I’ve finally made it to chapter twenty! We only have four chapters and an epilogue to go. From here the plot drags a lot less, so I think I’m going to power onward and try to wrap this book up in the next couple of days.
Part of me honestly wanted to give up on reviewing this book around chapter ten. I had to take a couple days off, since subjecting myself to this sort of stuff over and over can be depressing. Sometimes I need a few days away from the awful to recharge.
Bella wakes up in a hotel room and recounts the trip to Phoenix. Jasper drove twice the legal limit to get them there, and Bella sat in the back crying the whole way. She was too exhausted to remember checking into the hotel or getting up to the room.
Nothing of value happens for two or three pages. Meyer clearly forgot that that there’s supposed to be something happening during the climax. We get a whole lot of nothing for awhile. This is a major writing sin. The lull in action really sucks out any tension this chapter had.
When we finally do get to any character interaction, it’s more of the same.
“Our family is strong. Our only fear is losing you.”
“But why should you—“
Alice interrupted this time, touching my cheek with her cold fingers. “It’s been almost a century that Edward’s been alone. Now he’s found you. You can’t see the changes that we see, we who have been with him for so long. Do you think any of us want to look into his eyes for the next hundred years if he loses you?”
Of course. We must all console our precious main character. Like I’ve said all along, Bella constantly devalues her life, and it is really, really annoying. Especially since it’s not consistent with prior characterization. Bella is essentially selfish at her core, and the narrative doesn’t acknowledge it. Her martyr complex is not only grating, but out of character. Do you know who it reminds me of?
Shirou Emiya, from the Fate Stay Night series. Shirou constantly tries to sacrifice his life for others. He’s got a white knight complex like no other. The difference between Shirou and Bella is that in Shirou’s storyline, this is somewhat earned. Shirou was the sole survivor of a catastrophe, and suffers from massive survivor’s guilt as a result. Also, Shirou’s companions constantly tell him to knock it off, and to stick up for himself. Most of his arcs as a character center around him overcoming this and realizing he’s worthy of his life, and of being taken care of.
Bella has no justification for having a martyr complex like this. This “altruism” on her part is largely uncharacteristic, and all the characters in the book praise her for being so noble and selfless. Again, if we had some indication that her home life had given her this complex it would have been…annoying, but passable. Renee gets hardly any screen time, and I don’t think Phil even gets a line in these books. There’s no reason for her to be so guilt ridden about the fact that people want to keep her alive.
It was a very long day.
Then why are you telling us about it? This passage is like watching paint dry. Get to some action already.
But no, Bella stares at the wall and tries to make out patterns. Bella is bored, so we must all be bored to tears as well. She manages to find a pale red dot on the wall and starts thinking of it as an eye. It makes her anxious enough that she has to stop looking for patters in the wallpaper. Let me repeat that.
Bella is getting freaked out about wallpaper. Wallpaper! Why is this even necessary? Just say that the hours dragged by with no word, and then jump us forward in time where something is happening.
Alice has to assure Bella again that their family is nigh indestructible and that no news is good news. Then we get some exposition about vampire transition.
“As predators we have a glut of weapons in our physical arsenal—much, much more than really necessary. The strength, the speed, the acute senses, not to mention those of us like Edward, Jasper, and I, who have extra senses as well. And then, like a carnivorous flower, we are physically attractive to our prey.”
Carnivorous flower? Couldn’t think of anything else to compare them to? Well at least this information is a little better than the dull fare we got for half the chapter. And Meyer, whether intentional or not, has finally admitted that her vampires are vastly over-powered.
“We have another, fairly superfluous weapon. We’re also venomous.”
Do you know the definition of superfluous? It means redundant. Venom is one of the least superfluous weapons in a vampire’s arsenal. It’s the means by which to carry on the species, and therefore quite necessary. If any of the vampire powers were superfluous it would be the insane physical beauty or the fact that they sparkle.
Alice compares vampires to sharks, since we haven’t had enough vampire to animal comparisons in the book already. And it’s not even a good comparison, since humans are not the ideal prey for sharks and they generally leave a human alone after the first bite. Also only four shark species are known to attack people, while all of Meyer’s vampires are implied to be dangerous.
We get a redux of Alice’s backstory. She woke up alone, with no memory of her human life. I’m sure that this will have no bearing on the plot at all. (Cough cough, nudge nudge.)
Alice’s spidey senses start tingling.
“I see a room. It’s long, and there are mirrors everywhere. The floor is wooden. He’s in the room, and he’s waiting. There’s gold…a gold stripe across the mirrors.”
One vision slides into the other. James is in another dark room now, and he’s watching a VCR tape. (Ahaha. VCR.) Alice says that he’ll be waiting for someone in the mirrored room.
Okay, am I supposed to believe that Alice has no idea what the mirrored room is? It’s a ballet studio. Alice was turned in 1920. Am I supposed to believe she’s never been to a ballet studio, seen a photograph of one, or watched a scene that took place in one in a movie? I’ve never taken ballet, and yet I knew what the room was immediately.
Alice receives a phone call from Carlisle. We learn that James has stayed just ahead of the Cullens, and got on a plane once he’d eluded him. They think he’s headed to Forks again. Why they would assume that, I have no idea. He didn’t find her in Forks. There are more Cullens waiting in Forks for him to arrive. The logical next step is to call Bella’s bluff and see if she’s in Phoenix. The Cullens should have proceeded directly to Phoenix once they’d lost him.
I really hate it when authors make their characters unnecessarily dim in order to serve the plot. It’s an insult to your reader and doing your characters a disservice.
Also, the flight from Vancouver to Phoenix is two and a half hours. Its early afternoon when Alice has her vision. Even if we assume that he got on the plane while there was cloud cover in Washington, he should arrive in Phoenix before sundown, when there’s not a cloud in the sky. So he should be sparkling over the place and making a big glittery menace of himself. Now of course, that doesn’t happen, so once again: Pacing, pacing, Pacing!
Bella tells Jasper and Alice what they should already know. She says it looks similar to the place she took ballet lessons as a kid. Bella asks to use the phone to call her mother, for once thinking about her parents’ well-being. She asks her mother not to come home, and essentially gives the villain her number.
Bella falls asleep worrying about her mother. Too bad she just gave the villain exactly what he needed to hurt her. Bella should really win a Darwin Award.