I've been reading New Moon, by S. Meyer. Previous entries can be found in the directory.
Chapter 12: Intruder
Bella wakes up in the middle of the night when something starts scratching against her window; she gets out of bed and sees a “huge dark shape” wobbling in a looming sort of way, which she assumes is Victoria, and immediately starts preparing to die. Wobbling, though? That should be your first sign you're not dealing with a vampire. They're not all as graceful and dancer-like as Alice, but I don't see them wobbling. I shouldn't be mentioning Alice, it makes the edges around the hole in my chest ache. Learning about Ashley Greene's appointment to high office doesn't make me feel any better. Alice is never coming back. Anyway, Bella hears Jacob's voice at the window and realizes it's a false alarm.
Now this is another one of those S. Meyer scenes which is sort of hard to visualize—it sounds totally ridiculous:
Jacob was clinging precariously to the top of the spruce that grew in the middle of Charlie's little front yard. His weight had bowed the tree toward the house and he now swung – his legs dangling twenty feet above the ground – not a yard away from me.
What? It is suggested briefly that Bella thinks she's dreaming, but it is not driven home sufficiently enough to accommodate the cartoonishness of this scene. He ends up swinging like Tarzan into her room, landing noiselessly enough to not wake Charlie. When he grins at his success, Bella gets pissed off. “I'd cried myself to sleep over this boy,” she says. When, exactly, Bella? You did just cry yourself to sleep, but it was over Edward! Is she having trouble keeping them straight?
His harsh rejection has punched a painful new hole in what was left of my chest. He'd left a new nightmare behind him, like an infection in a sore—the insult after the injury.
He'd put salt in a wound that had already been salted! WE GET IT BELLA. Again, I find myself mentally adding swears to the dialogue. David Mamet should write the script for Breaking Dawn.
“Get the fuck out!” I hissed.
Bella tries to shove Jacob back out of the window (Team Bella!) at which point she realizes that A) his skin is still super-hot, and B) he is shirtless. Last week a few of you balked at the idea of playing Marry/Fuck/Kill with Jacob Black because he is just a (fictional) boy. I don't disagree with you, but remember that S. Meyer is writing this stuff—describing the half-naked body of a 16 year old. It's weird to think about, huh? I only object to it as much as I object to the sexualization of Dakota Fanning in The Runaways, which is to say enough to feel uncomfortable, but not enough to impact my opinion of the work as a whole.
Strangely, Bella is overcome with fatigue. Like, literally, she almost passes out on her feet. Why so sleepy, Bella? She says something about sleepless nights, but she was just sleeping a minute ago! You can't complain about crying yourself to sleep and also complain about not sleeping in the same breath! I guess I don't know how sleep deprivation works-- does sleeping a little bit make it way worse? Like extremely, comically worse?
Bella collapses onto her bed and presumably spends the rest of the conversation lying down, which leads to more visualization problems. At one point Jacob takes Bella's face in his hands (while it is still attached to her body, it needs to be said). So is he bent over her bed, at like a 90 degree angle? Is he straddling her?
Jacob says he came to apologize but Bella is too fucked-up on exhaustion to understand exactly why. (It kinds of reads like Bella is actually just high, and S. Meyer is euphemizing it away like the sex talk from Twilight.) She's lucid for a lot of the conversation, though; the exhaustion appears and disappears in the service of a few plot points. (It's not like the semi-conscious near-death scene at the end of Twilight, though it probably should be. Here, Bella can read all of Jacob's specific emotions and intentions but can't verbally respond coherently or comprehend direct questions.)
Jacob feels like a jerk but he still can't tell Bella the truth – he actually seems physically incapable of speaking when he tries. But then he mentions that she already knows anyway; he says he told her the truth way back in the first book (well, he doesn't say that exactly), which is true. Back when Jacob was a round-faced little boy, he told her the legend that his people descended from wolves. He just didn't know it was anything other than a legend at the time. But Bella is too tired/drunk/high to remember any of that. C'mon now, Bella. I've had a couple of drinks tonight and I remember it just fine.
Jacob's face shifts from “hopelessness to blazing intensity in a second.” He really is a lot like Edward now, huh? He keeps trying to hint at the truth, but it seems to take physical effort.
Whatever he was trying to do, it was so hard he was panting.
That's what she said! Bella, I mean. I've given up on complaining about my standard grammatical hobby-horses, but something unforgivable happens on page 285. Jacob is still trying to remind Bella about what happened that day at La Push, and she apparently visually reacts at the memory of learning Edward was a vampire:
He spoke slowly, making each word distinct. “Do you remember what I said?”
Even in the dark, he must be able to see the change in my face.
I understand a little bit of past-perfect confusion, but BASIC fucking past and present tense inconsistencies? WHAT THE FUCK? Am I the only one OUTRAGED by this?
Then Jacob looks at Bella with “eyes that knew too much.” We've all been complaining about the overly emotive eyes in this book, and this is the “insult after the injury” to use Bella's clunky rendering of an already boring cliché.
Jacob is also frequently described as being “sarcastic,” though it is hard to understand exactly how he is imbuing some of these lines with sarcasm.
“Maybe it will come back to you. I guess I under why you only remember the one story,” he added in a sarcastic, bitter tone. “Do you mind if I ask you a question about that?” he asked, still sarcastic.
That is kind of hard to say in a sarcastic tone! What would the conveyed meaning even be? Does he not really want to know the answer?
"Could you BE any worse at understanding how sarcasm works?"
Jacob has to leave before Bella can figure anything out – he hasn't told the guys about going off the reservation (literally and figuratively) yet.
“You don't have to tell them a fucking thing,” I hissed.
“All the same, I will.”
He tells Bella not to hate the bros – Sam is “incredibly cool.” She asks why she can't see him, then, and he replies “it's not safe.” She interprets this to mean she's the radioactive one, that he somehow knows about Victoria, which is such a stupid and illogical conclusion to draw that I am forced to believe Bella really is high. On what, though? Maybe there's a carbon monoxide leak.
Jacob tells her to come see him when she figures it out. Unless she doesn't want to. There's a lot of stuff about how Jacob's face is different. Sometimes it's Bella's Jacob Face, which is nice and gentle and happy and carefree, and sometimes it's Sam's Jacob Face which is all lines and veins and tendons and harsh eyes:
His face turned hard and bitter, one hundred percent the face that belonged to Sam. “Oh, I can think of a reason,” he said in a harsh tone.
But then other times it's like Sam's Jacob Face is commenting on Bella's Jacob Face:
A wide grin spread slowly across Jacob's face...it wasn't the grin that I knew and loved – it was a new grin, one that was a bitter mockery of his old sincerity, on the new face that belonged to Sam.
That is some face you got there, Jacob. Before he leaves he tries to hug Bella, but it ends up being this weird Frankenstein monster moment where he almost crushes her to death.
I took his hand, and suddenly he yanked me – too roughly – right off the bed so that I thudded against his chest.
Sometimes I make notes in the margins at night and in the morning I can't remember what they mean. There's a particularly mystifying note next to this passage: it just reads “Shake Weight.” Okay, Zac. Whatever.
Bella passes out and Jacob leaves and she has a new version of the Oswald Alving sun-finding dream she had many (new) moons ago after the aforementioned La Push trip. At the time the dream confirmed her fears about Edward being a vampire, but Jacob also turned into a wolf. This time it confirms those (almost totally absent) suspicions. Jacob turns into a wolf again, but this time it's the big, knowing-eyed russet wolf. This dream is so versatile! It's like Jacob's face!
She wakes up screaming, but Charlie is so used to it by now that he doesn't come in to check. Probably not a good thing, given the Victoria situation. Someday she'll scream and really need it, and help won't come. Like that old story about the boy who cried something. What was it? "The Boy Who Cried Tiger"? I can't remember.
Then, weirdly, S. Meyer literally copies over a page of text from Twilight. Seriously. Bella flashes back to her conversation with Jacob, but instead of paraphrasing it or something, S. Meyer just pastes in a whole fucking page word-for-word and italicizes it. What's even more bizarre is that one word changes:
“Do you know any of our old stories, about where we came from – the Quileutes, I mean?” he asked.
That's the New Moon version of the line. (Technically since the originally line is italicized my block-quote shouldn't be, but for the ease of the reader and but for the grace of god, you know?) In Twilight, the end of it reads “he began.” But everything else is exactly the same. It's almost like S. Meyer thought about revising but just went “Nah, fuck it” after a second or two and hit cntrl+i instead. She could have just transposed the conversation into past perfect (her problems with that tense notwithstanding): “He'd began,” “I'd admitted,” etc. Of course now I'm wondering if it's “he'd began” or “he'd begun” and I really don't know. Maybe that's what scared S. Meyer off too.
Bella finishes her cheap flashback (If you've ever seen any of the Saw movies – I think I saw the first three – every movie ends with a flashback of the movie you just watched, which strikes me as vaguely insulting, even for the audience of a Saw film. Actually, a lot of movies do that, and it's always cheap, just like this is cheap. One of the many great things about Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is that quick flashbacks in that film contain images you don't see in any other context – in other words it's really like a flashback a real human would have. It bothers me when, in other movies, someone's life will flash before her eyes and the only parts of her life you see are clips from the previous 90 minutes. There was more life than that, right? By the way, I wholly agree with the Onion AV Club that ESOTSM is the best film of the previous decade. If you disagree we should fight about it.) and for some reason says “werewolf” out loud, alone in her room.
There's a great section where Bella wonders if all myths and monsters and legends are real. “Am I going to have to fuck a mummy next?” she says. But not really.
Was there anything sane or normal at all, or was everything just magic and ghost stories?
We are going to stop at werewolves and vampires, right guys? They seem to go well together: cold, intellectual, (self-loathing, violent) vampires and hot, passionate, (self-loathing, violent) werewolves. There isn't anymore room in that dichotomy. Dull, room-temperature (self-loathing, violent) centaurs?
Then Bella gets mad at herself for being such a fucked-up crazy monster-fucker. “Jacob, the only human I'd ever been able to relate to...and he wasn't even human.” This is a pretty fun way of playing with the “girl who always picks the wrong guy” trope, but it can't really be explored because Bella only has herself to talk to. What she needs is a confidant she can tell about this shit, someone who can wittily remark “Boy, you sure know how to pick em, Bella.” Which reminds me: Yo String, where is Alice? String! STRING! WHERE THE FUCK IS ALICE?! STRING!
"Just don't get me started on Gatsby. Seriously, don't."
There was no cult. There had never been a cult, never been a gang. No it was much worse than that. It was a pack.
Why is that worse? Bella decides to go straight to La Push, even though it's early in the morning. Charlie is on his way to work, obviously a little confused, when she comes barreling down the stairs. Still, he seems okay with letting her go, he just tells her not to stop anywhere.
“There's been another attack,” he says. “The wolves again. There's a missing hiker and more blood.”
My stomach dropped like I'd hit a corkscrew on a roller coaster. “A wolf attacked him?”
Bella immediately find herself morally vexed on all sides. There's a hunting party getting together to kill the wolves, and Bella's first instinct is to protect Jacob. But when she realizes Charlie is going out on the hunt too (with his pistol, apparently, unless he straps on a rifle when he goes to work) she also wants to protect him. After a few minutes Bella finally realizes Jacob might actually be a murderer and would therefore not deserve her protection. The moral arc of Bella is long, but it bends toward justice.