Sunday, March 18, 2012

Eclipse Chapter 18 - Instruction

1. “ ‘That had to be the longest party in the history of the world,’ I complained on the way home.”

We open on Bella whining. How encouraging.

2. The Cullens were all reassured that the Quileutes would be fighting on their side, though. “Doubt had been replaced with confidence. The party had ended on a note of true celebration.”

Well gee, it sounds like the book might finally be--

“Not for me.”


“Bad enough -- horrible -- that the Cullens would fight for me. It was already too much that I would have to allow that. It already felt like more than I could bear. Not Jacob too.”

Then what do you suggest, superbrain?

“Not his foolish, eager brothers -- most of them even younger than I was.”

Not physically.

“They were just oversized, over-muscled children, and they looked forward to this like it was a picnic on the beach.”

I find that a weird point of derision when Edward hasn’t matured a day in over 90 years and is technically younger than Bella too, yet that’s never mentioned as a negative. It ain’t like he’s got his emotions under control. Apparently it’s different because the Quileutes actually want to deal with a problem whereas Edward seems happy to let things lie unless he and his family are directly threatened. “All committed to protecting human life,” indeed.

3. The freaks are all doing something out in the woods that night, and Bella demands to be taken along. She even starts hitting below the belt when Edward tries to refuse, saying that if he tells her no then she’ll just have Jacob take her. I’d ask what difference her being there’s going to make, but the way the books keep shunting Bella away from anything that might be worth reading about’s one of the seven most annoying things about them.

Bella sneaks out, even though Charlie was “snoring so loudly I could have ripped a chainsaw to life and it wouldn’t have wakened him.” Because that’s how snoring works.

She doesn’t just leave, though. She drags him to his own bed because he’s sleeping on the tiny couch and he’ll hurt his back if he stays there all night. Going for sympathy, maybe? Then how about leaving so vampires don’t kill him? I apologize for how I can’t let go of the way Bella seems to think placing him in mortal danger is the lesser of two evils, but it’s only because I’m sure the real reason is to keep the author from having to do more work.

On the way to the woods Bella refuses to be reassured by Edward. Y’know, she doesn’t sound that smart when she constantly refuses to listen not only to people who actually know something about what’s going on, but her wun twu wuv. How can she have no faith in him? How can she be totally unreceptive to emotional support from him? Then again, I’d hardly put it past Edward to lie to her so she wouldn’t go totally to pieces like she always does.

“People -- well, vampires and werewolves really, but still -- people I loved were going to get hurt. Hurt because of me. Again.” Again?

4. They park and Edward carries her on his back like when he showed her he sparkles. And “even in his run I could feel the elation. He ran the way he did when it was just us, just for enjoyment, just for the feel of the wind in his hair.” Do you still have nerve endings when you’re made out of rock? “It was the kind of thing that, during less anxious times, would have made me happy.”

I’ve been told by a more experienced author that one of the best ways to establish something as shocking and scary is to create a mood, then shatter it. That is, show us what normal is, then smash it by having something bad rear its head. To give us some context for this, and some weight to Bella’s fears, and some basis to help us separate the angsting over the things that happen to every teenager and the ones that involve monsters. Then we could see how this is dangerous, and out of the ordinary.

5. “I realized that were in the baseball clearing.” Oh sure, remind us of that bad inclusion choice. Have they done it since? From how Bella only talks about how it’s where they met James and Victoria, doesn’t sound like it. Why not? Why mention it at all then? Probably to set up Bella’s next line of thought, but Meyer mentions the baseball game first. We’re probably going to think about that too.

This does get Bella to thinking about Victoria. She’d always seemed like a force of nature, “like a hurricane moving toward the coast in a straight line -- unavoidable, implacable, but predictable.” If it only moves in a straight line, it sounds very avoidable. Genius. “Maybe it was wrong to limit her that way. She had to be capable of adaptation.”

Where could this be going? “The Volturi love their rules. They would probably do a better job [of stalking Bella] anyway.” If it wasn’t them, then who? Bella advances a theory that it’s Victoria making the newborn vampires.

Edward remarks this does fit with Victoria’s personality (what personality?). “She showed a remarkable gift for self-preservation from the start -- maybe it’s a talent of hers.” What does that have to do with anything?

“He frowned into space for a long moment.” I know what she’s trying to say, but “he frowned into space”…?

“You’re very perceptive today. It’s impressive.” Or maybe you guys are just morons all the time. Did it honestly take anyone reading this book almost 400 pages to consider that Victoria could be the one raising the newborn army? The most obviously villainous of the stories’ vampires, who was never dealt with? Am I really being asked to believe that’s a surprise?

6. “ ‘She’ll never touch you, Bella,’ he said. In spite of his words, his eyes swept carefully across dark trees.” In spite of them? I would’ve thought he said that meaning he’d never let Victoria touch his girlfriend, and intends to be extra alert to make good on his vow. Not because he thinks Victoria’s going to give up or something despite raising an entire army just to get even with Bella, and that he can relax.

Edward mutters that he wishes he actually could get his hands on Victoria, to end the threat to his girlfriend’s life with certainty. “I shuddered at the ferocious longing in his voice, and clenched his fingers more tightly with more, wishing I was strong enough to lock our hands together permanently.” Again, she needs to have undead powers to matter. At least in her own mind. Which I’m stuck in.

“I noticed for the first time that Alice did not look as optimistic as the others…‘Is something wrong with Alice?’ I whispered.” Wow, she really is perceptive today. Says loads about these books. In case you’re wondering why, Alice’s visions have crapped out because the Quileutes are coming.

7. Bella realizes the werewolves are coming as werewolves, and almost freaks out again. Very perceptive, is she? How did she think they’d be coming to a conclave of their natural enemies? When Jasper indicated at the meaning of this meeting before; to train them how to fight vampires. And Bella was on a role with the perceptiveness too.

Mainly it’s because she’s such a fragile little flower, though. The other times she’d seen Sam as a werewolf, “They were both memories of terror.” Bella kind of reminds me of the old tribal lady from the beginning of The Leech Woman. Who says the main character is the one in her “dreams of blood.” But as the main character runs off, Mike snarkily adds “…but everyone’s in my dreams of blood so it’s not that big a deal!” I’m just saying when things are like this all the time, after a while Bella’s horror stops seeming so horrifying.

The wolves show up and Bella notices “their eyes, higher up than they should be. I’d forgotten how very tall the wolves were.” She forgets a good many things. And from where I’m sitting it’s not like she’s got a million other things wrestling for her attention, making it easy for something important to slip through the cracks. Instead it seems like Meyer made Bella unable to retain these things for readers for whom it was a new experience.

8. Edward acts as sort of an interpreter, because he can still pick up the Quileutes’ thoughts in werewolf form, but they obviously can’t talk in werewolf form. And who can blame them for wanting to be in their super forms around the Cullens?

Carlisle explains that when the newborns come, “Alice will help us intercept their path.” Even though her forewarning hasn’t been working so good, since they apparently know how to stay under her radar. Which the Cullens know they know.

They start a little play-fighting practice, with Emmett acting as the newborn because he “relies on his strength. He’s very straightforward about the attack. The newborns won’t be trying anything subtle, either.” You know, for a series of books that try to have a wide range of diverse characters, it sure seem to like to generalize. What if a newborn’s somebody who knew a thing or two about hand-to-hand combat before they were bitten?

It’s Edward’s turn to join in. “My fingers tensed around his.” Oh for God’s sake, if she gets this worked up over pretend fighting…

Jasper and Edward play-fight and the gist seems to be that even with her worthless human eyes and nonexistent knowledge of fighting, Jasper seems to be using moves Edward doesn’t know about and generally getting the better of ol’ Bronzehair. We’ve only seen Edward fight another vampire when he was trying to stop Jane from using her agony vision on Bella, though, and he got smacked down pretty hard. Yeah they’re supposed to be the uber-baddesses of the vampire world, but in case you need a reminder Edward also spent most of New Moon trying to do something about Victoria. Trying, and failing. His credentials as a vampire aren’t particularly impressive, so it’s not particularly impressive saying Jasper’s better than him. In fact, if anything Edward kind of comes across as Twilight's character who gets beat down or outsmarted to show how formidable other characters are.

Alice comes over and tries to tell Bella she can’t really make a difference here, and nobody would give up trying to stop the newborn vampires if she died. So just sit tight and have a little faith. Boy won’t Alice feel silly when the shit hits the fan and we come back to that stuff about the first werewolf’s third wife.

9. The werewolves think to familiarize themselves with the Cullens’ scents so they don’t chase down and dismember one of them by accident (as if they could, right? Vampires are #1). Sam in his wolf form is “a monster straight out of my nightmares -- literally; after the first time I’d seen Sam and the others in the meadow, they’d starred in my bad dreams.” Which we’ve heard about far more often than her pleasant ones. This is just more of what I’m talking about with Bella’s fixation on the bad. Give us a break, Meyer. Literally, give us a break to give the terrifying stuff a chance to catch its breath. And not with meandering conversation.

Then Bella notices another werewolf. “His fur was reddish-brown and longer than the others, shaggy in comparison. He was almost as tall as Sam, the second largest in the group. His stance was casual, somehow exuding nonchalance over what the rest obviously considered an ordeal.” This goes on for two more paragraphs. It’s Jacob. She knows it’s Jacob. She commented on how the charm he gave her looks just like he does in wolf form, remember? Meyer seems to think you won’t.

10. They’re hanging out when Edward gets back, and he’s disappointed with them being all cozy instead of Bella keeping as far away from him as possible. Edward picks up on some of Jacob’s thoughts, leading him to change back so Edward can’t exclude her from the conversation. Which is about what they’re going to do with her during the fight.

Do with me?” she asks because yes it seems to have eluded her that since all this is because of her, she probably shouldn’t be in the first place they’d look for her when they show up. It’s all right for your protagonist not to know everything, but does she really have to be a plain old idiot?

The day the vampires are expected to attack is on the weekend Bella bought concert tickets for, if you can remember that, and it’s mentioned she can give them to some people named Angela and Ben instead. “At least that will get them out of town.” Don’t know who they are, don’t care if they die.

Edward mentions how Bella’s scent is too strong for them to have an easy time hiding her, but Jacob reminds him how bad werewolves smell to vampires. “ ‘Hmmm, not bad.’ Edward was two steps ahead.” Of who? Not Jacob, since he reminded Edward, meaning he had the idea first. I’d say Bella since she needs it explained to her that they plan to have the werewolves run around and mask her scent.

What happened to her being able to finally make obvious connections? She’s fighting sleep at this point in the chapter, but she still remembers everything with amazing clarity for someone so exhausted.

11. Jacob gives her a hug and they walk around, to test the efficacy of using werewolf BO to hide Bella, but “It felt too intimate to me -- surely he didn’t need to hold me quite so tightly -- and I couldn’t help but wonder what it felt like to him. It reminded me of my last afternoon in La Push, and I didn’t want to think about that.” Honestly, it’s not like her attraction to Edward makes sense other than because the author says so. Jacob probably still likes his odds. You can’t really say Jacob’s any more crappy than anyone else in these books, just crappy in a different way.

After reluctantly listening to her reminder to put her down, he says something about not wanting to ruin the chances of their experiment. “You are so annoying,” she says. Glass houses, Bells.

12. Jasper kind of interrupts when Edward picks up on him thinking about using Bella as a decoy; if she were in the clearing at the time of the battle the newborns would go insane over her scent and be easy prey. Edward of course refuses, but Jasper “looked at me from the corner of his eyes, and the look was wistful.”

Hmmm, I may have a new favorite character. He’s already almost killed her once…

13. Mention comes up of the newest addition to the Quileutes’ ranks, somebody named Seth Clearwater who’s presumably related to that guy who died that one time. Since he’s the youngest and noobiest, Jacob thought up “ a new assignment for him -- cell phone.”

“I tried to look like I got it. No one was fooled.” Oh for crying out loud, has she forgotten the werewolves can hear each other’s thoughts too?

“I was reeling from the idea that little Seth Clearwater was already a werewolf too, and that made it difficult to concentrate. I could see his bright smile, so much like a younger Jacob, in my head; he couldn’t be more than fifteen, if he was that. His enthusiasm at the council meeting bonfire suddenly took on new meaning….” (Just so y’all know, Meyer’s the one making four-dot ellipses, not me)

This brings up something I may have neglected to mention (because I would’ve thought it’s obvious), which is that to develop a character, you have to establish them first. We’ve had this kid mentioned once or twice in crowd scenes. Suddenly I’m supposed to have a big reaction to find out this no-face background character’s a werewolf too? I’m supposed to think Bella’s turning to her good friend Angela for advice when her biggest distinguishing feature was to be the one girl with nothing against Bella?

And while I’m complaining, since we have Alice around and the villains take forever to do anything, maybe the book tips its hand too soon? I know I complained about the way obvious information was revealed like it was something big, but this is something else. It’s natural to get the ball rolling on the story’s action by tipping off the main characters that something’s up, but that’s the operative word. Something. Not “newborn vampires are on a killing spree in the nearest big city.” We can figure out from that alone where things are going before it’s even the end of the first chapter.

Couple that with the characters having most of the gigantic book to prepare. It saps the situation of urgency. Yeah, you can have the villains exploit something the characters forgot to overlook in their preparations, but you have to be careful there. Because the things the Cullens overlook are, like the deep revelations that aren’t, not things ordinary intellects couldn’t come up with. But we’ll get to those.


  1. "I’d forgotten how very tall the wolves were.” It seems she has many clichés in memorised and just use them at random. Maybe she's one of the manatees that write Family Guy.

  2. Ah, how I have enjoyed reliving this good old Viking tale through your blog. I was always amused by the sheer number of informed abilities present in the characters (i.e. list of outlandish names) but now must believe that Steph relies solely on informed plot progress as well...

    1. Informed plot progress, that's a good one. Can I use that?