Friday, August 24, 2012

Breaking Down Chapter 29 - 32

Chapter 29 - Tabidatte!

* The Cullens are sitting around, shocked into silence by Alice’s disappearance. All I could think, though, was that it’s about time they had to face a crisis without her. If you have to keep changing how something insanely useful works so it doesn’t overwhelm the story, you probably shouldn’t have included it in the first place.

* Edward and Bella had “stared at each other all night, staring at the what neither of us could live through losing: the other.” Nice to see that big family that includes absolutely everyone she considers a friend in even the slightest sense means so much to her after all. I’d say Edward too, except I never got that off him.

* “I wanted to have my arms around Alice, to know beyond a doubt that she was safe.” No, Steph. No. No. No. Every time they’ve done something together Alice was annoying Bella with her hyper-girliness. This is the limpest sort of limp retconning.

* They find a note from Alice (written on a page from Bella’s copy of The Merchant of Venice, symbolism!!) proving she hasn’t ducked out on them and telling them to continue the plan to get all their friends together. Not where she’s going or what she has in mind, but like I’m really worried about one of the Cullens deciding Bella’s not worth the fires of Hell and running away.

There’s some pointless stuff where Sam needles Edward about the degree of Alice’s loyalty if she ducked out with the most scariest vampires of them all coming to kill them, and more shit about how nice the Cullens are by telling the wolves they don’t have to get involved in what’s sure to be a death sentence. You. Are not. Fooling. Anyone. Meyer. The way this is going to go down couldn’t be more obvious if 50-foot neon cowboys were pointing out the direction of the plot.

* As for the literary reference, Meyer describes her books as being for “children.” How many “children” do you know with the patience to read Shakespeare and other classical literature for fun, as the author presumably does, let alone interpret the themes? I’m betting even among Twihards, the number wasn’t that high (and once again, how many times have our alpha couple had sex in this “children’s book”? Three times? Four?).

Once again it seems like Meyer only wrote this for herself, and all those ecstatic teenage girls were a happy coincidence.

* “I’d always thought of the Cullens as a whole, an indivisible unit.” I’d always thought of them as a gaggle of idiots slightly less vague than the other lesser characters. You never showed us this, Meyer. Evidently because you didn’t want Bella to squander her attention on anything besides Edward to give his relatives a little time to shine.

She goes on to think of how Jasper and Alice are the only Cullens who weren’t created by a member of the family, how they instead just showed up on the Cullens’ doorstep and said they were joining. Blah blah blah I already talked about this, this chapter. The two of them left to do something to help the family, not because something bad’s coming and they’re not as rooted to the group as the others. Nice try, Steph.

* Edward and Bella go back to their cottage to let Bella investigate a suspicion she has that the fact the book the note was torn from belonged to her is significant. It is, actually. It was Alice’s way of delivering a secret message to Bella that only she would read, because only Bella’s immune to having Aro pick her brain. What the note leads to is sort of kind of an indicator of the mythical friendship between Bella and Alice, which we’ll get to. It doesn’t actually have anything to do with Alice’s secret plan, though, and ends up wasting space because what it enables a last-ditch minimal-survivors plan. Which is pointless from the get-go there’s no way in hell Bella’s not getting 100% completion. I’m sorry, that’s the way it’s always been. I’m not worried about this author throwing me a curve.

* “Alice’s note did not make me hopeful. If there were any way to avoid the coming slaughter, Alice would have stayed. I couldn’t see another possibility.” Then you’re just an idiot, Bells. To think the first book played up how crafty she was with her plan to outsmart James. Or was that repealed when he ended up being the one who outsmarted her?

Whatever the case, I’m worried about the intelligence of the debate we’re building up to if our protagonist can’t think of any reason at all that Alice would have run off to give them an advantage. Maybe that requires her and her author to be able to think that there’s anything in the universe that can kill a vampire besides another vampire.

And the symbolism of mentioning The Merchant of Venice? Supposedly it’s because Bella solves all the problems at the end of the book with just her wits, like the heroine of Shakespeare’s play. Bella? Yeah, right.

* When they get back “Rosalie had traded her silk wrap dress for a sturdy-looking pair of jeans, running shoes, and a button-down shirt made of the thick weave that backpackers used for long trips. Esme was dressed similarly.” Good you pointed that out, Steph. Yes, I really do believe this book is stupid enough to have characters traveling across the world and probably into all kinds of godforsaken off-the-map areas where vampires would live while wearing highly conspicuous luxury dresses.

* Everybody else is going to find reinforcements, while Bella and Edward stay in Forks with their kid to explain what’s going on to the vampires who show up. They’re such good friends with the Cullens they’d be willing to drop everything and travel thousands of miles with no explanation whatsoever? Cut it out with the Cullens-are-the-center-of the-universe stuff, Meyer!

“Carlisle sighed. ‘Your job may well be the hardest.’ ” Spoiler: Every single vampire who comes only needs to receive Nessie’s thoughts and they’re sold. On how Nessie isn't evil, at least. Steph keeps trying to insist this is all tense, of course.

Edward: “…accepting Nessie will not be a simple thing for any of them.”

We’ll see nothing of the sort, of course.

Edward: “Good luck.”
Carlisle: “And to you. We’ll all need it.”

Who needs luck when you have a hack author?

* More limp assurances of the severity of the situation, and how big a deal vampire children were. “You can’t imagine the depth of the scars they’ve left in the collective vampire psyche.”

Then here’s an idea, maybe Carlisle or somebody could’ve been around to see one of these things, and we could’ve had a flashback from his point of view where we saw this. Oh, wait. There I go saying Meyer should back up her assertions again. Sorry.

* Bella tries to surreptitiously excuse herself and look distracted. “Did vampires ever do things absentmindedly?” Since the author’s almost never made any attempt to explain what they DO do with all the advantages their condition provides them…

She leaves and hits the internet to try to find the purpose of the name on Alice’s note, “J. Jenks,” and finds a Jason Jenks, a lawyer.

Bella realizes she can put up with any horror that might come her way, but that she’ll fight to the last to give Nessie a shot at salvation. How sweet, and nice to see that side of her again, but maybe she could’ve seemed a little less eager to drop the kid off and go do some sparkly boinking with Edward. This will be reinforced again before too long.

“Don’t cry. It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be fine. I will find a way through this.” Bella? Accomplish something? Don’t make me laugh.

“If there was nothing else that I could do, I would still save my Renesmee. I was more positive than ever that this was what Alice would give me. She would know. She would have left me a way.”

Good old plot device-y Alice…

Chapter 30 - Nessie’s Just So Goddamned Special

* “How were Edward and I going to explain things to Tanya’s family in the morning? What if they reacted like Irina? What if it turned into a fight?” Since they’re the Cullens’ bestest friends in the whole wide supernatural world, the Alaskans are coming to hear their story first. And honestly, those are some valid concerns based on how little we really know about them. After all, Irina’s veto was apparently enough to keep them from coming to help in Eclipse. What’s to keep them from all being petty little bitches?

* “I didn’t know how to fight. How was I going to learn in just a month? Was there any chance at all that I could be taught fast enough that I might be a danger to any one member of the Volturi? Or was I doomed to be totally useless? Just another easily dispatched newborn?” Why change horses in midstream, right? I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be getting ahead of myself, but the resolution’s even weaker than the usual “Bella stands there while everything falls into place around her” crap from the other books. And believe it or not, the fact that it finally has Bella doing something doesn’t make it any better.

* The idiot couple take Nessie back to the cottage for “some normality”. What the hell does that mean when the parents are vampires, the kid’s half-vampire, and the kid’s being groomed to grow up into a werewolf’s wife? And I’m not even getting into how the Cullens can wipe their asses with thousand dollar bills.

She says Edward’s name as soon as they’re alone (because Nessie never wakes up in the middle of the night like some needy human baby), and “He spun and was across the room in what seemed like no time at all, not even the smallest part of a second.” Because vampires are fast. Have I ever told you that vampires are fast? And strong? And pretty?

* Yah know what happens next? Eeeeyup, Bella and Edward spend the entire night before the Alaskans come fucking each other’s sparkly brains out. They don’t think about what they’ll say, or get Bella briefed on who’s who and any particular hot buttons she needs to avoid, or anything like that. They don’t have to sleep in general so they don’t need to worry about being well-rested for meeting the Alaskans, but is this really the best use of their time with something that’ll have a huge impact on their chances of coming through a huge crisis (for these books) intact coming up?

“For the moment I couldn’t help but be selfish. All I wanted was to love him as much as possible in the limited time given to me.” What do you mean “for the moment,” bitch?

* “As soon as I let myself think of what was coming, I was all tension; it felt like my nerves were being stretched on a rack, thinner and thinner.” Okay, now that’s some fairly unpleasant mental imagery for an unpleasant thought. Why couldn’t Meyer come up with something like that instead of that retarded swiss cheese analogy in New Moon?

* As Bella picks her sleeping child up she’s struck by the smell: “her sweet scent, so close, overpowered every other smell.” Ewww. Sounds like she’s getting turned on by her daughter.

* Bella asks if Edward will teach her how to fight. What makes him such a good instructor? I say again, to me Edward seems to be Twilight’s Worf. That is, the supposedly tough character other characters regularly outdo to show how formidable they are. Between failing to anticipate Victoria wanting revenge, failing to track her down when he finally entertained the possibility, getting smacked around by the Volturi, Jasper outdoing him during the play-fighting in preparation for the attack of the newborns…But he’s Edward, our narrator’s One Twu Wuv. So that means he’s good at what he does.

He “hedged” by telling her if it comes to a fight they don’t stand a chance anyway. Bella retorts “Would you leave me unable to defend myself?” Again, why change horses in midstream? Hasn’t that been exactly how it is all along? And Bella, in spite of talking about how she’s finally found something she “shines” at in being a vampire, is as defeatist as ever when something bad comes her way. In my notes here I wrote “books needed more of difference to make.” Sparkly Bella is the same as regular Bella, mentally, so what exactly has been achieved after all this space, all these things to make her question her reality, all these times where Death nearly swallowed her up?

“I wondered what I could do that would have any hope of making a difference.”

Exactly squat, sir.

* “I was a tiny bit special, in my own way--if having a supernaturally thick skull could really be considered special. Was there any use that I could put that toward?” Aro seemed to think so, as I recall. He’s supposed to be some kind of devious mastermind, isn’t he? Not that he actually gave any examples of the uses Bella’s ability could be put to. Not that that surprises me, after everything else I’ve seen of the author’s style.

* “ ‘What would you say their biggest advantage is? Do they even have a weakness?’ Edward didn’t have to ask to how I meant the Volturi.”

(pounds forehead through desk) NO FREAKING SHIT?!!! What other seemingly invincible enemy are they expecting a fight with, Meyer?!!!??!

* Edward talks some about the members the Volturi rely on most heavily for their offensive, namely Jane/Dakota Fanning and her brother Alec. Jane we already know about, with how she can totally consume you with pain, but Alec’s power is the “antidote” to Jane’s as Edward puts it. As in rather than setting off all your senses with pain, he cuts off all sensation. “You don’t even feel it when they burn you.”

My question is, how the hell does he know? It’s something he obviously hasn’t experienced, but then how did he get that info? I could kind of believe he’d pick up on that with his mind-reading, but was Edward around to witness one of these executions before? Pretty sure Alec wasn’t anesthetizing Bree, if he was even around. What with how they’re so big on vampire secrecy you’d kind of think the Volturi wouldn’t want it getting around how their one plan of attack goes, to keep vampires from figuring out ways of taking out Alec and Jane.

And I do mean one plan of attack.

* Also love the part where he adds that after Alec numbs them, “maybe they’ll simply burn us without bothering to tear us apart first.” If that can kill a vampire, exactly why did he need the Volturi’s help in New Moon, and not just a can of gasoline and a cigarette lighter?

Oh, that’s right. Because Edward being an overdramatic fnckhead is an actual, acknowledged character trait (rolls eyes)

* Bella of course thinks about sacrificing herself as a diversion, but if the Volturi really are as tough as Meyer’s trying to make them sound, they should be able to rip up a single vampire while hardly noticing what it is they just did. Let alone one as inexperienced and underconfident as Bella.

* Bella runs through the Volturi she knows, and the ones she’s heard about, and thinks about which ones must be “fighters.” As for Demetri, the tracker plot device one, “Without a doubt, he would be a fighter. There was no other way he could have survived so long, always at the spear point of any attack. And he must always lead, because he was their tracker--the best tracker in the world, no doubt. If there had been one better, the Volturi would have traded up. Aro didn’t surround himself with second best.”

I’ll tackle the last point first. How doe she know that about Aro? She met him one time, and he did NOT seem like the diabolical mastermind surrounding himself with a living arsenal of vampires Meyer wants us to see him as. Hell, on the next page Edward even starts telling us about one of the Alaskans, Eleazar, who used to belong to the Volturi, and how he had “respect for the law and its need to be upheld.” I’ll get into this more thoroughly later, but Meyer can’t seem to make up her mind whether the Volturi are a shady group of undead power mongers masquerading as a form of restraint, or a badly-needed choke chain on a species of arrogant, shortsighted predators.

(Not that you couldn’t have a group that’s both, mind, but if Meyer even tried to have shades of gray in her books, she failed)

And since she does seem to be leaning toward the shady power mongers thing, information on their proclivities and methods of offense are more well-known than they ought to be.

As for Demetri being the “spear point” of every attack because he’s the best tracker, yeah, that makes sense. If you’re thinking in terms of what would something look cooler in the movie, and not about protecting strategic assets. She just said herself Demetri must be the best tracker in the world. Why would the Volturi risk him in battle, with the tedious steps his ability allows them to remove from their job? Why would the plan not be “as soon as Demetri says you’re getting close, he falls back”?

* More about the Volturi’s villainy: “The Volturi aren’t supposed to be the villains, the way they seem to you. They are the foundation of our peace and civilization…They’re only alleged to be heinous and evil by the criminals, Bella.” Bear that in mind for later, would you?

I could add that apparently the real reason the Volturi showed up so late in Eclipse was, according to Bree Tanner, because they were deliberately hanging back to let the newborns kill most of the Cullens, and then swoop in and absorb the survivors with powers they wanted. Which Edward knows about after reading it from Bree’s mind. Meaning he should in no way be looking upon them charitably and hoping a plan to appeal to the goodness in them will work. (Not that I’m counting that, because I refuse to read that book and it didn’t come out til after this one anyway. So they still just look too slow for their self-appointed duty)

* The Alaskans show up, and they’re just going to be the first of many, many, backup characters Meyer’s going to pretend are noteworthy but aren’t, so I’m not going to try to remember them or tell you who’s who unless it’s actually plot-relevant. If the lady who made money off these books doesn’t make the effort, why should I?

Edward asks them to listen into the other room for the sound of his daughter’s heartbeat, and one of the Alaskans asks if the noise is a bird “thrumming”. I know they share the Cullens’ abstinence from nomming humans, but that’s the point. They can’t tell a human heartbeat when they hear one, so they know to stay away from it?

* Edward convinces the Alaskans to let Nessie show them the beauty of her soul or some damn thing through her power, and they’re immediately convinced. “ ‘She really is your daughter, isn’t she?’ Carmen breathed, switching her wide topaz eyes to Edward’s face. ‘Such a vivid gift! It could only have come from a very gifted father.’ ”

Stop masturbating in front of everyone like that, Steph.

* “I shot a glance at Edward’s smooth face, wondering if it could really be so easy.” You may not realize it, Steph, but you just asked why I’m still reading.

* Edward goes on to inform them the Volturi’s coming, every single one, and that they’ve got a month. “So long?” asks Eleazar. “They’re all coming. That must take some preparation,” Edward answers him. Like what, asshole? The Volturi are at least as rich as the Cullens, you’re telling me they don’t have a fleet of private planes to take them wherever they need? As well as plenty of fake ID’s, and anything else they might need? Even if they’re not all in Volterra at any one time, how long would it take for them to get in touch and tell their wayward members to get to Forks? Do they have to lock down Volterra if everybody’s leaving? Can they only control their operations from there? Would everything grind to a halt if other vampires took over the city while they were gone?

Or is that just a handy excuse to give the Cullens time to work? Yeah, it is.

* The last couple pages consist of confirmation of the obvious and grating. Of course the Alaskans will help, but they can only bear witness because if it comes to a fight they’re all dead already, and without Alice around Bella’s all sad. Boo hoo.

Chapter 31 - How Long’d It Take You To Figure Out What Bella’s Power Is?

* Jacob calls his underage paramour by her nickname, then corrects himself, “remembering that Tanya would not understand his stupid nickname.” Why do you make that sound like it’s something hard, Meyer? Then again, her idea of “threats” leaves a lot to be desired…

* Speaking of, the Alaskans point out the werewolves would be killed 100% for sure if it came to a fight with the Volturi. Because vampires #1. I’d mind a little less if our author hadn’t already clearly said there won’t be any fighting.

* “She is very special, that little one. Hard to resist.” “A very talented family.” “I wonder if there is a name for what she does, or if it the norm for a vampire hybrid. As if such a thing could ever be considered normal! A vampire hybrid, indeed!” Just heap it on, Steph.

* The fawning actually seems like a segue into the next bit, where it turns out Eleazar’s power is to tell what other vampires’ powers are and thus let the author how tell us remarkable Bella is. God, the way Steph can abuse “vampire power as plot device.” Strength-of-relationship vampire and now this.

He notices how Bella seems to have a shield around her brain, and Edward tells him how she’s had that since even before she was a vampire. “Interesting. That would indicate a rather powerful latent talent, if it was manifesting so clearly even before the transformation.”

Okay, so remember that “Bella’s brain is wired wrong” crap? You can’t even use that as an excuse for what an idiot she is, because her brain isn’t wired wrong, her power is she has a mental shield. God DAMN it, Steph.

Sayeth Eleazar, “Talents that are purely defensive, that protect some aspect of the bearer, are always called shields.” Always. And Edward did see a vampire with a power like this before, but never thought to connect it to what Bella can do. Because Edward’s not very good at connecting the dots, and the author thinks it’s hard to arrive at conclusions like there’s something weird about those pale kids who never eat at lunch…

* They suggest the idea that Bella might be able to expand her shield to cover people besides herself, and one of the Alaskans who I’ll only be calling “taservamp” because like many of them the only notable thing about her is her power, attempts to taser Edward to see if Bella can shield him. Bella can’t, but don’t get any ideas about her having to work at this.

* Remember how Eleazar used to be in the Volturi? Well, he and Edward get to talking and just now Eleazar’s noticing that once in a while, the Volturi would amass like they are now when convenient evidence of “some unpardonable crime” cropped up (they only have like two rules, so that doesn’t exactly land with the ground shaking impact Steph probably wanted). In the end, there’d always be a survivor or two with a “gift that Aro had admired.”

Whaaaaaaat?! You mean…the Volturi’s corrupt?!?!? And nobody’s ever noticed the way the only survivor of a group of vampires they kill always has a really useful power and gets absorbed into the Volturi afterward?

You don’t mean to, Steph, but you constantly tell us the vampires you’re so in love with are idiots.

* Who’s Aro after, anyway? “From what I saw of this thoughts last spring, Aro’s never wanted anything more than he wants Alice.” Who wouldn’t want someone with her sketchy, inconsistent power around?

(I thought Aro wanted Edward too, but he maybe he changed his mind because he realized Eddie's bond with what's-her-name is just so strong even their methods aren't strong enough to break it. Or Steph's Worfing Edward again without realizing it)

Edward must not read a lot because “I think it must be [the reason Alice and Jasper left]. To keep Aro from gaining the thing he wants most of all. To keep her power out of his hands.” Yeah, it’s definitely NOT because she’s looking for something that’ll let her pull off a last-minute end run to save the day. I’m sorry but no. Even among the multitudes of characters Meyer insists we remember, Alice has always been at the forefront. No, there’s no way even a writer as bad as Meyer would have her just run away and play no part whatsoever in the resolution of this problem.

* All right, let’s see. They again confront the evidence that the Volturi is corrupt, but “Who would believe it?” You starve us for exposure to the vampire world, Steph. What kind of reputation do the Volturi generally have? As harsh but fair? They weren’t appointed by the sparkly people, they became the supreme authority of the vampire world by overthrowing the previous regime.

* Some other vampires, apparently sent by Alice and Jasper, show up, meaning Alice hasn’t abandoned them after all. Because you were worried.

Chapter 32 - I Take Back Those Compliments About Bella Being A Good Mom

* “The Cullens’ enormous house was more crowded with guests than anyone would assume could possibly be comfortable.”

There are about twenty vampires showing up to help them, which would seem to be a bit less than the graduating year from Forks High. Remember how they held the graduation party at the Cullens’ house? The other Cullens aren’t even home yet to add to that number.

And it’s going to toss out names for these characters when everybody except the Alaskans is dropped into our laps right here, less than ten chapters before the end of the entire series. And they’re hardly vivid themselves. To say nothing of the faceless werewolves still being mentioned.

And yet we still get crap like this, like we should be keeping these characters straight and consider them fleshed-out: “Neither Peter nor Charlotte had ever seen an immortal child. Though they knew the rule, their negative reaction was not as powerful as the Denali vampires’ had been at first.” Speaking of, “the problems Edward had anticipated had never materialized.” Every single one of them would gladly sell their lives just for the chance to protect Nessie. Yeah, you kinda sorta totally suck at tension, Steph.

* Let’s remember most of these vampires feed as they always have. “Mealtimes were dicey…They gave Forks and La Push a wide berth, only hunting out of state.” How gracious of them, to only murder people the main characters wouldn’t know.

“Edward was a gracious host, lending out his cars as needed without so much as a wince.” Gracious indeed. And it’s not like he can’t replace any of them ten times over.

“The compromise made me very uncomfortable, though I tried to tell myself that they’d all be hunting somewhere in the world, regardless.” Yes, but refer to previous quote about exempted victims. And contrast with her reaction to the murder reports in chapter one of Eclipse.

“Jacob was even more upset. The werewolves existed to prevent the loss of human life, and here rampant murder was being condoned barely outside the packs’ borders. But under those circumstances, with Renesmee in acute danger, he kept his mouth shut and glared at the floor rather than the vampires.” That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? Bella’s damn kid. Who’s little more than a pretty decoration for everybody to fawn over. But she’s Bella’s kid. That automatically makes her the most specialest special thing in the history of special, right? Something anyone who’s just met her will be happy to face certain doom for.

* There’s mention made of a guy named Benjamin in a group of Egyptian vampires. “I saw Eleazar staring at the boy with wide eyes and assumed Benjamin had a talent that drew the others to him.” It’s all about the powers with you, isn’t it, Steph?

Indeed he does have a pretty awesome power; he can mentally control the four elements. Which means if this doesn’t work as everyone is pretty sure it won’t, the Cullens will be responsible for making a corrupt group of supernatural enforcers vastly more powerful than they already are.

But Bella’s worth all that. Right? Right??

* In an extremely stupid nod to how Meyer’s just shoveling characters in left and right, “Jacob got more surely with each new addition. He kept his distance when he could, and when he couldn’t he grumbled to Renesmee that someone was going to have to provide an index if anyone expected him to keep all the new bloodsuckers’ names straight.” And there’s a footnote telling you where that index is.

All it is a list of names and what group they belong to, if they’re married to someone else in the group, and if they happen to have a special power. Nothing about backgrounds, personalities, specifics on powers or reasons to give a crap.

Meaning that like every other time Meyer’s tried to fill out the cast more than she needs to, it’s just a freaking list of names.

Here’s an idea, Steph. Stop hiding your narrator from the supernatural world you have the characters talk about so much. Take some of that space you gave yourself in the last couple books, stop wasting it on things like how much Bella likes a certain fridge magnet, and introduce some of these characters and give them reasons to matter before now.

* A group,  called the Amazon coven, is also in attendance. I’m not sure if that’s a reference to the fact that it’s all-female, or that they leave in the South American jungle. These books are really not good at that “explaining things” thing.

“Despite their fierce appearance, they listened very calmly,”…Steph, you don’t know what “fierce” is. The lamest of Power Ranger monsters terrify rings around your gaggle of sparkly poseurs.

* One of the amazons has the power to create images in other people’s minds, and after she uses this on Nessie, the baby gets addicted to it. “ ‘More,’ she commanded.” Sounds like Nessie’s growing up to be a more overt version of her mom…

Bella’s not entirely happy with this since she’s “quite sure” the amazon “was able to create images that were not pretty at all.” But by being connected to Nessie’s thoughts, Bella could “judge for myself whether they were appropriate or not.” At the exact same time her daughter would be seeing them with no advance warning. You watchful parent, you.

* Bella tries to learn how to fight, but Edward wusses out whenever he tries to teach her because it’s fighting with his wife. Not that I’d be willing to pound on my wife to help her learn how to defend herself either, but that’s not helping Bella’s assessment of him as this tough guy.

She tries with some of the others, like one who doesn’t belong to any group named Garrett. “…he interacted so easily with others in general that I wondered how he’d never found a coven.” The sad thing is I think that perfunctory little mention there’s supposed to be the beginning of a character arc for him, based on what ends up happening with Garrett.

* Bella also plays with the idea that she should be able to project her shield outward, and tries repeatedly fails to keep taservamp from zapping Edward. “Only Edward was willing to be our guinea pig.” Says a lot.

Our heroine wishes that the illusion amazon would do this instead, but taservamp insists Bella will try harder if she has stronger motivation.

“I heard murmurs from the audience that had grown steadily as I practiced--only Eleazar, Carmen, and Tanya at first, but then Garrett had wandered over, and then Benjamin and Tia, Siobhan and Maggie, and now even Alistair were peering down from a window on the third story.” See what I mean about the characters? “The spectators agreed with Edward; they thought I was already doing well.” Of course she is, she’s a Sue. I’m honestly flabbergasted Meyer’s still trying to hide it by having Bella practice.

* But then again, Bella’s still a Sue, and ultimately training’s for plebians.

Taservamp suggests she instead zap Bella’s kid. Immediately she’s mad enough that all of her reservations crumble and she can project her shield out to cover Nessie and nullify all offensive vampiric powers.

Allow me to reiterate that this happens not through any kind of effort, but through learning she didn’t have the right motivation before. Kamen Rider Kabuto annoyed me with its main character’s superiority to everyone else to the point that he seemed to need his super-duper hero form more because it came with a power he needed to achieve a personal goal, than because he actually needed to get stronger to fight tougher monsters. At least they gave the implication he’d been training a long time to get as good as he was, though.

On the other hand, Bella’s spent the entire series wangsting about how powerless she is even as one of the vampires she worships. Then she has a pair of revelations, and she can effortlessly castrate the biggest threat these books claim to have. Before the final conflict even begins, we know the Cullens win (as if we didn’t already).

Just as galling is that she had to realize she wanted to use her power to protect her child. Glad you’re not my mom, Bells.

* “Now give Bella some space to calm down, Kate. You shouldn’t goad her like that.” Don’t be mean to Bella, you big poophead!

“I know she doesn’t seem her age, but she’s only a few months old.” Isn’t she great?!

Not that anybody ever seriously meant anything nasty to Bella; she learns via touching Nessie that the whole thing was just a ploy to get her to forget her fears. “That didn’t mean I liked it.” Get some real problems and come back, you sucky little bitch.

* Illusion amazon tries to use her power on a whole group, and Bella manages it for a while but still wipes out after a bit to create the fain impression she’ll have to work on this. It has a disquieting effect on those assembled. “…vampires were not used to feeling vulnerable.” Plus, when taservamp demonstrates her ability on an overconfident Garrett, “It was shocking to watch.” Ha ha! Shocking! You made a funny, Steph! “My instincts recoiled against seeing an immortal incapacitated in that way; it was profoundly wrong.” And that kind of thinking’s why they leave themselves no options in a fight besides being vampires.

* Two last vampires show up simply because they’ve heard of this historic group making a stand against the Volturi, and they prove to be the last remnants of the vampire ruling group that preceded the Volturi (the Romanians, they’re called). Because they want to be there if this works and their usurpers get their sparkly butts handed to them.

The chapter basically ends on the gigantic roll call of who all’s there in response to the Cullens’ call.

To make a stand for Bella and her kid.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Breaking Down Chapters 24 - 28

Chapter 24 - Surprise

* In these books? Ha! I say ha to you!

* Bella insists that since she changed a few days shy of her birthday, it still counts as being 18 forever. What happened to being willing to wait and not being so hung up on numbers and becoming a vampire as quickly as possible, like she said on her honeymoon? Oh, we’ll get to that.

Alice tells her to suck it, they’re celebrating anyway, because Alice has no personality outside of parties and shopping. And she’s one of the forefront characters, too.

And Bella gives in to the idea because “There was rarely a point to arguing with Alice…Her grin got impossibly wider as she read the acquiescence in my eyes.” Or maybe you’re just a wuss who expects Edward to stand up for you, but he won’t if it’s against Alice.

Damn it, fifteen chapters from the end of this story, and it’s the same Bella we’ve always had.

* Edward gives Bella his present, a car key. “I wondered if I should feel excited. It seemed the vampire conversion hadn’t given me any sudden interest in sports cars.” Yeah, Meyerpires sound dumber every time what being one entails is brought up, even if it doesn’t actually entail that. Why the hell would it?

* They talk more about Nessie. “She has never been set down in her entire life.” Which has been what, three days? Even if she’s growing up super-fast…

“She’s going to be the most spoiled half-vampire in existence.” Lot of competition for the title, I bet.

“She is also the most unspoiled half-vampire in existence. The beauty of being one of a kind.” Thank you for assassinating what little levity the previous statement carried even more thoroughly than I did, Roz, All in the name of hitting us in the face for the 10,843,289th time that Bella and Edward and their offspring are just SO damn special! Even for vampires! No, being beautiful and immortal’s not enough! She has to be the MOST beautiful, the MOST invincible, have the BEST husband, the MOST remarkable child! I’ll go to my grave thinking the “surprise” at the end of the book was just a concession to the fact that without it, the debate in the field would’ve literally gone on forever.

* “Rosalie grinned at me, and I was glad to see that the new comradeship between us was still there in her smile.” Because you gave her a baby to play with. That’s why you’re friends. Deep.

“But maybe we had fought together on the same side long enough that we would always be friends now. I’d finally made the same choice she would have made if she’d been in my shoes.” Fought on the same side? What? When? And Bella didn’t make a choice, something totally unexpected happened to her and she ran with it. The sobering realization that she was knocked up, even though she shouldn’t have been, made her decide having a kid was worth it. Roz was the one who wanted a baby, who would’ve given up all her vampiric abilities for it. Bella got hers as some kind of reward for having a baby.

As for deciding to keep the baby even though she could die, Bella saying she’d gladly die a thousand deaths for someone else is her second-favorite thing to talk about. It’s like Meyer honestly doesn’t know that repeating something to death makes its significance leak away as we get sick of hearing it.

* Bella says to herself she hates surprises, then realizes that personality-wise she’s made the change to vampiredom pretty much unscathed, and takes solace in it. Take your choice of insult; there’s nothing much about her to change, or vampirism isn’t a big deal after all. After only insisting it was such a huge change for the entire series before now.

Look, maybe it is true for everybody else, but the examples we spend all our time around seem like the norm. And you seem like a bad author who fails to live up to your own precepts if nothing we see about them matches up.

* Alice covers Bella’s eyes as she leads her to see another big surprise. Edward asks his wife to humor Alice.  “Then she’ll go annoy someone else.” It’s nice you’re finally starting to be honest about your characters, Steph. Still too little, too late, though.

* What’s the big surprise? The Cullens built a little cottage out in the woods so Bella and Edward and Nessie could have their own house, but not be too far from the rest of the family. And nobody hiking through the woods will ever find this place, I guess. I don’t remember it ever being indicated it’s got anything like power or running water, either. Unless Steph’s saying vampires never need to shower no matter how dirt-caked they get running around after animals. Which wouldn’t surprise me.

And as soon as Alice leaves, Edward’s the only thing in existence. The house completely leaves her mind.

Hell, if vampires are pretty no matter what it makes you wonder why they bother putting a roof over their heads at all. Tell me Bella would care if Edward did her right there in the dirt.

He reminds her how awesome she is and how naturally being a vampire comes to her. Grind away Steph, you haven’t made your point yet.

* They go inside and look around the cottage and I can’t pin down a reason why, but I hate this place. I think it’s more the people who live there than “It was furnished in eclectic pieces, not one of them matching another, but harmonious just the same.” Huh? How? “Somehow each piece fit together with the others like a big three-dimensional puzzle.” Huh? How? Nothing matches, nothing fits together. Then again I’m pretty sure by now Bella’s just trying to sound smart and deep while she’s aware of all this in a peripheral fashion, but really only paying attention to Edward.

“It was a place where anyone could believe magic existed.” Cut it out with the vague, grandiose statements already, Steph. I’m left to imagine most of your world for myself, and if that’s the case, why don’t I stop reading your book and go write my own? You’re failing as an author. Hard.

“Edward had always thought that he belonged to the world of horror stories. Of course, I’d always known he was dead wrong.” Ha! I take it back, Meyer can make jokes after all. “It was obvious that he belonged here. In a fairy tale.” Then could you please make up your mind which one you’re writing? Obviously you aren’t interested in writing scares or drama, yet you keep including that kind of stuff and acting like we should be affected by it.

“I laughed quietly, amazed at how quickly everything had turned right when it had all looked so nightmarish just a week ago,” indeed.

* Of course, now that they’re alone in their own house, it doesn’t take long before “I heard the fabric tearing under our hands.” Appropriate for all ages! Especially when she tells us the real reason she wanted to drag out being a human, because sex with Edward had been “the epitome of my human life” and she wanted to drag it out longer.

Deep! Mature! Selfless!

Why in the flying fork is she telling me things she isn’t willing to tell her soul mate?

And of course sex AS a vampire is even better than sex WITH a vampire, because stop jacking off in public, Meyer.

* After it’s over, Bella asks if the “craving,” as she puts it, ever stops. Imagine if it did! She might have to do something to fill her time besides obsess over Edward!

* Edward replies it took Roz and Emmett a decade to stop doing the nasty all the time. He uses that to segue into how not sleeping “makes balancing your…interests quite easy.” Why did he pause like that? Is it because he knows Bella seriously doesn’t have any outside of him, maybe?

“There’s a reason why I’m the best musician in the family, why--besides Carlisle--I’ve read the most books, studied the most sciences, become fluent in the most languages…” Isn’t Edward awesome?!

“Emmett would have you believe that I’m such a know-it-all because of the mind reading, but the truth is that I’ve just had a lot of free time.” And had never looked at girls until what’s-her-name blundered into his eternal life. What happens now that his interests are as narrow as hers?

Chapter 25 - Bell’s Offended To Be Reminded Of The Greatest Experience Of Her Life

* After literally fncking into the wee hours of the morning, Edward mentions they probably go see their kid since she’s about to wake up. Even though other people will be happy to look after her whenever mommy and daddy want some alone time, I’m sure. Must be nice to have super-powered providers to take care of everything in your life for you.

Edward assures his bride “It’s all about balance, love. You’re so good at all of this, I don’t imagine it will take too long to put everything in perspective.” Indeed, it’s easy to forget how this is supposed to be hard.

Knowing they’ll have all night to do the bump and grind “would have to be enough to get me through the daylight hours,” though. Oh poor Bella, having to tear herself away from the act of sex to spend time with her child she supposedly loves more than life itself. What a great heroine.

“I just burst through, intent on wearing the first things I touched. I should have known it wouldn’t be that easy…As promised, the room was bigger than our bedroom. It might have been bigger than the rest of the house put together, but I’d have to pace it off to be positive.”

Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, Meyer. What Bella’s going to wear for the day is a daunting problem. It’s crap like the way she makes this sound that keeps me from believing how serious a threat the Volturi or Victoria or whoever’s the biggest menace at the moment are. No perspective.

“I had a brief mental flash of Alice trying to persuade Esme to ignore classic proportions and allow this monstrosity. I wondered how Alice had won that one.” If you’re not getting the picture that the rest of the family has learned to acquiesce to Alice in the name of name of peace, I have to wonder what percentage of your attention Edward dominates in proportion to the rest of them.

“He said her name like an explanation; I said it like an expletive.” Sounds like I was right. He’s learned to accept it, Bella’s still getting there.

* “It only took him seconds to find his own clothes--if I hadn’t seen him undressed, I would have sworn there was nothing more beautiful than Edward in his khakis and pale beige pullover.” Dear god in heaven, SHUT UP!!

* Everyone’s paying absolute attention to Nessie by the time her parents get back. “Alice, Jasper, Esme and Carlisle were sitting on the couch, watching her as if she were the most engrossing film.” Steph, I’m just going to refer you to this little list here.

* Bella was worried about how much Nessie might have changed in one night. “She was different, but not so much. A little longer again, her proportions drifting from babyish to childlike. Her hair was longer by a quarter inch, the curls bouncing like springs with every movement. I’d let my imagination run wild on the trip back, and I’d imagined worse than this. Thanks to my overdone fears, these little changes were almost a relief.”

Steph, admitting Bella’s an over-reactionary fool doesn’t mitigate the problem of her blowing everything out of proportion. Not if she’s still doing it up until the finish line. It’s a lot like how her favorite things to talk about are how vampires are beautiful and how willing she is to die for other people. If it happens all the time, it’s harder to care when something that genuinely warrants getting worked up about happens. I’ve said this, why am I still saying this?

Also, with how rapidly her daughter’s changing and how worried she seems about what Nessie’s changing into, she seems like a great mom for dropping the kid off and spending the whole night in the throes of passion with Edward.

* They talk a little about how Jacob’s even more obsessed with Nessie than the rest of them, and Bella says “I suppose it doesn’t matter. We won’t be here that much longer.” She still insists on hanging her best friend out to dry. What a great heroine. I’d even say this made her more relatable if it wasn’t the polar opposite of everything everyone else says about her.

* Emmett needles Bella about attending Dartmouth. “I’m sure you’ll ace your classes…apparently there’s nothing interesting for you to do at night besides study.”

Do not lose your temper, do not lose your temper, I chanted to myself.” Why is she mad? Steph, I don’t care what you say, Bella’s not a complex character. She herself admitted to us only last chapter the reason she wanted to stay human a little longer was having sex with Edward was the most amazing thing that ever happened to her.

* Then suddenly Edward gets mad, and amidst Alice’s protests that Bella isn’t using her enormous wardrobe the way she’s supposed to, tells them the reason Jacob left was to tell Charlie how Bella’s better now. And Charlie’s coming to check up on her.

Bella panics. “Charlie couldn’t know about me! About vampires! That would put him on a hit list that even the Cullens couldn’t save him from.” Unless they vamped him too. Oh, right, learning to be a vampire is hard for most people. And once again, I’m not impressed by characters I hardly ever see just because you tell me I should be, Steph. S. D. T.

* Jacob comes in then. “He walked with jerky movements, like he was all hyped-up about destroying my father’s life.” You. Stupid. Little. Witch. It’s not like he could’ve been trying to do something NICE for Charlie by getting rid of all the worry that his stupid bitch of a daughter isn’t really dying. Did anyone even tell Jacob about the Volturi, and why it’s bad for non-vampires to know about vampires? Especially considering that not allying with werewolves is another rule laid out by the Volturi. Did the Quileutes leave before the Volturi showed up after the vampire rumble in the last book because they were given a reason besides the fact that the fighting was over? Who’s really at fault?

I know we find out later the Quileutes aren’t technically werewolves, but again the way the Volturi are endlessly described, they don’t seem the kind to care about the letter of the law and let offenders go thanks to loopholes (regardless of how it clashes with the way they’re actually portrayed, as with every other major element in these books). And real werewolves or no, let’s remember the reason the wolf-gene resurfaced was because of the presence of vampires and the Quileutes’ hereditary mission to fight them. Meaning they’re the natural enemies of vampires, just like real werewolves.

“I would keep her in my arms until I was sure my decision to kill Jacob was based entirely on rational judgment rather than fury.” You’ll be waiting forever, then. I’m just saying.

Bella asks if Jake realizes what he’s done, and the danger he’s put Charlie in. “I didn’t put him in danger. Except from you. But you’ve got some kind of supernatural self-control, right?” Sounds like he doesn’t know about the Volturi.

Edward gets involved. “That’s just a theory, mongrel. You think we should test it on Charlie?” You had no problem testing it on your daughter, you sparkly dickshine.

“Did you consider the physical pain you’re putting Bella through, even if she can resist? Or the emotional pain if she doesn’t? I suppose what happens to Bella no longer concerns you!” It never concerned me! Why the hell is she everyone’s darling like this?! Bella Bella Bella!!

Cut it out already, Steph. Your devotion to this problem of vampire urges you never show is getting sad. To say nothing of how that describes every single problem you’ve ever tried to introduce.

* Jake tells the story of how he…told Charlie what’s going on, but Charlie insisted on not knowing anything he doesn’t absolutely need to know. Boy, I like Charlie. A man after my own heart. Seriously Meyer, if you’ve got a story element in mind, make it important or put it away. You write about nothing better than anyone I’ve ever seen.

* They get ready to carry on their “tropical disease” charade, with Edward preparing to give Bella contacts that will make her eyes look relatively normal. “They won’t match your old color, but it’s still better than bright red, right?” She ate some animals already, shouldn’t her eyes be turning gold like theirs? Which nobody ever notices?

Alice also tells Esme to “give her a few pointers on acting human.” I…just…wow. What could I possibly say on top of that?

Everybody starts offering help, and Alice tells them to shut up and let Esme handle it. “You’ll overwhelm her.” I thought vampires learned quickly and had perfect retention, because that makes them more awesomer.

* Edward explains to his spawn that her granddad’s coming to visit “as if he expected her to understand every word.” I know everything about half-vampires is supposed to be unknown right now, but she’s growing up quickly, shouldn’t she be growing up mentally quickly too? For all the sense that makes. And why show doubt when every aspect of anything vampire-related has always been as awesome as possible? Yeah Meyer, we noticed. Do you think we expect you to throw us a curve now?

* Charlie shows up and Carlisle looks “abashed” upon greeting him. “After all, we were supposed to be in Atlanta at the Center for Disease Control. Charlie knew he’d been lied to.” We already know this. He already knows this. You don’t really think I’m an idiot for reading your book, do you Steph?

* And…absolutely nothing unexpected happens. They pretend Bella’s sick, but Charlie knows better. He meets his granddaughter, even though she’s way too old to exist. Vampires in general and the Cullens in particular are really good-looking.

* Emmett, while pretending to watch the game, subtly ribs Bella for the fact that she and her husband have sex. At least I assume that’s what he means by “ ‘Bout time somebody scored around here.” For some reason Bella’s offended that he would do this in front of her father even though she’s holding living proof of the act in her arms. And once again, stop acting like you didn’t yourself have her say that her life was never greater than when she had sex with a vampire as a vampire, Steph.

“But Charlie was beyond noticing innuendos,” so why does she even care?

Chapter 26 - Know How Much Better A Book About Emmett Would Be?

* They talk about how much to tell Bella’s mom. “This stuff isn’t for the fainthearted,” Bella declares. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere about the author bragging that girls as young as eight or six read these books.

* Charlie’s apparently having dinner at the Clearwaters’ (whoever they are). “That was going to be an awkward evening.” Um…why?

She promises Charlie they won’t leave for right now, “but I can’t promise that we’ll never leave, Dad. It’s pretty complicated…” No it’s not, Steph. They’ll have to leave eventually because they’re not aging and eventually even the thickheads in this town will notice. They shouldn’t even be there now, with the vampire mafia after them. Don’t get all puffed up about what you’ve wrought.

Especially not when next we get this. Charlie notes his granddaughter is “sturdy.” Bella “frowned. She felt feather-light to me. Maybe my measure was off.” Or maybe you’re a damn retard who can’t even remember you’re a super-strong vampire. And that new as you are, you’re as strong as you’ll ever be, right now. Lordy…Her mind’s on a higher plane now but she sounds like the same slow twit she’s been since day one.

* Charlie tells Bella her child’s the prettiest baby he ever saw, even more than she was (seriously). But of course that’s true, because Bella was only human back then and humans blah blah blah.

Bella explains her daughter’s names, first being Renesmee of course (Renee + Esme, from the parents’ mothers), but her middle name is Carlie (Carlisle + Charlie). Look, not that you can’t do that, but if Steph had bothered to work in a sense of cutesiness before now, it would work better. That would’ve required her to find sources of drama other than murderous vampires after her heroine once in a while, though.

* About two thirds of a page goes into discussing what the Cullens were doing as Charlie hung around. Jacob was in the kitchen. “Alice was lounging on the bottom step of the staircase with Jasper’s head in her lap; Carlisle had his head bent over a fat book in his lap; Esme was humming to herself, sketching on a notepad, while Rosalie and Emmett laid out the foundation for a monumental house of cards under the staircase. Edward had drifted to his piano and was playing very softly to himself.” This is their airtight charade, is it? Tell me why they’re even bothering when the only normal person around already knows something weird’s going on and doesn’t want to hear about it.

* “I’d actually made it through the whole day without hurting Charlie. All by myself. I must have a superpower!” Or maybe you have a wimpy author.

“You were unbelievable. All that worrying being a newborn, and then you skip it altogether.” Yeah, I’m going with wimpy author. And did Charlie hang around all day for any other reason than to prove Bella could stand to be around him that long? He seemed uncomfortable, and everyone except Emmett seemed to be sitting around wondering how long it would be before he’d just throw up his hands and walk out.

* With Charlie gone Bella’s free to confront Emmett about all the embarrassing things he said about her. Screw you, Steph. She deserves everything he said and more, and the worst he said was, shocker, she’s having sex with her husband. That seems to be the ceiling for the severity of Bella’s problems, people saying mildly embarrassing things about her. And Emmett might be a crass meathead, but I remember him being something else too, which is someone who wants to go out and take care of their problems. As opposed to our narrator who we’re evidently supposed to like more, who would rather sit at home and wangst about how horrible it is that someone might get hurt when they won’t (and can put themselves back together good as new anyway).

Edward points out how dumb it is to insult the strongest vampire in the house (wouldn’t be surprised at all if Bella never lost that. For all the point it has to the story after this one chapter). Emmett scoffs, and Edward teasingly reminds Bella of a promise he asked her to make to challenge Emmett to arm-wrestling after she was a vampire (which actually did happen).

They go out back and Indian-wrassle on top of a rock, and, shocker again, Bella wins. Part of the rock breaks off “at an invisible fault line.” What, even to her super-duper vampire senses? And it lands on Emmett’s foot. Hilarious. He’s a rock too, and he acts like he barely even felt it. You got him good, didn’t you, Bells?

* After Edward reports that Nessie was having fun watching her mom win a juvenile contest, Bella marvels some at being a vampire. “As a human, I’d never been best at anything.” You never tried, idiot. Then again she never tried to be a vampire either, that just happened. But that's this entire series boiled down to three words, isn't it? "That just happened."

“So this was really different. I was amazing now--to them and to myself.” Not from anything she achieved, or even tried to achieve, from having her biology altered by an outside source. This is growth…?

“It was like I had been born to be a vampire…I had found my true place in the world, the place I fit, the place I shined.” And the full-grown Sue emerges from her chrysalis.

Chapter 27 - Oh That’s Right, We’re Supposed To Have A Plot…

* “I took mythology a lot more seriously since I’d become a vampire.”

Not when she started going out with one, or making plans for the future with one, or having her life threatened by other ones, I guess.

I bet Steph thought that would be such a clever way to kick off the chapter, too.

* “Often, when I looked back over my first three months as an immortal, I imagined how the thread of my life might look in the Fates’ loom--who knew but that it actually existed?” No way, Meyer. You waited way too long to bring this up. In fact you had this character getting annoyed at how many legends were real before.

* “I was surprised by some of the threads I got to include in my life. The werewolves, with their deep, woodsy colors, were not something I’d expected; Jacob, of course, and Seth, too. But my old friends Quil and Embry became part of the fabric as they joined Jacob’s pack, and even Sam and Emily were cordial.”

“Sue and Leah Clearwater were interlaced into our life too--two more I had not anticipated. Sue seemed to have taken it on herself to smooth Charlie’s transition into the world of make-believe. She came with him to the Cullens’ most days, though she never seemed truly comfortable here the way her son and most of Jake’s pack did. She did not speak often; she just hovered protectively near Charlie.”

Imagine if the author didn’t count this as character development, which is to say breezing over major events with non-Edward and Jacob characters.

“The tensions between our families eased, mostly due to Renesmee. She was easy to love.” Once again, I’m sorry to sound like an asshole, but this just doesn’t sound like the words of a loving parent. More bloody Sueishness, but now there’s another one.

* Why exactly does Bella insist on thinking of everyone, even Leah, as part of her family? Is it because the Cullens are only figuratively a family, so she feels the need to lump in everybody with whom they’re somewhat friendly? Does everybody have to be that close, in her mind?

* “Happiness was the main component in my life now, the dominant pattern in the tapestry…And I was euphoric the vast majority of the time. The days were not long enough for me to get my fill of adoring my daughter; the nights did not have enough hours to satisfy my need for Edward.” Why does Bella only quickly summarize things when they’re going well? I know how drama thrives on conflict, but more than anything this adds to the sense that she’s a morose little whinerbag. And showing us things when they’re happy would give us some idea of why it’s so great to be a Cullen. Or is being ultra-beautiful and immortal why it’s so great to be a Cullen?

* But we find out soon that Bella’s afraid of how fast her daughter’s growing up. How soon she talks, how soon she walks. “Edward and Carlisle threw themselves into research, looking for any answers, anything to expect. There was very little to be found, and none of it verifiable.”

Again, it would be a lot cooler to have the Cullens try to sneak into Volterra and see if there’s anything in some kind of secret vampire database, giving them information the Volturi themselves are looking into. Granted even if Meyer was willing to write such a thing, it’d happen offscreen while Bella stays at home. But it’d help the Volturi look like this evil shadowy group that Meyer wants us to think of them as, when they’d come after the Cullens for no doubt having a less than lawful need for such information.

* The reason for Bella’s fears is she’s afraid her daughter won’t stop growing. I’d ask why exactly I should care, since Meyer seems to have some kind of psychological defect where the characters she creates are the exact opposite of whatever she intended, but I’m still stuck on why someone who’s half-unchanging dead person is growing up faster.

* Evidently everyone would have to go if they were going to visit the tribe to collect information, and the reason they haven’t is Bella doesn’t want to leave “until after the holidays, for Charlie’s sake.”

Sweetie, with the way he reacted to all your supernatural weirdness, I think he’d understand. And frankly your insistence on staying just increases the danger to not only him but your child, since…

* She gets a note of congratulations on her marriage. From Aro. With an extremely expensive gift. Of course. “I always wondered where the crown jewels disappeared to after John of England pawned them in the thirteenth century.” And now Bella’s getting them! Isn’t that great and not Sue-y at all?

* “They could not be allowed near Forks. There was only one way to keep our life here safe.” Yeah and that’s for Bella to go alone and let them see she’s a vampire.

“ ‘You’re not going alone,’ Edward had insisted through his teeth, his hands clenching into fists.” Is he going to be her bodyguard when she confronts them? He did a bang-up job last time where the guards smacked his sparkly ass all over the room.

And again, why Forks? I refuse to believe anybody but Bella would have any problem spending their eternity somewhere else. Only the constant rain seems to make this place convenient for them. And they’re known as the weirdo recluse family even there where they’re making some kind of attempt to blend in. How different would it be to be a weirdo recluse family somewhere sunnier?

Hell, Meyer’s even shown that Bella wouldn’t mind getting away to keep Jacob away from her kid.

* Bella thinks that she’s such a curiosity, that’s why Aro might want her. And because of her power, excuse me, the defect in her brain, she’s the only family member his telepathy doesn’t work on. No, I’m sorry this still doesn’t stand up. Wouldn’t it be more suspicious if Bella came alone? Exactly because she’s the only one immune to vampire powers? And Aro’s mind-reading isn’t passive like Edward’s, he has to physically touch his victim. Wouldn’t that be kind of suspicious too? And at odds with how they really haven’t been portrayed as evil overlords of vampirekind? Oh believe me, we’ll get to that.

But she decides to go with Carlisle instead. “It made both Edward and me a little more relaxed, knowing that Carlisle would only be a few hours away from me.” During which time the Volturi could kill her a thousand times over, idiots. Hours! Crap!

* Alice tries to see the future and I’m past trying to figure out how it works. It works however it needs to work right now, unless it involves something that Alice has never been. Then it doesn’t work. That’s the only rule. She does spot something about somebody named Irina trying to reconcile with them, but hell if I know who that is.

* Oh wait, that’s the bitchy member of the Alaskan group, the one who didn’t want to help in the last book unless the Cullens killed the Quileutes. Because she shows up while Bella’s hanging in the woods with her kid. “Even under the clouds, she glistened ever so slightly.” Wait, what? Enough sunlight gets through clouds to start the sparkling? That’s…completely inconsistent with why the Cullens live around there.

* “She was a stranger to me. I was absolutely certain I’d never seen her before, even as a human.” Did you see a lot of vampires, even after you were one, and before the big gathering in a while? Especially with how basically only the Cullens and the Alaskans eschew a human diet?

She sees Bella with an impossibly beautiful child (let it go already!) and figures the Cullens must have broken the law about changing children into vampires, so she goes to tattle to the Volturi.

Bella tries to pursue her but fails. Really shines as a vampire, does she? “I didn’t know which direction Irina had taken, or exactly how furious she was right now. Vengeance was a common obsession for vampires, one that was not easy to suppress.” But one that’s very easy to forget about, apparently, what with how long it took them to guess that the vampire who they knew wanted vengeance could still be after them last book.

No, I’m not going to let that go. Steph talks about how vampires are so much smarter than humans but they took half the book to figure out something the reader did halfway through the first chapter. You earn slack with the reader by writing well, and constantly failing to live up to your precepts isn’t writing well.

* Oh, and the reason revenge is brought up is because Irina saw Jacob in his wolf mode and figured he might have been the guy who killed her precious Laurent. You know, he seemed okay, but then when he showed up again he was a scumbag. I don’t miss him and I wouldn’t sympathize with Irina’s loss even if she wasn’t just a bitchy character who exists for no other reason than to throw petty anger in Bella’s direction. Frankly she seems like an asshole too.

Chapter 28 - Hold Onto Your Seat For Hot Supernatural Debating Action!

* As usual, Bella tries to shoulder all the blame. She should’ve gone hunting with the kid somewhere else. She shouldn’t have gone with the werewolf. Blah blah blah. At least this time nobody tries to talk her out of it. Although I get the feeling that by now they all know there’s no point.

* The other Alaskans are upset to report Irina hasn’t come home; it wasn’t easy for them to lose their sister, however temporary the separation might be. I wondered if this brought back hard memories of losing their mother so many centuries ago.” Funny, because that’s about how long it feels since the last time we heard the slightest tidbit about these characters. Damn it Meyer, you make these tiny throwaway references to big things that happened to these characters we’ve only seen briefly as guests at Bella’s wedding, and I’m supposed to have a reaction now? Telling me they’re the Cullens’ best friends doesn’t matter for jack squat if they’re never part of the narrative. The most notable thing they did before was NOT show up to help in Eclipse, for crying out loud!

It’s like you really do only write for someone who already knows everything you do about your little world.

* Bella rolls on to their plans to research Nessie’s condition after she gets back from Volterra. They do plan to take Jacob along, in no small part because it’d be helpful to have a non-vampire around while doing research on vampires because people who believe in vampires aren’t likely to tell vampires what they know.

Let’s face it, Steph. Even compared to other vampires, the Cullens aren’t that great.

* But while we’re still kind of on the subject of how undeveloped a lot of characters are, we hear about “the three Amazon vampires” like we should know who that is, and how they probably weren’t involved in the creation of any legends. You. Can’t. Do. It. Like. That. Steph.

* But then Alice drops a vase, and because “I had never seen a vampire drop anything by accident. Ever,” she’s obviously seen something horrifying in one of her convenient visions. That Irina’s going to do what I already told you.

“This isn’t about Bella,” Alice assures us (pardon me if I still have trouble with that), even though ALL the Volturi are coming, not just the minions. Even the rulers and their wives.

And again I’m under-impressed by the mental acuity of the vampires as they dither trying to figure out what about them could possibly demand such a complete show of force from the Volturi.

Bella’s the one to figure it out. Because she’s such a natural vampire.

* “And the Volturi’s response to this kind of infraction was so automatic, it was already decided.” Oh, that kind of infraction? Not the kind where they’re happy to make an exception if someone with clairvoyant powers of questionable reliability tells them the rules will be obeyed…eventually, I guess. The guard saw Bella was still human when they came by, and they still haven’t taken action to make sure Edward kept his promise. Hell, who knows when they would’ve come, if not for Irina’s hissyfit?

Bella tries to assure them that they have nothing to worry about, since Nessie’s not a hyperactive monster but a growing little monster. Edward delivers the bad news, “It’s the kind of crime they hold a trial for, love. Aro’s seen Irina’s proof in her thoughts. They come to destroy. Not to be reasoned with.”

Her proof! If Aro’s read her thoughts as thoroughly as he does she must seem childish and petty and eager for revenge. If you’re going to tell me her assurance is proof enough for him to round up his entire organization and come to murder his old friend and that old friend’s entire family, I need to see more of Irina than when she’s at her worst.

I’m sick and tired of your assurances, Steph. You’re willing to create a whole world, you should damn well be willing to show us why we should believe what you say about what happens in it. I’m saying that as a reader, not a writer.

* Anyway, they have about a month before the Volturi show up to bring the hammer of vampire justice down on them. Why so freaking long??

Oh, and they can’t just leave because Demetri would find them. The member who’s a plot device to prevent this kind of thing. As are many of the other Volturi for other things.

* Emmett suggests they might prepare for battle, and kind, compassionate, but shortsighted Bella tells him they’re not condemning the Quileutes to death fighting the Volturi. I say shortsighted because Emmtt points out because the Quileutes would come to fight anyway if they found out hostile vampires were coming.

Emmett reminds the others the Quileutes aren’t their only supernatural friends, but Carlisle replies those are “Other friends we don’t have to sentence to death.”

You’re telling me what to think again, Steph. And I’ll go back to that thing where I said she trapped herself in Eclipse; if the Volturi had shown up and killed any of newborn vampires of note, it would’ve made them seem tough, but at the expense of the Cullens. Who would’ve seemed less awesome by being outdone. That was really the only opportunity Steph gave herself to demonstrate how frightening the Volturi were, so we’re left with more of her damn assurances.

* The plan shifts from researching Nessie via legends to talking to their various other vampire friends to assemble in Forks, in the hopes that seeing such a large number of vampires uniting by the Cullens persuade the Volturi to stop long enough for the Cullens to reason with them.

Which means two things. That the first three pages of this chapter, where we heard the details about their plans to research Nessie's condition, were totally pointless. Thanks, Steph.

Two, that this time we’re told well in advance that Steph’s not even going to attempt an epic battle. It’s going to be an epic DEBATE SESSION.

Oh, my head…

* Somewhere during this Alice and Jasper disappear, and Jacob shows up just in time to find out “We’ve all been sentenced to die.”

Friday, August 3, 2012

Raiders of Galaxy

Another foray into the work of Korean mecha plagiarists. The good news is there’s no political messages in this one. And yeah, that’s the best news I’ve got. That something bad isn’t in it.

We open on THE WORST OPENING CREDITS IN THE WORLD, a bunch of plain white text on a plain red background. After a while, looking at this starts to hurt the eyes.

Some kind of space fog with eyes appears and talks to a bald, pointy-eared alien named Andrew, commanding him to conquer Earth at all costs. Also the rest of the solar system, but I guess it’s not expecting a lot of resistance from uninhabited gas giants.

Next we see a human-crewed spaceship where they talk about getting weird, unknown interference lately, just as it happens again. I’d ask if any of them thought to consider the strange glowing object outside their windshield, but their captain DOES notice it and orders them to find out what it is. They fail to identify it, but at least they saw it.

They start to head off-course and attempt to steer back into their orbital path. With an old ship’s steering wheel. This fails, so the captain gets on the PA and launches into the longest, most rambling emergency announcement you ever heard.

“I have an announcement to make. Listen well, everyone. The situation is critical. We’re being approached by a spacecraft of which we know nothing, whose presence coincides with the ship veering off-course inexplicably, and our transmissions are being blocked, so I declare a red state of emergency. You know what that means. Be ready for the worst, and good luck to everyone.”

The only reason they get to hear the end of that is they aren’t actually being attacked. The UFO, a flying saucer that’s transparent for some reason, grabs the ship with some kind of tractor beam and flies away with it.

On Earth, a general anime scientist, this one named Dr. Han, is overseeing the final tests of a new battle robot, Super Mazinga 3. And yeah, it looks kinda like the granddaddy of anime battle mecha, Mazinga Z (clever name change, guys). Even down to having what looks like the hovercraft vehicle lodged in its head, even though that appears to be just a solid part of the robot, and not a separate vehicle the pilots use to get in.

Its piloted by a crew of three Personality-Free Protagonists. Boring Clean-Cut Hero David, Token Girl Angie (Dr. Han presumably kept his original name, but everyone else is occidental?), and Comic Relief Chubby Guy, Piggy. Who has a British accent. I think. The voice acting’s even worse than in Solar Adventure, so the accent might even be Australian.

Dr. Han says something about blocking strange frequencies, so I assumed they knew about the interference that crippled the ship before it was captured and immunized the robot against it. But later he seems in the dark about how the aliens are capturing human ships, so I guess not.

They fly into space as part of the final test, but while they’re up there, they’re attacked by the flying saucer. They prove unable to hit the thing with Mazinga 3’s guns, so they reveal that it has a little fighter ship on the back that looks suspiciously like a re-colored King Arrow from Goshogun (or Macron-1, stateside), and its boots detach into yet another fighter ship. Even ganging up on the saucer this way, they still fail to hit it and after a lot of repeated footage of the same shots being fired from the various ships, the saucer leaves unscathed.

Then we’re back on Earth again, where two kids are playing catching with a pair of robots. For some reason, even though the ball they’re using is about the size of a tennis ball, when they throw it they toss it up and serve it like a volleyball. And this game involves running bases, somehow. While going to get the ball, one of the kids sees a suspicious guy in a fedora and dark coat hiding in the bushes and looking over at Mazinga 3’s base (at least, I assume that’s what that building is). In fact, seen from different angles, this base looks a lot like the Good Thunder fortress from Goshogun.

Feel the power!

The suspicious guy takes pictures of the base and Mazinga as it flies past, then walks into some trees and disappears. The kids wonder who he was and one of the robots is able to “logically deduce that he was a spy from outer space.”

Yeah, what garage sale did they get you at, clanky?

See how suspicious I am? I'm THIS suspicious!

Some guy calls Dr. Han and tells him about losing contact with human spaceships, including “the Korean investigation space base.” Whatever the hell that means. Dr. Han calls David and Angie (no mention of Piggy) to his office to tell them what he’s heard. Only David comes, and hears about the doctor about the “Korean investigation space base,” which apparently was the one that was carried away at the beginning. This is significant because Angie’s mom was on it. So it’s a tiny bit suspicious when a car carrying Angie’s mom suddenly drives up to the base.

Yeah, speaking of that…maybe it’d do more good to just show you.

This is only the most blatant instance, too. The music where the kids are playing ball was from that same show (the beepy instrumental version of the end theme). So was the “imminent danger” music when they followed the spy into the woods.

Angie’s mom starts to act suspicious, taking an interest in Mazinga. Dr. Han picks up on her keen interest in their robot, but David won’t listen to him. How dare he suspect Angie’s mom, who is, um, back on Earth with no explanation even attempted? Our heroes.

That night Angie’s mom sneaks out and into the mecha hangar, which appears to have no security measures at all with the way she just walks in and tries to plant a bomb on Mazinga 3. Yeah, that thing probably only cost their entire GDP. Why bother protecting it?

She’s caught in the act when the little girl from the ballgame earlier goes into the hangar to admire Mazinga (again, nobody and nothing there to stop her). “That fist alone is as strong as a tanker, and look at the gigantic body! And those sparkling eyes! And the lady up there planting a bomb on the head!” Okay, not that last part, but with how idiotic these Joseph Lai movies are, you wouldn’t be surprised. In fact what does happen is even dumber, because the little girl thinks Angie’s mom is a ghost, and goes to tell Angie.

Caught, Angie’s mom pulls a gun and suddenly her skin’s green, then suddenly it’s back to normal. She jumps off Mazinga, all the way to the ground, and lands without a scratch. I’d say that was meant to tell us she’s not human, but two seconds later Angie does the same thing, from even higher, and isn’t hurt either. You know, you may not want to take the audience’s suspension of disbelief for granted, even in a kids’ movies. And after that “capitalist bastards” thing in Solar Adventure...

Piggy hits the alarm which summons zero of the armed guards we saw outside. It does get David’s attention, and he runs into Angie’s mom, holding her up just long enough for Angie to catch up to her and rip her mask off. Which is exactly the same as her real face, except not green. Wow, that’s a coincidence.

While they’re trying to interrogate the spy, two lookouts fail to do their job as the flying saucer from before lands outside the base and splits open to reveal a giant robot. So these guys saw Grendizer, too. It starts punching through the skylight of the control room to grab their captured spy, prompting Dr. Han to order that the “shutter-proof shields” be closed. The WHAT-proof shields??

As you’d expect, they roll out Mazinga, but as before fail to accomplish much. After much poorly-animated kicking and punching the evil robot folds back up into a saucer and leaves with no attempt at pursuit or blocking its escape from our heroes.

After a scene with a lot of boring talking that doesn’t establish much except how our heroes are a bunch of doorknobs for not asking how a crewmember aboard a vanished spacecraft would just come home, the decision’s made to send the Mazinga crew after the aliens (the Andrew Meda, apparently). No idea how they know where they’re going, since the spy was rescued before she could talk, and nobody said anything about tracking the saucer.

Also the kids’ robots are going along with the three pilots, but not the kids from the ballgame. The kids steal the robots’ “clothes” rather than miss this awesome if extremely confusing adventure. They’re immediately found out by the pilots but not sent back, because we can’t have kid appeal without kid characters, can we?

Yes, we can. Back when I was a kid, everybody in the group always wanted to be Lion-O or Tygra or Panthro. One of the characters who got to kick butt and do cool things. Being made to play the annoying comic relief character was an insult.

The aliens see them coming and send out some rather Yamato-ish spaceships to intercept the robot, and as before the Mazinga team split off their fighter ships to fight back. After much repeated footage of the same ships shooting the same ships, Mazinga again kind of sucks when it’s trapped in some kind of electrical net by the aliens and left to be destroyed by some kind of space cloud (which even has a name. Devil. Don’t know why). Again, some lifted Bioman music plays here. This time it sounds like the music that played when Doctor Man would make his entrance. In any case, Mazinga’s energy is drained and it’s hurled to the surface of a barren planet.

With Mazinga 3 out of his metaphorical hair, Andrew (remember him?) makes plans to invade Earth. Also, bizarrely, his title is “president.” Like Siporta from Solar Adventure. If they seized power in a bloody coup (which is sort of, kind of, very vaguely implied by what we’re about to see), you’d think they’d want a more grandiose title than “president.”

Mazinga’s pilots are, of course, okay (“thank God,” sayeth David), but Mazinga’s “enegr” is still low.

Yet somehow it’s slowly recharging. Going to investigate what might be powering up their robot (I guess, because they don’t say), David and Angie go outside and find a cave. “I’m sure it’s man-made,” Angie says once they’re at the mouth.

What was your first clue, hawkeye?

Inside they find a bunch of giant glowing lollipops that turns out to be a computer that promises to help them. That is, if they take “Prince Orion of Andrew Meda” with them. I guess he’s the true ruler or something, but they don’t say. And I guess the computer gases Mazinga up again, because they don’t say. And I have no idea why Orion was being kept in rock candy, because they don’t say.

“President Andrew” decides the time’s right to make his move against Earth. One of his ships flies through an asteroid belt, and then this really weird thing happens where they watch calmly as an asteroid flies right at their windshield then disappears. What in the…?!

The Mazinga team hitch a ride on the back of the ship into Andrew’s base where the fighter ships split off from Mazinga and start blowing up random shit and saving the crews of the captured ships. Including Angie’s real mom, if you somehow care. Just in time for the guards to shoot her. Oh no, not the character even less developed than the heroes!

In the flattest delivery you ever heard in your life, Andrew calls one his minions an “idiot imbecile” and orders him to release the hounds. Or the hound, singular. The giant mechanized one. Mazinga fights the thing, but again our heroic robot is pretty lame because it’s at the dog’s mercy until the ships reconnect and (I guess, because it doesn’t say) this gives the robot enough power to electrocute the dog so it falls apart and explodes.

Andrew pleads to his nebulous boss for help, but is abandoned for his failure. What the heck was that thing? Was that the Devil cloud that drained Mazinga before? Who cares, the movie’s over. Like they’d bother to explain it now. And that it’d be even slightly comprehensible if they did.

Piggy planted a bomb on the “main energy tank,” and they fly away from Andrew’s base as it explodes and takes the whole planet with it. Somewhere there’s a planet where plants suddenly start to grow for some reason, where the Mazinga team drop off Orion and some presumably non-evil Andrew Meda aliens.

Then they fly home.

And nobody cared.

I might have spoken a little too soon when I knocked Solar Adventure’s political agenda. At the very least that forced them to attempt some kind of coherent setting and plot. Raiders of Galaxy, on the other hand, is the laziest, most blatant rip-off, cash-in movie I’ve ever seen. The plot’s more confusing, the voice acting’s worse, the action’s even more boring and most of the music’s stolen.

At least I never felt like I was being lectured.