Friday, March 9, 2012

Eclipse Chapter 17 - Alliance

1. Edward gets all kissy and huggy as soon as Bella shows up, but “This kiss frightened me. There was too much tension, too strong an edge to the way his lips crushed mine -- like he was afraid we only had so much time left to us.” Meyer, if you really want this to resonate, give us some idea of what things are like when they’re not worried about anyone trying to kill either of them. Give us something to compare the angsty parts against (and none of that one-move super-powered chess bull). You probably heard true art’s angsty, but maybe the romance should be romantic once in a while? In, you know, a romance novel?

Meyer tries to tell us what to think again as Bella says she’s not worried about herself, and Edward replies. “Why am I not surprised by that?” Because the author thinks that makes a whiny character a selfless one? Once again, if you think you don't for matter for anything, throwing everything away is kind of hollow.

“The interior of the Cullens’ home had been transformed into a nightclub -- the kind that didn’t often exist in real life, only on TV.” How the hell does she know? I go clubbing more than Bella (and I don’t go clubbing a lot). Even though she’s probably right, it still sounds ridiculous coming from somebody like her. Oh, and that’s pretty much the entire description of what Alice has done to the house. It’s like I’m really there!

Speaking of lame descriptions, “I noticed that she had changed into a sequined tank top and red leather pants. Her bare skin reacted oddly to the pulsing red and purple lights.” How did it react oddly? Does vampire skin suddenly have a reaction to something besides direct sunlight?

2. Bella asks if Alice really thinks anyone’s going to come, not managing to hide her hopes that they won’t, and Alice assures her, “Everyone will come. They’re all dying to see the inside of the reclusive Cullens’ mystery house.” Yeah, aren’t those Cullens awesome? Aren’t they reclusive in the first place because they don’t want people to find out about the bodies in the basement, as it were? Are they loosening their strictures because they’re planning on relocating soon? This just seems inadvisable in general, but especially so when the Volturi are already eyeballing them. But even with a power like hers, I’ve never been impressed by Alice’s foresight.

Before the party the Cullens hold a little war council about their plans to go to Seattle and deal with the newborns there. “I couldn’t stay behind, waiting and hoping for them to come home. I wouldn’t. I would go mad.” That presumes you aren’t already.

3. “All at once, everything was surreally normal…It was a Suburban-load of my friends, either too nervous or too intimidated to arrive on their own….Tyler, Conner, Austin, Lee, Samantha…even Lauren, trailing in last, her critical eyes alight with curiosity.”

“The room wasn’t empty; all the Cullens had taken their places, ready to put on their usual perfect human charade.”

DAMN IT, Meyer. Don’t put this in like I’ve got any context for it or know these people. Bella’s social life with normal people is such a tiny part of the narrative it seems like it’s being mentioned as a desperate attempt to assure readers that she does in fact have friends outside of Edward and Jacob.

And don’t you dare try to tell me the Cullens’ act is airtight. Unless you’re also telling me this is a world where a pair of glasses turns you into a completely different person, in which case you’d be telling me not to take this too seriously. And the way this whole thing never lets up on its end-of-the-world seriousness fosters doubt.

“…there was no denying that I was the most popular target for congratulations and thanks. Maybe because the Cullens looked just slightly wrong under Alice’s party lights…Probably Alice had done this on purpose, to force me into the center of attention -- a place she thought I should enjoy more. She was forever trying to make me be human the way she thought humans should be.”

Just because a character doesn’t want all the attention heaped on them, that doesn’t mean they’re not a Mary Sue. Especially when they get all the attention for doing something as wild as existing.

And is this meant to be more “human experience” bull crap? Getting attention isn’t something vampires do? Even ones who make an effort to blend into society?

“The party was a clear success, despite the instinctive edginess caused by the Cullens’ presence.” Exactly how does a “usual perfect human charade” work, if such a thing’s part of the equation?

“The music was infections, the lights almost hypnotic. From the way the food disappeared, that must have been good, too.” The Cullens are culinary masters despite having no need to be, isn’t that great? At least in the movie when they were making food for Bella they were watching a cooking show as they did. Maybe they did that here too, but am I really asking too much for wanting Steph to downplay this “vampires are perfect” thing a little?

“It wasn’t as hard as I’d thought it would be. I followed Alice’s lead, mingling and chatting for a minute with everyone. They seemed easy enough to please. I was sure this party was far cooler than anything the town of Forks had experienced before. Alice was almost purring -- no one here would forget this night.” I already have. Is that seriously all we’re going to hear about the mother of all parties?

4. Jessica comes up and starts yakking at Bella, who’s able to pretend to pay attention with no effort because Jessica won’t shut up. When Edward suddenly detaches himself from Bella’s hip, though (because Alice had one of her visions and he needs to go see what), she slips away to follow. “I didn’t pause for her reaction, even to see if I’d hurt her feelings with my abruptness.” Yeah, if that thing before was an attempt to show Bella has human friends she cares about, it fails. Damn it Meyer, she can’t let Edward out of her sight for five minutes without going insane with fear of what might happen. This. Isn’t. Healthy. I don’t care what kind of “unique case” BS you bring up.

Jacob shows up. “I’d thought I’d rescinded that invitation.” Bella thinks a lot of things. Not many of them make sense.

He didn’t come alone, though, he came with two other werewolves (do you really care who?). “…their eyes flickering around the room like they’d just walked into a haunted crypt.” Is that supposed to be a subtle reminder that the Cullens are vampires? Or the werewolves don’t like them? Just saying, it’s page 371. If we need to be informed of that by now you’re probably not doing a very good job telling the story. Or you’re thinking this is way more complicated than it is. Or you think we’re really stupid.

5. Bella demands to know what Jacob’s doing here, and he reminds her she invited him. She informs him that punching him was uninviting him. One, he hardly noticed, and two, nearly all their meetings seem to end on a bad note yet they remain best friends. Can you honestly blame him for not thinking of that?

She’s not in the mood for arguing with him. “I wanted to know what Alice had seen and what Edward and Carlisle were saying about it.” Me too. In fact, shunting Bella away from pretty much anything of potential interest so we can focus on something like her boy troubles when we already know what’s going to happen is one of the things I hate most about these books’ style.

He wants to give her a present, and when she tells him to return it he tells her he can’t. It’s handmade. Spent a lot of time on it. Still, Bella tries to dodge and go listen to something that might actually matter. Jacob won’t let up, leading to this exchange.

Jacob: (referring to the kiss) “I guess I deluded myself into thinking you wanted me to.”
Bella: “Deluded -- what a perfect description!”
Me: “You ain’t exactly the picture of mental health yourself, toots.”
Jacob: “Be nice. You could accept my apology, you know.”
Bella: “Fine. Apology accepted. Now, if you’ll just excuse me for a moment…”
Me: “I don’t like you, Bella. I don’t want you to have a happy ending.”
Jacob: “Okay. I guess you’d rather be with your real friends. I get it.”
Bella: “Aw, Jake, you know that’s not fair.”
Jake: “Do I?”
Bella: “You should.”
Me: “The vampires conspired to kidnap you, and you’re saying he’s being unfair to them. Listen to yourself, lady.”

6. To awkwardly change the subject, Bella asks what Jacob got her. It’s a wolf carving, with the color of the wood even perfectly matching Jacob’s fur. They have a moment where the fighting’s forgotten and they’re best friends again, but then Jacob asks her what’s going on, and she has to admit to herself that if evil vampires are around the werewolves probably will get involved one way or another. “Only I wasn’t sure what that was yet. I wouldn’t know for sure until I found Alice.” Bet it’s nothing surprising, whatever it is.

The werewolves kind of gang up on Bella then, demanding to know what’s going down. “They all folded their arms across their chests at exactly the same time. It was a little bit funny, but mostly menacing.” Meyer, you haven’t written a menacing thing for these books. Or a funny one, for that matter. At least not one that I think you intended. And stop telling me what to think.

Then Alice reappears. “She looked right at me as soon as I called her name, despite the thudding base that should have drowned my voice.” Even though she has superhuman senses and precognition, which still provides advance warning of a sort where werewolves are involved. She comes down to get Bella, but the wolves stop her from leaving until they know what’s going on. “Jasper appeared quite literally out of nowhere.” No he didn’t and she’s had enough contact with them to know even they can’t magically appear and disappear. His “expression was terrifying,” which gets Jake to back off. What was so terrifying about it? I mean, it has that effect on someone who’s not even Bella. I’d like to know what happened.

7. Alice tells Jasper to lay off, since the Quileutes do have a stake in this too. What did she see? The evil vampires are coming to Forks. Yeah, that’s a shocker. “ ‘For?’ She nodded, understanding my question. ‘One carried your red shirt.’ ”

I guess it’s kind of nice that Meyer bothered to confirm that, but it’s not as if you’d ever doubt this was about Bella. Either because the plot’s that simple, or because Bella’s the center of the universe anyway.

“All around us, my friends and neighbors and petty enemies laughed and ate and swayed to the music, oblivious to the fact that they were about to face horror, danger, and maybe death. Because of me.” So why are in the holy balls do you insist on staying? To preserve Charlie’s feelings? Do you think maybe condemning him to die at the hands of a threat he doesn’t know exists is the lesser of two evils?

Jasper gets mad at a suggestion from Jacob that there are too many evil vampires for the Cullens to handle. “We have a few advantages, dog. It will be an even fight.” Yeah, you have inferior numbers, and inferior strength. I’m sorry, I guess I’m mainly thinking of the movie where after all the preparation, the Cullens rush at the evil vampires across an empty field. You hardly get a sense their preparations served any purpose. Even here, where we don’t see the fight, I get the feeling Jasper’s military career progressed more due to his natural charisma than anything resembling military competence.

8. Then Alice has another vision, or rather, doesn’t. Because the werewolves just got involved in the future. Jacob and his buddies are eager for a chance to fight, but Bella tries to tell him “You are staying out of this!” And what kind of authority does she think she has? Over anyone else in this story? And what about all her “friends and neighbors and petty enemies” who face a death she knows is coming but none of them do? Which is more likely to claim them if she has her way of decreasing the number of defenders the town has.

Her supposed best friend is fighting a super-powered enemy, I can see why she might be upset. But she’s always like this, always dominated by her worries. Hasn’t used her head once with it being better than halfway through the third bloody book. I’d be fine with it if we didn’t get all that reassurance that she’s so far above your average teenager.

9. Jasper agrees to let the wolves help. “If you’re going to fight with us, you’ll need some instruction.” Don’t get your hopes up, what he’s talking about’s only somewhat less silly than anything else in these books.

Jacob thanks Bella; the present she got for him is way better than the one he got her. And then he’s gone, before she can try to make a bad situation even worse by trying to keep him from fighting again. What a stupid kid.

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