Monday, March 5, 2012

Eclipse Chapter 16 - Epoch

1. “ ‘I have nothing to wear!’ I moaned to myself. ” What’s this? Is Bella actually taking an interest in her appearance? Is this character growth? Or does she just not want to deal with having Alice find out she can’t pick an outfit and the horrifying experience of shopping with her that’d be sure to follow?

She’s unable to find “Something that would make me look beautiful and grown up.” Since when has she thought anything but being a vampire could do that? I’m sorry, maybe Bella is supposed to be growing up a little, but with how flat the characters and shallow the books are anyway, it’s hard to be sure. Especially when the most visible changes to come over characters all seem to happen because of changes to their biology. And, well, that’s a pretty freaking lame excuse for character growth. At least, when it’s the only one you can tell’s there.

2. Alice actually does come by (through the window, how else) and give Bella something to wear, and Bella’s grateful, but again I’m not sure if she means that or she’s just grateful for the fact that Alice is throwing something at her and calling it done.

I do get a sense that Bella’s being sarcastic when Alice complains about feeling useless, “So…normal” because their, heh, “unknown” enemy knows how to avoid being spotted by her visions. With Bella following up with saying she can’t imagine how horrible it is to be normal. Boy, if only upgrading to a more powerful species was an actual option.

Yeah, yeah, it’s escapist fantasy, and wouldn’t I want to be an immortal creature possessed of inhuman power if I really got the chance? No, because I don’t think vampires are cool. And as a reader, it doesn’t help me get into this story because Bella NOT being a vampire is the source of a lot of her moaning, but also the cause of her not being around for all the action that attempts to provide tension for these books.

3. Somehow the book sinks even lower now, because Alice talking about not having seen the intruder makes Bella realize what’s really going on. The vampires in Seattle and whoever snuck into her room were part of the same group. Only took until the sixteenth chapter to connect the two vampire-related events, huh? And they still have no clue who the mastermind could be.

On the one hand, I find it annoying that Alice is around to kill most drama by giving so much forewarning with her visions, but on the other hand, it’s even more annoying that the characters are so dumb that even with the information they have in advance (from her and other sources) they end up getting blindsided, mistaking the information, or failing to come up with patently obvious conculsions so they can still have problems to deal with. It’s like a lesson in the worst ways to handle tension.

But seriously, this is a huge bomb Bella just dropped. Don’t take my word for it: “Alice wasn’t accustomed to being taken by surprise. She froze, and was still for so long that I started counting in my head as I waited. She didn’t move for two minutes straight. Then her eyes refocused on me.”

Boy, what a great friend Bella is for sitting there, timing how long it takes Alice to digest that tidbit of information.

4. “I was through expecting my emotions to make sense anymore.” If even she’s giving up…

As she realized that all the vampire intrigue was happening “for the express purpose of destroying me, I felt a spasm of relief.” Of course it’s all about her. It always has been. Also love how it’s “destroy,” like this is some stupid kid-friendly superhero show.

“Part of it was finally solving that irritating feeling that I was missing something vital.” Did I see it coming a mile away? You bet your ass I did. Did anyone else who’s ever read a book before? Them too.

“Well, everyone can relax. Nobody’s trying to exterminate the Cullens after all.” Sweetie, that hasn’t stopped them from literally going to the ends of the Earth for your benefit yet, why should it now? Plus, I still have no reason to care if she dies. Well, I’d be upset if she got killed by vampires because her father would be upset and he’s pretty much the only sympathetic character.

It goes without saying that “Edward would go berserk when he knew.”

Are you reading, Steph? Are you still sticking with this?

5. But enough about vampiric idiocy, let’s hear about Bella’s graduation ceremony neither she nor we care about. “Charlie had gotten stubborn” when Bella informed him she intended to ride to the ceremony with Edward like she does everything else. That’s not cute or romantic or healthy. “And I could see his point -- parents should have some rights come graduation day. I’d conceded with good grace…” Oh, how big of her. Edward suggested the three of them go together. “Charlie couldn’t come up with a compelling object; he’d agreed with poor grace.” There’s no telling her that her boyfriend’s a creep, I know, but at least think about what all this shit must look like to Charlie. I still stand by that “most giving fictional parent I’ve ever seen” thing I said about him in the first book.

Once they get there Edward asks if Bella’s all right, and she replies. “ ‘Nervous,’ I answered, and it wasn’t even a lie.” Look, if she’s even willing to lie to the guy she’s willing to throw away everything to be with, and over something he really needs to know to keep his girlfriend alive, why should I think she isn’t lying to me?

6. Bella notices Alice isn’t at the ceremony. “Skip graduation? What poor timing on my part. I should have waited to figure things out until after this was over with.” That could easily be the stupidest thought Bella’s had yet. She’s disappointed with herself for figuring something out that’ll let them come up with more comprehensive defense plans and keep anyone from having to die, and it’s because it means Alice is missing high school graduation. Which is probably something like her twelfth one anyway.

7. Jessica (remember her?) comes up to Bella and starts talking about all the good times and how she’ll miss Bella so much and blah blah blah. “I found that I was glad that things could end on a good note with Jessica.” And Bella gets out of yet another problem without having to do a damn thing.

“It went so quickly. I felt liked I’d hit the fast forward button.” I’d say she’s skipping the boring parts, but if that was so then the books wouldn’t exist in the first place.

Alice suddenly shows up and she and Edward make their way across the stage and get their diplomas. “Only the two of them could carry off the hideous yellow and still look the way they did. They stood out from the rest of the crowd, their beauty and grace otherworldly.” Thanks for that, it was a bit of information that I’d had to do without the entire way up to this point. And it certainly wasn’t hinted at at all by the first sentence.

“I wondered how I’d ever fallen for their human farce...” Maybe you’re a hopeless moron. Or maybe the author milks this bit way too much for the good of her opus’s believability.

8. Alice runs out as soon as she gets her stupid diploma, and then Bella “made an impulse decisions -- the kind I really should think twice about, but rarely did.” That’s sort of what an impulse decision is, genius. Not just for her, but for everybody.

What was that decision? She asks the confused-looking Edward if he’s worried about Alice. She asks what Alice was thinking and Edward replies she was thinking about something else very hard so he wouldn’t find out. “She was translating the Battle Hymn of the Republic into Arabic, actually. When she finished that, she moved onto Korean sign language.” I’m not even going to ask if Korean sign language is a thing, mainly because I don’t care, I’ll just say these books get more ridiculous every time they try to impress me.

Bella reveals her brainstorm from before to him then, and “His face turned so white that I had a hard time finishing.” He’s so pale already, how is that even possible? “But no one’s coming for you, don’t you see? This is good -- Esme and Alice and Carlisle, no one wants to hurt them!” Boy does she not know him; her protection is the mort important thing in his life, and that’s only partly because she has no ability to do so herself even within her abilities as a human. And I’m supposed to think they have this unassailable love?

9. Charlie comes up and congratulates his daughter (see how boring these books are when these are the events I’m reporting to you?), “ever so slyly shuffling Edward off to the side as he did so.” That and “He had his back to Edward -- probably an effort to exclude him.” I haven’t brought this up in a while, but given how Bella only really hangs around Edward and maybe Alice, I think I’ll bring it up again now. When did ultimate wallflower Bella learn thing one about reading somebody’s actions?

10. “Okay, so telling Edward had been a really bad idea.” Would somebody maybe remind me of one of hers that hasn’t been? “I should have waited till we were alone elsewhere, maybe with the rest of his family. And nothing breakable close by -- like windows…cars…school buildings.” You’re telling me vampires can wreck whole buildings? Did Steph pick “vampire” because she thought it would draw less Mary Sue flack than “demigod”?

11. Then it’s time for the after-ceremony festivities but Bella’s mind isn’t really on them because of you know, vampires marshalling their forces to kill her and stuff. For all the shit about savoring “human experiences,” the books sure do work hard at distracting her from doing so. What’s even lamer is the chapter title presumably refers to the end of an era in Bella’s life represented by the conclusion of her high school career, and how much attention’s she really paying to that versus the vampire murder plot?

“I did not particularly enjoy Charlie’s favorite restaurant,” but it’s not like we’ve heard much of what she does like besides kissing Edward, so that kind of talk is pretty innocuous by now.

Edward takes off quickly when they get to the eatery and Charlie asks if they’re fighting again. “Nobody’s fighting. Mind your own business,” Bella tells him. Boy she’s lovable. He rather logically replies “You are my business.” Especially with preservation skills like hers.

Over dinner Bella looked at the clock “more often than necessary.” Okay, that’s a little different than rereading a note that says “Be safe.”

12. They leave and Bella says she’s going over to the Cullens’ under the pretext of helping to set up for the graduation party. On the way out she sees a shadow approaching and almost freaks out until she sees it’s Edward. He has to know how panicky she is by now, maybe he shouldn’t sneak up on her, knowing that other vampires want to kill her (again). Then again that would require him to think. In the first place. Let alone over-think.

She tries to tell him she should’ve waited to tell him, but he gently counters “This is something I needed to know. I can’t believe I didn’t see it!” True on both counts. Oh, and Bella’s not extra-smart for making the connection, and the Cullens aren’t of average intelligence for not doing so. Especially considering they’re vampires themselves. We could say their veginess has dulled their edge, but that would imply they’re something less than totally awesome, and we can forget about Steph ever doing that.

Bella: “You’ve got a lot on your mind.”
Edward: “And you don’t?”
Me: “No, she doesn’t.”

It’s fine showing your writing to your friends, but I’ve found it’s actually productive to show it to the ones who aren’t afraid to tell you when you have a bad idea. Like maybe pretending your characters and world are deep when they so, so aren’t.

Charlie asks if Bella’s okay, probably in part because she’s not hiding her ordeals particularly well. “ ‘I feel fine,’ I lied.” Just because she calls attention to it in this chapter doesn’t mean she doesn’t do it any other times.

She even tells him he’s being a great dad. “I’m really glad I came to live with you, Dad. It was the best idea I ever had.” Because I met Edward here, and if you didn’t live here that never would’ve worked out. You’re the world’s best dad for living here, Dad.

I’m even more confused about Charlie’s actions in the last chapter when he tries to get her to stand up for herself. “No matter what side I’m on, if someone kisses you without your permission, you should be able to make your feelings clear without hurting yourself.” Yeah, she should. And she shouldn’t back down because the person she’s talking to is pretty.

13. This brings up the subject of Jacob and Bella says she isn’t sure what to do about him. Charlie sagely opines, “Yeah. The right thing isn’t always real obvious. Sometimes the right thing for one person is the wrong thing for someone else.” Don’t try to get so deep on your first time out, Steph. And I don’t care who we’re talking about, in an equal partnership things like breaking into another person’s living area and leaving them out of major decisions are never okay.

I know Steph’s said that she didn’t intend any morals with her writing, but people tend to think you do even if you don’t. Not to be nasty, but only complete amateurs don’t know that.

Zero culpability sounds like so much.

14. Charlie drives Bella out to the Cullens’ house and complains that their driveway’s impossible to find. Bella’s a little cheered at the thought that nobody will find the place, until she sees that Alice wrapped trees “all three miles of the way” there with Christmas lights. Was Alice a huge dork before she became a vampire? Or did the family’s unending wealth fuel this?

Bella’s displeased, of course. Can I have one relationship that’s at all believable? Do I use that word too much? If I do it’s only because I’m reading something like this.

“With a sigh, I marched up the stairs to endure my party.” Why does everybody hate Bella?…Besides the obvious, I mean.

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