I've been reading New Moon, by Stephenie Meyer. Previous entries can be found in the directory. Recently: Enemies List
Chapter 10: The Meadow
Jacob stays sick and doesn’t call, and Bella’s conspiracy theorist instincts kick in. She’s getting reassurances through Billy and other third parties, but she doesn’t believe them. Obviously she’s going to be right about this, and a little part of me dies every time the conspiracy turns out to be true in any book or movie or TV show.
I loathe all conspiracy theorists—from the “9/11 was an Inside Job” fucks to the birthers to certain strains of Teabaggers. In watching Mad Men recently I think I’ve traced my loathing back to my father’s own dismissal of conspiracy theorists around the Kennedy assassination. My father was six when JFK was shot, and has been interested in the event and the man himself ever since; he’s even taken a few trips to Dallas. And he never paid a lot of heed to conspiracy theories around that event, the mother of all conspiracy-theory-birthing events.
Perhaps as a result, I have no patience for people who talk about the Bilderberg Group, etc. Seeing the world as a vast succession of conspiracies is a coward’s way of explaining his or her own weakness in the face of global events. I’m comfortable with my own weakness—I don’t see it as the result of shadowy secret forces keeping me down. That is the way they see it; eventually with these conspiracy theorists it always comes back to a personal place. The Bilderberg group is why I’m not rich and famous and powerful. (That isn’t to say the world isn’t full of people with lots of money and disproportionate advantage, but those people are out in the open. They don’t have secret meetings on the second Thursday of every month or something.) This is not to mention the fact that believing that you have information that millions of other people don’t (the especially dumb ones unironically use the word “sheeple”) takes a very special kind of arrogance.
Anyway, I hate it when the conspiracy turns out to be true, as it always does in works of fiction, because these moments, however small, reaffirm the beliefs for the believers. Stupid as that may sound, it's true. It’s the same logic that led to Bush Administration officials citing 24-like "ticking time-bomb" scenarios as justifying torture and other advanced interrogation whatever-euphemism-you-likes, apparently not realizing they were citing a work of fiction.
The first time Bella calls and gets no answer, she drives to La Push and no one is home at the Black's. She gets Charlie to call Harry Clearwater for the scoop, but it turns out Harry is having health problems and Charlie gets distracted with that. Eventually he gets off the phone and tells Bella that Jacob has mono.
“Kissing too many dudes.”-Quil Ateara
Bella looks up the symptoms to mono (Bella finds “a medical site” online and types it into the “search box.” See how you can be vague in an unobtrusive way, S. Meyer? More of this, please!) and doesn’t buy it. Still, she gives Billy and Jacob a week before she calls them again. Away from Jacob, all of Bella’s nightmares and anxieties and psychosomatic chest pains come back.
I wasn’t handling alone well.
I’m not handling that sentence well. I feel like I’m getting that stomach virus from the last chapter. After a week (obviously Bella tries a few times during the week against her own promise; she’s an addictive personality) Bella finally gets someone on the phone. Billy tells her that Jacob is okay now, and he went with some friends to Port Angeles for the day. Bella is like whaaaat. She realizes that her week away from Jacob was worse for her than it was for him, and her whole perspective is shaken. All this time she thought she was the cock-tease with all the cards, but it turns out Jacob had a hold on Bella’s cock, too. Is pussy-tease a word yet? It is now, I guess. “I felt the blood run out of my face,” Bella says.
Charlie comes down the stairs and finds Bella still holding the phone in her hand. He’s supposed to go fishing today, but when he realizes what’s up it occurs to him he should probably be on suicide watch instead. Bella tries to get rid of him, promising she’ll call Jessica so they can study for a calculus test. He seems especially concerned with keeping her out of the woods; there's a missing hiker now which is probably related to the giant bear. Obviously once Charlie leaves Bella resolves to go hiking alone, continuing the search for the meadow; Bella never passes up a chance to possibly die.
She sets off and immediately starts talking about how creepy the forest is. Hasn't Bella ever heard of Show Don't Tell? "The sense of unease grew stronger," Bella says. That's cheating, S. Meyer!
And then she finds The Meadow. She literally just stumbles in. That was easy! Bella says it "happened with an abruptness that disoriented me." Is that a little meta-wink from our author or am I crazy?
Speaking of crazy, this whole idea was stupid, and Bella almost immediately regrets it. She takes a minute to appreciate the perfection of the place, noting that it is so round and symmetrical it is "as if someone had intentionally created the flawless circle." I'm getting echoes of Edward's weird Intelligent Design speech from Twilight here, but this one is brief. Any possible Garden of Eden parallels are thankfully never made explicit.
But Bella's Subconcious Edward Father Spirit Patronus Ghost (SEFSPG) doesn't show up, and Bella is overcome with anguish, curling up into a ball on the ground. Oh, please. You knew this was a long shot, honey. I'm losing my patience for Bella's theatrics. She is in need of an anonymous fuck, someone who can make her forget about Edward for a few hours or even minutes-- just enough to realize he's not all there is. Almost as if he hears my thoughts, Laurent suddenly steps into the clearing.
What? I mean, okay, I guess that's fair. A minor character from Twilight is back! It probably wouldn't bother me if this whole meadow subplot had been earned in the first place, but it was a totally mechanical plot development with no real justification. Separate, these two plot points (The Meadow and Laurent returning) might be acceptable, but together they seem especially contrived.
Laurent is not here to fuck, though. He seems to have found Bella by accident-- they're both surprised to see each other.
"This is a credulity-straining coincidence!" Laurent exclaimed.
Bella is surprised by how unchanged he looks, but then remembers he's immortal. "It was very silly and human to expect some kind of change," Bella says. You catch that? Human? I like how Bella very casually slips back into Twilight rhetoric when the vampires reappear. I see what you did there, S. Meyer.
It's a bit of a set-up though, because Bella thinks about how when she thought of Laurent in the past (she thought of Laurent in the past?) she'd pictured him with gold eyes, like the Cullens, since when we last heard of him he was headed to Denali to live with Honorary Cullen Tanya and her family of fellow "vegetarians." I didn't realize he'd gone there to live, but Laurent confirms as much and implies that he's been fucking at least one of them. But the thing is, his eyes are still red. Which means he's been eating humans. Diets are hard, we all know it.
And clearly Laurent intends to eat (or maybe fuck and then eat) Bella, but as usual with Laurent the conversation is weirdly casual and friendly. He inquires after the Cullens and seems surprised they've left Bella behind. "Weren't you sort of a pet of theirs?" he asks. Bella says "his eyes were innoncent of any intended offense," but when your eyes are DEEP RED how can they seem like anything other than "almost comically hostile?"
Laurent asks if the Cullens come around here anymore, and the SEFSPG finally does show up, telling Bella to lie. She tries, but Laurent doesn't buy it. Eventually he brings up Victoria. Remember her? Not really, right? Well, she's mad at Bella. And Laurent says she "won't be happy about this." "About what?" Bella asks.
He looked back at me and smiled-- the expression made him look like a black-haired angel.
"About me killing you," he answered in a seductive purr.
Only Bella would hear that as seductive. Also, angels can't have black hair under ordinary circumstances?
Laurent is supposed to be French, oui? If so, why does he speak in a near-constant stream of English idioms?
"She thought it more appropriate to kill you than Edward-fair turnabout, mate for mate. She asked me to get the lay of the land for her, so to speak."
Laurent tells Bella she should be happy, because he will kill her quickly and painlessly, whereas Victoria had some Eli Roth shit planned. Bella tries to threaten him with Cullen vengeance, but they both know it's bullshit. If Edward found out Bella was dead he'd just off himself and it would be up to Alice to avenge them both.
"Beg," my hallucination begged.
This is like in Twilight when Edward sobbed sobs. Buy a thesaurus! Laurent goes in for the kill, and kind of endearingly, Bella's almost-last thought is "Edward, I love you." Speaking of Edward, when he left and promised it would be like he never existed so that Bella would be safe, did he forget that vampires outside his family existed? Like, for instance, the ones he'd just fought a few months ago? Did he forget that he was leaving Bella in a region with an extremely favorable vampire climate, through which vampires passed all the time? Did he not realize that despite the minor threat posed by Jasper once the best thing he could do to protect Bella (aside from turning her into a vampire) was stick around and protect her from the evil vampires who show up all the time?
EVERYONE IN THIS BOOK IS SUCH A DUMB ASSHOLE! I need Alice back. But then a huge creature comes out of the woods, and S. Meyer kind of misuses a semi-colon:
Then I saw it; a huge black shape eased out of the trees, quiet as a shadow, and stalked deliberately toward the vampire.
I'm not necessarily saying it should be a colon; it should probably be neither. Bella thinks the creature is the super bear, but upon closer inspection it's a giant wolf. And upon even closer inspection, there are four more wolves coming out of the woods. Laurent seems terrified, and Bella doesn't understand why. One of the wolves is only a few feet away from our heroine, and it looks at her and she starts thinking of Jacob for some reason. That's silly, Bella! Why would a huge wolf make you think of Jacob? Laurent flees, the wolves give chase, and Bella collapses alone in the clearing.
Bella can't move for quite a while-- her totally understandable and realistic (for once!) reaction to mortal terror is a bright spot in this chapter (I mean, not a bright spot for Bella, but you know). However, almost immediately she gets down to deeply analyzing what just happened. This is really neither the time nor the place, Bella!
...the wolves should have given Laurent a wide berth...it [made] no sense that they would pursue him. I doubted his icy marble skin would smell anything like food. Why would they pass up something warm-blooded and weak like me to chase after Laurent?
Aw, Bella is dissapointed. "Why didn't they want to fuck me to death?" Mind you she's still supposedly on the ground in a blind panic. "My mind couldn't move past the fear," she said only a few lines ago. Move your ass Bella! Get out of the woods!
She finally does move her ass, and getting out turns out to be an ordeal. (Kind of like this chapter am I right?) I do like the (too brief) description of Bella's escape: she's shaking so hard she has to put the compass on the ground to read it, she's falling down and getting scraped up, little noises make her scream so hard she's hurting her own ears. She finds her truck and locks herself in and has another breakdown. I feel like we should be keeping a tally of all the times Bella loses her shit in this book. Our girl is a mess!
She gets home, but it's late and Charlie is pissed. When he sees her all covered in sap and leaves she has to tell the truth (except for the part about the vampires). She tells him she saw the bear which was really five wolves, and he calls in her report to the police station.
Then Charlie asks Bella if she'd told him Jacob was going to be out of town today-- he sounds suspicious. I wonder if Bella's matted hair and sap-covered body is making him think she and Jacob spent the day having sex in the woods. You gotta admit, that's sort of what it looks like. Well, okay, not really. Turns out Charlie saw Jacob on the reservation today, arguing with someone.
Bella decides Jacob must have confronted Embry, and that must be why he's ignoring her. Okay, that's fine Bella. Think that if you want. But uh, don't you have more important things to worry about, though? Upstairs it finally (breaking) dawns on her: Laurent and Victoria are going to come after her now!
It occurs to me that Victoria's (alleged) motivation makes no sense-- Edward wasn't even the one who killed James! In the book it is sort of vaguely implied that Emmett and Jasper did the honors, no? So shouldn't Victoria be after Alice and Rosalie? In the film, Alice delivered the death blow to James, so should Jasper be the target?
But whatever, I guess I shouldn't think about it too much! The chapter at least ends with another great sentence, as the whole "I'm definitely going to die" thing occurs to Bella:
I pressed my fist against my mouth to keep from screaming.
I feel like S. Meyer is cock-teasing me now, nestling lines like this amongst the wreckage of the last few chapters. I keep saying it's getting better, and I keep being wrong. But we're all suffering through this together, and Alice has to come back sometime, right?
Special thanks to Renee for proof-reading this post. A week later, it is now free of egregious errors. Don't blog and train people at work at the same time, everybody!