter because of her chat with Jacob. Because of the way the universe bends over backwards to cater to her whim. Yes, a lot of favorite characters in fiction change the world. That’s because they actually work hard to do so, not because everything goes their way because a bad author says so. With the way Bella obsesses over the guys in her life, and the level of attention most characters who aren’t potential boyfriends get, it seems like Bella wants the Cullens and Quileutes to stop fighting not because she’s worried about the numerous deaths that would result if things got ugly, but because she doesn’t want to have to give up either Jacob or Edward. That’s a laudable motivation to seek an end to conflict, isn’t it?
3. As she’s thinking that a familiar silver Volvo drives up behind her. Again, Edward’s stalking Bella to make sure she doesn’t do anything that he, a guy who hasn’t matured a bit in nearly a century, doesn’t think is in her best interests.
With all the trouble Bella creates, I have to ask something I’ve asked before: why are the Cullens so attached to this particular piece of ground? They own a private tropical island, fer chrissakes. They give each other cars as presents. I understand a place like Forks helps them hide their sparkles, but things have gotten even more uncomfortable than ever with the other supernatural creatures in the area.
The Cullens don’t have to work, they don’t socialize outside the family, and when they do try to blend in they do a pretty piss-poor job of it. It’s only through the author’s will that anybody in the story buys it. What keeps them in Forks? I know, Bella, but would she really elect to stay, to spare Charlie the separation anxiety, if Edward told her things were getting too dangerous for them and the family had to move? Since he’s the entire reason for her existence, I’m leaning toward no.
Let me give you budding authors out there a tip that I shouldn’t have to give: really think about your characters’ problems, and think about their options for dealing with them. If the most sensible option is the one that would result in an abrupt and lame ending, like the Cullens and Bella moving away from Forks so the werewolves will stop being bothered by their antics, then you might want to address it.
4. Edward actually doesn’t try to stop her, probably saving it for when he can do it without anyone around to hear what he thinks a healthy relationship is, and Bella stops at the house of one her “friends.” A girl named Angela whose only distinguishing trait is not treating our heroine as if she’s a total psycho.
Angela thanks Bella for saving her from watching “two long hours of a plot-less, badly dubbed martial arts film.” Glass houses, Steph.
Bella and Angela do senior prom stuff as they…*sigh* sit around and talk. How about some lines of particular note? “Angela’s easy human dramas were oddly reassuring.” Don’t try to make Bella’s problems seem bigger by comparing them to a normal person’s, make them seem bigger by making them bigger.
“But, like Charlie, she was also too observant sometimes.” Steph, you’re not making your characters look more observant, you’re making your universe look stupider if the kinds of things that are considered big revelations in there are really supposed to be things most people wouldn’t think of or notice.
“I wanted to moan a little bit, like any other teenage girl. I wanted my problems to be that simple.” If you want Bella’s problems to look big, how about you not only actually make them big, you make her save her angsting and whining for the things that merit it. After a while they all start sounding the same, and that while was a long, long, long time ago.
“ ‘What’s wrong?’ It was so easy to talk to Angela. When she had a question like that, I could tell that she wasn’t just morbidly curious or looking for gossip, like Jessica would have been. She cared that I was upset.” Stop telling us what to think. These books aren’t so tightly-plotted there’s nothing that couldn’t have gone to make room for us to actually see this stuff she’s talking about. Plus, this has me thinking of the contrast of the “Bella and Jessica going to the movies” scenes in the book and movie versions of New Moon again. Which is to say I got the feeling she was twisting the story to make people she didn’t like for whatever reason sound bad.
“I hadn’t realized I was so starved for human conversation.” That’s the thing, isn’t it? These books were written for human readers. Who are going to want characters they can relate to. If you’re going to have lots of characters who AREN’T human, and don’t think or act like them, then maybe you ought to show us what it is about those characters that makes it so we should like them. And yes, that goes for our heroine too.
There, I just summed up what’s wrong with this whole series. Goodnight.
5. …fine. Damn it. Bella thinks about the vampire menace going on in Seattle, because Angela’s attending college there I guess. “Would it be safe then? Would the wild young vampire menace have moved elsewhere?” Would those (not) terrifying vampires who all the others vampires fear, the ones who don’t tolerate any threat to the secrecy of their existence, have not done anything about it by then? Or, more to the point, with Bella thinking of herself as the source of all the problems in the universe, why does she not think that’s got anything to do with her? Because you know what, if you don’t think it does, congratulations, you’ve never experienced fiction before.
6. “A swell of quiet sadness crashed over me; maybe it was a mistake to get closer to Angela now.” It’s certainly too late to try to get us to care. Bella starts thinking about maybe she really is missing out on “human experiences” by having Edward vamp her as soon as possible, which is actually a step toward that “character growth” thing. Too bad it’s totally snatched away right when she starts thinking seriously about it next book by her vampire pregnancy.
7. Bella goes home and guess who’s waiting in her bedroom for her. Edward talks about how close he almost came to violating the treaty and going into Quileute territory after her. Pardon my poor memory, but wasn’t this exact guy thanking Jacob at the end of New Moon for keeping an eye on Bella while he was gone? Does that enter his thought process at all? Or is it yet another thing changed to suit the current situation?
Edward also tells Bella he was having Alice watch for her, and she retorts that she trusts Jacob and next time Edward’s not going to overreact because of how trustworthy Jacob is. And because, despite the sexuality on display in the last bit of the book, this was written with the moral complexity of something for 8-year-olds.
Edward at least has no delusions about the mind of the author. “This is only about you. All I care is that you’re safe.”
Oh, boy. “Jacob is family. You are…well, not exactly the love of my life, because I expect to love you for much longer than that. The love of my existence. I don’t care who’s a werewolf and who’s a vampire. If Angela turns out to be a witch, she can join the party, too.” This party already has a witch. But really, show us why these two are the greatest match ever. I’m sure it’s perfectly clear why in Stephenie Meyer’s head, but, thank God, I’M NOT STEPHENIE MEYER! You cannot assume we see what you see, that we instinctively know what you know. You have to make it clear to someone who’s never heard of your stuff before. SDT!
That resolves that (“For now”), but Bella intends to continue seeing Jacob. After all. “Forks was neutral, just like Switzerland -- just like me.” What makes me really sad is that the way that thought was worked into the movie was even more idiotic than it is in the book.
And how in the flying fnork is she neutral, anyway? She wants both groups of supernatural shitheads to get along, yes, but there's still a bias that couldn't be more obvious if it was sticking a fork in your eye. She's going out with the vampire, not the werewolf. And she's planning to become a vampire so she can be with the vampire forever. Meyer tries to pretend Bella's in love with Jacob too later on in this very book, but that would only work if she were willing to admit her obsession with Edward's looks and the power being like him would give her were parts of a shallow phase she was going through. And Bella was never a child. Her mommy says so.
Even when Bella was spending all that time with Jacob, she was just bending him around her finger to help hang onto Edward's memory. She forgave Edward for trying to forbid her to see her friend after some perfunctory rebellion. Don't try to fool us, Meyer.
8. Edward hasn’t given up, though. In fact, he’s upped the ante. Since Bella’s visit to La Push interrupted his hunting trip, he’s going again. But he’s sent Alice to not just use the precognition, he’s having her full-on kidnap Bella under the guise of a slumber party so there’s no way she can do anything Edward wouldn’t allow. He’s even bribed Alice with a car “exactly like the one I stole in Italy.” Wow that’s amazingly endearing. Not just the having his girlfriend kidnapped thing, but with their casual crimes. Not clearly legal or illegal, huh?
9. Bella: “Alice, don’t you think this is just a little bit controlling? Just a tiny bit psychotic, maybe?”
Alice: “Not really. You don’t seem to grasp how dangerous a young werewolf can be.”
Starofjustice: “Wouldn’t be the first thing she’s failed to grasp…”
Alice: “Especially when I can’t see them. Edward has no way to know if you’re safe. You shouldn’t be so reckless.”
Starofjustice: “Could the author please actually show them to be a fncking danger to our heroine at some point? Maybe? To maybe justify some of this tension? She spent a big part of the last book around these guys, NEVER ONCE did I feel like she might end up like Emily. I know we’ve got a living example of this ‘werewolves are unstable’ thing, but Meyer hasn’t made good on one single chance to show how Bella’s threatened by any threat in these books. Tension? What’s that??”
Bella: “Yes, because a vampire slumber party is the pinnacle of safety conscious behavior.”
Starofjustice: “And if I can have my cake and eat it too, since when has their desire to eat her gone away? These books don’t work no matter which way you think about ‘em!”
10. Bella does go along with it, of course, because for a heroine capable of bringing about such sweeping change to the entire supernatural world, she doesn’t need to be able to do anything stupid like stand up for herself.
“Alice did insist on the pedicure, and I wondered if she was working from a list -- maybe something she’d compiled from watching bad sitcoms.” So how exactly vampires fill eternity if they’re awake 24/7? I mean, hunting for wild animals seems to take awhile, but they also only seem to have to do that once every couple weeks. What do the Cullens do with all their time? What does Bella plan to do with hers?
11. Bella calls Jacob once she gets to the Cullens’, and he spouts off “Can’t you have a life when he’s gone?” That sort of implies she has one while he’s around.
In spite of this, she tells him to relax because “their hearts are in the right place.” Would I seem petty if I said these books would be fifty pages long if somebody’s BRAIN was ever in the right place?
To further smash any hope I might have of ever liking Alice, “ She grinned. ‘This hostage stuff is fun.’ ”
12. Bella finds out Edward got her a bed for while she’s under house arrest in another family’s house, and about a third of a page goes into describing it. Because you know, the Cullens are rich and their stuff is really elaborate.
Alice asks, “You didn’t really think he would make you sleep on the couch, did you?” I really couldn’t be sure with all the other things he’s done to her. And if they’re just plonking down bucks for all these beds and cars on spur of the moment, I have to ask again why the Cullens insist on digging in their feet and staying where there’s another supernatural clique that’s starting to eye them inhospitably. Hell, from the legend we hear about how the Quileute werewolves came to be in a couple chapters, it sounds like there probably aren’t any other werewolves anywhere.
“I’ll give you some privacy,” Alice says as she leaves to let Bella get changed into her pj’s. They have to consciously do that, don’t you want in on this family?
The chapter ends as Rosalie comes in and asks to talk with Bella. Oh, boy…