So we open with our protagonist Bawla Wan standing in the sunlight with her grandmother, who is dead. So either ghosts/zombies just got added to this series, Bawla's granny is a vampire, or she is dreaming as she suspects.
- Smeyer has already introduced the hot werewolf boy as a love triangle angle, so there's no need for sexy ghosts/zombies.
- Why would anyone turn an old lady into a vampire? She's so OLD. Only hot attractive teenagers get turned into vampires!
- That leaves us the dream theory.
I also have to wonder where this is occurring. I know it's all a dream, but most dreams have.... settings. We're not told if this dream is occurring indoors, outdoors, on Mars, whatever. All we're told is that there's sunlight.
Gran hadn't changed much; her face looked just the same as I remembered it.
She still had that second nose and novelty glasses.
So Bella and her Gran sit there smiling, opening their mouths, turning and pausing at the exact same time. Yeah, I can totally see what's coming. And then Bella hears...
Edward's voice! And it's time for soppy over-the-top drivel about how awesome he is.
I didn't have to look to know who it was; this was a voice I would know anywhere—know, and respond to, whether I was awake or asleep… or even dead, I'd bet. The voice I'd walk through fire for—or, less dramatically, slosh every day through the cold and endless rain for.
- Ewww, I don't wanna imagine Bella reacting as a dead person. All I can imagine is a zombie shambling after a sparklepire.
- It would be "less dramatic" if Bella hadn't treated cold and damp like a death sentence, in her usual melodramatic way.
Don't bother to tell us who Edward is. For all we know, it's her talking beagle.
Even though I was always thrilled to see him—conscious or otherwise—and even though I was almost positive that I was dreaming, I panicked as Edward walked toward us through the glaring sunlight.
.... why? I mean it, why? I mean, she's already confirmed that she's either dreaming or talking to a ghost. If she's dreaming, this is no big deal. If it's a ghost... who cares if she knows? She would know the secrets of LIFE AND DEATH, but you think it's a big deal if she knows your boyfriend sparkles?!
Another big problem with this scene is that honestly, people don't tend to react in dreams the way they do in real life. I once had a dream where I killed a wooly mammoth, for instance, and I felt okay with that even though I oppose hunting.
I panicked because Gran didn't know that I was in love with a vampire—nobody knew that
Except maybe all the people in town who notised the pale-skinned, reclusive, sun-shunning people who go berserk if you get a nosebleed.
so how was I supposed to explain the fact that the brilliant sunbeams were shattering off his skin into a thousand rainbow shards like he was made of crystal or diamond?
"Oh dearie, is he one of those lovely gay men I heard about on the news? He's wearing glitter! And more makeup than you! I'm so glad you have someone to talk to about boys."
Well, Gran, yon might have noticed that my boyfriend glitters. It's just something he does in the sun. Don't worry about it…
Again, if her grandmother was dead... why would this be a big deal? Is she afraid a ghost is going to race around Forks telling everybody that Bella's boyfriend sparkles in the sunlight? Or is this just another opportunity for Bella to get upset about something for no good reason?
So Bella sits there angsting and panicking for a few paragraphs, even wishing that Eddiegirl could read her mind so she could warn him. Uhhhhh... if he's out wandering in bright sunlight, I think he's aware of it, YOU DUMBASS. Unless he's even more brain-damaged than Bawla, he's fully aware of both the sunlight and his sparkling!
I shot a panicked glance back at Gran, and saw that it was too late. She was just turning to stare back at me, her eyes as alarmed as mine.
That should be a warning sign, because NOBODY would react with alarm when confronted by a guy who glitters like a disco ball.
Scaaaaarrrrryyyy isn't it? Fear the glitter and sparkles of the disco ball!
Edward—still smiling so beautifully that my heart felt like it was going to swell up and burst through my chest
Oooh, I remember that part.
Whoops, my bad. That little gem is from a different Smeyer book.
So Edward cuddles against Bawla, and Bawla FINALLY notices the weirdness that I've already seen coming for the last page: she notices that not only does Granny have the same expression as her... AGAIN... she also has her arm around something invisible. Which raises a few questions:
- Are Smeyer's vampires supposed to be invisible in mirrors?
- If so, how the hell does that work with "venom" and crystallized rock-hard flesh?
- And if not... WHY IS SHE BRINGING ATTENTION TO IT? By randomly inserting a piece of traditional vampire lore, Smeyer is just hammering it home YET AGAIN that her vampires aren't "real" vampires and are infinitely lamer than the traditional bloodsuckers!
Only then, as I looked at the bigger picture, did I notice the huge gilt frame that enclosed my grandmother's form.
I KNEW IT. I FUCKING KNEW IT. It was only foreshadowed TO DEATH for this entire scene, and any idiot could tell what was going on. Yes, it turns out that Bawla is actually looking in a giant mirror... which she somehow DIDN'T NOTICE before. Yes, apparently her subconscious hates her too, since it is deliberately fucking with her.
There was no Gran.
That was me. Me in a mirror. Me—ancient, creased, and withered.
Oh, how delightfully predictable it all is. It gets even more fucked-up in a minute.
Edward stood beside me, casting no reflection, excruciatingly lovely and forever seventeen.
... and forever being carded at bars.
He pressed his icy, perfect lips against my wasted cheek.
"Happy birthday," he whispered.
"I hope you don't mind that I dumped you decades ago, because you're old, wrinkly and no longer attractive. That's how shallow relationships go, baby."
So Bella wakes up, and assures herself that it was only a dream. But since nothing in Bawla's life can just be insignificant or ordinary, she immediately launches into a melodramatic meltdown.
Only a dream, but prophetic enough in one way, at least. Today was my birthday. I was officially eighteen years old.
Yes, people. She apparently had a dream about being a dried-up old crone about five minutes from death... because she's turning EIGHTEEN. The horror! She should just turn in her "woman" card today, because obviously you're a dried-up old hag the moment you become a legal adult.
... WHO WROTE THIS? A three-year-old?!
I'd been dreading this day for months.
"Being able to vote sucks! They might expect me to actually get off my ass. Even worse, my dad might expect me to... GET A JOB. Or... go to a college that isn't populated by idiots! I'd have to actually WORK."
All through the perfect summer—the happiest summer I had ever had, the happiest summer anyone anywhere had ever had,
- ... so this takes place over six months after Twilight? Uhhhhh... what happened during that time? Aside from Bella and Edward brooding, moping and whining while wanting to hump each other and not doing that?
- No, seriously, WHY WAS THAT SUMMER SO AWESOME? When we last saw Bawla, it was late winter/early spring! It was not summer!
- Anyone wanna bet Smeyer will somehow fuck up the timeline?
- Rambling about how it's the best summer ANYONE ANYWHERE has had just sounds like her desperately trying to convince people about it.
So Bawla whines about how this bleak date had lurked in ambush, waiting to spring. Apparently she thinks that birthdays are malevolent beasts lying in wait for you. So why is she so horrified by turning eighteen, a date that most seventeen-year-olds look forward to because they can FINALLY (or so they think) be free of all parental control, and can now get their uvula pierced and date a guy called Weasel?
I was eighteen.
And Edward never would be.
- ... and?
- Seriously, I feel like I'm missing something here. I'm not sure why her being a few months older than Edward physically is such a big deal.
- Is this some "Disney princess" rule, that the girls must be younger than the boys they date, and if you date a guy slightly younger than you, you're a pathetic old hag doomed to endless misery?
- Also... HE HAS BEEN EIGHTEEN. He's approaching 118! Just because he didn't physically change after he was... I dunno, seventeen-and-a-half doesn't mean he never turned 18.
So since Bella hasn't pissed me off enough yet, she wanders into the bathroom and STARTS CHECKING FOR WRINKLES. Yes, she's just turning eighteen TODAY, and she's convinced that she is going to have actual old-lady wrinkles on her face. I just... I mean, who on planet Earth thinks like this? Someone with some kind of weird aging-obsessed version of OCD? Body dysmorphic disorder? THIS IS NOT NORMAL.
The answer, of course, is that Smeyer has the mind of a thirteen-year-old girl in the body of a thirtysomething woman. And like any shallow, whiny, idiotic Suethor, she can't imagine anything worse than being ugly and/or old. Clearly Smeyer cannot cope with being at the advanced old age of thirty or forty-something, so she channels all her aging angst into Bawla.
But really, it sounds incredibly stupid and melodramatic. We are less than half a chapter into this stupid book, and already I want to beat Bella on the head with a ballpeen hammer. At least wait until you're a decade older than him to start wangsting about the physical age gap.
It was just a dream, I reminded myself again. Just a dream… but also my worst nightmare.
Family massacred? No big deal. Nuclear war? Ehhh, don't care. Real-life torture-porn? Pshaw! Getting old and wrinkly? NO, THAT IS LIKE THE WORST THING EVAH!!!!!!!!! ANYTHING BUT NORMAL AGING!!!!!!!!!!
And I don't know why Bella is so incredibly worried. It's obvious she's going to become a vampire for three reasons:
- She's a Mary Sue. If Smeyer can't have immortality and beauty herself, she's gonna make her Sue have it!
- Alice foretold it. And despite the fact that Alice couldn't predict a stubbed toe, we're supposed to think she's practically infallible.
- Edward is a shallow bastard who doesn't love Bella, but refuses to screw anyone except her. Do you really think a horny-as-hell century-old virgin is going to let the only woman he'd ever want to ever pork grow old and die without even one screw? Seriously, does anyone really think that? I didn't think so!
So Bawla goes rushing downstairs, and since I don't hate her enough yet, I honestly tried to be excited about the gifts I'd asked him not to get me, but every time I had to smile, it felt like I might start crying.
- Why the hell is she crying? Is she still being melodramatic about the damned "wah, I iz eighteen! I iz ancient!" crapola?
- And why the hell did she ask him not to get her anything? I mean, is she allergic to gift wrap?
- I think this is another thing meant to make Bella look soooooo humble and unselfish, but it just makes her seem like an ungrateful runt.
So after ignoring her dad as much as possible, Bawla goes outside and has another orgasm over how hot Edward is. Excuse me, I have to find a bucket before I do any more of this.
like a marble tribute to some forgotten pagan god of beauty.
... so by "tribute," she means a sacrifice? Like a dead goat?
And he was waiting there for me, just the same as every other day.
.... and then he slapped me around and dragged me into the car by my hair, just the same as every other day.
Despair momentarily vanished; wonder took its place. Even after half a year with him, I still couldn't believe that I deserved this degree of good fortune.
Oh, don't worry. You TOTALLY deserve that degree of good fortune.
His sister Alice was standing by his side, waiting for me, too.
She was just as hot as he was!
So Bawla dribbles that Edward and Alice look SOOOOOOO alike, which does not at all diminish the LesYay overtones of Bella's relationship with her.
To someone in the know—someone like me—these similarities marked them for what they were.
To everyone who isn't in the know, the similarities mark them as creepy pasty no-life-having weirdos who spend way too much time indoors... oh wait, they are.
Then, again, Bawla starts bitching about how Alice DARED to buy her a present. I mean, what kind of inconsiderate jerk buys a friend a PRESENT on their birthday, pays attention to them, and is generally nice in every way? The NERVE! How horrible!
I'd told Alice I didn't want anything, anything, not gifts or even attention, for my birthday.
"Doesn't she know that I only like being ignored and treated like crap? I mean, if I liked being treated nicely, I wouldn't be dating her brother!"
Obviously, my wishes were being ignored.
Shove it up your ungrateful pancake ass.
Being an unselfish angel of amazingness, Bella throws a tantrum, slamming her car door hard enough to make RUST FLY OFF, and heads over to where Alice is. And even though they're supposedly best buddies and Alice is obviously delighted to give gifts to her, Bella acts like a bitch to her for no reason.
"Happy birthday, Bella!"
"Shh!" I hissed, glancing around the lot to make sure no one had heard her. The last thing I wanted was some kind of celebration of the black event.
After all, she has graced the people of Forks with her divine presence! I'm sure they would whip up a parade if they knew this was the Sullen Queen Of Phoenix's BIRTHDAY! She would be mobbed with adoring worshipers! A seven-day bacchanal thrown in her honor! They would mortgage their houses and sell their children's kidneys if only they could buy her a gift, and weep tears of blood because it is STILL unworthy of her greatness!
Seriously, how arrogant is she? Again, I think we're supposed to marvel at how wonderfully humble she is and how she doesn't want any special attention paid to her... but the fact that she actually EXPECTS people who barely know her to celebrate her birthday just shows what a brat she is. And the fact that she's treating Alice like an annoyance for being NICE to her also shows how bratty and selfish she is.
She ignored me. "Do you want to open your present now or later?" she asked eagerly as we made our way to where Edward still waited.
"No presents," I protested in a mumble.
"I hate presents! Presents mean someone is being NICE to me, and I HATE that!"
She finally seemed to process my mood. "Okay… later, then. Did you like the scrapbook your mom sent you? And the camera from Charlie?"
- "And the dog collar from Edward with 'Bella' on it? And the severed head from Rosalie?"
- I really feel sorry for Alice here. She's obviously delighted to give gifts and be nice to Bella, and Bella is acting like a snotty brat who just shrugs her off, tries to ignore her and rejects her gifts.
- Also... what teenage girl wants a fucking SCRAPBOOK?
I sighed. Of course she would know what my birthday presents were. Edward wasn't the only member of his family with unusual skills. Alice would have "seen" what my parents were planning as soon as they'd decided that themselves.
.... unless they changed their minds and got Bella something else. Then, you know, Alice wouldn't have a clue. Again, her gift is virtually useless in cases like these.
"Yeah. They're great."
"I think it's a nice idea. You're only a senior once. Might as well document the experience."
"... although in your case it's a little problematic, since you don't have any friends, you don't go anywhere interesting, and you don't do anything. So... you'll basically be documenting really boring stuff that nobody cares about. Like this book does."
We reached Edward then, and he held out his hand for mine. I took it eagerly, forgetting, for a moment, my glum mood. His skin was, as always, smooth, hard, and very cold.
It's SOOOOOOOO hot having a boyfriend who feels like bathroom tiles.
So Edward has topaz eyes and of course, the sight of him causes Bella's potentially fatal heart arrhythmia to start up again. He starts touching her lips for no real reason, except that Smeyer thinks it's sexy even though no man worth having would actually do this in a parking lot.
"So, as discussed, I am not allowed to wish you a happy birthday, is that correct?"
"Yes. That is correct."
"I hate birthdays because people might actually be NICE to me. Now tell me I'm a bad girl! Spank me! Spank me hard! Punish me! PUNISH ME WITH THE WHIPS AND CHAINS!"
I could never quite mimic the flow of his perfect, formal articulation. It was something that could only be picked up in an earlier century.
Yeah, like the 20th century. The one they were both born in. Because everybody in the early 20th century spoke perfect formal English with no accent, slang or contractions. Why do I have the feeling that the Perfect Man was born into a megarich family?
Alice laughed, and the sound was all silver, a wind chime.
Metallic laughter, tile-like skin... aren't the Cullens just irresistible?
"Of course you'll enjoy it. Everyone is supposed to be nice to you today and give you your way, Bella."
"Oh wait.... they already do that every day. So, basically this is like any other day for you."
But then, Bawla starts whining about how she's GETTING OLDER OH WAAAAAAAHHHH, and Edward is as sympathetic as he usually is. Alice refuses to be sucked into the Emo Cloud, and even cheerfully points out that women wait until they're almost thirty to start whining about their age. But Bella will not have her bitchfest spoiled!
"It's older than Edward," I mumbled.
"I'm soooooooo much older than the guy who's been hanging around for over a century!"
"Technically," she said, keeping her tone light. "Just by one little year, though."
"Technically" he is over a century older. The word is PHYSICALLY. And no, she is not a year older than Edward PHYSICALLY, unless he was turned into a vampire exactly on the same date and ON HIS BIRTHDAY.
So Bawla decides that she can handle the horrible idea of being a little older than her boyfriend, as long as somebody turns her into a vampire so she can be sparkly, hot and immortal. The only problem is that Edward was dead set against any future that changed me. Any future that made me like him—that made me immortal, too. "And because he's an asshole, he refuses to actually discuss this the way people in an equal relationship would, refuses to let me make my own decisions and ask the other vampires, and he refuses to show any sympathy for my feelings. It's soooooo hot."
An impasse, he called it.
He calls it that because that is what it is. I love how Smeyer acts like this is some sort of hyperintellectual, exotic word. Maybe it is for people as dumb as Bella.
I couldn't really see Edward's point, to be honest. What was so great about mortality? Being a vampire didn't look like such a terrible thing—not the way the Cullens did it, anyway.
Of course not. I mean, Smeyer has only stacked the deck so much in their favor that short of actually achieving godhood, they couldn't be any more sparkly snowflakey and "perfect." Humans are only depicted as pathetic stupid cowlike creatures who can't even comprehend how awesome the Cullens are, and who basically don't have any redeeming characteristics at all.
This is vampire fiction from the mind of a thirteen-year-old girl who wants to hump Lestat. And it shows how stupid Bella is that she can't even IMAGINE any problems with immortality, vampirism or even being STUCK WITH AN ABUSIVE ASSHOLE FOR ETERNITY.
"Oh, be fair, Bella!" she complained. "You aren't going to ruin all our fun like that, are you?"
"I thought my birthday was about what I want."
"I'll get her from Charlie's right after school," Edward told her, ignoring me altogether.
Silly Bella, don't you know it's all about what THE MAN wants? And if you don't come to their house, Edward will drag you there screaming and kicking, and tie you to the furniture while they inflict their torturous gifts and horrifying cake on you.
So Bella insists she has to work... and no, there WASN'T any mention of her having a job before. And no, there's no point to it since we don't see Bella spending any real time at it, and she already had unlimited money in her Magic Sock Of Wealth. Apparently Alice already anticipated that any told Bella's boss to shuffle shifts for her.
And then Bella comes up with the lame excuse that she has to watch Romeo and Juliet. Wow, so subtle in this tale of suicidal teenagers parted for lame reasons. I totally didn't notice the connection, because I'm an illiterate halfwit.
Alice snorted. "You have Romeo and Juliet memorized."
"After all, you're SO smart and literary, I bet you even noticed that Shakespeare himself emphasizes that Romeo is a shallow fickle boy who probably would have gotten bored with Juliet after a few weeks."
"IT'S NOT! IT'S A TALE OF TROO LUV!"
"I mean, anyone who has the play MEMORIZED would remember the part where Romeo instantly stops moping after his previous girlfriend because he saw Juliet, or when the friar comments that 'Holy Saint Francis, what a change is here!/Is Rosaline, whom thou didst love so dear,/So soon forsaken? young men's love then lies/Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.'"
"He stopped moping because he recognized his INSTANT TROO LUV. And who cares what the friar thinks? He's not a sexy teenager!"
Bawla keeps whining about how she has to see it performed, and she has to see THIS PARTICULAR VERSION and blah blah blah blah lame excuses ensue. Damn, this is dull. In fact, she's so annoying and whiny that Alice finally gets pissed off at her.
Finally, Alice lost the smug smile and glared at me. "This can be easy, or this can be hard, Bella, but one way or the other—"
So apparently even the character voted Most Likely To Do Whatever The Hell Bella Wants is sick of her behavior. About damn time.
So Edward drags Bella off to his car by her hair.... no, that would be the expected option. Instead, he tells Alice, "Relax, Alice. If Bella wants to watch a movie, then she can. It's her birthday." Yes, don't let her do what she wants because she's a person who should get to decide what the fuck she does with her evenings - free will is just a treat for her birthday.
"I'll bring her over around seven," he continued. "That will give you more time to set up."
Haha! You psyched us out, Smeyer, by actually pretending that Edward was NOT going to act like a controlling dick, and then surprising us by having him act like a controlling dick! You had me fooled!
Alice's laughter chimed again. "Sounds good. See you tonight, Bella! It'll be fun, you'll see." She grinned—the wide smile exposed all her perfect, glistening teeth—
Yes, because showing all of a person's teeth at once isn't even remotely creepy. I mean, Tom Cruise does it, so it MUST be charming.
Bella tries to whine at Edward, but he tells her "Let's discuss it later. We're going to be late for class" and Bella just obediently does as he says. Want to bet it doesn't end up being discussed?
No one bothered to stare at us as we took our usual seats in the back of the classroom (we had almost every class together now—it was amazing the favors Edward could get the female administrators to do for him).
All he had to do was spend some "quality time" with the cougars in the janitorial closet. I'm sure he was just dazzling them with his sparkly smile!
So Bella just sits there in class and thinks about all the stuff that isn't worthy of her awesomeness.
- She thinks about how Mike Newton is styling his hair in a new way, which of course is only meant to emulate Edward, but he's failing to get the look. Of course, I suspect Bella thumbs through magazines and keeps squealing, "THAT male model is copying Edward! And THAT male model is copying Edward! That female model is copying Edward! Her makeup is just like his!"
- Bella bitches about the little private party not only celebrates when I was in the mood to mourn, but it also was sure to involve attention and gifts. Oh, the horror! PEOPLE PAYING ATTENTION AND GIVING YOU GIFTS!
- And why does Bella hate people paying attention to her? Ummmm... uuhhhhh.... errr... why, it's because she's so adorably clumsy! Because all clumsy people HATE adoring attention! It's so obvious!
- And why does Bawla not want presents? We're not told! Instead we get a lecture on Bawla's finances. Because we care so much about THAT.
I'd never had much money, and that had never bothered me.
Yes, which is why she was planning to buy a car and talking about how she had more than enough money to GET AN APARTMENT in the previous book. Apparently Bella's idea of "not much money" is that of a trust-fund baby.
My only personal income came from the three days a week I worked at the local sporting goods store. In a town this small, I was lucky to have a job.
I love how Smeyer makes it sound like she actually got the job on merit, and not on the owner's son having the hots for her since she is a Sullen Goddess.
Every penny I made went into my microscopic college fund.
Another thing she wasn't worried about in the last book, where college was simply a future plan with no worries or financial problems whatsoever. Continuity? What's that?
(College was Plan B. I was still hoping for Plan A, but Edward was just so stubborn about leaving me human…)
I was desperately hoping to get married and be a sparkly housewife forevermore! Because that is what all women should hope for: to be at home catering to their man! College? Pish posh! College is just the option you choose if you don't have a hot rich man to be subservient to!
And the Cullens, of course, have loads of money that just landed in their laps without having to work for it. How? Smeyer handwaves all the effortless riches away by saying that since they have unlimited time on their hands and Alice's magical foresight, they can just basically milk the stock exchange. Why? Because Smeyer wants untold riches, so her Sue is going to marry into them like any good antifeministic little woman.
- I don't see how having lots of time on your hands magically makes you a zillionaire. There's a little more to it than that.
- Ah, Alice's notoriously unreliable foresight. I wonder what would happen if somebody... CHANGED THEIR MIND ON THE STOCK EXCHANGE.
- And I wonder how many times the gov't has investigated them if they ALWAYS make good investments and ALWAYS know their patterns in advance. That sort of thing tends to point to something illegal.
- Seriously, how the hell does being a vampire just magically make you rich? Only ONE of the Cullens has an actual job, yet apparently we're supposed to believe that they have vast amounts of money to START with (you can't get on the stock exchange with just a little!).
- Hey, maybe that's why Carlisle's first few teenage "kids" just happened to be upper class and/or rich. Standard cult practice.
And since Bella loathes people being nice to her, she talks about how he wants to buy her a car, and he wants to take her to nice restaurants, and he even wants to pay her tuition. But she won't have any of that.
And of course, this doesn't explain why she doesn't want gifts from ANYBODY, including her parents.
(he was ridiculously enthusiastic about Plan B).
You know, this whole attitude of Edward's is really dickish in general. Not only is he insisting that Bella can't choose to become a vampire (and he apparently will fight his family members if THEY agree to do so) because HE doesn't want her to, but he's apparently determined to stay in a relationship with her WITHOUT turning her into a vampire. And by so doing, he's basically making sure she'll never get to have kids, a healthy relationship, or a sex life.
Edward thought I was being unnecessarily difficult.
That's because she IS difficult. It's her thing.
And what is Bella's reason for refusing all help or generosity? But how could I let him give me things when I had nothing to reciprocate with? He, for some unfathomable reason, wanted to be with me. Anything he gave me on top of that just threw us more out of balance.
- Because apparently you should never give each other gifts unless you are "balanced." Including on birthdays. People who don't have the same income should never exchange gifts because they won't be "balanced."
- And it cracks me up that she considers it the ultimate gift to have a bratty, bipolar, dickish, controlling misogynistic asshole as a boyfriend.
- And unsurprisingly, Bella just assumes that if she becomes a vampire, she will be automatically given the same limitless wealth as the Cullens.
- That's right, girls. Stick to your guns and refuse to have your rich boyfriend give you gifts! Eventually you can marry him and get all that money in the divorce settlement!
Smeyer also infodumps us that Emmett, Jasper and Rosalie have all graduated, meaning that only the Bella Fan Club is there to fawn over how awesome she is. We are also given some handwavey descriptions of those human characters who we're not supposed to care about, like how Mike and Jessica have broken up, which is a shame because their relationship was far more loving and interesting than Bawla and Edward's mutual stalkfest. Oh, and we don't find out WHY they broke up, because it doesn't interest Smeyer as much as the shape of Edward's ears (here's a clue: they're "perfect").
And naturally, those pesky annoying little humans don't even TRY to socialize with Bella unless the vampires aren't there. How wonderfully convenient for her.
Edward and Alice didn't find this minor ostracism odd or hurtful the way I would have.
But if she hates attention, why would she have a problem with people avoiding her?
They barely noticed it.
Because as Sparkly Speshul Sues, they are above the sheeplike hordes who are unworthy of their greatness.
People always felt strangely ill at ease with the Cullens, almost afraid for some reason they couldn't explain to themselves.
Maybe it was the fact that they're made out of ROCK. Maybe it was the way they tried to eat the face off that guy who had a nosebleed. Or maybe it's the way they act like stuck-up dickish a-holes to anyone who isn't a vampire.
I was a rare exception to that rule. Sometimes it bothered Edward how very comfortable I was with being close to him.
"I was still letting him think he was scary and intimidating. Seriously, he's a sparkly Abercrombie and Fitch model, and he thinks he's terrifying."
So we get no details about how school went, and I wonder why Smeyer bothered to include this at all since all Bella does is sit there thinking faux-humble thoughts about how awesome the Cullens are.
Alice must have been taking his car home so that he could keep me from making a run for it.
Yeah, apparently birthdays are SO HORRIBLE that Bella would make a run for the border rather than have people give her presents. Teh Drahmaz.
So Bella starts randomly bitching about how she wants to drive the truck, and Edward says he's pretending it isn't her birthday like she demanded... and BLAH BLAH BLAH this is so boring.
Edward played with the radio while I drove, shaking his head in disapproval.
"Your radio has horrible reception."
I frowned. I didn't like it when he picked on my truck. The truck was great—it had personality.
Of course, we don't know what the Queen Of Melodramatic Whining actually likes about it, or what she thinks its "personality" is. We're just told that she likes it. I think this is a failed effort at writing personal quirks.
So Bella bitches at Edward, Edward finds her bitchiness cute, and then he does... THIS: When I parked in front of Charlie's house, he reached over to take my face in his hands. He handled me very carefully, pressing just the tips of his fingers softly against my temples, my cheekbones, my jawline
Uhhhh... what is that supposed to be? He's feeling up her face? Why is he doing that? I think this scene is supposed to be sexy, but just imagine a guy you're dating poking randomly at various parts of your face. It's not sexy or alluring, just... weird.
"You should be in a good mood, today of all days," he whispered. His sweet breath fanned across my face.
"And if I don't want to be in a good mood?" I asked, my breathing uneven.
His golden eyes smoldered. "Too bad."
"What you want doesn't matter. If I decide you're going to be in a good mood, you will obey me OR I WILL BEAT YOU UNTIL YOU ARE IN A GOOD MOOD!"
So they snog, and Bella starts going into a full-on makeout session, which makes Edward stop kissing and peel her off him. Why? Allegedly it's because it's not "safe" for her to get too close to his razor-sharp, venom-coated teeth but that's obviously bullshit. If he's got venom in his mouth, then any kiss is going to put her in contact with it. And unless you're REALLY DOING IT WRONG, kissing usually involves being near the teeth. And why is kissing with your arms around someone suddenly verboten?
So let's just assume that Edward is an uptight prude who does not want to be tempted by the Wanton Woman's Nymphomaniacal Ways, for he is a good Mormon boy.
"Be good, please," he breathed against my cheek. He pressed his lips gently to mine one more time and then pulled away, folding my arms across my stomach.
So now apparently Bella can't even put her arms down without Edward's assistance. At what point will she need an iron lung because she's too lazy to breathe by herself?
"Do you think I'll ever get better at this?" I wondered, mostly to myself. "That my heart might someday stop trying to jump out of my chest whenever you touch me?"
"I really hope not," he said, a bit smug.
"I love the idea of you having a fatal heart attack or stroke right in front of me! It just makes you sexier!"
So they go watch Romeo and Juliet, and Edward takes the chance to feel up Bella and plop her in his lap. Yes, making out is evil but groping on a couch is just fine. But don't worry, he puts a blanket on Bella so they won't REALLY be dry-humping touching, because.... uhhh... his body is sooooooooo cold even though it's the end of summer! She would actually freeze if she didn't have a blanket! Even though she basically hangs off him all day every day and cuddles next to him at night... she would freeze if she touched him for any period of time.
And then Smeyer gets REALLY stupid.
"You know, I've never had much patience with Romeo," he commented as the movie started.
"Then again, I hate all other attractive teenage males."
"What's wrong with Romeo?" I asked, a little offended. Romeo was one of my favorite fictional characters. Until I'd met Edward, I'd sort of had a thing for him.
"But my heart will ALWAYS belong to Petruchio! I dream of having an asshole who will abuse me constantly while calling it 'love'!"
"Well, first of all, he's in love with this Rosaline—don't you think it makes him seem a little fickle? And then, a few minutes after their wedding, he kills Juliet's cousin. That's not very brilliant. Mistake after mistake. Could he have destroyed his own happiness any more thoroughly?"
You know, what really kills me is that Smeyer probably thinks this is legit literary criticism. But it's based entirely on a questionable premise: that left undisturbed, Romeo and Juliet would have a lifetime of eternal love and happiness, even though they barely know each other, they got married after only meeting a couple times, and Juliet is FUCKING THIRTEEN with Romeo being only a little older. I mean, does that sound like a recipe for "happiness" to anyone with half a brain?
- Again, Shakespeare himself casts doubt on whether their relationship would have lasted.
- Uh, it doesn't "make" Romeo look fickle. It just SHOWS that Romeo is fickle... you IDIOT. Shakespeare was a brilliant writer, and unlike Smeyer he knew perfectly well how this made the character look and the implications of it! "Waaahhhh, sexy Capulet girl has rejected me... woo, her cousin is HOT!"
- Those mistakes are called conflict and plot. Something you won't find in these books.
- And "happiness" = teenage crush. Note how Edward doesn't even dispute that Romeo and Juliet had "twoo wuv." Then again, their relationship made as much sense as Bella and Edward's.
- In short, Smeyer thinks that it just made Romeo SEEM fickle, not that he WAS fickle, and Romeo had potential "happiness" between himself and a barely pubescent girl he wanted to bone after knowing her for about ten minutes.
- Because I have a shocking revelation for Smeyer: teenage first "love" is just a dry run for actual relationships. There is rarely, if ever, any real emotion or strong foundation to these relationship, because they're usually based on hormones, mild liking and peer pressure. "Love at first sight" is something that almost never works.
- And Bella and Edward's relationship is unusually shallow even for a teenage crush, meaning they would be lucky if it lasted a month.
In other news: fairies do not exist, Walt Disney was a racist, and Santa Claus died in the fourth century AD. Life's tough, deal with it.
"No, I'll mostly be watching you, anyway." His fingers traced patterns across the skin of my arm, raising goose bumps. "Will you cry?"
"Probably," I admitted, "if I'm paying attention."
"I won't distract you then."
"I love watching you cry. It's almost as much fun as watching screaming in pain, or begging me to untie you."
So Edward spends the whole movie either reciting Romeo's lines to make Bella hump his leg, and smirking whenever Bella cries at the sad parts. Then we're treated to yet another Tiny Violin moment as Edward rambles about how easy it is for humans to commit suicide and how he's thought about it before. I guess he couldn't cope with Bella paying some attention to something OTHER than his sparkly ass.
"What are you talking about?" I demanded. "What do you mean, this something you had to think about once?"
"Last spring, when you were… nearly killed…"
Hoo boy. In the last book, Smeyer pushed the idea that true love involves being depressed if your crush doesn't come to school, and now she's pushing the idea that if your significant other moves away or dies, you should kill yourself.
I pity all her past boyfriends. Assuming they didn't get restraining orders on her. Which they probably did.
So Bella clumsily flashbacks to the climax of the last book, which ended tragically and inspired many tears... from me, because she didn't DIE. And then she gets melodramatic about how Edward wanted to kill himself... which would be less moving if I hadn't read this frickin' book already and thus know that getting dumped makes HER suicidal.
"Well, I wasn't going to live without you." He rolled his eyes as if that fact were childishly obvious.
"Like, DUUUUUHHHHHH. You're my Designated Soulmate, which means I'm not allowed to have sex with anyone else. If you died, I'd be stuck as a virgin for eternity. Stupid female."
"But I wasn't sure how to do it—I knew Emmett and Jasper would never help…"
I'm not so sure about that. Check the part-book from his POV, and you'll find that Edward was even more of an emo dick before he met Bawla. If I were faced with living with THAT for eternity, I would totally kill him.
"so I was thinking maybe I would go to Italy and do something to provoke the Volturi."
So what are the Volturi? They're apparently some kind of ruling vampire "family" like the Medici, although I don't see how they can be considered a "family" since they don't reproduce like humans, and I don't see why vampires would bother with fake familial structures if they aren't pretending to be human. That.... is all we hear for the moment. Yeah. That was not helpful.
And instead of finding out more about this really interesting factoid, Bella starts being melodramatic and talking like a 19th-century heroine from a penny dreadful.
I took his marble face between my hands and held it very tightly.
"You must never, never, never think of anything like that again!" I said. "No matter what might ever happen to me, you are not allowed to hurt yourself!"
"I, on the other hand, am allowed to hurt myself and become a wrist-cutting self-destructive catatonic emo kid if you dump me and move away."
"Because I'm a weak and pathetic woman, whereas you are a righteous Mormon man!"
"Exactly. Back to our schedule of not having sex!"
"Put me in danger! I thought we'd established that all the bad luck is my fault?" I was getting angrier. "How dare you even think like that?"
"How dare you not blame me for the bad shit that happens to me? Tell me that evil vampires targeting me just to piss you off is ALL MY FAULT! Spank me! Spank me hard! Tell me I'm a BAD GIRL!"
The idea of Edward ceasing to exist, even if I were dead, was impossibly painful.
.... why? If you're dead, you wouldn't really care if he went and killed himself, would you?
"What would you do, if the situation were reversed?" he asked.
"That's not the same thing."
"Because you sparkle!"
"That's all I got."
"What if something did happen to you?" I blanched at the thought. "Would you want me to go off myself?"
... YES. I WOULD. PLEASE DO!
And yes, it is totally the sort of thing I would expect of her. Not just because she basically confirmed that "oh noes, if Edward dies I shall kill myself," but because she's a melodramatic whore who wouldn't get immortality, riches and exclusive access to the Cullen Club if he weren't there.
Without that, she's only got her own lazy mediocrity to look forward to. Maybe she'd try to steal Carlisle if Edward died.... although I don't get the vibe she's his type.
"I guess I see your point… a little," he admitted. "But what would I do without you?"
"Whatever you were doing before I came along and complicated your existence."
So... bitching, whining, being contemptuous of everybody except his sugar daddy, and being sullen because everybody except him is having great sex. Essentially the same as now, except that last part.
He sighed. "You make that sound so easy."
"It should be. I'm not really that interesting."
THAT I can agree with. Listening to this idiot talking is like drowning in tapioca.
So then Charlie comes in with pizza, and for some reason he doesn't have a problem with Edward even though Bawla insisted that he TOTALLY HATED EDWARD and blamed him for Bella supposedly hurtling out a window, despite no evidence to support it.
Charlie didn't comment on Edward's apparent lack of appetite. He was used to Edward passing on dinner.
"He's one of them manorexics, isn't he?"
Funny note: I initially read that as "used to Edward pissing on dinner." I guess he was just trying to save them from the trolls... whoops, goblins.
"Do you mind if I borrow Bella for the evening?" Edward asked when Charlie and I were done.
"I'd like to borrow your pliers, your hammer, your daughter, and a cup of sugar. In that order of importance.."
So Bella is hoping that Charlie will insist that she stay home for her birthday, because birthdays are supposed to involve you staying home and being miserable with your family members. Not that it matters, since I think we know Edward would blind her dad with his Colgate teeth and drag her out to the truck by her hair. But oh woe! Charlie plans to watch sports (because all men watch sports every night!), so he's just fine with her spending time with the Holy Cullen Family.
He scooped up the camera he'd gotten me on Renee's suggestion (because I would need pictures to fill up my scrap-book), and threw it to me.
He ought to know better than that—I'd always been coordinationally challenged.
Apparently Bella's idea of "clumsy" is like Laurell K. Hamilton's idea of "short." It's perfectly normal to everybody else in the world, but the Sue insists that it's absolutely freakish in her case.
Bella doesn't manage to catch the camera, which allegedly is super-duper clumsy and nobody except The Amazing Klutz would ever do it. Except, you know, HALF THE PEOPLE WHO UNEXPECTEDLY HAD SOMETHING TOSSED TO THEM. Edward catches it, because he's a vampire and has super-speed. This doesn't seem odd to Charlie.
And then Charlie randomly becomes emo because Alice hasn't come by.
"That's good. Hey, say hi to Alice for me. She hasn't been over in a while." Charlie's mouth pulled down at one corner.
"It's been three days, Dad," I reminded him. Charlie was crazy about Alice. He'd become attached last spring when she'd helped me through my awkward convalescence;
... and ever since then, she and Charlie have been hanging out at bars, taking trips to Hawaii, and spending lots of quality time at home when I'm not here. I was a little puzzled about the moaning, screaming and thumping from Charlie's room, but he's assured me that they're just arm-wrestling. Teehee, he doesn't know she's a vampire and could totally beat him at arm-wrestling! He's so dumb!
Charlie would be forever grateful to her for saving him from the horror of an almost-adult daughter who needed help showering.
Yes, a loving father mainly cares about the sheer social awkwardness of his daughter breaking several bones and almost dying, and thus needing help. I can see where Bella got her selfish assholery from.
"Okay. You kids have fun tonight." It was clearly a dismissal. Charlie was already edging toward the living room and the TV.
"And don't have sex in my car. I just had the seats cleaned."
So Edward and Bawla get in the car, and Edward spends the whole time whining about Bella's moving monument of rust.
"You know what you would love? A nice little Audi coupe. Very quiet, lots of power…"
"No, I wouldn't."
"DON'T TALK BACK TO ME! I say you would love it, and YOU WILL LOVE IT!"
"There's nothing wrong with my truck. And speaking of expensive nonessentials, if you know what's good for you, you didn't spend any money on birthday presents."
"Not a dime," he said virtuously.
"I DO have a present for you, but it didn't cost me anything. And it SPARKLES. And you can use it again and again and again..."
"Edward, why are you wearing a thong?"
"Can you do me a favor?"
"That depends on what it is."
"Will you put on a lacy nightgown, lie next to an open window and faint a lot? That really turns us vampires on."
He sighed, his lovely face serious. "Bella, the last real birthday any of us had was Emmett in 1935."
... and that is ENTIRELY by choice. If they really liked birthdays that much, they would still celebrate them. But of course if they did, BELLA'S birthday couldn't be a super-speshul event.
"Cut us a little slack, and don't be too difficult tonight. They're all very excited."
"But being difficult, antisocial and demanding is my THING."
And it turns out that OH WOE Emmett and Rosalie are going to be there! Oh woe, Bella is going to be in the room with SOMEONE WHO DOESN'T LIKE HER!
"Everyone?" I choked. "I thought Emmett and Rosalie were in Africa."
Because Africa is known for not having sunlight, and is therefore a natural hangout for vampires.
The rest of Forks was under the impression that the older Cullens had gone off to college this year, to Dartmouth, but I knew better.
... so? Bella hasn't been told the lie everyone else has. It's not like her "knowing better" is the result of actually having a brain.
"Emmett wanted to be here."
"You mean he likes me that much?"
"No, I mean he's hoping you trip, fall down the stairs and suffer a potentially fatal head injury again. Last time, he put it on youtube and got five million hits!"
"I'm pretty sure at least two million of those hits were Rosalie."
"I know, Bella. Don't worry, she'll be on her best behavior."
"She'll be playing Skyrim the whole time. She says she just imagines that the grotesque monsters are you."
As far as Rosalie was concerned, I was an unwelcome intruder into her family's secret life.
You know, how normal people would react to a Sue suddenly turning up at their house every day so everybody could fawn on them.
So Bawla feels guilty... but not so guilty that she isn't glad Rosalie the EVIL BLOND BITCHWHORESLUT isn't there. She's only sad because Emmett isn't there, because He was in many ways just like the big brother I'd always wanted… only much, much more terrifying. Apparently Bella wants ALL male figures in her life to be insensitive assholes who treat her like a joke... and if they're not (like Charlie), they're considered pathetic beyond reason.
"So, if you won't let me get you the Audi, isn't there anything that you'd like for your birthday?"
The words came out in a whisper. "You know what I want."
So Bella pulls the "maybe Alice will turn me into a vampire" card, and Edward starts growling and griping. His attitude would be a little more impressive if we had any idea of what he would do if she DID have Alice turn her.
I mean what, he's gonna attack Alice? Oh wait, she's a vampire so he'd have a good chance at getting his ass beaten, especially since we've never seen him in a fight. He's gonna dump Bella? Puh-leez, he'd never get laid then. He'll kill Bella so she can't be a vampire? Yeah, that makes sense.
Edward growled—a deep, menacing sound. "This isn't going to be your last birthday, Bella," he vowed.
"Of course, it wouldn't be even if you became a vampire because birthdays aren't dependent on physical age. I don't know where I got the idiotic idea that it was."
So they both sulk, and Bella starts whining when they get to Edward's house and it turns out that Alice has been decorating the place. I mean, is there anything WORSE than having people be nice to you and expecting nothing in return?
"I have a question."
He waited warily.
"If I develop this film," I said, toying with the camera in my hands, "will you show up in the picture?"
A better question is: Do the sparkles show up because of the flash? NEVER ANSWERED.
But apparently Bella's incredibly unfunny comment is so uproariously funny that Edward is laughing all the way in. And despite the fact that she's done nothing but cause trouble for them, the Cullens have gone all out to celebrate her birthday. Seriously, why do they even like her? She's boring, whiny, ungrateful and dumb.
Alice, I assumed, had covered every flat surface with pink candles and dozens of crystal bowls filled with hundreds of roses. There was a table with a white cloth draped over it next to Edward's grand piano, holding a pink birthday cake, more roses, a stack of glass plates, and a small pile of silver-wrapped presents.
It was a hundred times worse than I'd imagined.
You know, I'm actually running out of snarky comments about how it's the worst thing ever to have people be nice to you. So I'll just ask: Why? Why does Stephenie Meyer think having people be kind, generous, accommodating and all-around NICE is so horrible? Why does she despise all displays of nonsexual affection? Is it too much to ask that she write a protagonist who doesn't act like an ungrateful little bitch?
And since poooooor Bella is so very upset at Alice specially decorating the place and getting her presents, Edward and his faux-parents start lavishing attention and sympathy on her. Oooohhhhh... now I get it. Bella gets upset about everything because then everybody will cluster around and fret about how unhappy she is. It makes sure that she's the center of attention at all times. Now I get it.
So while they're lavishing even MORE attention on poooooor Bella who so doesn't want attention, Emmett starts talking to her and BLAH BLAH don't care, so boring, moving on.
He laughed, "I have to step out for a second"—he paused to wink conspicuously at Alice
"I'll meetcha in the basement with the leather masks, the power drill and the goat."
"Don't do anything funny while I'm gone."
You know, if a human character dared to find Bella's ridiculously over-the-top clumsiness funny, they would be depicted as a huge asshole. But with Emmett, it's all handwaved away because he's a vampire.
Alice let go of Jasper's hand and skipped forward, all her teeth sparkling in the bright light.
GAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH NOOOOOO MAKE IT GO AWAY PLEEEEZZZZ!!!!!!! THE GOGGLES, THEY DO NOTHING!!!!!!
And apparently ever since Phoenix, Jasper went from Bella's #1 cheerleader to being the guy in the corner who tries not to talk to people. But since the Cullens are "perfect," Bella doesn't have a problem with this. Plus, it's one more person paying attention to not paying attention to her.
So Alice drags Bella over to open presents, particularly since Bella can't possibly WALK anywhere under her own power.
I put on my best martyr face. "Alice, I know I told you I didn't want anything—"
"Because by constantly insisting that I don't want anything, I can constantly draw attention to myself!"
So Emmett, Rosalie and Jasper give her an empty box, which turns out to be a stereo for her jalopy truck which will probably fall apart in a year or two. Wise purchase. Hey, here's a question: why, in the year 2006, are they not buying her a FUCKING CD PLAYER?
Jasper laughed. "It's a stereo for your truck," he explained. "Emmett's installing it right now so that you can't return it."
HAHA! It's funny that she's totally ungrateful and would get rid of their presents unless they FORCE her to accept them. It's funny. What could be more endearing than bitchy ingratitude? Haha. LAUGH, DAMMIT.
So then Alice gives Bella Edward's gift, which is Bella's cue to be a huge bitch. But oh noes! EPIC PAPERCUT OF DEATH! Not only does Bella get the hugest papercut in the world, but Edward then flings her ACROSS THE ROOM and smashes her through a table. Oh noes, since her yummy blood has been spilled, Jasper is going insane with bloodthirst! What a shocking and dramatic plot twist!!!!!
WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP! Seriously, this is even more idiotic than "vampires don't go out in the daylight cuz they sparkle!" Oh yeah, I went there! THIS IS STUPIDER. We're supposed to buy that these "vegetarian vampires" have been able to successfully hide their nature among humans for DECADES... but apparently they have NEVER run into a human who had a nosebleed, a scraped knee, or any kind of cut at all! What a load of crap!
And that's not even addressing the whole issue of periods! Yes, I know Smeyer insists that we shouldn't think about that ("remember, kiddies, logical thought is BAD! Mindless romantic drivel is GOOD!") and that periods are "dead blood." BULLSHIT. Any woman who has had a period knows that there's some pretty fresh blood involved. It's no deader than any other blood leaking out of the body.
And you know what's really stupid about this whole idiotic scene? Smeyer didn't even come up with it. That's right: somebody came up with the "papercut putting vampire in nom mode" idea before this!
Are you happy, Smeyer? YOU RIPPED OFF MEL BROOKS!
And the worst part of it? MEL BROOKS' DRACULA WAS A LOT MORE IMPRESSIVE THAN HER SPARKLY ONES!
Emmett grabbed Jasper from behind in the next second, locking him into his massive steel grip, but Jasper struggled on, his wild, empty eyes focused only on me.
"Must... kill... Sue....!"
Only now did I feel the searing, stinging pain that ran from my wrist to the crease inside my elbow.
YAY! Bella's wrist has been cut! She's dying! HOORAY!
Oh wait, she's not. I wish I could say that her cutting her wrist on shards of glass is symbolic of her becoming a self-harming emo psycho, but Smeyer isn't smart enough for that.
Dazed and disoriented, I looked up from the bright red blood pulsing out of my arm—into the fevered eyes of the six suddenly ravenous vampires.
"Rosalie, why are you getting the tablecloth and the napkins?"