Onward and upward!
When we last left our heroes, we learned a couple of things.
1. Edward Cullen is perfect.
2. Bella is absolutely miserable in Forks.
3. The sun never shines in Forks. As a result, its people are ridiculously insular mole people. Outsiders fascinate this strange tribe from Washington. Heaven knows what would happen if a Coke bottle fell from the sky and into their town.
4. Edward Cullen is perfect.
5. Bella is sooooooo put-upon with all the attention she receives from every single denizen of this odd little enclave. However, the instant one of them shows the slightest dislike for her (specifically, the prettiest one), she completely falls apart.
6. Did I mention that Edward Cullen is perfect?
Anyway—plot recap for real this time. Bella moved to Forks to live with her father so her mother could travel with her new stepfather, Edward at first showed intense dislike for her, but then warmed up to her in the second chapter. The Cullens are strange, strange people. They are unnaturally beautiful. Hmm—do you think there might be something special about the Cullens, thus illustrating my biggest beef with this series, specifically THE FACT THAT IT IS SO HAM-FISTED?
Anyway. Moving on.
Chapter 3 – Phenomenon
--Okay, I’ll give her half a point for describing the winter wonderland as beautiful and as well as being a total hazard for anybody who drives a car. That’s a valid concern that many drivers have—because, yeah, as beautiful as winter days are, they’re very dangerous. It’s only half a point because she merely uses it to call attention to her faux-flaw—“ZOMG, whatever shall I do, I can barely keep from tripping over my own feet when the ground is DRY!!!” Well, I think Bella’s just mad about the ice because when the ground is covered in ice, everybody has trouble keeping their balance, which means she is no longer unique and special in that regard.
--You know, I know I said I’d come into this with a totally objective face, but I can’t help but note that she just loves the fact that her dad is never home when she is. She revels in being alone. That’s a character point—a little bit of character development that some people use. It’s not uncommon to find a main character who likes to be alone. However, I have to note it because, well, I know for a fact that in later chapters, Bella cannot be torn from Edward’s side. She’s like an angler fish in that regard. So…why the sudden 180? Anyone care to explain? /Zorg
--“I threw down a quick bowl of cereal and some orange juice from the carton.” I understand the phrase and it’s probably legit. But when you use the phrase “throw down”, I typically think you, you know, threw it down. Not ate it. And I believe the more popular phrases are “tossed down” for food, and “threw back” for drink.
--No, Bella, it’s not stupid that you wanna see Eddie. It’s just creepy. The only people on this planet that I know of that display this level of interest in a person are psycho stalkers. Ahem.
--“I was well aware that my league and his league were spheres that did not touch.” Okay, when did we enter Soultaker territory? Crow put it best: “You can’t be with her! She’s upper-middle class and we’re slightly lower-middle!” That’s just stupid. We don’t live in an era anymore where marrying above or below your apparent “status” makes much difference. It happens all the time these days. Besides—I have yet to see what your “leagues” and “spheres” even are! You have not described them! You have told me that the Cullens have more money than you do, Bella, and yet you have the money to cook steak dinners. Not to mention that that was a horrible metaphor. And on the topic of Soultaker, yes, I realize that we entered Soultaker territory the moment I started reading this. Because it’s a book that Meyer wrote for herself to star in.
--“Perhaps it was because I was a novelty here, where novelties were few and far between. Possibly my crippling clumsiness was seen as endearing rather than pathetic, casting me as a damsel in distress. Whatever the reason, Mike's puppy dog behavior and Eric's apparent rivalry with him were disconcerting. I wasn't sure if I didn't prefer being ignored.” …do you…do you have ANY idea how horrible you sound? And I do mean horrible. You consider yourself a novelty as compared to all the rubes around you, and think this town is so dull that the most interesting things they have happen to them are when new people happen to come through. I just…I have no words for the arrogance being displayed here. Seriously. I’m dumbstruck. Not to mention that Meyer just spelled out her intentions for Bella’s clumsiness right there in the frickin’ text. She just told her entire audience how they were supposed to feel about Bella’s faux-flaw. It was supposed to endear her to us. Well, it didn’t work, because of how often she whines about it. And I call BS on the whole “wanting to be ignored” part. Because the instant Edward ignored you, you collapsed into tears.
--Even though it could’ve been introduced better and was also used as a vehicle to show us how OMG CLUMSY Bella is, I actually am surprised that she showed gratitude towards her father for the snow chains. I honestly expected her to be completely ungrateful, or perhaps lament that oh, her father just cares TOO MUCH for her and he’s smothering her and she just can’t stand it. Now, if this were a better novel, I might take her sudden show of appreciation as character development. Character growth. However, I know better.
--Okay, stop, hold the phone. First off, I’ve been involved in a spin out on black ice. There is no squealing involved. It’s more of a shush. She never would’ve heard it coming. Secondly, there is a killer car coming right at you and it’s making a terrific racket, and the first thing you see is EDWARD??!!! What the hell is this??!!! Are you kidding me?! How dumb do you think I am??!!!
--‘Kay, I had to read it three times before I gave up. I admit it fully—I have no idea what just happened. Now, I understand that one could argue it was Meyer being artful and using the POV to really get the feel of the scene. It’s from Bella’s POV, and in the blur, she doesn’t know what’s happening, either. However, I say bull. She describes the actions very clearly. I just don’t know what the actions are, because she describes them badly. I get the impression that Edward stopped the van with his hand, but then the van bent in half and tried to smash her legs? I don’t get it. I really don’t. I’ll just say that it was Edward being his awesome self and leave it at that.
--Well, it’s good to see at least a few people thought of the poor sucker in the van before Bella. That’s refreshing. I thought for sure they’d all pay attention to the newcomer instead of the kid they grew up with.
--“He unleashed the full, devastating power of his eyes on me, as if trying to communicate something crucial.” Okay, Meyer, little hint. This scene is supposed to be very dramatic. Bella’s been hurt, Edward did something stupendous, and it’s just supposed to be awesome and tense. But you’re just makin’ me laugh my head off because you are invariably reminding me of MST3K lines. That’s not good. Not to mention that, even if that didn’t remind me of MST3K, it’s still really stupid.
--You have a concussion, and your first thought is, “Oh, how humiliating to be in this neck brace!” Hmm. I wonder what you’d do if I shot you. “Oh, no! Blood on my shirt! How unfashionable! What would Edward think?!” *rolls eyes*
--…where’s the kid in the van? Everyone’s watching Bella get loaded up. Where’s “Tyler”, as he was called? I’m gonna assume he got sucked into the Black Hole of Throwaway Characters.
--“Edward got to ride in the front.” Did he get to turn on the siren, too, and wear the fireman’s helmet?
--Okay, now that you bring up the obviously angry Cullen family, here’s my question. I know already that Edward is the most beautiful vampire that ever did vamp. I wish I didn’t, so I could come to these conclusions myself, but I do know it. So—Edward just performed a clearly vampiric feat in front of a huge crowd of people…and apparently, the only person who noticed is the only person who shouldn’t have. Meyer, you are insulting me. You are peeing on my shoes.
--Why is Edward even there? Where’s her dad? Did he think, “Oh, Edward’s got it covered. Back to my shift!” Seriously—what is going on? The mole people of Forks freak me out.
--I hope you wind up a paraplegic, Miss “I Don’t Need To Wear This Silly Neck Brace” Swan. You strike me as one of the most profoundly stupid people to ever curse this earth with her foul blight. Seriously—you’ve been involved in a serious accident, you might have a concussion, and the only thing you can think about is taking the neck brace off just so you won’t look bad? And do you really think you’re gonna get away with that once the nurses and doctors come back? If this were reality, they’d bitch-slap you first, then they’d restrain you.
--Oh, that’s even better. Honestly. “My face looks likes Freddy Krueger used it as a canvas—I am so sorry I almost caused you harm, Bella!” You know, my eyeballs are getting farther out of my sockets as this chapter proceeds, and my jaw is getting lower.
--If you say “What happened” one more time, I’m gonna smack you with a Cluebat and make you realize what happened. Idiot.
--“Ugh, unworthy peon, I have no time for your apologies. I must think of Edward. You bother me.” Bella, I hate you.
--Once again, Meyer, you remind me of MST3K. This time, it’s “Revenge of the Creature”! Edward: “Oh, don’t worry about me—I’m handsome.”
--Dr. Feel Good is in the house. I still don’t know why Edward is here and how he can get Bella out of the ER, despite the fact that Edward is Dr. Cullen’s son. I’ve never heard of a son who’s still in high school having the power to manipulate what his doctor dad does at the office with his patients.
--Meyer, you bastard, way to sucker-punch me in the groin! Oh, half the school, you say?! Oh, wait, I misread—it’s MOST OF THE SCHOOL!!!! You dirty witch. You are a vile spinner of Sue stories and you need to be swatted.
--*sigh* I hate heroes and heroines that automatically figure out who is in on the plot. That’s annoying. Although maybe if the people in on the plot were a little more, shall we say, careful about making sure nobody knows they’re in on the plot, the heroes or heroines wouldn’t figure it out so fast.
--Man, Edward needs some Paxil. His mood swings—geez, do all vampires get PMS this bad?
--The way you phrase that—“You think I lifted a van off you”—implies the van was on top of her, which it wasn’t. Not that I would’ve complained if it had been, but still.
--“This is Edward Cullen and he is beautiful.” Yes. We know. Can we move on, please?
--Oh, man, I didn’t mean move on to THAT!!! I don’t wanna hear about how the whole damn town came out to see if precious little snowflake Bella was okay!
--I do adore that she assumes everybody is there to see her, despite the fact that Tyler got cut to ribbons. However, in all fairness…I have a feeling everybody was there to see her.
--“I am Bella Swan and I have no time for trivial things like family! Edward is the only thing that matters!” Geez. I was right—she’s not that close to her family strictly so it will be easier to break from them so she can cling endlessly to Edward’s cold, bony arm. Not to mention that, in the last chapter, I was told by Bella that she and her mother were close. Well, thanks for telling me—do you mind showing me? So far, all I’ve seen you have for your mother is complete and utter disdain. And it’s even worse in the case of her father, because she’s made him out to be a pretty likeable guy, really—a bit unsure of himself as a father, but he’s trying his best—and she treats him with contempt, too.
--At she admits she’s obsessed with Edward. That’s refreshing. Most of the time, stalkers try to disguise it as “healthy interest”.
--Oh, yuck! Of all the notes you could’ve ended on, you choose to end it on a, “I dream of Edward of the light copper hair!” You really aren’t trying to get on my good side, are you?
Chapter 4 – Invitations
--So, we begin chapter four with Edward the Radioactive Menace. Not a good note to start on, unless you were planning on making me laugh. If that was the intention, well done! I laughed. Then I cried when I realized that Bella’s dream is the same dream countless other Mary Sues have had regarding their just-out-of-reach love interest. Clichés make Mervin’s head asplode.
--Please tell me you are not going to skip an entire month just for the sake of moving the plot along without telling me what went on inside said month. Please?
--Okay, never mind—let’s skip the month. I don’t want to hear about this. I get it—Tyler is now your minion, and, a la Peter MacNicol’s Renfield, he is asking you to punish him. Please kick him and get it over with so we can slog through more of Edward and his shininess.
--You know, normally, when it comes to teens, when somebody is hideously mutilated in an accident, the one they pay attention to is the one who was horribly mutilated. Not the one who was totally unharmed. Kids like sick things. Bella, would you like me to rectify this? Because you sure are asking for it.
--How come nobody else a) notices the Cullens DON’T FRICKIN’ EAT, nor b) notices that Edward is the Flash? WHY???!!!!
--“He wished he hadn't pulled me from the path of Tyler's van — there was no other conclusion I could come to.” You know why he wishes you were dead, Bella? Because you’re an ungrateful brat-child. He had to wrench a thank you out of you after he saved your life. I’d wish you were dead, too. In fact, I do! Because then, I wouldn’t be reading this. Or the other books that are soon to follow. Oh, joy.
--“As the High School Turns.” Oh, gawd. Does anybody on my LJ have a gun? I’m gonna use it—on myself. This is awful. I don’t want to read about the drama of Mike and Eric as they compete for her affections anymore. In fact, at this point, I’d gladly take Edward and Bella and their perfect love. I am so desperate to get out of his soap opera of who likes who (I am sure this sentiment will come back and take a big wet bite out of my bum before this is all over).
--You know, I went to high school once. It was a few years ago, but I went. I was a high schooler for four years, just like a lot of other people. And you wanna know a secret, Meyer? HIGH SCHOOLERS DO NOT WORK THIS WAY!!!! /morbo
--You know what? I’m going to kill Mike. He shall die first. He is the most miserable, awful, terrible, sniveling little doormat I’ve ever seen, and I happen to hate characters like that. It may be a personal preference, but whatever. I hate Mike. And I want him to go away. Now.
--Surely I’m not the only one who imagined Edward’s black eyes as little miniature jack hammers every time he does the Vampire Stare™ at Bella. I can’t have been the only one.
--“I couldn't allow him to have this level of influence over me. It was pathetic. More than pathetic, it was unhealthy.” It’s great you acknowledge this. Now, if only you would stick by it. Oh, wait—you wanted us to disagree with you.
--Okay, at this point, I’m physically hurting. Bella, are you five? Just a question. Your age has not been determined at this point, so I’m thinking you’re five. Only a five-year-old would outright accuse someone to their face of thinking, “You wish I was dead!” Seriously! You are a petulant toddler!
--Bella, if you are that clumsy, perhaps you should have some kind of brain scan done. That isn’t healthy. You have a neurological disorder.
--Boy #2 asks Bella to the dance. Hmm. Should I try and estimate how many ask her?
--You know something? I know you’re trying to establish sexual tension. But, really, you’re just creating a creepily dysfunctional relationship. When Bella doesn’t want to kill him, she wants to boink him. That’s just disturbing.
--Boy #3! How sweet it is. And not just any boy—it’s Krueger Victim. By the way, did he have any scars? Not that we’ll find out—Bella’s too self-absorbed to notice if anybody had lasting scars from an accident like that. Oh, and am I the only one who noticed that the ultimate cause of Tyler’s extensive injuries…was Edward? It would have been a sideswipe if Vamp-Boy hadn’t somehow bent the van in two. Well, it’s okay—he did it to save Bella, and where would this story be without the leading lady?
--Mmm…chicken enchiladas. Mine are ten times better than yours, because the process is not long. So there—I pwn you.
--Stop dumping all these random names on me! I know that no characters outside of the pretty ones exist in this world! Bella has no time for mole people! So, I know for a fact that they will soon be returned to their burrows—you might as well just not give them names at all. Oh, and Bella the matchmaker makes me sick.
--Actually, Bella, were this a realistic and interesting story, the reason for Edward wanting you to not be his friend is because you are creepy. You stalk him. Your life revolves around him. You stare at him. You analyze his every word. I wouldn’t want to be friends with you, either. But this story is neither realistic, nor interesting. As such, you just go ahead and have your little angst fit. I’ll even read it.
--Of all the stuck up things to say—no mention of you earning your scholarship to Hawaii, I see! Just “they’ll offer it to you”. Well, screw you. You suck. See what you’ve reduced me to?! And this is only chapter four!
--“I didn't want to ask permission — it set a bad precedent — but I felt rude, so I tacked it on at the end.” You whore! He’s your father! What the hell is this?!
--You actually wrote “Grrr.” “GRRR.” Words fail me.
--Mr. Cullen, I am getting mixed signals from you. A few pages ago, you were declaring that you and Bella should not be friends. So why are you here? It’s an honest question. You have ten minutes to write your reply starting now.
--Oh, Edward saying “You’re absurd” is rude, but Bella’s behavior isn’t? Don’t give me that. She’s flat out calling him a liar when he says he’s not regretting saving her life from the Van of Doom™.
--There it was. The infamous “heavy sarcasm.” *ponders* You know, looking at it, seeing it with my own eyes in the very book…yeah. That’s bad. Thank you, Meyer. If you hadn’t been there to hold my hand while I read your deep and thought-provoking and so-subtle-if-you-blink-you-miss-it novel, I would not have picked up on that. Thank you so for guiding me and my feelings through this book.
--Go away, come here, go away, come here, go away, come here. I’m gonna assume that this is setting up the next, oh, four novels?
Oh, where to start? These two chapters really did a number on me. But, okay, I will gather my thoughts as best I can.
Apparently, everybody has a chapter in this book where they become downright angry with it. For some, it’s chapter one. For others, it’s chapter three. Or you’re like Hyde—she made it all the way to the teens before spluttering in anger at it. As you can see, I am clearly one of the ones who only made it to chapter three before Meyer succeeded in making me mad, and only got to chapter for before I was beating my head against my keyboard.
The car crash scene is the one that’s being pimped pretty heavily in the trailers for the actual movie, and from what I’ve seen, the writers for the movie made a lot more sense of it than I did. In better hands, though, that scene actually could’ve been very, very interesting. Edward Cullen could’ve been established as simply the school’s local weirdo—I do know that some small schools have a one or a few of those, so he and his could’ve been just that. And Bella, who’s been established as a snob, labels them as just that and goes about her business. No other hints that there is something odd about the Cullens, except maybe the occasional subtle hint (“His hand, ice cold, grabbed mine before I could put the microscope away. ‘May I look first?’ he asked.” Not a big production about how cold he is. Because sensible people would indeed chalk it up to that it’s cold outside, so naturally he’d be cold too. Maybe not even mention it) that maybe there’s something up. And then, one cold and icy winter day, Edward saves her life in a spectacular and very suspicious manner.
‘Course, even this set up has problems with it. The ultimate one being this: Edward just did something very conspicuous that clearly indicated he is a Superman of some kind. Fortunately for Edward, this apparently either happens all the time to the mole people of Forks (which would explain why he and his vampire family fit in so well here) or they were just so concerned for Bella that they a) didn’t even notice him fly across the parking lot and put himself between Bella and the van, and b) didn’t question why both he and Bella weren’t crushed, and why there was a human-shaped dent in Tyler’s van.
As I’ve said many times in the “Salvation” and “Haunted” sporkings, suspending disbelief a little—or even a lot, if the writer is really good—is crucial to enjoying some stories. If the writer has talent, we do this willingly and happily and are led merrily along without pointing out the obvious flaws, or constantly looking for ways to do the story better. However, Meyer is asking me to suspend more than my disbelief—she’s asking me to suspend reality. And reality says that the car crash scene is just WAY TOO SUSPICIOUS. Anyone who was a witness would immediately know that there was something seriously up with Edward Cullen, and I think the family would be a lot more angry that he just all but yelled from the school roof “I AM A GORGEOUS VAMPIRE!!!”
My last complaint is the sexual tension between Bella and Edward. Or, should I say, the sexual tension that just isn’t there? Meyer is quite obviously trying her best to provide some UST by making Edward a totally confusing individual who first says, “Don’t be my friend,” and then says, “I want to be your friend,” before topping it all off with, “If you were smart, you’d avoid all of my attempts to be your friend from here on out, because I’m going to continue to try and be your friend—but don’t give into my charm.” However, because it sucks, it merely creates badly-staged little tussles between Bella and Edward that are not funny—they are merely irritating, and raise one main question about the true motivations of our hero—“Edward, if you’re so adamant that you don’t want Bella to be your friend, why do you keep trying to be her friend?”
Here’s a possible answer. Edward is just so charmed by Bella that he can’t resist her*. That is totally not satisfactory. Because Bella is not charming in any way whatsoever. If she had a sparkling personality, I might buy it. But she doesn’t—she’s got no personality. Well, that’s a lie—she’s got a personality. It’s just an extremely unlikable one, where she feels little but disdain and contempt for anybody who isn’t her and treats everyone as if they were simple-minded. Here’s another possible answer—Bella is just that beautiful. That’s not satisfactory, either—as gorgeous as she is now (and we all know she is, despite her vehement denial of being at all interesting), it is quite clear that vampires are ten times more beautiful and better overall than any human. So, Edward really has no reason at this point to want to befriend Bella at all. And now that Edward has been given a little “development”, she has no reason to want to befriend him, either. He’s a smarmy bastard who, unlike Bella, makes no effort to disguise the fact that he thinks he is more awesome than everybody else. Not to mention that his mood swings and mixed signals come across as really creepy.
And, to put it bluntly, the writing appears to be actually worsening as the story goes on. I believe “grr” sums it up completely. You do not write “grr” in a published novel and expect to get away with it.
*Yes, I do know (one of) the main reasons Edward finds her so irresistible. But I won’t be commenting on it until I get to it.
( Chapter 5 - Blood Type )
Oh, and by the way, it officially happened. Robert Pattinson did something awesome that made me fangirl him all the way. I've never looked on his imdb profile before, so I took a gander a couple of days ago, and what should I find but this quote from him?
"Up until I was 12 my sisters used to dress me up as a girl and introduce me as 'Claudia'! Twelve was a turning point as I moved to a mixed school and then I became cool and discovered hair gel."
...yes. Count me in. I am a Robert Pattinson fangirl.
See you next time, folks.