The Twilight Experiment: Day 8

I’ve suffered from Twilight-related writer’s block recently. I believe it can be argued that my own ability to put words onto a page has been severely compromised by Stephenie’s very incompetence to do so. Mhm… that is actually a good theory. I’ve got a better one, though: it’s all Jacob’s fault.

Part two of Breaking Dawn is told from the point of view of Jake “thick-as-a-brick” Black, and while I have read a lot of stories featuring stupid, annoying and insufferable characters in my life, Jake really takes the crown in that category without even breaking a sweat. I have this sneaking suspicion that I might have been able to finish the second part of Breaking Down months ago if it had been narrated by, say, Hitler or Genghis Khan or maybe, maybe, even Edward. But Jacob… really? I’ve seldomly encountered a less appealing character in my life. Jake is seventeen and behaves like a five-year-old, no doubt an intentional ploy of Stephenie’s to emphasise just how different were-cuddle and diamond-fang are. Doesn’t really help with making the character more endearing, Steph.

He persists in molesting poor Bella (please consider how bad it has to be for me to call Bells “poor”) and all that despite knowing that she doesn’t want puppy-love and that his potential soulmate is likely to be hiding just around the next corner (cowering in fear, I’d wager). And to add insult to injury I also constantly see Taylor “The Anabolic Steroid” Lautner’s moronic grin whenever I think of the character. Sigh. So can you blame me for trying to avoid the second part of Baking Prawn? Can you??

Anyway. As we all remember part one, narrated from the point of view of Bella Swan (aka The Willingly Abused One), featured Bella’s and Edward’s wedding, honeymoon, sex, feathers and a whole lot of wife-beating (but it’s cool, really, Bella likes it that way). Oh… and Bells got knocked up. What fun.

And what does Jake do while Edward is busy transforming Bells into a symphony in blue? Sharpening his teeth. Or claws. Pick one. He is, not entirely mistakenly, under the impression that Bella will either come back from her honeymoon with a nice new set of fangs and a sparkly disposition, or not at all. Depending on how hungry Eddie gets after sex. So he worries and waits and comes up with a dozen different ways of hunting vampire. Since I find Edward only marginally less boring that Jake, the thought seems almost pleasant.

As it is, Bells comes back and appears to still be alive. Sort of. Maybe. Hard to tell. Better go and check.

She’s alive, but to Jake’s dismay also slightly pregnant. Or a lot, considering that she claimed to be a virgin just a few weeks ago. That leaves us with three possibilities: Immaculate conception (quick, let’s start a religion), a lie (only she’s sort of too stupid to lie) and… *cue dramatic music* unnatural conception. Indeed the fetus, or thing as the baby-daddy lovingly calls it, seems to be growing at an unbelievable pace, probably because it wants to get away from Bella asap. And if Bella breaks a little with all the hurrying that’s going on, then who cares, eh? Bella doesn’t. Were-cuddle cares, which brings Edwardicide right back on the menu, at least as far as the cuddle is concerned.

Edward has a different plan, though. And what a plan it is. Masterful, I would call it, if I weren’t too busy weeping. “How about,” he says, “we talk her into getting an abortion. And then, Jake my friend, you can knock her up instead of me. That’s not gross at all, right?” You must see, abortion is evil, especially if done for paltry and selfish reasons such as saving the mother’s life. It follows that abortionists also endorse adultery, prostitution, second-row parking and possibly sodomy (difficult to tell when werewolves are concerned). The point is moot, since Bells almost has a miscarriage when Jacob confronts her with hubby’s clever plan, but Stephenie is still proud that she mentioned it.

With a vague sense of disgust I turn the page. Edward’s execution has been delayed for now, maybe Jake is hoping that Sparkly can still talk Bells into a little doggy-style action. The rest of the werewolf pack, lead by Sam Uley, are slightly less cool with the whole rapidly-growing-abomination-business and vow to kill the baby right now. Better safe than sorry. Not born yet you say? We’d better kill mom too then. Easier that way. Also she slept with a vampire, that’s unhygienic. Ultimately this leads to Jake splitting off from the rest of the pack to form his own mini-pack. Some sort of Vampire-BF-Club. There’s only two of them, in case you wondered. Jake and Seth (do I smell an instant promotion to pack leader’s second?). All this is possible, and I can’t really be bothered to go back and look up if this was mentioned before at any point, because apparently Jake should be the true alpha. All in the genes, as it turns out, because his grand-doggy was higher up in the social pecking order than Sam’s grand-doggy. Which means that as soon as the two have a disagreement, say about who gets to kill whose girlfriend, just add water and voila: instant alpha. Apparently it isn’t enough that Jake is three meters tall, shoots laser beams from his eyes and turns into a giant telepathic wolf… he has to be the Führer. Ever read any fan fiction, Steph? Or maybe I’m being unfair here… I hear some fanfic is quite nice.

Things progress at a leisurely pace from here onwards, which means that nothing really happens for the next 150 pages or so. Jake and Seth, later to be joined by Leah Clearwater, camp out in the woods near Casa Cullen. Edward is cranky because he sort of knocked Bells up with a killer fetus. Rosalie would rip said fetus out of Bella without a moment’s hesitation if she could be sure that the thing would survive while the mother wouldn’t. Carlisle is kind. Alice is spunky. Emmett is dumb. Nothing strange happening at all. Okay, so Bella starts drinking blood, because that’s the only thing that the baby can process, but who cares. Blood. Mixed pickles. Where’s the difference? (Well… it all depends on whether or not there are onions in the pickle.)

The Rosalie situation bears some thinking about though. I’m not quite sure what the book is trying to say here. Abortion is bad. Okay, that seems obvious enough. Abortion is bad, but try not to be too happy that the mommy is going to croak? Maybe. Edward can read minds (what is it with bad fan fiction and telepathy, btw? Anne McCaffrey does that too). He seems to indicate several times that he is well aware of the fact that Rosie wouldn’t be too bothered if Bella didn’t make it. He disapproves, not only of the pregnancy, but also of Rosalie’s callousness. Edward is clearly meant to be wrong about the abortion issue, and will as a matter of fact see the error of his ways in just a few pages, but what about his thoughts on Rosie? He is, after all, the infallible, sparkly He-vampire of Righteousness. Can he be wrong on both counts? The vibe that I get from Stephenie on the matter is that Rosie is a Bad Girl for not caring about Bells enough, but surely she only deserves a little slap on the wrist for that, because it’s all for the good of the baby really.

And I won’t even go into the whole killing the mother for the sake of the unborn child thing here. I comprehend that Bella wants to have the baby no matter what, even if it means her death. I’m also aware that in sparkly-vampire-land she just needs a few gallons of vampire venom and she’ll be right as rain. In real-people-land things are a little different, however.

As it is with most things, pregnancies included, they sooner or later come to an end. With Bells and her demon-baby this happens just a four or five days into the second part of Raking Lawn. With immaculate timing she moves in the wrong way at the wrong time and… her spine breaks and… oh sod it… whatever… she goes into labour. Her timing is further perfected by the fact that Carlisle, who is as we all remember a doctor, is out that day. Killing some endangered species for elevenses, no doubt. Just paragaphs before Edward has made telepathic (*sigh*) contact with the demon-child and is now totally pro-pregnancy, yay, let’s all kill Bella together! Which makes him the ideal volunteer for gnawing through Bella’s abdomen. (That’s right! Three applications of eating-someone-out in one book… astounding, Steph, really.)

As it turns out the demon-baby-uterus is made from demon-baby-vampire-skin and can thus only be cut by really sharp demon-vampire-sparkly-teeth. Funny thing, that: I always thought the uterus was a mommy-thing and not a baby-thing. Biology… go figure. In any case this means that Edward will literally (and trust me, I wish I was joking) have to open her belly with his teeth. Images I did not want in my mind, #143: Edward nibbling at Bella’s blood-splattered, pregnant belly button.

The baby is, of course, delivered without problem and Bella also makes it, sort of. By the time this segment of Quaking Fawn ends she is already well on her way to sparkly, vampire deadness. It’s what she wanted, so who am I to argue?

Jake is downstairs and will, in the course of the next few pages, make a wonderful discovery of his own. That’s all in the next part, of course, so I won’t spoil it now. That will be Bella’s narration again, so don’t any of you worry your pretty little heads about whether she’s going to make it or not. And I didn’t think I would say this, but I kind of look forward to reading her whiney voice. And there’s some really nice things that I am looking forward to talking about. Wildlife conservation issues, racial stereotyping and pedophilia, to name a few. But all that and more in the next part of the Twilight Experiment and the final part of Faking Yawn (I wish; the yawns were all 100% real).

The Twilight Experiment: Day 6

Bella. Bella Swan. Bells.

A woman described as pretty, but not stunning (by herself, so we might consider that to be an unreliable narrator; let’s face it, we all think we look amazingly ugly and some of us aren’t right). She is also not very bright, tends towards depression, is accident-prone, will happily jump off a cliff to see some sparkly afterimage of the guy who dumped her a year ago, has no discernible will or ambition of her own, and has all the backbone of a jellyfish.

What’s not to like?

An interesting question, for in the world of Twilight those that want to date Bella Swan are so many they have to draw numbers. Edward, who’s by anyone’s standards a control freak, might have some incentive to love biddable, uncreative, needy Bella. Fine. But what of Jacob Black? Okay, so they do have one thing in common: they’re both idiots. But besides that? He’s a year younger than her and while I can hear some people asking “how old is Jonas again?” I’d like to point out that when you’re sixteen and she’s seventeen that is a difference. With some few, lucky exceptions boys do mature slower than girls. Sad but true. But that is not my main problem – after all Bella is obviously slightly retarded, so that evens the age difference out again, I suppose. And I also won’t take any offence at the fact that she’s a wet blanket. That doesn’t seem to bother anyone else in the book, so why should it bother Jake?

No, my real problem with the Jake/Bella romance is that he is a werewolf. Now, don’t cry speciesist. I don’t have a problem with a werewolf dating a human. Go for it, make lots of weird babies (but only after you’re married, this it Twilight after all).  No, my problem is that werewolves imprint.

In Stephenie Meyer’s world werewolves have one true soulmate. One, and only one, person that is right for them. This bond will manifest the moment mutt and maiden are in each other’s presence for the first time, regardless of the age or the current marital status of either participant. So far so good. When this is first mentioned the whole subject is treated as a rarity. Sam Uley imprinted on Emily Young and that was it. No more imprintings expected in the near future. So Jacob thinks: well, in that case, I’d better get back to bothering Bells. Fine. Then, suddenly, imprints start hitting left and right, just like meteors in a Roland Emmerich movie, only more gooey. Which made me wonder a little at the probabilities involved in maybe ten or eleven werewolves all finding their soulmates in the same tiny area within a very limited time frame. Well, love travels at the speed of plot, to paraphrase Joe Straczynski, so I won’t argue.

But, and here’s the catch, if you were in Jacob’s shoes (wait, werewolves don’t wear shoes)… if you were in Jacob’s torn shorts, wouldn’t you stop and wonder? Leah Clearwater becomes a werewolf too. The subject of her rejection by Sam when he imprinted on his Emily is thoroughly discussed in the novel. Shouldn’t Jake maybe, just maybe, wonder if there is an Emily to his Jake out there somewhere? No, of course not, it’s more fun this way, says Stephenie, swatting at Jake’s subconscious with a rolled-up newspaper.

So on it goes. Jake wants Bella. Edward wants Bella. Bella wants it all. And we want some peace and quiet. Which we won’t get, not until those last two pesky movies are out. So we might as well move on with the plot.

For a while there’s not much to tell. The whole Bella/Edward/Jacob/everyone else/Jacob’s-future-soulmate mess aside the book could be rather thin, really. Someone has been stealing clothes from Bella’s room. The Cullens wonder why that might be. (She never dresses to match the wallpaper, so why would anyone want those rags? They’re not even Gucci!) We already know. Or are at least able to make some educated guesses. It’s Victoria, our Jack-in-the-box villain from the first book. She that doesn’t die. Vicky’s building up a vampire army, capable of flattening most of the continental U.S. should she wish it to, and she needs Bella’s couture to point said army in the right direction. See? Everyone wants a piece of Bella. Or several pieces, not necessarily still connected, in Victoria’s case. Why a clever girl like our Vicky would want to kill Bella instead of, say, take over the world, is anyone’s best guess. I just find it odd that a character whose singular personal trait seems to be “Hard to Kill (+15)” would go so far out of her way to attract the attention of the Volturi and willingly walk into a f***ing huge battle. Well, vampire lifestyle questions… who am I to second-guess them?

Yes… I was getting somewhere with that. Ah… the clothes thief. Since we have already established that no-one in his or her right mind would steal Bella’s clothing for fashion purposes, the Cullens wonder for quite a while why anyone would be nicking her knickers in the first place, and all the while the reader is screaming “it’s Victoria!” But the Cullens do not hear the reader and Stephenie has to come up with a very questionable explanation as to why their pet clairvoyant, Alice, can’t see what’s happening. Which is funny, by the way, because the book has already established that Alice can’t see werewolves for some obtuse reason or other and werewolves feature heavily in the denouement. So instead of saying that Alice can only see intent and that the vampire army (led by Victoria who is very clear on wanting to shish-kebab Bella on her sparkly vampire teeth) hasn’t made up its mind yet so she won’t be able to see where they are going until they get there, why not just say that it has to do with the weremutts? To make matters worse the whole clothes-thief/we’re-so-thick sub-plot seems to amount to little more in the end than an anti-clever little ruse to drive the wordcount up a little higher.

Finally, after more nonsense than anyone can take, Bella and Jake and Edward end up on a mountaintop in a tent, because someone thought that hiding from the vampire army in the middle of nowhere on top of a freezing mountain might be a spiffing idea. I won’t say anything about the… ah… beautiful scene in which a nearly naked Jacob saves a shivering Bella from freezing to death. There are some things one should not talk about.

I will, however, say a few words about the following scene, in which Edward is suddenly very keen on having a chat with Bells about their “top ten nights”. Luckily sex is not involved, that will have to wait for the next book, but their engagement is. And vroom, off goes Jacob into the forest with a mighty howl. Because, you see, Edward knew that our favourite puppy was still listening and he orchestrated all this so that Jake would hear about Eddie’s and Bella’s’ upcoming nuptials. Mind you, I am not forcibly interpreting any of this, he actually says so. And what does Bella do? She doesn’t smack him in the face, for one, which is probably a good thing seeing as she broke her wrist the last time she tried to hit one of her supernatural friends. She’s not even angry at him. Or disappointed. No. Far from it. She blames herself. Aha… I see. Mhm… why?

Bella, for some reason known only to herself, thinks that Edward is somehow infallible. Not only infallible, that is entirely the wrong word for it, but immaculate. He and everything he does, thinks and decides is always and unquestionably right. So when he tells her that she can’t visit Jacob on the reservation he’s not being unreasonable and jealous… Bella herself is being stupid and selfish and should be ashamed of even considering the option. Bad Bella! Sit! When he leaves her in the second book without much of an excuse or explanation it’s somehow, beyond doubt, her fault and he’s just being nice cause he’s, like, letting her know before he blows this joint. Bad, bad Bella! Roll Over! When he orchestrates a situation in which Bella’s best friend/lover/dog-of-choice overhears something extremely hurtful… wait for it… it’s Bella’s fault. Bad girl! Play dead! I don’t know if Edward’s overbearing controlfreakiness or Bella’s I-need-someone-to-tell-me-when-to-breathe-attitude nauseates me more, but I would assume it’s a combination of both. Of course I know where this tale of masochism and overlordship is leading – straight into wife-beating-land – but that’s, again, a tale for the next episode.

Well… Bella has been inconsiderate and evil enough to hurt Jacob and he runs off. After a while Edward takes it upon himself to fetch the dog back (in an ironic turn of events, I should say) and then sparky himself goes off-page to give our two love-birds some privacy.

Yes, you heard right, privacy from the man who can read minds. No… wait… don’t think about it too much, it will only make your head ache. (Question: If Edward reads the mind of someone who has a headache… ah, never mind.)

So, privacy, yes. Not too long after that Bella is sticking her tongue down Jacob’s throat in an amazing display of truly fucked up morals. Afterwards she feels bad and just for once I have to say: go for it, Bells! Unfortunately Edward doesn’t take the opportunity to dump her once he gets the good news fresh from Jake’s Technicolor memory, but we can’t have everything. What we get instead is a four (!) page long explanation of why Bella is the best thing since sliced bread had an illegitimate love-child with the internet. The conversation isn’t made any better by Bella’s frequent assertions that, surely, she is the scum of the earth and needs to be exterminated. We agree, Edward does not, and they almost have sex right then and there. But, alas, they aren’t married yet and just before the very fabric of the universe can be torn asunder by their dastardly deed Victoria shows up to eat Bella. Literally, not dirty-sex-joke-metaphorically.

A battle ensues, which really is nothing special, except that Bella once again almost manages to get everyone except Victoria killed by doing something monumentally stupid. As I said: nothing noteworthy happens. (But isn’t it just Bella’s and Edward’s darn luck, eh? They trek all the way out to the middle of nowhere and who do they meet? Victoria. Tsk tsk tsk… some people should never play the lottery, I guess.)

And that’s about it for Eclipse. There’s a funny scene at the end, but only because is says somewhere in the Book of Mormon that every novel needs to have one of those somewhere. Also Bella faints again, and once more no one seems to really care or mind that she did. I suppose that they’re used to it by now. Or maybe they’re all happy to get a few moments of peace between the endless bouts of wimpiness. Or maybe Carlisle has long since realized that she’s suffering from a bad case of eighteenthcenturyfemaleliterarycharacterism which will eventually turn out to be fatal (it always does!) and they don’t have the heart to tell the reader. Or maybe Stephenie just wanted to get in a joke about Alice being able to predict the length of her fainting spell down to the second… Far-fetched? Maybe, but it’s always a possibility.

Well… that’s it for now. I’ll be back soon with the final two parts of the Twilight Experiment as well as with a review of Twilight: Eclipse – now with more gratuitous werewolf nudity! over at Commentarium.