Saturday, December 31, 2011

Eclipse Chapter 9 - Target

1. “Alice dropped me off in the morning, in keeping with the slumber party charade. It wouldn’t be long until Edward showed up, officially returning from his ‘hiking’ trip. All of the pretenses were starting to wear on me. I wouldn’t miss this part of being human.”

Me too. Especially when what they’re working to conceal is this boring. In fact, I love Charlie just that much more for wanting to know as little as possible about his idiot daughter’s real life when they finally drop the bomb on him.

2. Charlie passes on a message from Jacob, who wants to apologize, and asks her to go easy on the boy. “I grimaced. Charlie didn’t usually editorialize on my messages.” Well sooooooooooooorry you dumb bimbo. He’s a concerned parent and Jacob’s her oldest friend. Plus the only reason he’s got to like Edward is his insane offspring’s say-so.

“Jacob could just go ahead and be upset. I didn’t want to talk to him. Last I’d heard, they weren’t big on allowing phone calls from the other side. If Jacob, preferred me dead, then maybe he should get used to the silence.” Show me why the Cullens are better. Show me why Edward’s a better match for her. Show me why I should give a crap about this girl. Don’t tell me, provide examples and don’t contradict them.

Charlie: “That’s not very attractive behavior, Bella. Forgiveness is divine.”
Bella: “Mind your own business.”
starofjustice: “You know, I think I might've judged Bella a little too harshly. Or maybe I'm just being sarcastic"

3. Once she’s up in her room, the brat realizes some of her laundry’s missing. “Was Charlie doing laundry? That was out of character.” What about all those years before she moved in, and he presumably had to get his own food and wash his own clothes? She remembers Alice sneaking into the house for some changes of clothes over the course of their “slumber party” and brushes it off. I’m hardly even bothered anymore about how nonchalant our relatable protagonist is about them doing stuff like that.

Of course it does matter, because Edward shows up a little later, somewhat on edge. He asks her to stay where she is for two seconds but because he’s an awesome vampire and blah blah blah he’s back before Bella actually counts to two. He explains that a vampire, but one whose scent he doesn’t recognize (meaning not Victoria), snuck into her house and stole her laundry to get her scent.

They surmise it’s probably one of the Volturi, but well, didn’t Edward have chances to get the scents of nearly all of them and their guards at the end of the last book? Assuming he’d never met them before then? And why bother to sneak into her house to sniff her panties? Why not just look wherever Edward is? Shouldn’t they be looking for him too? Yeah their leader’s supposed to be like bosom buddies with his dad, but what about their all-important secrecy and how Edward got all pouty and was willing to compromise it to force them to kill him? I don’t care what flimsy rationale Steph provides to keep him alive, if the Volturi are supposed to be the terrifying enforcers of vampire law, I need to see some assurance of that. Like not rolling over and letting this vampire kid who’s obviously willing to flout their authority if it suits his wants go free because it would complicate things for the author if they didn’t.

As well, am I really supposed to think the Volturi are really that badass when there’s like nine of them altogether, counting their guards? Speaking of the Volturi guard, how many of the group are actually involved in doing any enforcing? Do they have the manpower to enforce their law on the world’s entire vampire population and the ability to spot and react to threats in a timely manner? Given the ending to this book I’m tempted to doubt it.

Things aren’t exactly helped when Edward promises his brothers will sweep the woods for intruders. Aren’t the Volturi supposed to be older and better at stalking than the Cullens? That being their job and such? Emmett and Jasper will be able to find any vampiric intruders in the woods, even those far more experienced than they are, but remain undetected themselves? Sorry, don’t buy it.

Bella asks if he thinks Alice saw anything, and staring “at the road through narrowed eyes, ‘Maybe.’ ” His plan to keep Bella alive and not a vampire centered around Alice assuredly seeing the Volturi coming to look for them, right? Damn it, is anything consistent in these books? Could there be anything to those claims of bad writing?

4. They do indeed go to check with Alice, who has no idea what happened, which has Edward hissing “How is that possible?” If we had a stable definition of how her power worked, then maybe there could be an answer to that question. For Bella’s part, she gives him “a quiet reproof. I didn’t like him talking to Alice this way.” Really? Because every time she and Alice spend time together Alice seems to be doing something that annoys her. In Breaking Dawn they even start saying out loud how annoying Alice can be. Quit telling, start showing. Damn.

Alice defends herself saying “It’s not an exact science” and “if I try to do too much, things are going to start slipping through the cracks.” In any case she doesn’t think it’s the Volturi. “I would have seen that.” Oh would you now? What exactly is the difference, again?

“Who else would leave Charlie alive?” Edward asks. Somebody with no beef with him, but a much more understandable beef with his daughter? Somebody looking to remain inconspicuous, which would seem difficult if you were to say kill the police chief in a small town? Especially the only small town in the world that’s a 15-minute drive from the home of a pack of their species’s natural enemies? Edward needs to read more fantasy. He might learn something useful, and lord knows he’s got nothing better to fill his free time.

5. Anyway the idiots then, *sigh* sit down and talk about what could be going on. Alice is sure the Volturi haven’t sent anybody to check on Bella yet. “Aro hasn’t asked anyone to look for her yet. I will see that. I’m waiting for it.” And “If whoever it was meant to wait for Bella, Alice would have seen that. He -- or she -- had no intention of hurting Bella. Or Charlie, for that matter.” Even after she’d been writing about these characters and for a while and had hopefully hit her stride by now, I still get the feeling Steph didn’t want to set anything too concrete down for Alice’s power.

Edward suggests this could be “Caius’s idea,” and I once again must irritably point out that if you’re going to throw these names around we should know who they mean. I sort of remember Caius as one of the Volturi leaders, but he was overshadowed by Aro and I was distracted by how those guys didn’t live up to their rep at all. Although when they bring up Jane I do remember her, because of how much fun I had reading about her torturing Edward and thereby Bella. Although that’s a bad sign too.

6. They get Carlisle to check the scent of the vampire in Bella’s house and he says it’s nobody he ever met either. Alice also says the timing of this was a little too perfect, like the intruder knew about her precognition and was deliberately taking steps to avoid it. I’m not looking forward to relaying how Meyer tries to explain how that works with such a poorly-described ability in the first place.

Bella, of course, tries to seize this opportunity to convince the Cullens to change her, but Edward says “quickly, ‘It’s not that bad. If you’re really in danger, we’ll know.’ ” Forgive me if I fail to be reassured with their rather unimpressive track record so far. Oh, I’m sorry for wanting to see how capable these characters are with my own eyes.

She pleads with them. “As long as I’m around Charlie, he’s a target too. If anything happened to him, it would be all my fault!” And not because he’s in charge of law enforcement in the area and has to make things like murderers and burglars his business because of reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with his daughter. And besides, if that’s the case, once again it seems to me the simpler solution is to just leave. Yeah it might seem suspicious, but just before this Bella was talking about how big the vampire world really is and how many murders and disappearances happen thanks to hungry vampires (not to harp on this but again that's something the Dresden Files did better, by incorporating the discussion in what a significant character was going through rather than just a random thought by the narrator). As a species it isn’t something that seems to give them many problems unless they’re attracting attention on purpose. And with how quickly and completely the Cullens vanished from Forks without warning in New Moon, that doesn’t sound like something that would stop them if they had a good reason to not be there anymore.

But it would be even harder on the author to pretend there’s any drama if she acknowledged that possibility, so forget it. Indeed, “And I could see, looking at all of their beautiful faces, that nothing I could say was going to change their minds.” We’ve still got a protagonist who isn’t good for anything, and an author who doesn’t think readers are getting a little sick of casually hearing how beautiful vampires are. Encouraging, yes?

7. “It was a quiet ride home. I was frustrated. Against my better judgment, I was still human.” Judgment as in “I’m still getting older than my boyfriend, I’m still useless because I don’t have superpowers, and I don’t trust the family I want to join to live up to their promises to keep me safe.” Adorable.

She further gripes that the Cullen watching her at all times will get bored and have to kill her themselves to break the monotony. “Edward gave me a sour look. ‘Hilarious, Bella.’ ” I know, wasn’t it? Maybe she’s not so hopeless after all.

These books are so frigging stupid. “Charlie was in a good mood when we got back. He could see the tension between me and Edward, and was misinterpreting it.” It’s not like he knows any better, and as I can’t stop saying the only reason Bella and Edward are a good match is everybody keeps saying so. I wouldn’t let my daughter date a guy like him, especially not when she semi-frequently comes back from time spent with him with serious injuries.

Anyway, Jacob’s called again, and again Charlie entreats his bitch daughter on the lycanthrope’s behalf. “Don’t be petty, Bella. He sounded really low.” She fires back, “Is Jacob paying you for all the P.R., or are you a volunteer?” Are you and Edward really meant for each other, or is it a hack author hoping that if she says so often enough, that’ll make up for the actual writing?

Bella does express some envy at Jacob’s dad knowing about his supernatural activities, though. “How easy it must be when you had no secrets from the person you lived with.” As I just implied, Bella would probably only have more problems with her dad if he knew what was really going on. At least during the period where she’s still living under his roof. This narrator is not a very thoughtful narrator. But I knew that.

8. “In the morning, Charlie left to go fishing with Deputy Mark before I was up.” Who? “I decided to use this lack of supervision to be divine.” That sounds kind of pompous…

Upon calling Jacob (with Edward over her shoulder), the wolf-boy notes “Holding grudges is not one of your many talents.” Again, she’s not forgiving, she has no spine. He promises endless favors in exchange for forgiveness for his behavior, and when she of course gives it, “I can’t believe I was such a jerk.” You weren’t, Jake. You were speaking for hundreds of thousands of readers who dared to use their brains while following Bella’s travails.

Then Edward gets on the phone and briefly explains that somebody appears to be stalking Bella and “I won’t be letting Bella out of my sight till I get this taken care of.” You mean like all the rest of the time, too?

Jacob fires back with some suggestions of his own, and Edward promises to think them over “As objectively as I’m capable of.” Good not to promise more than you can deliver. How does Bella react? “I knew it was juvenile, but I felt excluded.” No sweetie, that’s not juvenile, and admitting it doesn’t mean you’re mature. Since she’s the cause of all the crap that goes on, it’d be nice if the two supernatural groups she’s involved with bothered to tell her their plans for her so she might be able to, I don’t know, participate in the plot or something retarded like that.

9. Bella gets to talk to Jacob and he tries to get her to convince “the bloodsucker” that the safest place for her is on the reservation. After all, the whole reason the Quileutes regained their power to wolf out is because of evil vampires being around, right? “We’re well able to handle anything.” He even mentions Charlie would be safer there because he doesn’t see the people there are weirdoes who do things with his daughter he isn’t allowed to know about. “I hated that I was putting Charlie within the range of the crosshairs that always seemed to be centered on me.” So don’t. Ask the Cullens to leave. If they’re intelligent at all they’ll probably agree the safest place for Charlie is far away from his daughter.

The talk between the two men involved “rearranging some boundaries, so we can catch anyone who gets too near Forks.” He then says he’s going to come over and get the scent of the intruder so he can track them. Bella’s not so keen on that idea.

Bella: “Jake, I really don’t like the idea of you tracking -- ”
Jacob: “Oh please, Bella,” he interrupted, Jacob laughed, and then hung up.

Maybe that’s meant to show Bella worrying about the people she likes getting hurt, or how Jacob doesn’t take the threat of vampires seriously enough. I will address those in turn.

What exactly does Bella expect to do about the evil vampires after her, especially if she’s not willing to leave to spare people unaware of the danger? She’s pretty clearly assured herself that only another supernatural creature could kill a meyerpire. Yet she’s scared to death of any of the ones she knows actually fighting one. Even when they outnumber the intruder about eight to one. Plus if they’re sneaking into Bella’s house to get things with her scent, they probably want to kill her enough to know about her supernatural bodyguards too. This is probably going to be solved through force of arms, whether she likes it or not. Why not show some of that intelligence and maturity that her mom keeps going on about and accept that some of these creatures she’s so fond of for some reason are probably going to have to put themselves in harm’s way to resolve this?

On the second point, Jacob not taking the threat of vampires as seriously as he should, well, who exactly does Steph think she's kidding? She’s dropped the ball at pretty much every opportunity to either make someone a believable threat, or to actually deliver on something being a problem. I’ll just tell you right now, we don’t lose a single Cullen or Quileute to the vampire army you already know they’re going to end up fighting. Like you were worried.

Happy new year, everybody!

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