Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Eclipse Chapters 20 - 23

For a while now I’ve been feeling that I’m not taking quite the right approach in my analysis of the Twilight books anymore. I spend a lot of time reiterating evidence of the same old points, like how Bella’s just as overreactive a teen as anybody else, or how I’m supposed to care about a bunch of names when wI’ve been given so very, very little to connect to them.

This led to thoughts about a change in format when I did Breaking Dawn. There was no way I was doing forty more reviews in minute detail after I trudged to the end of Eclipse. Not when the content blurred between chapter barriers so easily and frequently.

The only way I could see making it all the way to the end of the series was to take bigger bites, doing several chapters at once. Then I figured, with how the books are already dragging, it made just as much sense to start that format now as when I get to the final book.

Let’s do this.

Chapter 20 - Compromise

* It’s time for Bella and Edward’s sleepover, and beforehand Bella tells us there’s one human experience she’s determined to have. 

* Edward gives Bella a crystal heart to compete with the homemade wolf charm Jacob gave her. “ ‘It was my mother’s.’ He shrugged deprecatingly. ‘I inherited quite a few baubles like this to Esme and Alice both. So, clearly, this is not a big deal in any way.’ ” You took the words right out of my mouth, Eddie.

“You forgot the most important similarity. It’s beautiful,” Bella replies. To think she ragged on Jessica for being superficial.

* Our leads cuddle up and Bella observes “It probably felt similar to snuggling with Michelangelo’s David, except this perfect marble creature wrapped his arms around me to pull me closer.” But if I’m hearing this right it’s still like cuddling up to a cold stone replica of a person? Can you imagine being turned on by that?

* They get to talking about what Edward wants in exchange for agreeing to turn her into a vampire, and since it’s so big he thinks he’s entitled to a couple favors from her. One of them is marriage, which Bella continues to resist for her flimsily-established reason. I’m rather amused that Edward’s response to Bella telling him to get to the next one is “That’s it. Unless you’d like to talk about cars…” Getting her a new car is a prerequisite to him changing her? It’s not, no, but to listen to Bella in the first few chapters of Breaking Dawn you’d think stuff like that is.

* Then Bella announces there is one thing she wants from Edward besides getting to sparkle, and she doesn’t actually use the S-word, but the mystery kind of dissolves when she tries to get undressed. He refuses to do that before they’re married and she gets mad. “I knew it was irrational.” Stop using that as a defense. Bella isn’t rational ever. She “tried to banish the reflex action that told me I was unwanted and unwantable.” See?

Edward tries to dispel her insecurities. “I feel like there’s a line behind me, jockeying for position, waiting for me to make a big enough mistake….you’re too desirable for your own good.” We’re not even pretending anymore, sounds like.

“Do I have to send around a petition to get you to believe?” I thought petitions didn’t accomplish anything. That seemed to be the Meyer family’s response to the one about people detailing what was wrong with Breaking Dawn, as I recall.

He still refuses, though. “I could kill you,” he protests. “I don’t think you could,” she replies. With all her other logic fails she just comes off as desperate to get some. “Again, I took what advantage I could.” Wow that’s some true love there, all righty.

* He tries to get religious, asking how many people in the room have a soul, and she immediately replies both of them. She “immediately replied” that, and before anybody thinks that’s just how in love with him she is and not the hormones, he adds “You know that I’ve stolen, I’ve lied, I’ve coveted…my virtue is all I have left.” He must be using “virtue” as a euphemism for “virginity,” because, you know, people with “virtue” don’t generally steal or kill. And somebody with physical power and money like he does has no need to resort to either against normal people. Not clearly legal or illegal, indeed. I know he belongs to a world with different rules, but his family tries so hard to blend in to the human world, so its rules apply to him too.

* Edward agrees to get down the wedding ring he plans to give her, which his father gave to his mother. That should seem really heartwarming, but I don’t think he means Carlisle and Esme and claims to remember so little about his biological family. In that light it comes off more like “I’m giving you this ring that some guy gave some girl who I dimly remember as being my parents. That’s romantic, right?”

Then again it must be, because we close on Edward proposing and Bella accepting. And remember, this is a “compromise.” How romantic.

Chapter 21 - Trails

* That really was a compromise, because Bella thinks about making a trip to Vegas to have a wedding that would last “no more than fifteen minutes at the most, right?” She’s cheapening what her soul mate wants so she can get to the short-lived, hormone-fueled thing she wants. True love!

* “Edward had more than enough camping gear to choose from -- props in the human charade; the Cullens were good customers at the Newton’s store.” Number one, nice spastic punctuation. Number two, that still sounds dumb considering how reclusive they are and how they’d be even more so during their “hiking” trips considering what they’re really up to. Number three, this finally answers a question I asked way back in the first book about the Cullens’ reputation with the local sporting goods providers considering their fondness for the “hiking” alibi. Way after I stopped hoping for answers on ANYTHING in these books.

* Bella tries to call Jacob to get their decoy operation going. Why does it need to be him? Maybe somebody a little more impartial? In any case he’s not home, but Billy promises to make sure he gets the message. He also wishes he could be out there fighting too. “The urge to fight must be a defining characteristic of the Y chromosome. They were all the same.” Fnck her. I wouldn’t even care about a remark like that if not for her vaunted maturity and intelligence. And it’s a billion and one times more interesting to read about than her response to problems.

* Then Alice gets all indignant at Bella, apparently having glimpsed the future of her going to the chapel of love for her wedding, and put out because Bella would choose to have the occasion in such a way that Alice doesn’t get to throw a big flashy party for it. “How could  you do this to me? I expect that kind of thing from Edward, but not from you. I love you like you were my own sister.” These, my friends, are Bella’s problems. Eventually Bella caves in because Meyer seems to see that as being self-sacrificing.

* Anyway, Alice also mentioned a storm somewhere in the area they’d be going. I have no idea how she’d know that since having a werewolf around cuts her off completely, right? Just how accurate is her vision? Even Bella calls it “blurred sight,” and she can’t be talking about having Jacob around because werewolves don’t blur what she sees, they totally lock her out. That’s the one thing Meyer’s consistent about: Alice can’t see futures involving things she’s never been. Period. Has even that changed?

* As they walk around having Bella set up a dummy scent trail for the newborns, Bella cuts herself and Edward calmly bandages it up for her like he’s not some kind of blood-drinking monster. He can do that now because that whole day where he thought she was dead  psychologically conditioned him to never do anything that could endanger her, like want to drink her blood. Still don’t see how that explains the SIX other vampires he lives with. And the 21st chapter of the next book was the first dynamic place you could find to work that in? Really, Meyer?

For that matter, in Edward’s own words, “I got over it.” That’s almost like it’s an admission of how half-assed the problem was in the first place and how Meyer’s trying to sweep it under the rug now.

“I didn’t know what to say to that.” How about something along the lines of, “Let’s stop treating inane developments like big ones”?

* Jacob shows up to spread werewolf BO to fool the newborns, and there’s a bunch of pointless blather about how they don’t like each other and aren’t happy to be working together, but anything for Bella.

* There’s a really confusing part around here where Jacob laughs that Edward got Bella a bauble to match the charm he gave her (“A rock. Figures.”). For some reason this makes Bella think back to Alice hearing about the engagement ring (“What’s one more diamond? Well, I guess the ring has lots of diamonds, but my point is that he’s already got one on --”), which leads to Bella freaking out because she starts thinking that Edward snuck a diamond onto her at some point. What in the hell…?!

* Jacob has a hopeless conversation where he tries to get Bella to realize she has no idea if Edward’s what she really wants. After a few pages he seems to give up and explains that the reason he’s the #2 guy of the pack is he was actually supposed to be the alpha instead of Sam because of superior heritage or some damn thing. If less energy went into the limp romance and more into the mythology and story, this might even enrich things.

He turned it down because he didn’t want the responsibility, and thus Sam’s the leader, not him. The chapter ends with the vital information that Edward managed to set up the tent.

Chapter 22 - Fire and Ice

* As Alice somehow predicted, a nasty storm hits and so does one of the dumbest title meanings in the series. Bella starts to freeze and as Spoony mentioned, rather than running back at super-speed to get a space heater and a generator, Edward, who’s just a cold rock, has to stand by and watch as Jacob cuddles up to Bella to keep her alive with his unaffected body heat.

The dumb thing is, Edward apparently did think of sending Jacob to get a space heater. “I’m not a St. Bernard,” wolf-boy retorts. Uh, how am I supposed to react? To think Edward was making a sarcastic quip? He’s ostensibly got the speed and strength to actually get one and bring it back quickly, and with all the other crap the Cullens have sitting around it’s kind of hard to believe they wouldn’t have that too. Or that they wouldn’t have gone out and bought it after coming up with a plan that involved hiding Bella in the mountains. Idiots.

* Since this is another chapter where Bella spends the whole time on the verges of consciousness, there’s not much else to say, except she does indeed survive the storm. Bet you were worried.

Chapter 23 - Monster

* The storm passes and since Bella doesn’t need her lupine heater blanket anymore, Edward unzips the sleeping bag violently, causing Jacob to roll onto the icy ground, then instinctively roll the other way and land on top of Bella. And then they’re about to fight until Bella stops them, with Edward stepping to defend her honor because Jacob was crushing her. It’s a good thing you’re pretty, Edward, because you’re a moron.

Bella even explains to him why that happened, and if Bella Swan gets to tell you what an idiot you are…

* Jacob needles Edward asking if seeing his girlfriend sleeping next to another guy made for the worst night of his life. Edward replies it didn’t, “But if I had been able to take your place last night, it would not have made the top ten of the best nights of my life.” With how sterile and lifeless their relationship is, what better nights are we talking about? I want to say the ones where he snuck into her bedroom before she knew he was a vampire. And that hardly speaks well of the impression these books have left.

* After the painful realization hits Bella that Jacob’s going to leave and join the fighting, she pleads with him to stay. Because our super-mature heroine has to have everything the way she wants it. We get reminded of this when they actually start talking about the best nights of Edward’s life, and how in the middle of the previous night she started muttering “my Jacob” in her sleep. That’s how she differentiates “Between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Between the Jacob I like and the one who annoys the hell out of me.”

Incidentally, all we hear about Edward’s best nights are that he’s spent them with Bella. Which doesn’t mean they weren’t when he was lurking unknown in her room.

* They list some of the Bella’s best nights, even if all this really does is reiterate that they’re supposed to be deeply in love and that Bella’s kind of an idiot. What I’m talking about is the night when they got back from their meeting with the Volturi and Bella thought she was dead or dreaming because Edward was there. Sayeth Edward, “I had no idea your dreams were so vivid. It took me forever to convince you that you were awake.” Can't say I’ve ever thought much about Bella’s connection to the real world, no.

* The air’s cut by a plaintive howl because Jacob was listening to their “romantic” little discussion. Bella says “I should save my energy to torment Jacob some more. I wouldn’t want to leave any part of him unharmed.” Before you complain I’m taking that out of context, she means she may as well finish the job with all the damage she’s already done to Jacob. “Every time I turn around, I’m hurting him again. I’m a hideous person.” This might generate some sympathy for her…if she wasn’t completely right.

Bella runs out to try to fix this, even though she stops when she realizes she has no idea how. She thinks she’s worthless yet she thinks she’s also in charge of making everything better. Again, this might generate sympathy for her if she wasn’t right about the first a lot more than about the second.

* Edward volunteers to go after Jacob so she can talk to him. Why does she care? Isn’t this the Jacob who, and I quote, “annoys the hell out of me”?

“The sound of his agony still cut at me, somewhere deep in my chest. Right beside was the other pain. Pain for feeling pain over Jacob. Pain for hurting Edward, too. For not being able to watch Jacob go with composure, knowing that it was the right thing, the only way. I was selfish. I was hurtful. I tortured the ones I loved.” Then stop moping about it and do something. Eventually feeling guilty just becomes whining. And it says a lot about the books’ ability to create drama that I expected her to compare herself to cheese again as I read that paragraph.

She mopes some more, thinking about what she’ll do if she does ask Edward to get Jacob, what she’ll do if he doesn’t agree to come back, and what if he does agree to come back. And also, “What if Edward decided to join in the fight?” Then maybe, dearie, you’d have to face the realization that you’re not the only person whose welfare matters to him. For all the crying and blame she lays on herself, I really can’t say I think she realizes how childish and needy she really is. Everything’s about her, and she knows it, even if she doesn’t realize it.

* I didn’t mention it before but Seth whoever is at the campsite, relaying mental messages to keep him safe like they talked about a while ago. He “jumped to his feet again suddenly, the hackles on the back of his neck standing up stiffly. I looked around, but saw nothing. If Seth didn’t cut it out, I was going to throw a pinecone at him.” Bitch. Because he’s interrupting your little pity party while a battle of life or death’s being fought by his friends?

I can understand Jacob’s attraction to Bella a lot more clearly all of a sudden, though. We hear about the Quileutes imprinting on toddlers and infants, and Bella acts like one.

* Edward does leave for a minute and Jacob does come back to hash things out with her. She asks him to stay with her, he rather reasonably asks why he should give up the rare chance to finally do his duty and kill some vampires when all he’s going to get for doing so is to be ditched for Edward again as soon as things calm down. Spitefully saying he might as well just throw himself into the fray, sure to take a few vampires with him before he goes down so there'll be nothing to stand in the way of Bella being with sparkleboy.

She pulls out her ace and asks him to kiss her. Two-timing bitch. He does, getting forceful again, but when Bella tries to resist, she realizes that as always she doesn’t mean it. She really does love Jacob too. “I felt joy, too, and yet his happiness was also somehow pain.” Probably because she can’t pick both of them. And even though she has some kind of vision where she sees what might have been if she’d stuck with Jacob including their kids, she’s stuck it out with Edward too long for there to be any believable chance she’d change her mind now. Sorry, Steph.

He promises to be back, gives her a brief but meaningful kiss he says should have been their first one, and then he’s gone.

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