Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Eclipse Chapter 13 - Newborn

1. “Our venom is the only thing that leaves a scar,” Jasper explains of his own numerous collection of bite marks. What? If vampires break your bones or tear your flesh or rip off your limbs, that won’t leave a scar?

He goes on to explain that there are part of the vampire world where “the life span of the never-aging is measured in weeks, not centuries.” Not that we’ll ever really see that. He further explains that the more people there are around, the easier it is for vampires to feed off them unnoticed. “I shuddered at the image in my head, at the word feed. But Jasper wasn’t worried about frightening me, not overprotective like Edward always was. He went on without a pause.” It’d be nice if the books seemed to be less on Edward’s side about this.

“Not that the covens in the South care much for what the humans notice or not. It’s the Volturi that keep them in check. They are the only ones the southern covens fear. If not for the Volturi, the rest of us would be quickly exposed,” he says. Bella’s reaction? “I frowned at the way he pronounced the name--with respect, almost gratitude. The idea of the Volturi as the good guys in any sense was hard to accept.” Or for that matter, the Volturi as intimidating, or these books as having complex morality.

“The North is, by comparison, very civilized. Mostly we are nomads here who enjoy the day as well as the night, who allow humans to interact with us unsuspectingly--anonymity is important to us all.” Thought vampires living in permanent groups, let alone having permanent residences, let alone living in relatively close contact with humans, was super-rare. Would be hard to let humans interact with you if close contact set off every feeding instinct you had, which I thought was the reason the Cullens were so special; they were able to live among humans because they’d learned to resist that impulse. But then, this isn’t the first time I’m complaining about Meyer being unclear about the workings of her fantasy world.

2. Anyway, southern vampires. Very vicious. Fighting for territory. Only held in check by the Volturi.

Jasper explains how a vampire named Benito took on a much larger group of vampires in territory he wanted to control by creating a group of newborn vampires of his own. “Very young vampires are volatile, wild, and almost impossible to control.” So why would they kill the people he wanted to kill? “One newborn can be reasoned with, taught to restrain himself, but ten, fifteen together are a nightmare. They’ll turn on each other as easily as on the enemy you point them at.”

Why would you enlist newborn vampires to fight on your side? “They’re incredible powerful physically, for the first year or so, and if they’re allowed to bring strength to bear they can crush an older vampire with ease. But they are slaves to their instincts, and thus unpredictable. Usually, they have no skill at fighting, only muscle and ferocity. And in this case, overwhelming numbers.”

Anyway, “your histories blame a disease for the population slump.” I dunno, with the Cullens living so close to humans, and the story insisting on keeping the narrator as far from anything potentially exciting as possible, I never perceived much of a difference between the human and vampire worlds. There’s the Volturi, I guess, but humans have groups that keep them in line through fear of punishment too.

“The Volturi finally stepped in. The entire guard came together and sought out every newborn in the bottom half of North America.” Really? How many vampires were fighting for the Volturi? Have their numbers grown since then? I guess putting an entire vampire war might make them badass…if it ever really got to a comparison for how tough all these characters are relative to each other. Yeah the Volturi beat Edward around, but we’d only seen him be more impressive than awkward teenagers, not how he stacks up against his own kind. When he fought James, the villain was outnumbered five to one. "Here's these guys, they're scary" isn't a mark of good writing.

Meyer might have actually wanted to watch one of those martial arts movies she seems to look down on. She might have learned something about making and demonstrating a scale of power. As it is, we’re basically asked to take her word for all of this. It would make stuff like this carry more weight: “Jasper shuddered. I realized that I had never before seen him either afraid or horrified. This was a first.” Since we haven’t seen him be a badass, or the Volturi be badasses, then the fact that Jasper’s scared of them doesn’t add much to the experience.

3. Neither does the joke “there was a lot of bad blood.”

4. But to the point of this story. You’ve probably heard about how Jasper was a major in the Confederate Army and wished you were reading a book about that instead. If you guessed he lied about his age to be able to enlist, for God’s sake go read something less predictable.

If you also guessed that “I was promoted quickly through the ranks, over older, more experienced men” and “I was the youngest major in Texas, not even acknowledging my real age,” then you may know some of the warning signs of Mary Sues. Wish our author did.

Look, it’s one thing to be significant because they’re the characters who interact with the protagonist the most, but did all of them have to be super-capable, charismatic, beautiful people who could sell ice to Eskimos…before they ever got their attributes souped up by vampirism? Does this really serve any purpose besides fanning the author’s ego? You’d think so, based on later events, but…no, not really.

5. “I remember the night very clearly.” To make the telling of it more dramatic, you see.

One night he ran into three ladies. “They were, without question, the three most beautiful women I had ever seen.” Not to mention “ I knew they were not lost members of our party. I would have remembered seeing these three.” Because vampires being pretty is something you don’t know anything about yet, Bella. Or at the very least is something a simp like you never gets tired of talking about.

Also gotta love how Jasper says up until then he didn’t believe in “ghosts or any other such nonsense.” The way he says it, it’s like he still kind of doesn’t believe in the possibility of other supernatural creatures. Even though he’s a vampire, married to a vampire, and has an all-vampire family. And is a 15-minute drive from where werewolves live. I’m not saying that because vampires and werewolves exist, that proves all supernatural creatures exist. But doesn’t that at least make it possible? If the legends are to be believed, the Quileutes have werewolf powers because they used to have astral projection powers. What else could be out there? Am I the only one who’d be asking?

In any case, yes, they were vampires, and they converted him to serve in their newborn army against some other vampire faction. You know, calling them “newborns” isn’t making them any scarier either. As with the Quileute legend, there isn’t a whole lot worth mentioning in an article like this, but that shows Stephenie Meyer’s not necessarily a bad storyteller, she mainly needs to fix her idea of what merits the most attention and not have a protagonist whose main contribution to the story is facilitating everyone else’s actions by being there. And one who isn’t also insane and happy to be a victim, I suppose, but I digress.

6. Well there are a few things worth mentioning, like Jasper telling us their names were Maria, Nettie and Lucy because every single damn character in a Stephenie Meyer story needs to be identified.

A couple unclear bits like Jasper mentioning that in their little newborn unit “I was rewarded often, and that made me stronger.” Does that mean he was given carnal incentives by the beauties and thus was willing to work harder, or does it have something to do with vampiric powers? With Meyer I can never tell.

There was the time Jasper was put in charge of the other newborns “as if I were being promoted. It suited my nature exactly.” Gee, that sounds an awful lot like bragging. Not the Cullens as a whole come across as that modest, but based on what we see (and don’t see), Jasper’s about as believable a great military commander as Bella is an enthralling temptress.

“I pulled together an army of twenty-three in the end -- twenty-three unbelievably strong new vampires, organized and skilled as no others before.” Ya know, considering a lot of Breaking Dawn centers around how little even vampires know about parts of being a vampire, and the emphasis on secrecy and thus the presumed discouragement of noticeable inter-vampiric conflict, I find it unlikely Jasper would know that with any certainty. And if he can’t do that, then it doesn’t sound all that awesome.

7. Apparently, Jasper’s emotion control doesn’t just work outward, strong emotions kind of seep back into him, too. Eventually he walked away from all this fighting. “Yet I had to keep killing. What choice did I have?” Well, seeing as Carlisle got the whole “veggie vampire” thing started by just deciding not to take human life…

I know, Jasper says he was a killing machine for so long it’s been hard to learn to be something else, and that’s why he slipped and attacked Bella that time. But that goes back to all these things we’re told about, but almost never see. Like struggling to ignore the part of the vampire psyche that tells you to eat people, which we hardly ever see in action. When Bella becomes vampiric, she barely has to struggle with it either. They try to explain that away, but in the end it just seems like more “take my word for it” crap from an amateur writer.

In the end Jasper ran into Alice. “She was there -- expecting me, naturally.” Yeah, because of that power that’s as specific or non-specific as the author needs it to be. She’d seen Carlisle’s self-deprivation experiments and when they arrived at the Cullen household she “greets them all by name, knows everything about them, and wants to know which room she can move into.” It would be so funny, if not for the fact that it isn’t.

“Alice has made all the difference,” Jasper concludes. And that would be romantic, if not for how your significant other being the only thing holding you back from suicide was portrayed as being a good thing.

8. With the story out of the way, Jasper gives his expert military opinion on the situation and confirms that yes, he thinks someone’s raising an army of newborns for some nefarious purpose. “Whoever made them just set them loose.” What do you mean, whoever? You’re telling me you don’t suspect anyone, given the events of the last book and the proximity to your precious Forks?

“It will only get worse, and it won’t be much longer till the Volturi step in. Actually, I’m surprised they’ve let this go on so long.” Me too. They’re really kind of lame for the all-powerful enforcers of vampiric law, huh?

Edward chips in, “  ‘Does it occur to anyone else that the only possible threat in the area that would call for the creation of an army is…us?’ Jasper’s eyes narrowed; Carlisle’s widened, shocked.” They also mention the vampiric intruder in Bella’s room and his/her seeming knowledge of Alice’s blindspots. If Meyer had bothered to give some indication there truly exist important happenings in the vampire world that don’t have anything to do with our couple, and the Cullens having some involvement with them, then it might make sense to be mysterious about what’s going on. She hasn’t, and it doesn’t.

Edward tries to bring up some pointless crap about how the Volturi could be involved, because Aro wants him and Alice working for him. Because via their powers he’d have visions of the past and the future at his fingertips, and he’d like that so much he’d be willing to break the Volturi’s own rules to get it. “A double betrayal.” You probably already figured out it’s not them just like I did, so we need say no more about this part, except I’m still not worried about the Volturi.

9. They get around to thinking about calling in some of their vampire buddies, like the vaunted Alaskan coven. “Kate and Eleazar would be especially advantageous on our side.” They are after all “the closest friends the Cullens had in the vampire world, practically extended family.” I’m all for including interesting characters, but for fuck’s sake include them. These guys aren’t in this book, they’re hardly even in Breaking Dawn.

Why won’t the Alaskan vampires help them? Because one of them got to be buddy-buddy with Laurent (remember him?), and refuses to help unless the Cullens help her kill the Quileutes in revenge. I’m compelled to ask if this vampire who wants to avenge Laurent knows that he was killed because he was helping an evil vampire and was intent on killing Bella. Which at least in the books’ universe is a bad thing.

I bring it up because the book doesn’t address that, and from what ridiculously little we’ve been told about the Alaskan coven (pretty much all of which you just learned) you’d assume they’re like the Cullens in that they don’t believe in killing unless it’s absolutely necessary. Is this one vampire so important that the rest of the group won’t help their good buddies the Cullens if she says no? Because it wasn’t Tanya, who sounds like the leader, it was someone named Irina. Is her veto enough to get the entire group to deny their help? I might be able to find that out in the guidebook, but I shouldn't have to, so I won't.

The upshot is the Alaskan vampires aren’t coming.

10. Without the Alaskans as reinforcements, Jasper says that they can probably still win, but not without casualties. “I wanted to scream out loud as I grasped what Jasper meant. We would win, but we would lose. Someone wouldn’t survive. I looked around the room at their faces -- Jasper, Alice, Emmett, Rose, Esme, Carlise…Edward--the faces of my family.”

As I won’t shut up about, spouting this kind of crap is no substitute for letting us develop an attachment to the characters. We’ve only gotten the chance to know a little over half of the group (inasmuch as “obsessed with having a baby” is a personality). As I’ve probably implied, I can’t say that’s helped me worry about the possibility of losing them. Nor has the fact that the author’s shown herself to be kind of a wimp when it comes to creating real problems, let alone real menaces.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Eclipse Chapter 12 - Time

1. …is something Meyer’s get plenty of to kill.

2. “ ‘I have foreseen…,’ Alice began in an ominous tone. Edward threw an elbow toward her ribs, which she neatly dodged.” It’s like even the characters know how tension-free these books are if Alice has to dramatize things. It might even be entertaining if the series took itself a hell of a lot less seriously. Instead I’m again left wondering if there’s any reason the characters put up with Alice besides the usefulness of her power.

Wonder whose elbow Edward chucked at her.

3. Alice hasn’t actually seen anything ominous, in case you thought Meyer might finally break her losing streak. She actually reports she’s throwing a graduation party, which Bella agrees to attend. “And I’ll hate every minute of it. Promise.” How does our hyperactive precog reply? “That’s the spirit!” Is this supposed to be humor? I honestly don’t know. Even at Bella's damn wedding, she acts the same way she always does at festive occasions, which is to say like she can’t wait for it to be over. I’d talk about the graduation party, but her mind’s elsewhere for other reasons.

4. It turns out that “in the middle of all my obsessing over the time, my time had disappeared.” In that graduation is only a week away. Oh, please! Isn’t graduation the prelude to the end of her human existence? You’re telling me she hasn’t been counting the minutes? Besides, what about that weeks ago thing from chapter 10? She must be paying some attention to the date. This “I was so obsessed with the time I forgot about the time” thing is just retarded.

I cannot believe Steph’s trying to get philosophical about this mess now, talking about how her, I mean Bella’s desire to become a vampire. “After all, it was the key to staying with Edward forever.” Not to mention “there was the fact that I was being hunted by known and unknown parties. I’d rather not sit around, helpless and delicious, waiting for one of them to catch up with me. In theory, that all made sense. In practice…being human was all I knew. The future beyond that was a big, dark abyss that I couldn’t know until I leaped into it.”

It would help all this talking about “vampire emotions” and how Bella can’t have “human experiences” as a vampire if she bothered to establish what would be different about going to college as a sparkly abomination rather than a fleshy one. After all this, the only differences I’ve picked up is a change in diet and not having to give up half your time for the sake of sleep. I have yet to see a single non-human emotion from any of the non-human characters, and the series is over.

Bella gets so wrapped up in all this thinking that she sort of freezes. “Edward seemed to realize that I was only there in body; he didn’t try to pull me out of my abstraction.” Her abstraction? Okay, that’s just giving the complexity of the issue way too much credit. Even in light of the fact that Bella’s “lips are white” and “I exhaled in a big gust. How long had I been holding my breath?” Making Bella a moron who forgets to breathe just makes Bella a moron who forgets to breathe, it doesn’t make the situation of vampires wanting to kill her more dramatic.

“What could I say to him? That I was a coward?” No, just an idiot.

5. She again tries to press him to move up her getting changed, and again he resists. “Not one of us had a choice. You’ve seen what it’s done…to Rosalie especially.” Infertility did that to her, and you don’t have to be a vampire to be like that. I’m sorry, I’m still failing to see how being a vampire inflicts an avalanche of psychological changes. They’re as shallow as anybody in these books, just prettier.

Edward continues to insist that “You aren’t going through with this because a sword is hanging over your head. We will take care of the problems, and I will take care of you.” Stop telling me to be impressed, Steph, that’s not how it works. In fact if anything Bella’s more impressive than Edward, since she was the one who saved him from the dumbassery that led him to provoke the Volturi. And with how Bella’s the lamest protagonist ever, that’s really not helping the idea that he’s this formidable being.

“ ‘Carlisle promised,’ I mumbled, contrary out of habit. ‘After graduation.’ ” That’s actually a really vague answer if you think about it, because “after graduation” pertains to her whole life. And once again, this sounds like a really shaky relationship if she’s being “contrary out of habit.” Though of course, “I didn’t have it in me to argue.”

6. God, all this from four and a half pages. I need to step this up. There’s a limp attempt at character development where Bella asks what she’s getting Alice as a graduation present, turns out knows the answer and it’s concert tickets (from one of her visions, I presume), but it doesn’t say who’s performing, so there was no point.

Why does Edward keep dragging his feet on changing Bella, by the way? Because he thinks taking away her humanity in order to have her to himself for eternity would be “the most selfish act I can imagine.” You know, Edward’s kind of an idiot. Wanting someone around is part of having a relationship with them. If they consent, which Bella obviously does, then it’s not really selfish because it’s what they want too. In fact, wanting things is inherently selfish too. So once again this whole thing’s kind of a blind alley.

Sure, he tries to add “But for you, I want so much more,” but I still don’t know what’d be all that different between going to Dartmouth as a human and as a vampire. “Edward thought he was being selfish. I felt the smile slowly spread across my face.” He’s so stupid it’s kind of cute, huh? That’s what it sounds like.

He on the other hand is amazed at the idea that Bella was afraid he wouldn’t like her anymore after she changed because she became a vampire. I’d talk about how I’ve still yet to see any evidence of that with the series having concluded, but instead I’ll say I’m not sure where there is about her to change. Kind of a downside to giving someone as little detail as possible to make them easier for the reader to insert themselves into the role. As if any of the other characters are any deeper, and I don’t think Meyer wants people projecting themselves on the characters who can’t stand the whiny codependent bitch girl.

Remember how Edward asked Bella to marry him before he’d agree to be the one to convert her? Well, Bella reveals the reason for her hesitance to accept his terms, and it’s because she doesn’t want to be “that girl…The one who gets married right out of high school like some small-town hick who got knocked up by her boyfriend! Do you know what people would think? Do you realize what century this is? People don’t just get married at eighteen! Not smart people, not responsible, mature people!”

None of which she is. For that matter, knowing what she really wants to do, forsake her species for the sake of a boy (and to stay in the same age bracket as him for eternity, at that), and how eager she’s been to do it, I don’t see much of a difference between that and marrying young. Certainly not with the way that having the other in their life is shown to be the only thing keeping either of them from jumping off a cliff. Get the feeling Meyer thought this was really sophisticated of her, too, and it might be if not for the fact that Bella’s shown herself to be everything but “smart, responsible, mature.”

Besides, with how he’s casually broken into her home and treated her like she has no ability to make her own decisions, I’m not sure he does realize what century this is. She’s the one who reacted positively to that crap, or at the very least permitted it, so she was only reinforcing it.

By the way, this whole discussion ends up going nowhere, as usual, since it later turns out Bella’s creating a problem where there isn’t one. Again.

7. While trying to buy those concert tickets for Alice (even though “trying to surprise Alice wasn’t the brightest plan to begin with.” Why break the habit of a lifetime?), Bella reads a news story that goes on for almost three pages. What’s it about? The fact that people are being murdered in Seattle and it’s getting worse. If you’ve been following along at home, you may have noticed that attention was called to this twice already and that the Cullens are sure it’s because of a newborn vampire. We already know about this, and why it’s important. I’ve seen Steph tread some serious water before, but this…wow.

“It took me three tries to read the last sentence.” What was that sentence? “Only one conclusion is indisputable: something hideous is stalking Seattle.” Is she so hung up on vampire beauty that sentence scares her? By the way, as the last line sort of implies, the article sounds like it was written by a pretentious English major who doesn’t know anything about connecting with mainstream readers. I’m pretty sure most crime articles don’t actually read like college essays. Using wording like “more gruesome yet” and “slayings” and “Not a fingerprint, not a tired tread mark nor a foreign hair is left behind,” I mean. Man, I can’t wait to see what Dana does with this part.

Edward comes in, and confirms that they’ll have to do something soon. I have to ask, where are the Volturi? They’re so hung up on their secrecy, but we won’t see them until after the dust settles on this fiasco. They were willing to kill Edward for doing something people don’t even connect with vampires, not even in the Meyerverse, but they wait weeks to deal with vampire killings that have been repeatedly showing up in the news. I don’t buy that, do you? Do you buy that somebody expected you to buy that? I don’t. Fnck, soon we hear Carlisle talking about the killings, and apparently “They’ve had two specialists debating that possibility [of a serial killer] on CNN all morning.” CNN! Where are the Volturi?!

And I’m sorry to keep making this comparison, but this might even work if we heard that there was something more important going on that was occupying their attention until they finally do show up. In the Dresden Files, the main character hardly ever leaves his hometown (and there’s enough things actually going on to keep him there), but we hear updates from time to time on how the wizard organization is fighting basically an entire species of vampire offscreen. It explains a number of things, like why Harry tends to stand more or less alone against the evil he faces, that important things are going on elsewhere in the supernatural world, that the powerful factions involved are powerful and as such a lot’s at stake.

Here we see and hear nothing, and by and large the problems with the Volturi’s reputation are just being compounded. Honestly, Steph trapped herself. If the Volturi actually did show up, they’d have to do all the work to live up to their reputation, and that would just make the Cullens look lame. I know this is supposed to be a romance, but the vampires are still supposed to be badasses and we still need to see evidence to support assertions like that. And the Volturi couldn’t do anything about Bella because the books would end on a bullshit anticlimax (not that they don’t anyway). At the same time, if it was explained that the Volturi were elsewhere putting down other vampires, that would’ve meant there are more important things in the world than Bella and Edward. Something I really, really don’t see Steph being willing to admit. Even with that crap explanation for the next book’s cover art.

I'm only saying that having a character be important for other reasons than because they're the main character is a good idea. The reason Harry Dresden's important, and the reason he's looked up to by a lot of the younger members of the magical community, is that despite the fact that there are plenty of wizards around he's one of the few taking an active approach to making a positive difference with his abilities. I don't think I have to say I still don't get the hoopla about Bella. Hell, by and large she's a spectator in her own story.

I’m sorry for thinking about your grown-up take on creatures of the night, Steph. I'm actually sorry for mentioning your books in another Twilight review, Jim.

8. As for why the Cullens aren’t moving in to end this yet, they’re waiting for Alice to see what’ll happen so they’ll know how to react. The thing is, since they haven’t decided to go yet, Alice hasn’t seen them going yet, and has nothing to report. Yeah, having no intelligence apparatus outside the inconsistent precog, especially when somebody’s after your girlfriend and you think it’s somebody as powerful as you who knows how to avoid being seen by the precog, is kind of stupid, isn’t it?

Oh, and Bella spends a little while telling us about how devoted Jasper is to Alice. “It was my unspoken assumption that he was only there for Alice. I had the sense that he would follow Alice anywhere, but that this lifestyle was not his first choice.” Don’t tell us this, give Jasper more screentime and let us see it for ourselves. Steph might say I’m taking this too seriously, but I’d say the fact that she doesn’t might be why all those people are saying those mean things about her books.

9. Edward picks up a thought from Jasper, which prompts him to decide it’s time to explain his history to Bella. “She’s one of us now,” after all.

“His words took me by surprise. As little as I’d had to do with Jasper, especially since my last birthday when he’d tried to kill me, I hadn’t realize [yes, no “d”] that he thought of me that way.” And why shouldn’t she be? She’s Bella fncking Swan!

For the first time Bella notices that Jasper has a scar just like the one James gave her, and he replies “I have a lot of scars like yours, Bella.”

He shows them to her, “And then I gasped, staring up at him. ‘Jasper, what happened to you?” Well gee, maybe some people have actual dangerous experiences instead of just worrying about having them all the time, Bells.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Eclipse Chapter 11 - Legend

1. “ ‘Are you gonna eat that hot dog?’ Paul asked Jacob, his eyes locked on the last remnant of the huge meal the werewolves had just consumed.” We’re beginning at the aftermath of something again. I guess watching the werewolves eat dinner wouldn’t have been that interesting, but then that’s not saying much about Meyer’s priorities as to what is worthy of inclusion.

2. Speaking of the banquet, Jacob apparently went a little nuts. “He heaved a sigh and patted his stomach. It was somehow still flat, though I’d lost count of how many hot dogs he’d eaten after his tenth. Not to mention the super-sized bag of chips or the two-liter bottle of root beer.” Because weight gain is noticeable immediately after a meal? And it’s not like the previous book established that being a werewolf burns a ton of calories with the huge meals Emily was making for them. Something else our pro at weird seems to have forgotten.

Jacob also skewers a hotdog and tosses it to his buddy, and “Paul caught it neatly on the right end without difficulty. Hanging out with no one but extremely dexterous people all the time was going to give me a complex.” Love how she says that like this is the first we’re hearing about Bella’s discontent at being normal or something…

“Funny, I hadn’t noticed the sun had set yet.” I know this is another blog’s schtick, and she’ll probably get to it in time, but…LEAST. OBSERVANT. NARRATOR. EVER.

3. After apparently mentioning that Edward plans to go biking with her sometime to Jacob, “he had admitted ruefully that the helmet was a good idea that he should’ve thought of himself.” Wow, if that isn’t the lamest attempt at ass-covering I ever saw (and I mean the author, not Jacob), I don’t know what is. I know Bella doesn’t care about her safety, but don’t the super-powered guys vying for her affections? The ones we keep hearing are so volatile they could just as easily lash out at her? You’d think they’d want to take some steps. Then again, they never do.

Anyway, the bonfire part of the bonfire party gets started and Bella wonders about what the other wolves think. “Would they be angry with Jacob for inviting me? Would I ruin the party?” Were they angry with him for bringing her around before? I can think of plenty of reasons why they’d be mad at Jacob for associating with someone in so deep with the Cullens, but the books never address any of them.

Of course not, it’s Bella! “Embry greeted me loudly. Quil had jumped up to give me a high five and kiss me on the cheek. Emily had squeezed my hand when we’d sat on the cool stone ground beside her and Sam.” Yeah, having your Sue be wracked by insecurity doesn’t make her not a Sue. It also makes her views on danger seem fake. “I was treated like someone who belonged,” indeed.

4. There’s some crap about the tribal elders and the relationships of the tribe members, and all I’ll saying is what I’ve been saying: I don’t know who these characters are or why any of this matters. We have to get a chance to know these characters before you start talking about the status of their relationships and lots in life, or they’re just names and the things that are happening are just things that are happening, not to people. It ends up coming across as more boring filler pretending to be something thought-provoking.

5. Bella brings up that it’s getting late to Jacob, and he tells her the best part of the party’s coming. She asks “What’s the best part? You swallowing an entire cow whole?” Why did you come if you’re going to be an insulting little bitch? Jacob laughs it off so maybe it was joking banter, but with how nearly every meeting they have ends with them getting pissed at each other, well, after a while the playful barbs don’t sound so different from the real ones. Just sayin’.

6. We hear the legend of how the Quileutes gained their wolf-morphing powers. It’s not a bad story, I guess (and there really isn’t a lot to say about it, so my apologies for a short review), but if anything it just goes to show how poorly-etched the vampire-human romance thing that makes up the mainline story is.

The original Quileutes could separate their spirits from their bodies, and one of them found it necessary to inhabit the body of a wolf. His power was thus shifted to being able to assume a human or lupine form, which some of his sons also inherited. This is what I'm talking about when I say the Quileutes are probably the only werewolves.

Also, we find out that vampires’ amputated limbs are still alive and apparently they can put themselves back together unless immolated. It only took two and a half books to say that. Although I don’t see how healing works with that whole “forever unchanging” thing about them.

Bella pays special attention to mention of the first werewolf’s third wife, and how she sacrificed herself when a vampire threatened her family.

7. They wrap up the story by basically saying that the Cullens’ presence really is the cause of their young men wolfing out, although I still say the way it was presented in the actual story makes it seem more like it didn’t happen until after they left and Victoria was free to pursue her vendetta without the sparklepires’ interference.

Anyway, “And so the sons of our tribe again carry the burden and share the sacrifice their fathers endured before them.” Okay, so let’s roll with this based on the books tell us. The Cullens are the reason there are so many werewolves. Carlisle, the great, wise, beneficent Carlisle, forced this upon them with his insistence on staying in Forks. Sure, most of them seem to be okay with it, but as I said before, these aren’t characters we know, and it’s explored about as deeply as anything else. Meaning all we really see in regards to most of these characters is they’re all “Wolf powers are awesome and vampires suck!” What about the part about being forced to do whatever the pack leader tells you? To face the possibility that you’ll be forced to fight someone you consider a friend or something else you object to? He doesn’t have to threaten you or anything, you just do it. It’s part of being a werewolf.

The only time the intricacies of that are gotten into, it’s just to show that Jacob doesn’t have to take those orders and anymore, and the reason for that is he was supposed to be the leader but didn’t want it. When he claims his heritage, he stops having to take orders What about the wolves who might have objections and don’t have a chief somewhere down their family tree? Yeah if there turns out to be more than one leader the wolves can follow whichever one they want, but since only the wolves who go with him start getting development and even then it’s only about what they want to do after this is over, it’s as I said mainly just an excuse to get Jacob out from under the pack’s thumb.

But all that functional slavery, all that imprinting nonsense, the books are saying we’ve got Carlisle to thank for that. Carlisle who’s such a great guy he’s even got friends among the Volturi. Somehow I don’t think that occurred to the author. Or maybe it did, but based on how imprinting’s ultimately treated as a good thing, she thought it was just another saintly act on his part.

Then again, since his insistence on staying is based on Bella's insistence on staying, maybe we can thank her for that crap.

8. Bella thinks about the third wife and how she was able to make a huge contribution to a desperate battle, and spare the people she loved despite being an ordinary human. She’s in fact bummed that somebody who didn’t something that great didn’t have her name remembered by the legends. Yes, that’s set up, and what it’s setting up is just saaaaaad.

9. Turns out Jacob actually called Edward to come pick Bella up and take her home. “I figured if I played nice, I’d get more time with you.” I’m sorry, but with how they really don’t seem nearly as friendly as Bella insists, and with how she’s chosen Edward by this point, this really comes across as stringing Jacob along.

After Edward does get her (while pacing at the edge of Quileute territory, which might seem like a flaw if there was anything to him but), he says she’ll have to tell him the stories sometime. “I won’t get it right,” she replies. Fnck her. We’re almost halfway through the third of four books. Time for some character development to start showing.

In fact once she goes to bed she has another nightmare. I don’t care what, listening to her moaning while she’s awake is annoying enough. Thinking about it while Meyer’s trying to be symbolic would be giving these books a dignity they do not deserve.

10. She wakes up to find Edward was reading her copy of Wuthering Heights, even though he voiced distaste with it earlier in the book. This one, I mean. He thinks, “the more time I spend with you, the more human emotions seem comprehensible to me.” What’s the difference, may I ask? All I really know about Edward is he’s paranoid, reactionary, possessive, singleminded and hung up on opulence. Those are hardly traits unique to the undead. That implies vampires have different emotions, and we really never see that. The drive to feed, just because it’s on something different, isn’t a difference. Humans can do crazy desperate things when they get hungry enough too.

“I’m discovering that I can sympathize with Heathcliff in ways that I didn’t think possible before.”

11. “I dressed quickly, low on options. Whoever had ransacked my hamper had critically impaired my wardrobe. If it wasn’t so frightening, it would be seriously annoying.” If Bella didn’t seem like the kind of person who just throws on anything that’s clean, I might sympathize. Double that since the only people whose opinions matter to her wouldn’t care if she wore a potato sack. Double, double that since she’s always reminding us how she can never look anything but totally out of place next to somebody as perfectly perfect as Edward.

12. What part from the book was Edward talking about specifically? Well, the whole passage is copied onto the page, but the specific bit is where he says “The moment her regard ceased, I would have torn his heart out and drank his blood!” Edward’s supposed to be smart, right? Smart enough to know that wasn’t meant to be taken literally, right? Right?

I’m pretty sure that’s the part he was talking about in spite of the chapter closing on Bella assuring herself that’s not what Edward meant. The book could’ve fallen open to any page. She sucks so bad she can’t even lie to herself convincingly.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Eclipse Chapter 10 - Scent

1. “It was all very childish. Why on Earth should Edward have to leave for Jacob to come over? Weren’t we past this kind of immaturity?” In these books? Are you kidding? I suppose it’s based on this kind of observation that we’re supposed to see Bella as all mature, but instead it reduces her to a forgetful idiot again in the name of reminding us of something spelled out very clearly in the last book. Which is that vampires and werewolves can’t stand the way the other smells (another thing that just goes away when it’s convenient). Not helped by how she trivializes the Quileutes’ longstanding distrust of vampires, or that the entire reason they rediscovered their lupine heritage was as an instinctual reaction to vampires being around. Or that she’s totally forgotten that Edward was effectively kidnapping her, because gosh darn it he’s pretty.

“ ‘I’ll be right back,’ he said, and then laughed aloud as if I’d just told a good joke.” No danger of that, her powers of humor are second only to her ability to live up to the praise she gets.

She asks what’s so funny but Edward just grins and disappears. Bella grumbles a little to herself. “It was hard to get used to how much faster Jacob was without his car. How everyone seemed to be so much faster than me…” Because she’s such a worthless human and can’t do anything of note without supernatural powers. In the mind of this author, anyway. Which gets me to thinking, what exactly is different about going to college as a human and as a vampire? Even the doors the Cullens’ money opens are the same either way. Yeah, yeah, there’s that whole grappling with her instinct to feed for the first while as a vampire, but I don’t want to shock you, that’s a false alarm too.

2. That’s when Jake appears (how come Edward’s name is never shortened one time in the entire series? It’s not like he actually acts like a proper gentleman whose image would be hurt by being called “Eddie”). “Should you really leave your door unlocked like that?” he asks. Would it really keep out anybody with supernatural powers? I know they’re lame, but they’re not that lame.

“I’m not worried about anyone who would be deterred by a locked door.” I guess that’s meant to contrast the people after Bella with ordinary criminals, but really think about what that says for a second. I’m not worried about anyone who would be deterred by a locked door either, and I’m pretty sure no vampires want to kill me.

“ ‘Is it really so impossible to wear clothes, Jacob?’ I asked. Once again, Jacob was bare-chested, wearing nothing but a pair of old cut-off jeans.” Oh like you’re complaining, queen of shallow relationships. Especially since she follows up with “I had to admit, they were impressive.”

3. But continuing on with the physics of changing to a creature of greater size, Bella doesn’t get how it’s a pain to carry a complete change of clothes whenever he wolfs out. “His expression was superior, like I was missing something obvious. “My clothes don’t just pop in and out of existence when I change -- I have to carry them with me while I run. Pardon me for keeping my burden light.’ ” And not wanting to carry his used undershorts in his mouth, one presumes.

“I changed color. ‘I guess I didn’t think about that.’ I muttered,” not to mention “I hoped he realized that my blush was left over from embarrassment at my own stupidity.” And not because he’s a half-naked hottie.

You know, Bella can have things explained to her without having to be a moron. Hell, if she’s so smart she could probably figure out for herself that your clothes don’t disappear to some convenient other dimension when you change to your super-powered form and conveniently come back totally unscathed when you change back. After all, Twilight’s so much more grown-up and realistic than other vampire fiction.

4. Because Stephenie Meyer has no other idea how to fill space, they start to talk. Specifically, Jacob asks her what it’s like going out with a vampire. “I rolled my eyes. ‘It’s the best.’ ” Really? Because with what she does before saying it, that sounded sarcastic in my head. He asks if it ever creeps her out, and she immediately replies “Never.” Which still doesn’t assure us why what she and Edward have going on is so solid. Even though Jake ragging on her boyfriend is a perfect opportunity to give us some idea of why they’re so right for each other and why in the hell we should be rooting for them.

Bella gets to prove she’s such a pro at weird again when Jacob asks if Bella’s set a date on when exactly she’s going to become a vampire and squeezes a knife. Resulting in him slicing his hand, resulting in Bella freaking out to the point that “The room started to shimmer a little around the edges.” Literally two pages go by before he casually reminds her werewolves heal fast and it’s no big deal. (“I told you this. You saw Paul’s scar.”) Just so we all know, this isn’t a human flaw. Bella’s still a panicky bitch after becoming a vampire.

“It’s a little different, seeing the action sequence firsthand.” Is that supposed to be an explanation or Bella covering her ass for forgetting?

5. He invites her to come out to a bonfire party at La Push. “ ‘Emily will be there, and you could meet Kim…And I know Quil wants to see you, too. He’s pretty peeved that you found out before he did.’ I grinned at that. I could just imagine how that would have irked Quil -- Jacob’s little human gal pal down with the werewolves while he was still clueless.” Imagine how effective this would be if we had any idea who these guys were and the kind of personalities they’ve got.

She reminds him vampires want to kill her, and he responds, “C’mon, you think somebody’s going to get past all -- all six of us?” Yes, that pause is really in the book. Bottom of 223. And with Bella even gets nervous about the idea about vampires fighting vampires, I’d imagine she can think of that very easily.

6. She goes to ask Superboyfriend if it’s okay, and as she does Jacob pipes up, “You know, I saw this story on the news last week about controlling, abusive teenage relationships and--” She cuts him off, but that only adds weight to his and the haters’ claims when the author herself brings it up and Bella has no response.

As soon as Jacob’s gone Edward’s back, “raindrops glistening like diamonds set into the bronze of his hair.” Shut up already.

Edward got the mail while he was out, including an acceptance letter from Dartmouth in response to an application she didn’t send. No, it’s still not cute. She thinks of her parents learning about this, Charlie specifically, “no one in the town of Forks would be able to escape the fallout from his excitement.” Because if she just said “in town” we’d think she meant some other town than the one she lives in. More to the point of these books sucking, it’d seriously help Bella’s “real” problems if she’d stop dramatizing things like getting accepted to college. Sure, it’s Dartmouth, but I didn’t know that was a super-prestigious college. Would a smalltown police chief unless somebody told him (she certainly wouldn’t, but Edward might just to see her squirm)? Kinda doubt it.

She tries to get Edward to focus on her desire to live through high school, and he assures her she’s got nothing to worry about. And it’s still just hot air, coming from this guy who we’ve never seen go up against somebody who’s a match for him, let alone anticipate a desire for revenge for all his higher education (and it’s even worse in the next book).

7. It turns out I got ahead of myself last review. Bella asks Edward to ask Alice to give back some of the stuff she got out of Bella’s room for the “slumber party,” and it’s now they realize that Alice didn’t take the stuff that’s missing, it was the other guy who invaded the house. It’s now they realize that it was to get her scent, and it’s now they realize it was probably another vampire. Although I’m not sure who else they thought would want to get at Bella.

See what I mean about Edward being such a formidable opponent? This is supposed to be a surprising revelation, and that fact alone says plenty about the idiot world we’re dealing with.

Also about Meyer’s choice of what merits chapter titles.

8. Edward runs out to get the paper and comes back a second later “new diamonds in his hair.” Love how the revelation that it’s not just a regular guy who broke into her house but an invincible vampire does nothing to detract from her appreciation of Edward’s good looks.

Why did he want the paper? Because it reports the killing spree going on in Seattle is still going on. No way, you mean that was important to the plot?! And the Cullens aren’t keeping up with that when they’re sure newborn vampires are behind it? What formidable creatures of the night…

“Altogether out of control. This can’t be the work of just one newborn vampire. What’s going on? It’s as if they’ve never heard of the Volturi. Which is possible, I guess. No one has explained the rules to them…so who is creating them, then?” Uh, the evil vampire who spent the entire last book trying to get at Bella? Who was never caught?

As for the Volturi, again, they’re not scary because the author says so. And how are newborns expected to hear about Volturi policy? I mean, if their rule, singular, is to keep the existence of vampires hidden, how do vampires usually learn the rules? I suppose if a vampire wants somebody else to be a vampire, they probably care about that person enough to tell them to stay out of sight or risk the Volturi’s wrath. What about cases like Carlisle’s, though, where the vampire bites the person but leaves before they change? These guys need a better network. Especially since this killing spree’s getting front page coverage and it’s obvious enough to the Cullens a newborn’s behind it. If the Volturi are so damn big on maintaining vampiric secrecy, when are they planning to do something about this? Where's the point where they decide it's not okay and they have to do something? To have the kind of reputation they do, they’d need to react faster. For pity’s sake, we first heard about the killing spree at the beginning of the book, and according to a line on this page (229) it’s been weeks since then.

In any case Edward suggests that maybe they can prevent the Volturi from deciding it’s necessary to step in (and while they’re in the area, probably check on Bella) by telling the new guy the rule. They’ll wait until Alice has an idea of what’s going on, though. How many things is she watching out for by now? She must have some kind of limit. Edward also cites it’s good that Jasper’s on their side because he’s “sort of an expert on young vampires.” Yes, he slipped and almost ate Bella. I’d imagine he is. Not that Edward’s going to explain what he means to his true love, as usual.

Then there’s this.

Edward: “It does feel that way, doesn’t it? Like it’s coming at us from all sides these days.” He sighed. “Do you ever think that your life might be easier if you weren’t in love with me?”
Bella: “Maybe. It wouldn’t be much of a life, though.”
Edward: “For me,” he amended quietly.
Starofjustice: “For him?”

9. Edward changes the subject to the “werewolf soiree,” because he was listening in, of course. He assures her that “You don’t have to ask my permission, Bella. I’m not your father -- thank heaven for that.” Up your sparkly bunghole, Mr. Cullen. Neither of you deserve any sympathy, and that’s knowing everything that’s going on. I can only imagine how much Charlie must hate him not being able to hear the whole story.

She does think about going. “I wanted to escape the death threats, just for a few hours…to be the less-mature, more-reckless Bella.” Excuse me? How’s that possible? Edward isn’t helping his image when he reminds her “I told you I was going to be reasonable and trust your judgment.”

10. Of course she does decide to go, because why not keep jerking Jacob around a while longer? “I had decided, after a short internal debate, that I would not sell my motorcycle. I would take it back to La Push where it belonged, and, when I no longer needed it anymore…” Where it belonged? And “when I no longer need it anymore…” Roundabout way of saying “when I could outrun it on foot.”

As for her decision to ride the motorcycle again, Edward buys a bike of his own just for the occasion. “I started at the beautiful machine. Beside it, my bike looked like a broken tricycle. I felt a sudden wave of sadness when I realized that this was not a bad analogy for the way I probably looked next to Edward.” No, but it is a bad way to make me care about anything bad happening to her…

He also gives her a helmet, which she resists wearing because “I’ll look stupid.” If she’s not going to care about her safety, why should I? Of course, since it’s Edward asking, one smile is all it takes to get her to acquiesce. Yep, care even less after that.

“You’re silly. I suppose that’s part of your charm,” our hero opines. It’s the only explanation.

11. So yeah, they ride out to the edge of werewolf country where Jacob’s waiting for them (they actually go in Edward’s Volvo, though). Jacob runs up and hugs her in sight of Edward, and it’s supposed to be symbolic or something that “I heard the Volvo’s engine growl” right afterward. She tries to get Jake to cut it out, but she’s the one who thought of the Quileutes as “big idiot wolf-boys” when she decided to come.

“He’s being pretty dang pleasant about this; you don’t need to push your luck,” she says. So pleasant he was revving the engine to voice his displeasure at Jake manhandling his girlfriend?

To that he replies, “Bella, you can’t push what you don’t have.” It’s not a bad exit line, but it kind of kills the question of will he or won't he end up with Bella. These books aren't exactly packed with surprises, and if even he knows he has no luck with Bella, well...