Friday, June 22, 2012

Breaking Down, Book Two: Jacob, Chapter 14 - 18

Chapter 14 - You Know Things Are Bad When You Feel Guilty For Being Rude to Vampires

* Aren’t those Cullens great?!

* Jacob gets back from running the perimeter, and “Someone had laid out clothes. Huh. Edward must have caught my moment of irritation as I’d bolted out the door. Well. That was…nice. And weird.” That the unfathomably wealthy white people dipped into some of their unfathomable wealth to make sure he’s not walking around with his dork hanging out? When he’s supposed to be helping Bella be as un-upset as possible?

Also, do the description of Jacob’s borrowed clothes, and who they probably belong to, merit an entire paragraph? Seven whole sentences?

Gah, these books are stupid.

* I almost want to say Steph really was finally wising up to how dumb her story her was by this point, when Jacob goes inside and sees Bella wrapped up in so many blankets she looked like a giant burrito.

I almost want to say that.

* He’s unsure of why she looks so happy to see him. “Happily married, too--there was no question that she was in love with her vampire past the boundaries of sanity.” Or maybe she was just insane, and it happened to manifest in an obsession with some perfect pretty boy. SDT, Meyer. Don’t try to hide behind your guidebook when you can’t be bothered to show something this integral to the plot in all the space you gave yourself.

* Also, “It bugged me a little, but for no good reason,” that Edward was able to pick up on Jacob’s thoughts that no attack is forthcoming even though Jake was about three miles out.

I know, I know, what Jacob probably meant by it is he’s not sure how to feel about Edward saying his thoughts are easier to pick up on because Edward’s getting more familiar with Jacob. Of course what it sounds like is how far-reaching Edward’s ability to be totally invasive is, and Jacob not being able to come up with a reason to be repulsed by the notion. That would make all the breaking and entering seem less romantic, doncha know.

* Edward tells Jacob that Bella’s upset to see him and his pack “all so…bereft.” Because it’s not like everybody in the world has their choice of loving homes with people willing to see to their every single need like she does…

* The topic of meals comes up, and Edward points out “Well, we do have normal human food here, Jacob. Keeping up appearances,” and that’s where I’m going to cut him off. Nobody comes to their house. Part of the reason the graduation party was such a big deal was nobody had ever been there or knew how the Cullens lived. The only “normal” person who’s ever an exception to that rule when the Cullens don’t specifically invite them is Charlie when he comes to check on Bella in a couple chapters. And by then he’s sure something weird’s going on so there’d be no point to showing him what’s in the fridge to prove everything’s normal. Besides, he doesn’t come until Jacob basically invites him by saying Bella’s better.

They have no reason AT ALL to be that in depth with their charade on a regular basis, and could actually be doing some good if they’d stop wasting food as props for their non-existent visitors and supporting some kind of feed-the-hungry charity instead.

Damn it, Meyer, stop and think once in a while. I know the author and the readers don’t see the same book the same way, but how fncking hard is it to remember none of them have social lives with normal people?

* Jake has a dream where he’s drinking a glass of water but it turns out to be bleach. I could make a crack about how that’s like reading Steph’s work, but why start being nasty now?

* Before Jacob goes to sleep, Alice comes up to him and remarks how relaxing he is because her visions shut down around him. Just being close to him does that, or does him being involved in their group future do that?

In the morning Alice’s face “wasn’t pinched up now. And it was easy to see why--she’d found another painkiller.” What other painkiller? It’s not Bella and her baby because Alice has never been only half-vampire; that was the source of Alice’s pain. “Like bad reception on a TV--like trying to focus your eyes on those fuzzy people jerking around on the screen. It’s killing my head to watch her.”

So what, then? She also said “I can’t take aspirin.” Are there pharmaceutical companies specifically for vampires, maybe? That’d add all kinds of dimensions to the story. Then again that’s probably why we don’t hear things like that.

Oh wait, he means having another werewolf around because Seth has a line of dialogue right after that little observation. Funny how Jake just described the scene of everyone hanging out and doting on Bella as usual, and didn’t mention Seth ONCE.

* Seth’s there because “Bella got cold.” I’m no doctor, but don’t pregnant women usually feel hot? Is it different because the demon fetus is drinking her blood? Didn’t it stop doing that because Bella started drinking straight blood herself? She’s described as looking a lot healthier since then.

At least last time they had the excuse of being in a damn tent on top of a mountain during a storm, with everyone away fighting a vampire army. Here they’re in the Cullens’ house with everybody around. They don’t have a damn portable heater for her this time? She had to cuddle up with another werewolf?

Ah, screw it. The point’s supposed to be Jake’s still not over her. How could anyone be? It’s BELLA SWAN.

* More empty talk about the conflict with the Quileutes, and how even if it came to a fight, Jacob COULD, theoretically, use his alpha status to end the fighting right there. Carlisle’s against it because it would be wrong, of course.

You have to wonder what the people in the book are thinking about their problems. Are they honestly prepping themselves for the uncomfortable eventuality of battle with other supernatural creatures who really aren’t evil, or are they waiting for a magic cure that makes everybody happy with no bloodshed to appear like the rest of us? Can’t say it seems like they’re concerned with anything beyond Bella’s comfort.

Chapter 15 - Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock

* Or, if I was going to do a sarcastic chapter title, “Countdown (to Boring).”

* Open on a telepathic conversation between Jake’s pack, where we find out, “Did you know you can buy blood? If you’re a doctor.” Oh, is that a fact? Did he have to explain what it was for? Did anybody check up on that? That just seems like something that would be regulated somehow, the sale of medical supplies, especially blood. Carlisle’s a nice guy and all that, but again, he’s still the head of a family of weirdo recluses. Meaning it’s probably common knowledge he doesn’t practice out of the home, let alone make house calls. How did he explain it? Did Steph even think he’d need to?

“Who cares about legal crap when you’re the undead?” Indeed.

* Oh, and Seth was actually alternating cuddling up to Bella with Edward to let their raging or frigid body temperatures adjust her own. You’re still telling me the Cullens couldn’t get her an electric blanket, Steph.

* Alice suggests Rosalie get Jake something to eat. He says he doesn’t trust her not to spit in his food and Alice replies “Rosalie would never embarrass Esme by displaying such a lack of hospitality.” Like when she suggested they just leave Bella to the (metaphorical) wolves in the first book because the idiot girl wasn’t their problem. In response to Edward’s direct request for her help, yet.

Edward promises he’d tell Jake if the food was poisoned, “And for some reason, I believed him.” Because Edward’s not just a great guy, he’s incredibly charismatic. Of course. Also, we’ve got this.

Jacob: “Let me guess, someone around here used to cut hair in a salon in Paris?”
Bella: (chuckles) “Probably.”

If only you’d tried to work a sense of humor about it in before, Steph. It’d still suck. You’re a hack writing a Suefic. But at least we could tell you knew.

* Some wangsting follows about how Jake’s not over her, and having him around completes her “big family.” “I’ve never had a big family before now. It’s nice.” It’d be nice if she got some appreciable time with anybody besides Edward, then. And, you know, not making the ones we do see seem like controlling/overbearing assholes.

* Jake and Edward talk about the plan for explaining things to Charlie, and that it’s mainly to drop a few hints, let him come to his own conclusions, which will probably be wrong. If he doesn’t know everything, he’s theoretically safe from the Volturi. Even though the frigging guidebook for the series admits that unless he made a huge ruckus with his knowledge, they’d probably never know about it.

Just so you remember, it took Charlie months to run out of patience with Bella being a zombie, and he’s never once tried to stop his daughter from seeing her dickhead boyfriend/husband. Because he loves her that much. Seems like it would take a hell of a lot to get to him. And yeah, these books don’t have anywhere near the bite they think they do. Meaning Charlie can probably take everything they’ve got to dish out.

* Also, Edward’s planning on checking into the legends of the cleaning lady’s tribe, because he thinks that might teach them something about how to deal with this. Because legends have such a good accuracy rating in this series; this isn't Supernatural, Meyer. Hell, if you remember me bringing it up before, the guidebook has a list of info about vampires the Volturi weren’t able to hide, were able to hide, and stuff they just plain made up to throw people off.

That does suggest a potentially interesting plot, though, with the Cullens sneaking into Volterra to get access to some kind of database on vampire info to know what to do, or where to look to learn more. That’d be a lot cooler than heading to South America to chase what is, in all likelihood, a dead end. Let’s not forget that the cleaning lady might well have gotten in touch with her people and warned them that Edward’s a “libishomen.” And so’s the rest of his family, probably.

It’d also give the Volturi a much better reason to confront the Cullens than the one they have. Especially since this “libishomen” nonsense ends up going pretty much nowhere anyway.

* Oh, but the book tries pretend otherwise. These legends actually mention a child born of woman and “libishomen,” that it was an evil thing that “must be killed immediately. Before it could gain too much strength.” So I’m guessing that legend isn’t actually talking about somebody we see later.

The legends hold “libishomen” themselves in the same regard. “Their legends say the same of us. That we must be destroyed. That we are soulless monsters.” Yeah well, considering that most vampires, even most of the non-Volturi ones the Cullens are friends with, are remorseless killers, maybe there’s something to it. Besides, even as the exception to the rule, the Cullens are still mainly a collection of arrogant douchenozzles. And they’re still vastly more powerful and supposedly teeter on the precipice of losing control all the time. In what way is “soulless monsters” an unfair assumption?

I’m sorry, it’s just the way Meyer thinks she created “good guy” vampires, but at best all they are is not actively evil. Is Superman a hero simply because he DOESN’T follow the guy who caught him off at the checkout line into the parking lot and heat vision his tires? Is Green Lantern a hero because he DOESN’T use his ring to pick up that same guy and hang him from the top of a radio mast by his underwear?

Maybe the bar for being a good guy’s higher than simply NOT abusing your awesome power. Which the Cullens totally do. Just because they don’t abuse it one certain way...

* Jake’s so upset by the fact that Bella’s willing to kill herself for the sake of her little monster, and that the Cullens are willing to let her, that he starts to attack Roz with blonde jokes. And it “Made me wish I could throw something at Bella too.” Wow, you just earned 50 approval points from me, Jake.

Chapter 16 - Too-Much-Information Alert

* Since when has “too much” information been Twilight’s problem? Aside from Bella getting naked, I guess.

* I just thought of this, but why is Jacob sometimes Jake, but Edward always Edward? Guess he’d seem like less of a “gentleman” if we ever called him by a nickname.

* Jake and his buddies are out scouting to see if any of their old buddies are around. They run into a place where they can smell all the vampires but Edward having been there recently, meaning there was “some reason for gathering that must have been forgotten when Edward brought his dying pregnant wife home. I gritted my teeth. Whatever it was, it had nothing to do with me.” Then why bring it up? Do I expect Steph to make anything of this? No, I don’t.

Leah makes a remark that knowing they’re helping the Cullens is a perfect excuse for Sam to “bunker down” and come up with a new plan. Bunker down? Isn’t that “hunker” down?

* She also observes “Wouldn’t want our precious parasites taking unnecessary chances.” As I’ve read in many a bad review article before mine, you know it’s a bad sign when the audience starts agreeing with the antagonists. God forbid the vastly more powerful Cullens who are the reason for all this put themselves at risk.

* Jake has to admit, though, that he isn’t hating having Leah around like he thought he would. She replies “You’re worth following, Jacob.” Because he didn’t hook up with her cousin for contrived reasons totally beyond his control?

* On the other hand, now that they’re opening up, we get a little development on Leah. As soon as she can, she’s planning to get out, and who can blame her? “I’ll get a job somewhere from La Push. Maybe take some courses at a community college.” What’s this? A female character finding meaning in life beyond a hot guy and beautiful babies? How’d this get in here?

Oh, wait, she’s sympathetic with Roz for not being able to have babies, because she can’t either. Never mind. Moreover, “I understand why your blond vampire is so cold--in the figurative sense. She’s focused. She’s got her eyes on the prize, right? Because you always want the very most what you can never, ever have.” She’s not focused, she’s one-note. Learn the difference, Steph.

Also, Jake thinking over Leah’s sterility because of her lupine powers has him asking, “Was that because she wasn’t as female as she should be?” Meaning what, exactly, Steph?

* Jake wangsts some more about having to go back to the Cullens’ to check on Bella. “It’s hard for you to be there, but hard to stay away. I know how that feels,” Leah opines.

Jake confirms “My head is not going to be the happiest place on earth.” Call me a grammar Nazi if you want, but “earth,” lower-case e, means dirt. Not the planet. And yeah, it won’t be a pleasant thing to see, since Bella’s just so damn special it takes mystical lupine biology for Jake to get over her. I bet ten years down the road, all the normal dudes from her school imagine Bella’s face on their wives when they have sex.

* What really hurts is this conversation leading into why Jacob hates imprinting. “Imprinting is just another way of getting your choices taken away from you.” All I have to say is…fnck you, Steph.

* Jake goes back and finds Bella in the living room. “I wondered briefly why they didn’t leave her upstairs, and the decided at once that it must be Bella’s idea. She’d want to act like things were normal, avoid the hospital setup. And he was humoring her. Naturally.” Based on her history, that doesn’t sound like being upbeat so much as insisting her problems don’t exist so she can get people to calm down and give her what she wants.

* About then Jacob realizes Edward, as always, has crumbled like a wet graham cracker and plans to do whatever Bella wants. In this case, let her have the baby even if it literally kills her. Jake’s about to snap, so Edward tosses him car keys “like they were a life preserver.”

Chapter 17 - What Do I Look Like? The Wizard of Oz? You Need a Brain? You Need a Heart? Go Ahead. Take Mine. Take Everything I Have.

* You see maybe why I stopped doing sarcastic titles of my own for this part?

* “I sort of had a plan as I ran to the Cullens’ garage. The second part of it was totaling the bloodsuckers’ car on the way back.”

Oh no! He’s going to mildly inconvenience the guy who can probably outrun that thing on foot anyway!

“Did he actually mean to give me the keys to an Aston Martin, Vanquish, or was that an accident?” I get Jacob probably know what that means, but I don’t. Does Meyer think her target audience does? Didn’t Bella remark that kind of thing was the province of those with a Y chromosome? Yeah, I slammed the author for that, but that was over the entire idea that women can’t be interested in cars. Just because I’m capable of thinking a car’s cool doesn’t mean I know what’s cool about it just because you told me the name.

* He drives to “the undefined sprawl that was part Tacoma and part Seattle.”

“This was a stupid plan. It wasn’t going to work.” This is a clever plan. It’s totally going to work. Because if there’s one thing these books have managed time and again, it’s to surprise me.

* “I parked across two handicapped spots--just begging for a ticket--and joined the crowd.” I’d say Jake’s being a dick, but let’s remember who owns the car.

* What’s his plan? To go walking around and try to imprint on some girl to get Bella out of his head. This is basically slavery based around his heritage and the presence of vampires. Why is this treated in a positive light? And remember the Quileutes started wolfing out in response to the Cullens’ presence (although I still say it makes more sense to blame Victoria). So they’re to blame for this imprinting crap.

“As time went on, I started noticing all the wrong things. Bella things. This one’s hair was the same color. That one’s eyes were sort of shaped the same.” Sue. I got nothing else to say. Sue. Don’t try to lie about it, Meyer. You know it, I know it. You just won’t admit it.

“It wouldn’t make sense to find her here, anyway. If Sam was right, the best place to find my genetic match would be in La Push.” It would? Why? And that’s what it’s about? Superior genetic heritage? Wow, that’s romantic. Which could be forgivable in any genre except ROMANCE.

Besides, you already know what happens. That means Jacob’s perfect genetic match is partly Edward’s genetics.


* Then a nice girl starts talking to Jacob, about how if he stole the car he’ll probably get off easier if he turns himself in. Way to keep a low profile during an extremely delicate operation, Eddie. Yeah, Eddie. Not Jacob.

As for his conversation partner, “Lizzie. She was pretty. Nice enough to try to help a grouchy stranger who must seem nuts.” Which also means she’s got more personality and redeeming qualities than any three characters we’ve been following this whole time. Why are you putting this character in, Meyer? All she’s going to do is make our leads look crazy and masochistic. Hell, she recognizes Jake’s borrowed car and throws out some appreciative words about it. They’ve already got something they can talk about besides each other.

Fnck these books. Fnck ‘em!

* Eventually Jacob realizes imprinting’s going to happen when it happens, and being around a ton of girls isn’t going to do it. “I was going to have to take the torture like a man. Suck it up.” Or think about what the hell you’re doing, weigh the pros and cons and think about what you’re going back to. I’m sorry to keep harping on this, but the Cullens aren’t good vampires. Less bad isn’t good.

Oh, and just for the record, Jake went babe hunting in “a big park full of kids and families.” I know it was meant to be a harmless descriptor. But what with where the imprinting bit’s been, and where it goes…eeeeeeeeew.

He goes back to Bella and the Cullens because that way, “I didn’t have to be all alone.” See? Crazy and masochistic.

* Edward’s waiting for Jake in the garage when he gets back, but I bet it wouldn’t surprise you to hear it’s not exactly out of a growing camaraderie between the two.

When Jake took off all of a sudden Leah apparently came in to ask why, and then unloaded on Bella for the way she keeps Jake around even it hurts him, seeing her like that and in the arms of someone else. I think. Edward doesn’t go into much detail. “You were quite vehemently championed.”

Edward adds, “I’m not going to pretend that I understand why Bella is unable to let go of you, but I do know that she does not behave this way to hurt you.” She knows that it does, and continues to do it anyway. Is there a difference?

Jacob promises to talk to Leah. And Bella. “She doesn’t need to feel bad. This one’s on me.” Stop defending Bella. Or at least stop claiming she’s so wise and kind and whatnot.

* Anyway, they talk some about the fetus, and Jacob realizes Edward doesn’t want to abort it anymore because “He couldn’t hate what loved Bella. It was probably why he couldn’t hate me, either.” It’s not because they’re getting to know each other and see each others’ good sides, it’s because of Edward’s obsessive devotion of Bella. So, same reason as EVERYTHING.

* Then, Edward gets on his hands and knees and begs for Jacob’s approval, to preserve the treaty between them and the Quileutes in spirit if nothing else. “Your word on this will condemn or absolve us. Since Edward has a hypo of vampire venom prepared and eventually uses that on Bella, and with Jacob’s parting shot in New Moon (“If any of them bite a human, the truce is over. Bite, not kill”), I have to think Edward’s asking permission to do the teeth C-section if that becomes necessary.

In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, the womb occupied by a half-vampire fetus is too strong to penetrate by normal means, and even as a baby it’s so strong that attempting a normal delivery would definitely be fatal. So Edward uses his teeth to cut it open to extract his kid.

Think on all that for a second.

* Things finally get cool as the chapter ends when Bella “vomited a fountain of blood.”

Chapter 18 - There Are No Words For This

* Oh boy, that’s encouraging in a BOOK.

* “Bella’s body, streaming with red, started to twitch, jerking around in Rosalie’s arms like she was being electrocuted…As she convulsed, sharp snaps and cracks kept time with the spasms.”

So this book’s target audience apparently isn’t ready to read about sex, but they ARE ready to read about Bella smeared with blood and contorting in bone-breaking agony. Eh?!

“Rosalie pinned Bella down, yanking and ripping her clothes out of the way, while Edward stabbed a syringe into her arm. How many times had I imagined her naked?”

(mouths “what the fuck?”)

* With Bella’s blood everywhere, it’s too much for Rosalie and she lunges forward to feed on our heroine. Okay, it happens twice, but…Rosalie seemed like a bitch who was willing to condemn Bella to die all the time anyway. This just makes her look like more of a bitch, not like vampires have no self control.

Jacob intercepts her. “My right palm smashed against her face, locking her jaw and blocking her airways.” And vampires don’t have to breathe, so…good work.

“I used my grip on Rosalie’s face to swing her body out so that I could land a solid kick in her gut; it was like kicking concrete.” Because we’ve never once established that vampires are made of rock. That their skin sparkles like diamond because of that. Thanks, Steph!

* Eventually Roz is restrained and Edward goes in to do the teeth C-section. “Vampire teeth--a surefire way to cut through vampire skin.” I thought everything about this was unknown.

* Bella’s heart stops after they get the kid out, and even though Edward’s injected her with vampire venom, Jacob’s entire world comes crashing down because the love of his life is dead and blah blah blah. It’s wangst. I don’t need to tell you about the wangst, do I?

Jake heads downstairs to do his duty to his pack. “Sam had been right. The thing was an aberration--its existence went against nature. A black, soulless demon. Something that had no right to be. Something that had to be destroyed.” He thinks it killed someone who was effectively suicidal anyway. Someone who never affected change despite all her efforts, change was only affected through everyone else’s efforts and unwavering desire to please and protect her. If she’d made some kind of mark of her own, done something to justify all this insane devotion…

* …but one look at the baby and all those violent thoughts melt from Jacob’s mind. That’s right, just like magic, he found his soul mate, and it’s the daughter of the center of the universe. She’s not even five minutes old.


* “From upstairs, there was a new sound. The only sound that could touch me in this endless instant. A frantic pounding, a racing beat…a changing heart.”

What, you mean BELLA’S NOT DEAD?!?!?! For real?! Who could’ve seen that coming????

Your books suck, Steph.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Breaking Down, Book Two: Jacob, Chapter 10 - 13

Chapter 10 - Why Didn’t I Just Walk Away? Oh Right, Because I’m An Idiot

* Nah, it’s not as much fun when the book mocks itself. Not that self-mockery fixes problems…Not when it only starts coming in the fourth quarter, certainly.

* More reflection on Bella’s condition. “The girl was a classic martyr. She’d totally been born in the wrong century. She should have lived back when she could have gotten herself fed to some lions for a good cause.” Pardon me if I’m wrong, but is the book then admitting that Bella’s always trying to throw her life away over nothing? And perhaps, by extension, how a lot of the problems in these books exist solely in the minds of the protagonists? Which would’ve worked better if Steph did more with it than mention it.

* Bella and Jacob discuss the futility of their relationship, and how it felt to Edward when he met Bella. “He said it was like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, like magic. You’ll find who you’re really looking for, Jacob, and maybe then all of this will make sense.” Are we talking about fairies using love potions on unsuspecting humans? Because I’m pretty sure that’s the only thing we could talking about. Then again let’s remember this is the same girl who confused Romeo’s previous girlfriend with a character from a totally different play. Despite her only known hobby being reading classic literature.

* They discuss vampirizing as a life-saving measure, and how Carlisle “doesn’t end lives, he saves them.” With no consent from them, and not if they’ve got something to leave behind. I suppose Rosalie qualified because her parents saw her more as a trophy than a daughter.

But nobody minds or questions it, because that would lead to moral dilemmas.

* Jacob tries to get Bella to see that the vampire-spawn’s killing, but as usual she shoulders all the blame. “It’s me. I’m just weak and human.” Stop saying “human” like it’s a disease, Meyer. Yes, as a vampire she’d be stronger and tougher and be dealing with a superhuman pregnancy better, but being human isn’t the source of her myriad problems. We don’t necessarily need a protagonist who can fight, we need an author who can find dramatic possibilities with the characters she’s given herself.

* Jacob leaves because he refuses to watch Bella twist and die. He reports to the pack “Bella’s life means nothing to her,” and I think Dana put it pretty well.

* The wolves debate among themselves and figure that they need to attack and wipe out the threat of a spastic vampire baby who’ll never be able to learn the consequences of its actions. Jake protests because there’s no way to do that without killing Bella too. I realize killing humans probably runs counter to their usual mission parameters, but she made her choice. Stop with the get out of jail free cards because it’s Bella. I don’t care that it’s Jake, and he still loves her after all this. Can’t anybody have any principles?

No, of course not. It’s Bella Swan, one of the Sue-iest Sues anybody ever tried to hide. How dare anyone suggest she have to pay for insisting on hanging around the Cullens when everyone, including the Cullens themselves, warned her she could easily die that way? She didn’t listen when everyone told her not to play on the train tracks. This is what she gets.

* Jacob reflects on how such-and-such Cullen would be the most dangerous, and how good some of them are that it’d unquestionably murder to have to kill them. As if it’s not murder to kill someone who isn’t good. And one more time, this isn’t character development. Not for anybody but the one doing all this pontificating, at least.

Jake eventually gives in because Sam tells him to, and nobody contradicts the alpha.

Chapter 11 - The Two Things At The Very Top Of My Things-I-Never-Want-To-Do List

* There’s some unease among the pack. “Which brothers would we lose? Which minds would leave us forever? Which grieving families would we be consoling in the morning?” Why should I care? Why doesn’t the author make better use of the characters she has instead of piling more on? Why doesn’t she stop pretending already?

The thing is I probably would feel for them based on a line like this a lot more if not for the way the author insists on giving names to every single faceless fncker in her books. No, really. It’s the way Meyer insists on trying to make us care about every single one, by giving every single one of them a name, and saying we should care about them.

* Jacob realizes there is one way he doesn’t have to listen to Sam anymore. That is, seize upon how he was supposed to be the alpha but didn’t want to be. Isn’t it great the way so many problems are resolved by things just happening, or being a certain way? Not through effort? “I hadn’t earned anything. But there were things that had been born in me, things that I’d left unclaimed.” That’s nice that you’re pointing it out, Steph. Now stop relying on it.

Jacob’s better than Sam, by the way, because he’ll never use his alpha blood to force anybody to do anything they don’t want to. Even though that would put an immediate end to the threat of warfare between the two groups and all the wangst about whose moms they’d be comforting come the morn. He doesn’t even consider it. That might, after all, imply something other than black and white morality and require the author to make an effort.

* Jake runs to warn the Cullens of his ex-buddies’ plan to attack, and realizes partway there he’s not the only deserter. Seth came because he’s friends with Edward, and eventually Leah comes because she wanted to look out for Seth, her little brother (oh yeah, total harpy). If there’s more than one alpha, the wolves can apparently pick which one they want to follow. Convenient. Yet, it does allow for a little nice character growth among Jacob’s new recruits. Nice being relative to the rest of the series, of course.

* As he runs up to Chateau Cullen, he spots the boys out front. “They were snow white in the pale light.” Isn’t that normal for them…? Because they’re vampires?

He fills them in on the new developments among the wolves and yeah I’m really sure we’re looking at the possibility of a fight, even with a focus character who actually participates in the plot.

* Sheesh. Now that I think about it, since Bella’s life-threatening pregnancy’s the impetus of the plot, by switching the perspective to Jacob Meyer’s doing what she’s done this entire miserable experience: isolate the reader from what’s driving the story by isolating the narrator from it. Admittedly, he goes to check on her so it’s not as bas as it has been.

* Carlisle’s eternally grateful to Jacob and Seth for their “great personal sacrifice,” but I’m not sure what exactly it is he gave up other than the other wolves not killing them. I didn’t really see the friendship between them and the other wolves, just a bunch of hopped-up meatheads who wanted to kill vampires. Definitely didn’t see the relationship between Jake and his sister. Don’t know if they were happy at home. Don’t know if they had any respect for Sam. Hell, this is before alleged super-bitch Leah decides she’s in Jake’s pack too, and leaving the old pack cuts them off from that group telepathy with them. For all I know they consider this a trade-up.

* Jacob goes in to see Bella and notices “The glass wall was gone -- it looked like metal now.” Although I don’t know if this is another example of how quickly the Cullens can get and install things, or if it’s supposed to be those metal shutters we saw they already had back in the first book.

“The dripping noise was from the IV plugged into her arm--some fluid that was thick and white, not clear.” Am I supposed to know the difference? Would Jacob? Would the fourteen-year-old target audience? Would they know even if they followed this series into high school?

Oh and “Worse. Yes, she was worse.”

Sorry Steph, you’ve dropped the ball too many times for this to be a worry now.

Chapter 12 - Some People Just Don’t Grasp The Concept Of “Unwelcome”

* Jake and Seth set themselves running a perimeter around the Cullens’ house to watch for the other Quileutes like nice obedient guard dogs. Then Leah shows up, allegedly to keep an eye on her brother but also glad for an excuse to be rid of Sam. She probably wasn’t too happy being reminded every single day he dumped her because he imprinted on her cousin, after all…

Not sure why imprinting’s treated like a good thing.

* Eventually the bickering between the wolves ends and of course matters turn back to Bella’s survival.

Sayeth Carlisle, “Bella is already a daughter to me. A beloved daughter.” Of course. And it’s Bella, so the fact that Carlisle sees her as a daughter isn’t enough, he had to add another sentence with that superlative.

There’s still the possibility of vamping Bella to save her. “I’ve seen vampire venom work miracles, but there are conditions that even venom cannot overcome.” I doubt it, but it’s possible Steph did exhaustive research and found out “venom” is actually a neutral term that doesn’t mean poison. That’s what everybody thinks when they hear the word, though, and if she’s going to use “venom” to mean something that also heals and strengthens, it’d be nice to explain that in-story.

Also I wonder a little at Carlisle’s medical qualifications when he talks about how Bella’s baby is killing her from the inside because it’s not entirely human. “I can’t figure out what it wants.” Well Dr. Feelgood, the inhuman aspect must come from the father, yes? What does the father feed on? Shit, I’m not a doctor and this is no mystery to me.

Then again, how long did it take these guys to figure out Victoria was behind all the new vampires near them? To even guess that?

* Carlisle educates Jacob some on the medical differences between vampires and humans. I’m not a science guy so I can’t properly get into what’s wrong with this. If you’re interested in that, here you go. Also, the characters just say people have 23 chromosomes, not 23 PAIRS.

* Edward basically tells Carlisle he’s dumb for not figuring out the baby’s half-vampire and wants blood, and he’s right.

The Cullens prove to already have a store of human blood on hand, to keep Bella sated while going through the early days of her own vampirism. Presumably stolen by Carlisle from the local blood bank. Yay Cullens.

You could frame it by saying he did that to prevent deaths from Bella going crazy as a new vampire, but are you honestly thinking that could happen after all the other false alarms?

Chapter 13 - Good Thing I’ve Got A Strong Stomach

* Jake and Bella talk about how they always end up in situations like this, and I have to admit I do get the sense that they are friends despite all the shit she puts him through. I’m still not sure why friendzoned him when there’s actually something to get along with in the first place when it comes to wolfboy, though.

Although she does call him a jerk when he tells her that Roz doesn’t care if Bella lives or dies, as long as she gets to have a baby around. You're the one manipulating somebody to make sure things turn out how you want, Bells. And he's still right.

* The vampires bring Bella some blood to drink, “the kind with a lid and a bendy straw.” Like I’ve always, don’t want to be treated like a kid, don’t act like one.

Okay, okay, it’s really so she doesn’t have to look at it as she drinks and think about the fact that she’s swallowing blood. That’s just annoying in another way, though. When’s Bella finally going to toughen up a little and stop having every single thing done for her?

* Bella asks if this “counts,” drinking human blood before she’s a vampire. Edward assures her, “No one is counting, Bella. In any case, no one died for this. Your record is still clean.” Was it ever?

* With the little beast apparently calmed some by the blood, Bella’s finally able to get some sleep, and Jake leaves to let her.

Something that finally gets the plot moving again happens when he hears Seth and Leah howling and realizes some of the other Quileutes are on the way. Their names are listed as if that matters, but it doesn’t, so I won’t recopy it. They try to guilt Jake some into thinking he overreacted by running off like he did, and Seth thinks “Overreaction? And attacking our allies without warning isn’t?”

Allies? How are the Cullens “allies”? They joined forces with the Quileutes to fight Victoria’s gang, sure, but that was after the Alaskan vampires refused to come. It sounds like Seth’s letting the fact that he’s friends with Edward color his perception of the situation, and overlook the understandable concern that they don’t know what in the hell Bella’s going to birth. Well, actually, “concern” implies the books have any teeth.

But all the same, the Cullens helped them one time after who knows how long of uncomfortable peace. They help each other once, and they’re allies? I’m sorry to keep bringing this up, but I think it’s a hell of a difference between the Cullens and the Quileutes that the wolves actually protect their territory, while the Cullens only protect themselves. In my mind that hurts the “allies” argument too.

Maybe the author doesn’t see it this way, but based on their actions, it seems like the only reasons the Cullens wouldn’t simply leave to escape hostility is because a) it would bother Bella to do that to her family, and b) because the Volturi are keeping an eye on the family, and because of tracker-guy there’s no place to hide from them. Or currently c) because Bella’s pregnant with demonspawn and too weak to travel. And the Cullens were too stupid not to move her to one of their properties that isn’t down the street from a werewolf den in the first place.

It sounds kind of like Seth says that thinking they’re friends with the Cullens, when really they worked together because their interests happened to coincide at one point in time. I dunno, that seems a fairly wimpy definition. But a stronger one would require an author who doesn’t confuse conflict with mentioning conflict.

* Then Leah shows up, nude because of wolfing out. An entire paragraph, eight whole lines, goes into describing communal nudity and how it got weird when she joined up. Clean, huh?

* More brilliant rhetoric from this book. Jacob tells his former friends “this isn’t just about Bella.” Liar. You are a filthy, filthy liar, Stephenie Meyer.

“We’re protecting those who should be protected. And that applies to the Cullens, too.” Are you so sure of that, Mr. Black? And even ignoring their moral standing, the book still persists that vampires > every other species in the universe. When Sam was planning to attack he was sure they only had a chance as long as they had the element of surprise, and was still expecting losses. That was what that mourning families crap was about. Who says the Cullens need protection from the likes of you, Senor Black?

* More boring talk about how Sam won’t attack because he’s lost the element of surprise, and he’s afraid of more desertions, particularly among Jake’s friends. Still not much in the way of drama.

That’s a big part of the problem with going to battles as a major dramatic element once, when you’re writing a long series. It’s like Pandora’s box; once you open it and let reader expectations out, you have a hell of a time putting them back in again.

Solving problems through negotiations and concessions is boring real life shit, and it's even more galling you'd go that way after having the conflict center around supernatural beings killing each other so often by now. Disputes resolved by debating that could theoretically be dramatic (with a really good author, which leaves Steph out), but it's doomed from the beginning here because nothing’s at stake. All the Quileutes with any kind of identity are hanging with Jake and the Cullens now, and most of their development comes after this. Besides, Sam’s afraid of attacking now that the Cullens know he was thinking about it, and of his pack walking out on him since he can’t force them to do what he says anymore. The threat’s already been neutered.