(I know what you're thinking: how can I love Alice so much when she likely also killed people? Alice has given back to the community, with her body. Edward is a virgin. So what good is he?)
Previous entries can be found in the directory.
Chapter 13: Killer
The good news is our girl Bella finally seems to have a grip on the concept of moral complexity. She can't bring herself to leave the literal wolves to the metaphorical ones, so to speak, but she can't condone their behavior either. So she resolves to warn Jacob about the bounty on his head and then immediately cease their friendship. Not exactly righteous, but for Bella this is progress. She's pissed and conflicted, but her rapier wit is intact. "It was bad enough that my best friend was a werewolf. Did he have to be a monster, too?"
"I refuse to join any wolfpack that would have me as a member."- Bella Marx
She arrives at La Push; it's very early in the morning. Still, she pounds on Jacob's front door until Billy calls her in. I would love to play poker with Billy Black, because the man has such a tell! This happens as Bella walks in:
When he saw who it was, his eyes widened briefly, and then his face turned stoic.
(Too many commas, S. Meyer!) Literally on the same page, Bella asks Billy if he knows that Charlie is out in the woods with half the swinging dicks in Forks hunting wolves.
Billy's expression flickered, and then went blank.
Always with the barely detectable facial tics, this guy! He's the opposite of Jacob's constantly shifting Scanner Darkly face (the face fell far from the tree I guess). But why bother with the stoicism if you can't keep it up? That's what she said!
Billy tells Bella to let Jacob sleep, but she bursts into his room without knocking. NOT A GOOD IDEA, Bella. Jacob is a horny 16-year old. What if he is up already, in more ways than one? But it's okay, he's asleep and (probably) not erect. Bella describes his room as literally so small that it only holds his bed.
"Well, that's all I would need, baby."-Quil Ateara
He's also still wearing the "same black cut-off sweats he'd worn last night." Cut-off sweats? I pity the wardrobe designer for these movies. Bella can't bear to wake her sleepy friend, so she decides to wait for him at the beach, leaving the message with Billy. "I could see many questions for me in his dark eyes,"she says. Yeah, I bet you could.
Bella does a little internal monologue where she concludes that she loves Jacob too much to condemn him. "Jacob was my friend whether he killed people or not. And I didn't know what I was going to do about that." I'm still happy that Bella at least thought it over. And none of these moral considerations matter anyway because it becomes immediately clear that Jacob and his friends aren't killing anyone. That was a close one, we almost had a morally fraught situation there! Good thing we didn't; that might have been too interesting for some readers.
(Maybe I'm having my moral cake and eating it too, complaining on the one hand that Bella has no moral compass and then complaining on the other hand that she doesn't get a chance to use it anyway, but whatever. It's a moral failure and a moral default at the same time.)
Jacob shows up and there is a long, misunderstanding-filled conversation where he thinks she's disgusted by the fact that he's a werewolf and she thinks he's an unrepentant killer but neither turns out to be true. I get that "misunderstanding" is the major theme of this book, but just once I'd like to read a straightforward conversation, you know? I hate that every plot point hinges on the fact that all of our major characters are dumbasses.
This book has had a lot of weird stuff about eyes sparkling with unspeakable secrets and noses full of contempt, but I really dig when Bella's voice is here described as being "pale with revulsion." That's great and very evocative. It reminds me of Anne Carson, in a good way. Nicely done, S. Meyer.
Jacob is frustrated about the wolves' inability save people from whatever really is killing them, and when he seems to callously remark that the members of the hunting party will start dying soon, Bella starts speaking in the pale voice. Jacob gets angry, and Edward's Ghost reappears when he starts "pressing his trembling fists against his temples and squeezing his eyes shut." It gets tense for a second, but Bella tries to diffuse him and very sweetly asks if he could stop killing people. He's like, "Say what, bitch?" Then everyone is happy again. They hug, and Jacob strokes her hair. Yep, he's the same guy he always was.
So who is killing people? Jacob talks about how the wolves are always too late to stop some vampire, and Bella concludes that Laurent must still be around. But Jacob informs her that Laurent is dead. She's shocked and thrilled and doesn't understand how the wolves could have done it. "It's what we're made for, Bells," Jacob says. I'm still uncomfortable with this Intelligent Design-y sentiment (Jacob later says "we exist because they do"), but I do love the idea that the God of S. Meyer's universe is a total nerd, creating monsters to fight each other like World of Warcraft or some shit. I suppose it is possible to see the real world that way, like God created Americans to kill Muslims, and surely some people do see it that way. Shudder.
Bella and Jacob proceed to tie up a lot of loose plot threads: she asks about the previous night when he'd said it wasn't safe for them to be around each other. Jacob explains that it wasn't safe for her; if he gets too angry he turns into a wolf. So Jacob worries that around Bella he will lose control and kill her. Sounds like Bella's kind of man.
And so obviously these werewolves don't shift when there's a full moon out. Fanboys, get your pitchforks! "Hollywood's version doesn't get much right," Jacob says. So essentially it's the same deal as the vampires, but this time S. Meyer found a very quick way to explain New Moon's place in the werewolf cannon. Hard to argue with that. Fanboys, put your pitchforks away!
Truth be told, the lion's (or wolf's) share of this conversation is spent explaining the stakes of this new werewolf world. Jacob seems to be able to move without making a lot of sound, even in human form. Bella comments on the noisy rocks she has to walk across on the beach, but when Jacob starts pacing back and forth on them he doesn't make a sound. There's also the fact that Sam is the Alpha of the pack, and he can therefore give his pack orders they are incapable of disobeying, which explains all of the choking on words in the last few chapters.
Jacob also talks about the horror of becoming a werewolf for the first time, though he doesn't go much further than saying "It was horrible." He does manage to get Bella to pity Sam Uley for a second, talking about the fact that he had to go through it alone. The Uley Youth Outreach program suddenly seems a lot less creepy, huh? Bella still wants to think Sam Uley is a creep, though. Not to tease the next chapter too much, but she'll have a good reason soon!
Bella eventually realizes that since Laurent has been dead for a while, and people are still somehow getting killed, obviously someone else is around. Apparently Laurent's death was so shocking, Bella totally forgot the entire basis for this conversation. You got to get all of those werewolf details out somewhere, I guess. Jacob starts talking about the other vampire he'd been travelling with, who has been hovering around the perimeter of Forks for weeks. He starts musing out loud what she could be after and Bella starts dry-heaving with anxiety.
"Victoria," I gasped as soon as I could catch my breath around the nauseous spasms.
Around The Nauseous Spasms is my new band name. Bella explains that Victoria is after her, getting revenge for Edward's murder of James. Are we all supposed to ignore the fact that Edward didn't even kill James? Are we going to retcon this fucking series already? Edward seemed all let down in the hospital because Jasper and Emmett were the ones who had done the deed, right? I guess we're not going to let the truth get in the way of a good story. Already, Victoria's plan for revenge makes no sense. Bella also mentions that Edward doesn't love her anymore anyway, so it's not like killing her would even be a proportional response. I wish someone would point all of this out to Victoria (and S. Meyer)!
Jacob was distracted by that, his face torn between several different expressions. "Is that what happened? Why the Cullens left?"
In case you were wondering what "torn between several expressions" looks like.
Jacob brings Bella back to her truck and leaves her for a minute, saying he's going to call a meeting. She has a panic attack while he runs into the woods. Mostly she's now afraid of Jacob getting hurt in his apparently ongoing attempts to kill Victoria. How long has he been a wolf? It's only been a few days, but Jacob talks about hunting Victoria like it's his day job or something.
No matter what Jacob said, the thought of him coming anywhere close to Victoria was horrifying.
That's what she said? Jacob comes back, and he explains that he went into the woods to wolfitize briefly. It turns out all the members of the pack can hear each other's thoughts when they are in wolf form.
"Is that what you meant last night, when you said you would tell them you'd seen me, even though you didn't want to?"
"You're quick at dispensing with plot threads," Jacob said.
So a bunch of teenage boys can all read each other's thoughts? That's got to be quite the pornographic echo chamber in there. I'm sure they've all gotten to know Bella without getting to know her, if you know what I mean. I'm saying, they've probably seen her in every conceivable sex position by now, if that wasn't clear. And she's about to meet them!
Jacob makes another overture to Bella before the meeting, mentioning Edward's name on the way over and then apologizing for it.
"How do you know me so well, Jacob? Sometimes it's like you can read my mind."
"Naw. I just pay attention."
He asks her if maybe she's better off without him. She cuts off the conversation, saying "If things were different, it would be nice to finally talk to someone about it." I think this is Bella's way of saying, "If you weren't thinking about banging me right now maybe I could confide in you." Once again, obviously Bella needs Alice. I mean, Alice wants to bang Bella too, but she keeps it to herself. Oh, hey, by the way WHERE THE FUCK IS ALICE?