Posted in Reviews

Twilight: Chapter Eighteen

We spend a page mostly detailing the newcomers. There are two males and one female. We find out that their names are James, Victoria and Laurent.

Of course, like everybody else, Bella compares the new vampires to the Cullens.  The Cullens are described as polished and urbane, while our new vampires are compared to being animalistic and savage. The wolves are later described this way. Because basically Bella thinks of anyone who is not a Cullen as either being a bad guy, or essentially worthless to her.

Their eyes were different, too. Not the gold or black I’d come to expect, but a deep burgundy color that was disturbing and sinister.

That brings me to another point I’ve been meaning to make. Why are the Cullens’ eyes gold? The book tries to justify it by saying that animal blood is what makes the change. But then again, this book also tries to explain its magic with science. So here we go.

It shouldn’t make any difference whether or not it’s animal or human blood. If the vampire default is red, the Cullens should have red eyes. The books seem to imply that vampires are attracted to mammals as a food source. Most mammals have remarkably similar blood. Minor differences in the cell formation, but essentially most mammals have similar blood composition. Human blood cells don’t have nuclei, but in most other respects our blood is very similar to animals.

So biologically speaking, the Cullens should have red eyes just like everybody else. But the real reason is that it’s magic, and a cop out. Red eyes in the Twilight universe means “evil” and gold eyes mean “good.” We’re never going to look past these assumptions, because Bella’s worldview is black and white and offers no room for compromise.

Also, I kind of have to call bullshit on the fact that Bella is suddenly afraid of these human-eating vampires. Just a few chapters ago she was saying it was completely okay that Edward was a mass murderer.

The new vampires ask to join in the game, and the atmosphere relaxes. Bella assumes it’s because of Jasper’s interference. I don’t buy it. I just think they relaxed because they weren’t being threatened by the much larger coven.

Carlisle continues to defuse the situation when the wind changes.

A swift rigidity fell on all of them as James lurched one step forward into a crouch. Edward bared his teeth, crouching in defense, a feral snarl ripping from his throat.

Okay. A couple of things. Didn’t we say at the end of last chapter that it was pointless for Edward to be trying to cover up Bella’s presence, since the Cullens had been able to smell her all the way across the field?

Why didn’t the new vampires zero in on her the moment they stepped into the clearing? Are we supposed to assume they haven’t been breathing? That’s a load of crap, since they’ve clearly been talking which requires air.

Secondly, why can the Cullens snarl? They’re not shape shifters, like the wolves. There’s a range of sound that human vocal chords can make, altered by venom or not. I can excuse the “bell-like” sound of a vampire voice. It’s stupid, but it might be within the human vocal cord capability. Human’s can’t roar, or at least not in the way that lions or bears can.

Carlisle and Edward get angry for the vampires reacting to Bella in exactly the way you’d expect. It’s their nature to go “ooh nummy” when they encounter a human scent in the woods. Why are you getting angry at them for reacting this way when you could have gotten her out of the woods, and away from this situation entirely last chapter?

Edward, Emmett, and Alice drag Bella back to the Jeep. Edward starts racing out of town at an outrageous speed, and refuses to tell Bella what he’s doing. She finally yells enough and he explains that he’s getting them out of Forks immediately.

“No! Edward! No, you can’t do this!”

“I have to, Bella, now please be quiet.”

“I won’t! You have to take me back—Charlie will call the FBI! They’ll be all over your family—Carlisle and Esme! They’ll have to leave, to hide forever!”

You could have avoided this if you had taken her away in the last freaking chapter.

Also, despite being the daughter of a cop, you clearly have no idea how police investigations work. By the time you were declared a missing person officially by the police, this whole affair with James would have blown over. It seems much longer in the narrative, but the whole James encounter only lasted a few days. Certainly not long enough for there to be a federal investigation that implicates the Cullen family.

Edward refuses to pull over, despite Bella and Alice’s prompting. Edward says they can’t take her back to Forks, because James will cross her scent in town. Bella finally makes her first logical leap in this book and thinks immediately about her father. Despite not caring about him much throughout the rest of this book, Bella starts yelling and thrashing and says that she can’t leave him. Edward ignores the antics of his hysterical girlfriend to glare daggers at Alice. What a guy.

Emmet makes an excellent point that the odds are in their favor. Laurent refuses to fight with James, so it makes the fight seven against two. It should be a very easy match, considering the Cullens have superior numbers and magical abilities. The logical thing for the Cullens to do would be to lure James and Victoria in and kill them. This fight should have been over so fast that they’d still have time to roast marshmallows over their dismembered bodies, and finish the baseball game.

But no. We have to do something stupid.

“You take me back. I will tell my dad that I want to go home to Phoenix. I pack my bags. We wait until this tracker is watching, and then we run. He’ll follow us and leave Charlie alone. Charlie won’t call the FBI on your family. Then you can take me any damned place you want.”

            They stared at me stunned.

            “It’s not a bad idea, really.” Emmett’s surprise was definitely an insult.

            “It might work—and we simply can’t leave her father unprotected. You know that.” Alice said.

            No. Just tear them to tiny pieces and burn the bodies. It’s really, really simple. We don’t need an extended chase scene. There’s been enough stupidity in this book.

“You’re leaving tonight, whether the tracker sees or not. You tell Charlie that you can’t stand another minute in Forks. Tell him whatever story works. Pack the first things your hands touch, and then get in your truck. I don’t care what he says to you. You have fifteen minutes. Do you hear me? Fifteen minutes from the time you cross the doorstep.

            Good lord, just ignore the very obvious solution in front of you. Keep Bella safe, use your superior numbers to kill him. This plot doesn’t even contribute much. Victoria and James are such weaksauce villains. Why were they even included at all? The only thing that James does is to introduce us to the concept of tracking.

Tracking in this universe is a semi-common vampire power. We meet three trackers in the series as a whole. It just provides a pull towards an object you’re seeking. James isn’t even the most powerful tracker we’ve met. This book would have been much better if the Volturi were being set up as the big bad from the start.

What would we have lost if it had been a band of three Volturi guards that had arrived in Washington? It’s been a long time since Aro has seen Carlisle. What if he’d been extending an invitation to visit Italy? What if the party had been led by Dmitri? He’s a far more powerful tracker than James. We still get a chase scene.

The other two guards, let’s say its Felix and Jane join in the pursuit because they have been conditioned to uphold the law. A law that the Cullens have broken. Is it hasty? Yes. But is it within the character of the Volturi guards? Also a yes.

It makes more sense to run from them now, since Jane’s abilities can work on everyone but Bella. Instead of tracking down James for no good reason, the Cullens are instead the pursued. The decision to turn Bella would be a weightier one. In the end, we would end with the three guards being destroyed.

This could set up your big bad magnificently. The Volturi would be in the dark about where and why their guards were killed. Two of their greatest assets would be gone. The Volturi would want retribution, rightly so. There would be a certain amount of guilt on Bella’s part, because she has actually put the Cullens in danger.

James, Victoria, and Laurent add so little to the plot it’s sad.  You could easily replace Victoria and Laurent in New Moon with Volturi scouts who are trying to find their missing comrades. Bella could have been menaced by a Volturi guard in the meadow, instead of by Laurent.

It’s just really sad that this could have been a great setup, but it wastes its time on people who contribute next to nothing to the overarching plot.

Bella continues to exposit on her plan. She wants Edward to stay visible in Forks so Charlie doesn’t get suspicious. Which is stupid, considering how she plans to get past Charlie. She plans to say that she’s going to Phoenix in earshot of the tracker.

She actually intends to go to where she says she’s going. Which anyone with half a brain would think to check. Especially since it’s implied that James has done this sort of thing before. Which is why we end up with the climax we do. Bella’s plan is extraordinarily stupid. They should have just killed him while he was still with them in the woods.

Ah  yes, Edward almost forgot to give us his obligatory jerk moment for the chapter. He manages to squeeze it in on the second to last page.

“Bella.” Edward’s voice was very soft. Alice and Emmett looked out their windows. “If you let anything happen to yourself—anything at all—I’m holding you personally responsible. Do you understand that?”

Translation: If something happens to you, it’s your fault! I’ll angst about it, but it’s your fault for making me feel bad.


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