Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Breaking Down, Chapters 6 - 9

Chapter 6 - There Should be Laws Against This Much Nothing In One Book

* “My entertainment became the number-one priority on Isle Esme.” Ha ha, became! Who do you think you’re kidding, Steph?

* “I knew what was going on. He was trying to keep me busy, distracted, so that I wouldn’t continue badgering him about the sex thing.” So stop. It’d be one thing if the story didn’t make an effort to portray Bella as something more than your average dramatic teenager…

“Whenever I tried to talk him into talking it easy with one of the million DVDs under the big-screen plasma TV,” (Isn’t it awesome that the Cullens have things like that?? It’s awesome, right???) “he would lure me out of the house with magic words like coral reefs and submerged caves and sea turtles. We were going, going, going all day, so that I found myself completely famished and exhausted when the sun eventually set.” They’re not even comfortable enough to sit on the couch and chill, Edward has to keep her constantly distracted so that dreaded topic doesn’t come up. How long’s that going to work even on a space case like Bella? Actually, probably a while, if “magic words” like those are enough to throw her off for an entire day. And hell, a glance at his perfect face always dissipates all annoyance she might be feeling toward Eddie.

Bella, you suck.

* Bella tries harder to seduce Edward, trying to make more use of the lingerie and “scanty bikinis” Alice packed for her. Oh god, stop giving me details on Bella’s plans to seduce Edward.

She tries to get him to give on the sex by being willing to hold off on being transformed, saying she’d like to go to Dartmouth and have some “human experiences,” but Edward sees right through it. “You are so human, Bella. Ruled by your hormones.” Wait, so what’s her deal supposed to be?

Eventually Bella starts to freak about the Volturi coming for her, and that with her sheer aura of desperation seems to overwhelm Edward enough for them to do the nasty again. Bella of course feels guilty, but Edward blows it off. “So you seduced your all-too-willing husband. That’s not a capital offense.” The same husband who refused to do it, refused to cut any sort of deal that would include it. How wishy-washy can you get?? Edward’s hardly been able to think of Bella’s own good even while he’s thinking of Bella’s own good before, though. At least she’s consistent about that.

* Bella realizes that getting laid has made her genuinely want to try college as a human and hold off on being turned. And if you think that’s honestly going to go anywhere, I’m going to have to assume you haven’t been paying attention.

* Bella goes to watch a movie while Edward goes to let the cleaners in (“They had more DVDs than a rental store”). I worked at a Blockbuster for a while. We were always getting asked for movies we didn’t have. I’m tempted to say the selection of a rental store’s really not that great, and it’s a lame-sounding comparison to make anyway. Maybe if she’d said, “They had more DVDs than an Amazon warehouse”…

Perhaps more pertinently, Bella’s interests pretty much shrank to Edward Cullen as soon as she moved to Forks. How long’s it been since she was even inside a video rental place? I’d say New Moon but it’s hard to imagine even Bella Swan turning DVD-watching into a life-threatening experience.

Also I just have to love the line that says Edward was talking to the cleaners “in what I assumed was perfect Portuguese.” Because Edward’s perfect. Edward knows everything. She just assumes that by now. Except we’re going to see a huge example of his deficiencies in the very near future.

* One of the cleaners, an indigenous lady, apparently tells Edward, to his face yet, that she thinks he’s something called a “libishomen.” That is, “a blood-drinking demon who preys exclusively on beautiful women.” You might think that the Cullens don’t care about letting these people know they’re vampires, but this sounds like this is the first time the people who clean the beach house have ever had cause to think this.

Also, I can’t find anything about a “libishomen,” so I’ll just quote what a TV tropes commenter had to say: “In Breaking Dawn, a Brazilian cleaning woman recognizes Edward as a "libishomen". Ignoring the fact that it's Lobisomem, that particular Portuguese myth is a werewolf and not a vampire. To make matters worse, the lobisomem looks like a man-ape, so it should have been impossible for Edward Cullen to be recognized as one."

Why exactly is she telling the guy who she thinks is a monster, that she thinks he’s a monster, though? Her concern is for the could-not-be-more-obviously-pregnant-if-you--built-a-50-foot-neon-sign-next-to-her Bella, who doesn’t speak her language, yeah. But what purpose is telling the monster he’s a monster meant to serve? I dunno, what if she was right? Won’t that just double the body count so she doesn’t go home and tell her people the guys who own that island are libishomens? She’s not, I know, but what IS the thinking? Is there any?

* Apparently it doesn’t even matter that this might be the love nest of a demon, since the cleaners just come in and get to work. Boy I wish I could say I was surprised. Within a page Bella forgets they’re even there and ponders sex again, which they leave to have.

Chapter 7 - It Took This Long For the Plot to Get Started, Aren’t You Filled With Confidence?

 * Bella has another nightmare about the Volturi, and I don’t care how many times you tell me otherwise, until you show them being scary, I’m not going to believe you when you say they are.

“And then, like a burst of light from a flash, the whole scene was different.” Just for the record, that’s what a flash is. A burst of light.

She wakes up to find a note from Edward that he went to the mainland to hunt. Guess it would’ve been too mean to have him eat one of those cute porpoises Bella went diving with in the last chapter.

“We seemed to exist outside of time here, just drifting along in a perfect state.” Imagine the impact of that same sentence coming from someone not disconnected from reality as the rule and not the exception. She totally forgot about other people being in the house because she was getting horny again in the last chapter, remember? Ditto for when she watches CNN later and notes “we’d been so out of touch, world war three could have broken out and we wouldn’t have known.”

* More signs of impending about-to-be-a-mommy-ness. Bella gets nauseated by food and decides she doesn’t want to go back “to the hot room.” So turn on the AC? Do they seriously not have that? They have plenty of things to make them look normal at their house in Forks nobody visits, why the hell would they skimp on the charade on a property normal people actually do come to? Why do I even ask anymore?

Guess not, since when Edward gets back he promises, “I’ll have an air conditioner installed before I leave again.” Edward, I’d say you suck at foresight, but it sounds like your dad sucks at it too since this is his and his wife’s private retreat. Next you’ll tell me Edward forgot to get a bed for the house he bought near Dartmouth for them (because he did. Buy a house there).

* Bella realizes her period’s late, and yanks her shirt up. “I had absolutely no experience with pregnancy or babies or any part of that world, but I wasn’t an idiot.” You don’t need me to say anything by now, do you? “I’d seen enough movies and TV shows to know that this wasn’t how it worked.” Well, if you’re going by sensationalized Hollywood depictions, maybe you are an idiot. I can’t help myself, can I?

She moans to herself, “there was no way I could be pregnant. The only person I’d ever had sex with was a vampire, for crying out loud.” It’s like she somehow tapped into the author’s mind and got used to there being no consequences to anything, and got complacent.

She remembers her research on vampires from the first book, and stuff like succubi and incubi. Then she thinks about Rosalie’s frustrations about not getting to experience motherhood, and realizes there is a difference between the two of them.

Damn. Now I really have to ask what the Cullens do with their immortality. Carlisle’s been alive for three and a half centuries. Apparently neither he nor even the Volturi, the oldest of whom have been alive for somewhere around thirty centuries, have ever asked what happens if a male vampire has sex with a human woman (hell, if a male human has sex with a female vampire). No, it’s just nothing happens when vampires have sex with each other, so nothing could possibly happen if a vampire has sex with a non-vampire.

I don’t know, but Carlisle gets kind of excited at getting to study something like this when they get home. You’d think at some point it would’ve occurred to him, and it’s not like he’s lacking for time to run scenarios or come up with a list of what-ifs. If not for that, I almost could’ve believed this just never occurred to anybody in the book.

* I know it’s said that normal vampires wouldn’t have the restraint to have sex with a human and not drink their blood, but that ties into two of the books’ shortcomings. One is that we spend all our time with the Cullens, and the other is that because Bella’s the POV character we hardly ever see non-veggie vampires. Even the non-veggies we see tend to come across as civil and restrained. Aside from Jasper’s slip in New Moon, the Cullens can talk all they want about how hard they have to fight their urges. But after a while all the civil, restrained vampires make civility seem like the norm, and that makes sparklepires as a species look pretty safe except when they take a direct interest in killing a specific person.

Because being around vampires seems so safe on the whole, it seems kind of weird nobody would ever get the desire to have a liaison with a warm body again, just to remember what it’s like. And if so, then it seems kind of weird nobody knows that impregnation with humans is possible.

* Alarmed, Edward calls Carlise, and Bella isn’t sure how she’ll talk to him. “Would he laugh at my conclusions, tell me I was crazy?” Does that sound like the guy who invented feeding on animals because he thinks enough of humans not to want to kill them or vampify them if they still have lives to live?

* I will admit that there’s a nice bit here, and it’s the revelation that she’s going to have a baby causes Bella to grow up a little. Think that maybe there is in fact more to life than Edward’s perfect face and Edward’s perfect dick. That maybe being caretaker for a life is a good thing.

Granted, very little’s actually done with it, but having that moment was kind of nice.

* Bella then wonders why Edward’s suddenly so angry, and “I was sure I had it. He must be so worried about the baby. I hadn’t gotten around to freaking out yet. “My brain worked slower than his.” Oh and he’s gotten so much use of it, hasn’t he? He just overthinks everything, doesn’t he?

* Sure he does, since he immediately identifies Bella’s fetus as a threat to her and decides for her that Carlisle’s going to get it out. I suppose I’m meant to be appalled at Edward immediately deciding to do this with no input from her, but let’s us be reasonable if we’re going to ask the characters to be. This is something totally unexpected (however dumb that is), something he has no idea how to deal with, and something that could very well kill his wife. He’s protecting his dearest loved one from a bad spot he put her in. I haven’t got an opinion on abortion, but I don’t know that I totally disagree with him here.

* The cleaning lady shows up and starts yelling at Edward, implicitly over what’s happening Bella (who cares?). And it goes on for a little while even though, as usual, our POV character is totally out of the loop. She says things like Edward starts to sound pleading and begging but that’s of pretty limited usefulness when we have no idea what’s being said. Keep it short and to the point, okay?

We do actually hear one word of the conversation. “Morte.” “I knew enough Spanish for that one.” What if I don’t? What if I’m a tweener who thinks studying foreign languages is stupid? These books were, theoretically, being marketed to that age group, right?)

* “As if I could discount something because it was a legend. My life was circled by legend on every side. They were all true.” No, is that what all the vampires and lupine shapeshifters mean? The first sentence would’ve said plenty by itself. So we’re going from no help, right to too much.

Incidentally, didn’t she have a line somewhere back where she was flat-out annoyed with how many legends were turning out to be true? Hell, I seem to remember at one point she was dismissive of the Quileute legends of werewolves, and that was after she found out vampires are real. Yeah, not being dismissive of legends when you live up to your neck in them makes sense, but when did that start happening for Bella?

* Close out Book One on Bella tearfully calling Rosalie for help. It doesn’t say what for, but I bet you don’t have to guess it’s bribing Rosalie for protection with the promise of a baby around the house.

Book Two: Jacob, Chapter 9 - Waiting For the Damn Fight to Start Already

* “Preface - Life sucks, and then you die. Yeah, I should be so lucky.”

Um, what in the hell??

* As the heading indicates, we now switch over to Jacob’s perspective. Implicitly, this and the epilogue to Eclipse were in response to readers who didn’t like Jacob to help them understand him better.

Also, rather than Bella’s brief and often tangential chapter titles, well, that really is the title of the chapter, not one of the snarky ones I’ve been substituting.

* We open on Jacob griping that some werewolf named Paul has imprinted on Jacob’s sister that I don’t remember ever hearing about. Durrr, I wonder where Steph could be going with this after we just found out Bella’s pregnant!

* Jacob’s griping wanders off into what convenient excuse the Cullens will use for Bella not coming back from her honeymoon, or if they’ll even bother and just suddenly disappear into thin air one morning. He fantasizes about getting the pack and going out to get the Cullens (fantasizing because he’s already been turned down by the others). The thought’s a sweet one because he knows Edward well enough to know that if he does get any of the others, Edward will come after him without a thought. Because Edward over thinks everything, and never seizes upon his first emotional impulse.

* Then Jacob goes to see another werewolf who’s playing with the girl he’s imprinted on. The little girl. Who just turned three. Ewwwww. I don’t care how Meyer tries to justify this, this is a grown man grooming a girl who can’t even tie her shoes yet to grow up to be his wife. Ewwwww.

Also, the other werewolf’s child bride “pulled his hair like a horse’s reigns.” A reign with a G is something you can’t touch, so no. Think about it like this: once upon a time there was a cartoon called Reign. It was about Alexander the Great. What spelling of the word do you think was intended?

Jacob says the werewolf’s way more jazzed than any parent would be to play “stupid kiddie games” with his underage paramour. What does that even mean, that Jacob’s just a cynical bastard who doesn’t know what parenthood’s like? Or is that true, because the child the book focuses on is mentally older than her parents within a few weeks of being born? I’m just asking because in the next chapter Jacob makes some surprisingly accurate observations, implying he has a pretty good handle on life in the real world.

Anyway, the other werewolf suggests that maybe Jacob trying to get a date, or a life. So what’s the message on that one? Is the series finally admitting how pathetic its main characters are for obsessing over Bella?

* Sam howls for the pack to gather, and Jake runs off, wolfing out with a “silent shimmer that made me something else.” Uh, listen, it’s cold! Shimmers are light, they’re visual. These couple chapters are making me wonder if Steph understands what light is.

The meeting’s because they’ve heard Bella’s back from her honeymoon and suffering from some kind of “rare disease in South America,” wink wink. None of them but Jacob want to attack, though, since they don’t have any proof. How law-abiding for a bunch of mystical warriors. Kind of calls all that car theft and such on the Cullens’ parts into focus, maybe?

Sam hits Jacob below the belt asking “Are you sure this is what you want? Is it really the right thing? We all know what she wanted.” Even after saving her from diving off a cliff. As they say, Jacob’s probably just a glutton for punishment.

Then Seth hits Jacob below the belt, asking what Jacob’s going to do when Bella fights on the Cullens’ side. I wonder if his opinion of her’s colored by his opinion of Edward, as if becoming a vampire makes you tough. I kinda see Bella curling up into a ball as her mind shuts down at the horrific spectacle of two factions she both considers friends fighting. Like she has every single time something bad’s happened.

“She’s not Bella anymore,” Jacob retorts. Who is Bella, exactly? Even the author’s said she avoided describing Bella more than she had to in order to make it easier to insert yourself into her shoes.

* “Nope, the pack wasn’t attacking anyone today. But I was.”

Over Bella.

Chapter 9 - Sure As Hell Didn’t See That One Coming
* You were the only one, Jake.

* Jacob retreats back to his place where he talks to his dad about his newly-revealed sister, and we hear “It’s hard -- the girls were older than you when your mom passed,” and if not for her new boyfriend “she probably would have taken off again real quick. Maybe that was why Billy didn’t kick him out.” Gee, it seems like she was only introduced to also introduce some quick pathos. Also seems like the author still thinks a guy’s the only thing that matters to a girl.

Oh, and also sayeth Billy, “She’d rather sleep on the floor than lose you.” Show it. Let us see this character’s face. Let us see how she acts toward Jacob that she feels close to him. With all the space Meyer had to work with, is that asking so much?

* Jacob heads over to the Cullen house, planning his strategy (mainly forcing his way in, seeing Bella and wolfing out so the others can have their evidence and attack), but Carlisle politely meets him at the door. “Carlisle was just so…human or something.” So please tell me and tell me true, Steph, what a sparklepire is. With all the space Meyer had to work with, is that asking so much?

* Carlisle lets Jacob in since he’s not an evil lord of the night, and Jake sees Bella really for real is sick, it wasn’t just a story. Also, Rosalie’s hovering around her protectively because this is the only chance she’ll get to be this close to being a mom. Even Edward points out in a bit, “Bella’s life means nothing to her.” Which Bella’s exploiting. I dunno, maybe if these books actually had complex morality instead of just pretending they did, that’d work.

Rosalie, or “blondie” as Jacob takes to calling her (it’s not like she deserves something more flattering) “was easier to ignore than I ever would have dreamed.” Wait til you’ve seen things from my side, Mr. Black.

* Jacob and Bella talk, with Bella snapping, “sounding a little more like the way she usually talked to me.” Oh you guys are such good friends.

More striking than that his how massively, how quickly, Bella’s got pregnant. “There was no way she could be pregnant. Not that pregnant. Except that she was.” Even a werewolf’s chained by ideas of normalcy.

Edward takes Jacob aside and explains why nobody’s done anything about this fetus, which is plainly killing its mother. Bella won’t let them. “Jeez, she was running true to form. Of course, die for the monster spawn. It was so Bella.” In a little bit we also get, “Make Bella see sense? What universe do you live in?” Although if you kind of think about it, that kind of awareness coupled with Meyer writing Bella in a minimalist fashion could be read as “Bella thinks this/acts this way because it’s the easiest way to advance the plot.”

It’s a little bit nice the author seems to be acknowledging the shortcomings of her story, but you’d think she might take the opportunity to fix it. This is a perfect chance for everybody to grow up and fill out as characters. At the very least, she could explain why it’s laudable that Bella’s always so willing to throw her life away. Or when Edward says Jacob couldn’t possibly hate him as much as he hates himself.

* Then Edward does something that’s earned him a lot more condemnation, but again this time…I’m not so sure.

He tries to get Jacob to talk Bella into aborting the baby, with the alternative of having “puppies” with Jacob instead. Who presumably won’t eat her from the inside out. Although I don't see any particular reason their wolf mojo couldn't manifest right in Bella's womb since she'd still be married to Edward and presumably still surrounded by vampires. Oh, like big, mature Bella could stand to be separated from Edward for nine months, and like Edward could resist the urge to be around to do everything for her, no matter how good an idea that would be.

The thing is, Edward doesn’t say that as a derogatory remark when he says it. He comes across as pretty desperate to save his wife’s life if that’s what it takes.

I don’t know if he’d be forcing his will on her if his family hadn’t lined up behind Bella, but…I believe for this moment he wants to save her. Besides, at literally every turn, Bella’s shown she needs to be protected from herself even more than all the vampires after her. I hate both of these characters, but Bella’s history of poor judgment and pointless attempts at sacrifice add up to a bigger negative on her side. And if I were reading this for the first time, how would I know what kind of hellspawn she’d be stubbornly releasing upon the world? This isn’t exactly Rosemary’s Baby, where you can sympathize with the character and get some inkling of why she loves her child even though he’s the frigging antichrist. Bella’s the idiot’s idiot and I’ve had, I think, good cause to hate her since she landed in Forks. Edward kind of wins by default.

* Jacob agrees to Edward’s plan, although I’m not sure if it’s the one to abort the fetus or to kill Edward when the baby kills her.

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