Monday, May 7, 2012

Breaking Down, Book One: Bella, Chapters 2 - 5

Chapter 2 - Long Night (You’re Telling Me)

* Things open on Bella telling us how awesome it is to kiss someone like Edward, and how she still can’t believe he acts like she’s “the prize rather than the outrageously lucky winner.” Seriously? Still? It’s like she deliberately refuses to grow as a person.

“I never got over the shock of how perfect his body was -- white, cool, and polished as marble.” I’m sorry, but I don’t see the appeal of cuddling up with a statue. Could somebody explain that to me? Is it something you are or you aren’t?

* Then I get confused because Bella mentions how some kind of “glitch” in her brain keeps Edward out as much as she’d love to let him in. As if she does suddenly care about bringing new people up to speed. Also, you’re not fooling anyone, Steph. The only things wrong with Bella are the ones the characters never acknowledge.

* It turns out Edward’s skipping his bachelor party to be with her, kissing. I’m sorry but is that all they do? I bet if I got the chance to ask Meyer she’d say part of being a vampire is you don’t get bored with the things you enjoy anymore.

“Bachelor parties are designed for those who are sad to see the passing of their single days.” How enlightened of him. Of course if you didn’t want your single days to end, all you’d have to do is…not get married. Sounds like someone with the wisdom of ages, all right.

Then they discuss getting intimate, but Edward gets antsy because he’s afraid of hurting her. She assures him she’ll be fine, but her thoughts betray something other than faith: “He wasn’t getting out of this deal. Not after insisting I marry him first.” Yeah.

* More blathering about all the things and people Bella would be giving up by becoming one of the sparkly dead. Which is all perfectly valid, and not just hot air put in an attempt to create drama by an author who can’t stand to actually put her Sue in an uncomfortable spot.

Some more blather about how Bella isn’t entirely looking forward to finally meeting the Alaskan vampires at her wedding. Because they’re friends with the Cullens and are bound to be so beautiful and blah-de blah-de blah. Steph, if you honestly think I think Tanya’s going to say anything at all except Bella and Edward are the perfect couple and she couldn’t be happier to see this union taking place despite not even knowing the girl…

* Bella remembers Carlisle explaining to her the tragic history of the Alaskan vampires. I’m sure it’s all very heartfelt stuff, but you know what would be even better development for the peripheral characters? Not making them peripheral characters. And with how much they’ve been talked about as being the Cullens’ best buddies, it’s kind of mystifying we’re only about to see them for the first time, isn’t it?

Anyway, to explain this without recanting every single detail, their mother turned a little boy into a vampire. He was so beautiful and enchanting he couldn’t be resisted (because vampires are pretty. Have I ever told you that, Bella?) Because vampires are frozen in time, however, kids turned into vampires act exactly like hyperactive kids with awesome physical powers and the Volturi made it against the rules to let kids be vampires for the sake of their secrecy. So they had to kill the Alaskans’ mom along with the kid vampire.

Then Bella has some kind of dream or prophetic vision or something (I’m honestly curious whether her dreams about werewolves and this are meant to be visions or just Bella’s overactive imagination going into hyper drive. The chapter summary in the guidebook doesn’t even mention it). It’s of an impossibly beautiful child that she feels she must protect from the approaching Volturi, even though when she gets closer she sees him sitting atop the corpses of the kids from school we don’t care about, and Charlie and Renee. Yes, I’m sure something even remotely like that will happen.

If you guessed this was mainly awkward setup to involve the Volturi later, well…these books aren’t too hard to peg, are they?

Chapter 3 - Formality To The Saix

* Bella wakes up feeling “a little annoyed with myself. What a dream to have the night before my wedding!” Those kinds of dreams seem the norm for her. And if she’s annoyed thinking that, maybe it’s time to try to stop wallowing in her delusions of inadequacy? Somehow I don’t see that with Bella meeting Charlie over breakfast, and Charlie admitting that he has “the lesser ordeal” having to wear a tux because Alice is going to be dolling Bella up all day. And boy, don’t those girls sound like the best of friends?

Also for some reason it’s pointed out that “Charlie had taken the entire day off for the wedding”. Um, yeah? I can understand Charlie wanting to spend as little time with his daughter and the Cullens as possible, but I don’t think that’s what Steph meant. When my kids get married, I sure as hell don’t plan to only be there for a little while. Then again this is Bella thinking this, and all indicators point to her wanting this over with as soon as possible so she can finally get some nookie.

* After Alice works on Bella for a while, Rosalie shows up “in a shimmery silver gown with her gold hair piled up in a soft crown on top of her head. She was so beautiful it made me want to cry.” Then cry. Admit you’re a whiny little baby no matter what you’re dealing with after all.

Also, what the hell do I know about fashion design, but silver clothes always sound really chintzy when I read about them. “Piled” doesn’t sound the least bit glamorous, either.

* Most of the rest of the chapter is endless goings on meant to show everyone’s enjoying this but Bella. And all the luxurious crap being heaped on her for being alive.

Like Charlie and Renee present her with silver combs from her grandma. The jewels used to be paste, but for the occasion they were replaced with real sapphires. “Alice wouldn’t let us do anything else. Every time we tried, she all but ripped our throats out.”

So wait, who was shelling out for real sapphires? It almost sounds like Alice forced Bella’s parents to pay for it.

Also, yeah, Alice is definitely not Bella’s friend. Bella hates this dress up stuff, and Alice must know that, and she makes Bella indulge her because she knows Bella won’t say no and Edward thinks too much of her for some reason to make her lay off his girlfriend.

* As soon as she’s next to Edward, Bella’s mind goes numb, as usual, and she takes about a page and a half to sum up the entire ceremony, only really snapping out of it when it’s time to kiss. Then they kiss, and her obligation to Edward is fulfilled and she can get to the part she really wants. How romantic.

Chapter 4 - I Don’t Care What You Say, Jacob’s Not Your Best Friend. He’s Just A Bigger Doormat Than You Are To Keep Coming Back

* “It was just twilight over the river”. I see what you did there, Steph.

* On to the reception, and some of the Quileutes are in attendance. Bella thinks about their deal, that there would be peace only as long as the Cullens never created another vampire. “Before the alliance, it would have meant an immediate attack. A war.” Thank you for spelling that out. “But now that they knew each other better, would there be forgiveness instead?” Or would the Cullens say fnck it, pack up all their suitcases of money and move someplace a couple guys from a reservation in rain-soaked Washington state wouldn’t bother to pursue them? If it would bug the Quileutes that much, why do they only stay where they are and protect it from the vampires that happen to wander onto their territory? Maybe it’s just me being dubious about how damn special Bella is, but it seems kind of far-fetched to me that the Cullens vamping Edward’s wife would be what finally decides to make them go on the offensive and go chasing after vampires.

“As if in response to that thought, Seth leaned toward Edward, arms extend. Edward returned the hug with his free arm.” Sounds like you’re not even kidding yourself anymore, Steph. “Perhaps a stronger truce was on the horizon.” Again, why would the Cullens be so attached to this particular piece of ground except that simply leaving would be a copout unless the author was suddenly willing to make an effort? It’s official that they don’t just live in Forks, they move somewhere else when they’ve been in one place too long for their lack of aging to go unnoticed anymore.

* Mentions are made of Bella’s human “friends,” but you don’t care about that so let’s skip to the Alaskan’s. They don’t actually say Bella and Edward are the perfect couple, but they do happily accept Bella into their extended family, since they consider the Cullens part of their family (then why do they live so far apart?). They also apologize profusely for not helping to fight the newborns and don’t say why. See you later, Alaskans.

* Bella graciously dances with Charlie while “Edward and Esme spun around us like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.” Because lots of teens in the 21st century know who they are. I don’t mean Bella, I mean the target audience.

* Anyway she dances with Edward next and still refuses to believe how beautiful she is, until they look at a mirror and she sees “a dark-haired beauty at his side.” It’s only after laying out everything great about that beauty (the only thing Bella seems any good at) before she realizes it’s her. See?? She was beautiful all along! Which just makes all the denials that much more annoying. I’m just saying, even if you say over and over your character isn’t a Sue, that doesn’t mean they’re not. When has that stopped Steph yet, though?

* “Before I could blink and make the beauty turn back into me,” Edward reveals a surprise for her has shown up. Then suddenly she’s not dancing with him anymore, Jacob is. They get away somewhere private and soon they’re laughing and joking and Bella thinks she’s never done anything to deserve a friend like Jacob, so basically seeing what a beautiful person she is was pointless after all.

As always, though, things get sour when Jacob asks when she’s going to get turned into a vampire, she says probably after their honeymoon, and he implies it’s going to be a pretty lame honeymoon if hitting the sheets would kill her. He makes a crack about them spending the whole time playing checkers, but hell, that’d be something. All they freaking do is kiss and lounge around in each other’s arms. I don’t care who I’m with, I wouldn’t want to spend eternity just doing that.

Things get really ugly when he realizes she fully intends to bum chicka bow wow with Edward as a human. “You can’t be that stupid!” he demands. Uh, yeah she can, and yeah she is. Maybe Bella really is smart, but what’s the point of having something you never use?

Edward comes in and angrily demands Jacob get away from her, and the other Quileutes help break it up, even wolfing out. Are they somewhere with a backdoor they can sneak out of in their remaining rags?

Edward says they need to get back before anyone misses them, and Bella for her part asks herself how anyone could’ve missed that. “Then, as I thought about it, I realized the confrontation that had seemed so catastrophic to me had, in reality, been very quiet and short here in the shadows.” And that’s why I’m not involved in her problems, and don’t believe anything anyone says about her.

* Edward tries to calm her down. “Jacob is way too prejudiced to see anything clearly.”  Uh, Eddie? He got mad over something you’ve been worrying about too, which is how you’re going to please your wife in bed without turning her into a greasy smear. Maybe Edward didn’t hear the whole conversation, but with how super-awesome vampires have super-awesome senses, I doubt it.

And I will remind everyone that Meyer claims she writes these books for children, and they were talking about doing the bump and grind.

* Alice then interrupts and asks if they want to miss their plane. “I’m sure you’ll have a lovely honeymoon camped out in the airport waiting for another flight.” I’m a little surprised they’re not saying they own a private plane. Good surprise, though.

Sayeth Bella as they leave, “ ‘Thank you, Alice. It was the most beautiful wedding anyone ever had,’ I told her earnestly. ‘Everything was exactly right.’ ” Because Bella was totally paying attention to anything. Where’s the friendship between these two?

* Then it’s finally enough of this crap, and time for the honeymoon.

Chapter 5 - First Day Of Forever And Already They’re Arguing About How They Can Spend It

* They end up in Rio de Janeiro, and then we get this informed little tidbit.  “The taxi continued through the swarming crowds until they thinned somewhat, and we appeared to be nearing the extreme western edge of the city, heading into the ocean.” Because Meyer wanted to get all foreign and exotic but couldn't be bothered to learn the first thing about reading a map, apparently.

* After hopping in an insanely luxurious boat they cruise out into the ocean and Bella asks where they’re going. “ ‘A gift from Carlisle--Esme offered to let us borrow it.’ A gift? Who gives an island as a gift?” Someone annoyingly wealthy with no common sense? Come on, how many fake identities do you really want to keep up at the same time?

* “He set the suitcases on the deep porch to open the doors--they were unlocked.” It’s an island. Not exactly down the street from the Kwik-E-Mart.

Also, I don’t know about Bella, but it seems to me one of the major elements of committing crimes is having a dependable means of escape if you get caught, and there aren’t a lot of places to hide out on open water.

Even if you owned a private island, would you keep anything worth stealing there when you hardly ever go there? This is the first we’ve heard of Isle Esme, and it’s never once been brought to our attention that Carlisle and Esme disappeared for a few days with Bella not knowing where they went. Then again it’s not like Bella’s ever been a narrator worth her salt.

“The room was big and white, and the far wall was mostly glass--standard décor for my vampires.” And with the main reason they’re different, that makes total sense with lots of windows to let the sun in…

* “Had there ever been a honeymoon like this before? I kenw the answer to that. No. There had not.” Cuz yer so speshul. There’s never, EVER been another vampire who fell in love with a human and it played out like this.

Also, Bella complains of the heat. They have power at this place, as we’ll see, but no AC? Not even for the sake of keeping up appearances with the cleaning staff? And they have cleaning staff.

* Edward suggests a dip, but leaves Bella alone to prepare. She digs a little through her bags and “it came to my attention that there was an awful lot of sheer lace and skimpy satin in my hands. Lingerie. Very lingerie-ish lingerie, with French tags.” In a kids book.

Again, I fail to see how this is “clean”. You could make that claim if the scene was a little ambiguous (Bella and Edward are kissing then the lights fade out to them in the kitchen the next morning), but Meyer does everything BUT include the actual sex. Jacob gets angry at finding out Bella’s going to perform erotic acts that could kill her. Bella and Edward go skinny dipping. The morning after the bedroom’s destroyed and Bella feels like some kind of boneless organism. Alice packed lingerie for Bella, for crying out loud.

Eurlgh! Another girl bought racy underwear with Bella Swan in mind. To entice Edward Cullen into having sex with her. I just threw up in my mouth a little.

* So. She follows Edward out to the beach. They go skinny dipping. They talk some about how in love they are and how beautiful the other is. Then things head upstairs and take their course. Offscreen, but nonetheless, in a kids book.

* I could describe the morning after, but I already did, except for Bella’s bruises. Edward’s upset wit himself, but Bella of course sees no reason at all not to do that again exactly like they just did. I wouldn’t even mind if she was actually made out to be a wangsty, hormonal teen instead of anything but. Well, I probably would, but I’d at least give the books points for honesty.

She keeps insisting she’s happy about last night so much that she yells “Why can’t you just read my mind already? It’s so inconvenient to be a mental mute!” That’s a relatable problem! To have to resort to communicating your thoughts to your significant other like some kind of normal person!

“You are killing my buzz, Edward.”

* Edward asked Carlisle what making the beast with two backs was like for vampires, and was told not to take it lightly. “With our rarely changing temperaments, strong emotions can alter us in permanent ways.” Now just hold the damn phone. Which is it, frozen in time or alterable in permanent ways?

Jasper and Emmett told him it was like drinking human blood. “But I’ve tasted your blood, and there could be no blood more potent than that…” Stop me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like they’re trying to come to some kind of understanding. Maybe it’d help to take a somewhat objective look at things? Drop the smarmy hyperbole for once? “I don’t think they were wrong, really. Just that it was different for us. Something more.” Or we could just go along with the assumption that Bella and Edward are special snowflakes doing things nobody’s ever done in the history of forever.

“It was more. It was everything,” Bella adds. Okay now you just shut up, lady. You lost your virginity doing that. You don’t know nothing. This is like when she thought she knew everything in the midst of her first relationship with someone of the opposite sex in her entire life.

* They do seem to get over it and think about breakfast, but Bella has one last thought. “My skin marked up easily. By the time a bruise showed I’d usually forgotten how I’d come by it.” Wouldn’t that mean her bruises would appear more quickly, which would make her even more of a short attention-spanned idiot?

“I sat in one of the two metal chairs and started snarfing down the eggs.” Pardon me, but isn’t that “scarfing”? I admit I haven’t been a teenager in a while but I don’t think Meyer ever was. She comments this is pretty good considering he doesn’t eat. “Food Network,” he replies. Did they start watching after Bella started hanging around? I’m just asking because when they had dinner in the first one it seemed like it was the first time they’d actually used the kitchen since moving in. And while we’re on the subject, if they never cook, do they have an alibi for why the gas works never get any money from them?

And while we’re on the subject of secrecy, Bella asks where the eggs came from. “I asked the cleaning crew to stock the kitchen a first for this place.” I’m just saying, I got the impression the cleaners didn’t know about the vampire thing before coming by while Edward and Bella were there. But then I’ve never bought the Cullens’ act.

We go out on Edward promising never to hurt Bella again. So make her like you, dude. She’ll have all eternity to go to Dartmouth, and it’s not like the bribe put a noticeable dent in your checkbook. But if he did that we would’ve been spared the moronic wrap-up of this “saga.”

* Boy that was 75 pages well-spent.

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