It’s early in the morning and I’m going shopping. Cat food. We’re out and Cat needs to eat. I’ve got Twilight with me, the book that I think will be my steady companion for the next few days, if not weeks. The rules of the experiment are clear. I only read when I’m out and about, to maximize exposure. Goad the haters, if you will. Destiny is about to take a crap on my plans, but I don’t know that yet.
I’ve got a headache. I don’t think that it is caused by my reading material, especially seeing as I’ve only read for about two minutes at this point, but I can’t be sure. What I am sure about is that I am feeling uncomfortable. I’m walking down Leipziger Straße, a medium-sized shopping street near our place. In the afternoon the streets will be packed with shoppers, but right now it’s relatively quiet, which allows me to read as I walk. Later in the day something like this would be rendered impossible by the necessity of dodging people. I am used to reading as I walk; it doesn’t take much concentration to do both, and I hardly ever run into lampposts. But try as I might, I cannot pull off the trick of holding the book in such a way that no one can see the cover. You remember, the German cover looks the same as the English one, so I’m easily spotted. I remember having read about cloth book jackets aimed at grown-ups who want to read the Harry Potter books without being seen, and resolve to get or make such a device.
The book drones on. Bella is currently busy misconstructing everything in her path. Ah… Bella, what a girl.
Bella Swan: idiot, danger to herself, grump par excellence. Also, and I quote the Wikipedia here:
“Bella is described in the novels as being very pale with brown hair, chocolate-brown eyes, and a heart-shaped face. Beyond this, a detailed description of her appearance is never given in the series”
Aha. I’m on page 57 now and I know that Bella is 5 foot 4, slender but not athletic, that her lips are slightly disproportionate… I could go on for quite a bit. Who writes this shit? Just for once I don’t mean Twilight, but the Wikipedia article. What do these people want when they speak of detailed physical descriptions? Measurements in millimeters?
And Edward is very attractive. Very. Attractive. That’s about as far as Stephenie has gotten, no mention of his shoelaces though. (And I know it’s unfair to make fun of Mrs. Meyer for being called Stephenie, but… really… Stephenie? Next it will be Nychole or Makynzi. When will the mothers of this world learn that they’re not doing their children any favours?)
I get back home. My headache has swollen to inhuman proportions, just like Bella’s stupidity, and I am beginning to suspect that the book is to blame after all. In a desperate effort to save my life I down two paracetamol tablets, lie down on the couch… and continue reading. I never said that Bella had a monopoly on the idiot thing.
Thanks to my extended sicktime I read the entire book in one day. That is, the entire book minus the thirty-odd pages that I got done on the day before. My brain doesn’t ooze out of my ears, so the physical side effects aren’t as bad as I feared.
But my mind… my mind is hurting from deep down in the logic centers.
Bella Swan. Bella. Swan. You see… Bella is sullen, antisocial and clumsy. These are, I swear to God, her dominant character traits. Her only character traits, actually. A real charmer, our Bella. And the two worst things about her are that a) she’ll always, no matter what the situation may be, assume the worst about her fellow human beings and their opinion of her and b) that the woman shouldn’t have lived past her first year given how clumsy she is.
Hypothetical situation: Bella comes home to Phoenix after a long stay in Forks. Her mum is overjoyed, throws her a surprise party, refurnishes her room and gifts her a car. This doesn’t happen in any of the books, but I swear that if it did, Bella would come to the conclusion that her mother didn’t like her anymore. Why? Go figure. But this girl spends about half the book alternately moping or crying over the latest, absolutely imagined insult. And yes, I know, we’ve all been teenagers at some point, and stuff like that can happen in real life, but not that much. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that Mrs. Meyers is only trying to push the word count, but I get the bad feeling that she actually thinks teenage girls behave like this. If that were true then it would be a miracle that the human race hasn’t collectively committed suicide yet.
As to the clumsiness charge: yes, you heard right, Bella should have died of dropping a piano on herself at the age of fourteen months and three days. The world would be a happier place if she had. But she didn’t, and so we get Twilight. And a scene where she hits herself in the face with a badminton racket. Herself. Face. Badminton racket. For those of you who are just asking themselves what my problem is: please, pretty please, go to the garage, or the attic or wherever your family keeps sporting equipment, and get a badminton racket. Everyone has one of those lying about somewhere. Softball will do at a pinch; ask the neighbours if you must. Hold it in your hand… and try to hit yourself in the face with it. You’ll see that it is a lot harder than you think. Bella must be some kind of contortionist genius. For someone who seems to take unearthly delight in minutely planing and describing every movement needed by Edward to scratch his perfectly attractive bum, Stephenie Meyer could have put a little more thought into that one. And I’ve had enough phys ed classes in my life to know that there are a lot more creative, not to mention likely, ways to do yourself harm.
But it’s not only sports. Bella also breaks into a sweat when she is faced with walking off the beaten track, literally this time. A short, five-minute hike through the forest and the girl is all bruises and cuts. Which makes the idea that she faints if she sees so much as a single drop of her own blood even more ridiculous. There are some sights that even the excessively squeamish will get used to after the two-hundredth time. But I suppose it’s just so funny to have a protagonist that is afraid of blood and falls in love with a vampire. Hahaha.
I won’t go for the feminist angle here because… I just don’t care. Bella is weak and stupid and deserves to die, but I would feel the same about a male character like that. And I don’t care that this is an often-propagated stereotype that gets overapplied to the fairer sex. Don’t. Care. Just saying that. In case you’re wondering.
It’s late now. Past midnight, and I’m getting closer to the end. Bella has finally gotten all the myriad misunderstandings that were keeping her from her favourite hematophile out of the way. Everything is peachy except that she also is being chased by a tracker named James. A tracker, as we learn, is a vampire that specializes in finding people and won’t give up until he has found, killed and eaten them. And Bella’s got a dinner invitation from him. She’s the main course. Edward Cullen doesn’t want to tell us why his family of seven strapping vampires won’t stand watch over Bella’s house until the creep shows so that they can kill him; I suspect his reasons can be summed up as: because the author said so. And because Mrs. Meyer said so we get the extra bitter-sweet parting scene and Bella gets whisked away to Phoenix, because getting her away from her (vulnerable) father and closer to her (vulnerable) mum makes, like, sense. In Phoenix, Bella lays on the sullen extra thick because her favourite Cullen isn’t there, and because that’s not embarrassing enough she also gets it into her head (let’s be fair here, yes, I know, she actually gets tricked) that James has her mum and the only way for Bella to save dear old mum is to go to James alone for a hostage exchange. All because James has been such a reliable and trustworthy fellow all along. Bella is full of great ideas…
… can anyone explain to me why she doesn’t tell anyone? I mean Alice can, like, see the future, maybe she can help
Oh, I get it. It’s because the author said so. Sorry. My bad.
The rest is easily told. Bella almost gets killed. Edward comes to her rescue at the last possible moment (probably waiting in the wings until James has his teeth in her, for maximum dramatic effect) and everyone lives happily ever after. Everyone except me, because I know now that I will have to read the other three books as well.
Call me a glutton for punishment. Call me a woman of science. Call me an idiot. But, to quote Babylon 5: Never start a fight, but always finish it. Stephenie Meyer started it. I will finish it. And besides I really, really want to know how that whole demon-baby thing will work out.