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.

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