Thursday, April 19, 2012

Eclipse Chapter 24 - 27

Chapter 24 - Snap Decision

* Edward comes back and reads Seth’s mind about the makeout session that ended last chapter. He’s not mad. Even though Jacob didn’t even start it that time, she did. And Edward and his family are putting their necks on the line for her. And he’s leaving them to fight this battle without him for her sake. And as a unit, the Cullens seem supportive of that.

He says it was Jacob tricking her into another kiss. “Bella, did you really believe he was that noble? That he would go out in a flame of glory just to clear the way for me?” No, I got the idea that he was justifiably sick of bending over backwards to do what she wanted just to end up taking it in the ass when she inevitably went back to Edward. As always, pure, grown-up, put-upon Bella bears no responsibility for her actions.

I have to think Meyer suffered from the same problem as most first-time Suethors and just didn’t have a clue, complicated by having a lot of people telling her how great her shit was that she was blinded to any problems.

* Bella of course still hates herself, as if she even needs an excuse, and Edward tries to talk her out of it, telling her she’s only human. “That’s the most miserable defense I’ve ever heard,” Bella retorts, and while I’ve heard worse, on some level I still have to agree. What does that mean? Steph has yet to provide any psychological disconnect between being a human and being a vampire besides the change in their dietary preferences. She has, however, implied on more than one occasion that it’s not just having superpowers that makes Edward something apart from Bella. What’s it supposed to be? The ability to give her kids? Having a baby is what makes her want one, and that only happens because Edward fails at foresight.

Just for the record, Edward states that he’s sure their side can win this fight. “If I didn’t truly believe that, I would be down there now -- and you’d be here, chained to a tree or something along those lines.” (slack-jawed stare) Did she actually say “because you are bizarrely moral for a vampire” right before that?

Let's explore that a bit.

When I was in fifth grade, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse came out. One of the game's big new features was having characters who could become your sidekick, one of whom was Count Dracula’s son who wanted to save people rather than kill them (despite what you might think from the related Captain N episode).

That was in 1990, and there are probably even older examples of vampires deciding to be nice rather than brutal killers that I’m not familiar with, since I don’t really care about vampire fiction in general and not just where Twilight’s concerned. Vampires breaking out of their monstrous molds has become as much a cliché as them being heartless monsters.Hell, I have an RPG called M-Force which is about the players as members of an anti-monster task force, and it warns potential GM's that in every group there's going to at least one person who wants to play a monster that's turned their back on the dark side of their nature.

And if we could, please, let's remember that the Cullens' only good deed is restraining themselves from doing one bad thing while happily doing plenty of other bad things. We only see them going into combat in their own defense. And I fully believe he would chain Bella to a tree against her will. Kidnapping and coercion are still kidnapping and coercion no matter how well-intentioned the perpetrator might be. And Edward doesn't know best. It was his failure to anticipate that Victoria would want revenge that led to all this, in spite of the fact that the desire for revenge once wronged is supposedly an intrinsic part of being a Meyerpire.

* Via reading Seth’s mind, Edward starts to narrate how the newborns are showing up and walking right into the trap. “Jasper’s a genius.” If you guessed that Bella forgot to breathe in spite of everything going to plan, send me an email and we can form a support group for people who’ve read these books.

Also, “I scowled in Seth’s general direction” when she hears that he wishes he wasn’t shipped off to babysit Bella for his protection and wants to be at the battle. Why does she do that? What does she propose to do about the evil vampires other than meet them in combat? Would she prefer somebody else make this their responsibility? Like Charlie?

* Suddenly Edward freezes in his narration, and Bella realizes things aren’t going so good. “Who had been lost? Theirs or ours? Mine, all mine. What was my loss?” This would work better if not for how, oh, Bella acts like everything’s the end of the world, like faceless names are worth our anxiety, like she actually does anything to be involved and thus have a leg to stand on when talking about suffering a loss...

Remember the chapter about the first werewolves, and how the third wife sacrificed herself to the vampires came after her? Bella starts thinking of doing the same thing the third wife did for the sake of the people she loves, because Bella’s all selfless and stuff. Say it with me, NO SHE ISN’T. How’s laying her down life selfless when she was basically doing the same thing all the time by having casual contact with the Cullens and Quileutes? Remember all the times she was warned either species was capable of slipping at the slightest provocation and attacking her?

 If Bella was taking her life in her hands every time she went to hang out with her supernatural friends, it doesn’t sound like she values her life much. And if she doesn’t value her life much then it’s hardly a grand gesture on her part if she’s willing to relinquish it.

* But no, Edward’s horror comes not from their side losing, but the fact that they’ve been outfoxed again. The newborns were just a feint, Victoria figured Edward would be wherever Bella was, and split off to follow his scent (the “snap decision” of the title). Meaning she’s on the way there. What trail did she pick up, exactly? Was it from when Edward left so Bella could talk to Jacob? That's great.

Victoria and another vampire show up, and we need to be reminded that they sparkle, apparently, because we are. The other vampire’s a dude. “His eyes -- a more vivid red than I had ever seen before -- could not hold mine.” So what? This is like the third time she’s ever seen a non-veggie vampire. There was meeting James and his gang, and meeting the Volturi, and…yeah, that’s it. All the other ones were repeat encounters with vampires she’d already seen.

“Her orange hair was brighter than I’d remembered, more like a flame.” Remember the only time we got any glimpse of Victoria in New Moon? It was when Bella saw her hair and thought it was fire.

Bella has faith in her Eddie-boy, though. “He was a good fighter, as good as Jasper.” When they were play-fighting before, I thought the point was that Jasper was winning.

* Then Steph shows us why maybe it’s better for her not to show us the battle scenes, as Edward and Victoria square off, with Seth handling the other vampire, Riley. I couldn’t take this the slightest bit seriously, and the reason why is Bella calls the duel between Edward and Victoria “the dance” six or seven times before Edward finally wins.Yes, yes, it's because vampires are soooooo beautiful and graceful, as if we haven't beaten that dead horse enough. What it doesn't do--and this is worse--is create any sense that our brave hero's in a desperate fight against a formidable foe not only for his own life but for the woman he loves. Which is only what the entire book's been trying to build up to.

Nor does it help that Meyer can't seem to get it into her head that all we've heard are mentions of Victoria and how scary she is, when this is pretty much the first time in the entire series she's ever had any kind of tangible presence. Edward's not really fighting an implacable villain determined to get revenge on him by killing his girlfriend so much as the idea of one.

* Edward picks up on Riley’s thoughts and tries to psych him out, saying Victoria doesn’t really love him and is only using him to get revenge. It would all be so touching if I had maybe seen this character before and had the slightest reason to care about him. Notice how the movie opens on Victoria chasing Riley and turning him into a vampire?

This is the stuff I’m talking about when I say Steph has potentially interesting ideas, but they seem to happen as far away from the person telling the story as possible. When they finally intrude, they feel just a smidge out of left field (Then again, when we do see the stuff with Riley in the spinoff book, it's pretty stupid too).

* When it seems like Riley has Seth on the ropes, Bella tries to go through with her plan and cuts herself to distract Riley. It turns out Seth was fine, and just faking to trick his opponent. This was probably done to show that Bella shouldn’t throw her life away, but it just makes her look like an idiot. Again.

And the “good guys” win.

Chapter 25 - Mirror

* The fight’s over and Edward’s burning the bodies. “Seth handled the pieces with his teeth. My brain wasn’t working well enough for me to understand why he didn’t change back to a form with hands.” Sweetie, don’t waste our time explaining the status quo.

“Edward stretched out his arm, his hand curled into a fist. Seth grinned, revealing the long row of dagger teeth, and bumped his nose against Edward’s hand.” Oh god, monsters fist-bumping? In something that takes itself as seriously as this does?

* Edward asks if Bella’s afraid of him, specifically afraid of him after dismembering a pair of other vampires in front of her. Of course she isn’t, the only thing she was afraid of was someone getting hurt on her account, and yeah that hurts her depth more than helps it on account of her only desire starts with an E and ends with an dward.

* Then Edward picks up another disquieting development on the werewolf band. It’s the Volturi. Took them bloody well long enough, you think? The Quileutes have taken off for the moment, because the Volturi don’t play nice with werewolves. Even though these aren’t technically werewolves, but we’ll get to that.

Edward also relays that Jacob got hurt and it’s more than Bella can take, and she blacks out. She starts to come around to Alice predicting exactly how many seconds it’ll be until Bella wakes up completely. How does that precognition work, again?

She comes around and asks about Jacob, and Carlisle says “I examined him myself” and Jacob’s going to be fine. So there goes that drama, right away. Also, really? So Carlisle can practice medicine on wolves, too (“Sam is trying to get him to get him to phase back to his human form. That will make treating him easier.”)? Sure, he’s been around long enough to learn about lupine anatomy too, but “the Cullens are immortal; they’ve studied whatever they need to know for this scene” comes off as a pretty cheap excuse by now. Ascribe some limits, please.

* Anyway, the newborns are all dead, except for one named Bree who gave herself up. “It was hard to tell if her features were beautiful, twisted as they were by rage and thirst.” Is that the only thing Bella looks for?

The Volturi show up, by the time the only thing left to do is burn the remains. Carlisle offers to take Bree in and teach her the rule of vampirism, but Jane ominously replies “We don’t make exceptions.” Meyer, you know there’s eight exceptions looking at her as she says that, right? And with how these couple of guys were sent to deal with the whole vampire uprising, I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to be able to take the Cullens if they wanted to.

Of course the real reason Bree was thrown in was to let the Volturi actually kill somebody, and it really confirms their menace when their only onscreen victim’s a dispirited young vampire who already surrendered. It’s pretty sad Meyer had to write a whole other book to try to lend this one moment some meaning.

Also, when Jane asks how many there were, Carlisle describes them “dismissively.” These were innocents made into the puppets of an evil bitch for a plan of petty revenge. I know I said it doesn’t bug me when faceless fictional people die, but they’re real in his world. Isn’t he supposed to be this big humanitarian? Isn’t that why he’s a doctor? Isn’t that why he invented eating animals instead of people? Isn’t he the least bit bothered by all this senseless slaughter? Is he putting on a tough front for the Volturi? He’s friends with their leaders, wouldn’t they already know about his “tendencies”?

God these books suck.

* As Bree’s torn apart, “I shivered, deeply grateful that the strange glitch to my system -- which had protected me from Jane the last time we’d met -- was still in effect.” Like a Mary Sue would ever lose something that was useful in any fashion. Or even just "cool".

* “Quite a pity how things turned out, isn’t it?” Yes it is, Jane. But I’d be lying if I said I’d expected anything different.

Chapter 26 - Ethics

* We open on Bella sitting in the Cullens’ bathroom, surrounded by beauty products that Alice got. Since all the Cullens are “perfect and impermeable,” Bella ruminates that they must have been bought entirely to be used on her. Sure, drive both Bella’s razor-sharp wit and the most pointless but oft-repeated tidbit in vampire history home one more time for the road.

* Bella wants to quit getting dolled up like she really want on a shopping trip with Alice and go see how Jake’s doing, but she’s shut down. “Play your role first, Bella, and then you can do what you want second. Part of being a Cullen is being meticulously responsible.” AH HA HA! Ha ha ha ha HA hee HAW ha ha…

(20 minutes later…)

Okay, where was I?

* Alice offers her sympathies on Bella having to choose between “two good things.” You’re not fooling anybody, Steph. Even Bella thinks so: “And there wasn’t any choice to make -- there was just breaking a good heart to attend to now.”

She also goes on to add. “There were people who deserved sympathy. I wasn’t one of them.” That’s true, but then, why exactly should I read these books? What are her redeeming qualities? Why should I hope she makes it through all this and gets a happy ending? We’re almost at the end of the third book, and I’m still waiting for an answer.

* Bella does go to visit Charlie first and problems, as always, continue to disappear into thin air when he talks to Bella before she leaves to check on Jacob. Carlisle’s been making house calls to see to his recover, meaning the Quileutes have finally gotten over that “fool prejudice” against those perfectly nice weirdo recluses. A better example would be Charlie admitting that Edward’s “a decent guy, Bella. I’ll try to remember that.” Excuse me, what’s this based on? His daughter’s come back from meetings with this guy and his family with injuries on a semi-regular basis. It should take a lot to forget that, and they’re working so hard to keep Charlie in the dark about just how much Edward’s really protecting her from.

Charlie’s feeling kind of edgy lately, like Bella might vanish out of nowhere sometime soon, and gets her to promise to tell him before she does “anything major.” Bella “didn’t look back as I ran out. This was just perfect, just what I needed right now.” How dare Charlie love his daughter and not want her to just disappear from his life. What a self-centered ass.

* Bella does go to see Jacob and they talk about how awesome Edward is. “He wasn’t even mad at me -- he wasn’t even mad at you! He’s so unselfish it makes me feel even worse.” If this was actually pursued in some manner, like Edward never flinches when fighting another vampire to protect Bella, but had trouble taking that step and telling her how much he really does want her, that could go a long way to filling out the character.

Jacob implies Edward might be manipulating her, and she insists he isn’t, but with all the things he’s done without her knowledge or consent, I don’t know that. And he’s got to do more than assure her that he’s going to trust her judgment, like demonstrably trust her judgment for a while, to prove his honesty. He did say something about chaining her to a tree two chapters ago, didn’t he? Not exactly encouraging. Was he joking? Then lighten the mood once in a while so I can have some basis to tell.

* He asks if it’s too late to still be friends, leading to “I think it’s too late for that, Jake. How can we be friends, when we love each other like this?” By finally showing some of that vaunted maturity? These books aren’t done bringing that up, so neither am I.

* That’s several more pages of talking but it’s all to the effect of Bella loves them both but has to choose Edward because it’s the end of the third book and way too late to pretend to otherwise now. I mean, Edward’s her true love and nothing can stand in the face of that, even her love for Jacob. Yeah, that’s it.

Chapter 27 - Needs

* Bella’s spent after telling Jacob what he already knew and just can’t drive anymore partway to the Cullens’. Within moments Edward’s there, driving her home.

Charlie asks how it went with Jacob, and she makes an offhand remark that he’s a quick healer. I get that, he’s a werewolf and heals fast, but is he going to wear a cast and fake it for the months it would realistically take? Well, no, but that factor never seems to come up at all. Even though what he ends up doing would seem to make his injuries even more of an issue in Charlie’s mind.

* After seeing the kind of cry Bella had after telling Jacob she was picking him over the wolf, Edward states, “Bella, I can’t stand for you to be miserable.” He feels so bad, he’s willing to let her pick Jacob if it’ll save her from that kind of misery.

May I go on a discursion that will probably show you once and for all how stupid I am? Thank you.

When I was about 9, I read a Choose Your Own Adventure-style book called Curse of the Sunken Treasure. In one part you’re given the choice between visiting a land of perfection or a land of hardship. If you go to the land of perfection, pretty soon you get bored with a place where there’s no such thing as losing.

Being about 9 when I read the book, I thought that was BS. The only thought in my head was that losing sucked. Then I thought about it a little, and how little satisfaction I got from beating Nintendo games with a Game Genie. Or consider that Twilight Zone episode where the crook dies and realizes he’s in Hell when he finds out all his successes are pre-arranged, robbing whatever he wants to do of all meaning.

Into every life, rain must fall. It’s the failures, the sorrows and the disappointments that make the victories and the joys matter. They’re empty if there’s nothing in our lives to contrast them. Edward can barely keep her alive, even he can’t protect her from feeling sadness sometimes, or having to make painful decisions. I kind of doubt the guy who threatened to kill himself to get some sympathy from her could do a better job. Edward can read Jacob’s mind, remember, and if he really thinks he’d be sending Bella off to a happier life with someone like that, he’s an even bigger dumbass and I believe in this relationship even less than I already do.

What with how Edward’s been alive for a century, and for that matter was so good at reading people he became a mind-reader as a vampire, I refuse to believe he hasn’t learned anything about the significance of sorrow. This crap about wanting Bella to be happy so much that he’ll let her go if it’ll save her already fragile emotions makes Edward look even less like the perfect catch. Can you imagine a guy as wishy-washy as Edward, and knowing he’s your spouse until the end of time? Can you really? Or will it not matter because Bella will never mature past thinking his perfect face is enough to carry a relationship?

I’m sure he’s supposed to look all selfless, being willing to remove himself from Bella’s life if that’s what’ll make her happy (never mind it’s what made her take up attempting suicide as a hobby), but it makes him look like somebody who never thinks about what he can do, rather than what he can’t. Like comfort his true love during a vulnerable moment, tell her he’s sorry this is hard for her but promise to always be there for her, things like that.

If he loves Bella so much and has lived as long as he has, could Edward please accept that despite our best intentions bad things happen sometimes and be there to make this easier on her, not telling her she can leave if that’s what she wants? Show something of why she’s so devoted by being there for her to make a painful period in her life pass a little easier? Being willing to bail out at a sign of trouble doesn’t make theirs seem like a rock-solid eternal love.

I can’t believe South Park was more mature about this.

Actually, yes I can.

* After our leads have recovered, Alice is all jumpy to show Bella the designer label wedding dress she got for her. “Whatever makes her happy, I said to myself.”

No, damn it. This is your wedding. Quit letting everyone decide everything for you. This is why even the fans don’t like you.

Bella asks to see Alice’s dress, but when Edward says “That was very, very nice, of you,” you can tell she’s only faking enthusiasm to make Alice happy. Has everything she’s ever done for/with Alice been nothing but placation?

* They go out to the clearing from the first book, and Edward tells Bella he’s going to stop forcing his way on her. In fact, they’re going to start doing things how she wants. “My way is always wrong.” Well, not necessarily, but the way he went about it is all wrong. At least on the surface wanting to protect your loved ones is perfectly laudable. And he does, supposedly, know vastly more about the denizens of the supernatural world than our narrator, allowing him to make much more informed calls. Normally, you shouldn’t force your judgment down their throats, is the thing. That doesn’t mean the other person doesn’t have bad judgment of their own, though, and Bella most certainly does.

* Finally displaying a little of that maturity, Bella says she’s willing to meet Edward halfway here. To give Edward that wedding and some time to love her as a human before he converts her. To not endanger his soul to get her way, but just what they’d be doing she doesn’t say. Let’s see her keep it up.

* There’s a boring epilogue from Jacob’s perspective where we actually see Leah bitching out some of the other Quileutes, but that really just gets her off on the right foot with me. Basically he decides that with Bella out of his reach, he’s just going to run until he can’t run anymore.

* Thanks for reading, everybody.

1 comment:

  1. I liked this post very much, especially when you tried to figured out Smeyers is such a horrible writer (a estrange combo of being an amateur and successful novelist).