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Picking Apart Twilight, The Novel – Chapter 2

October 8, 2011

2. OPEN BOOK

The next day was better… and worse.

Oh yes, please, let’s start off as depressing as we can get.

The good stuff includes new friends, people not staring at Bella all day, and no rain. The bad stuff?

…Edward Cullen wasn’t in school at all.

Wait, I don’t understand why this is a problem. She’s known Edward a total of one day, and I use the word “known” very loosely. They barely exchanged eye contact, they sat next to one another and never said a word, and then he bolted out the door. If he doesn’t want to have anything to do with you, that’s his problem. What are you getting so worked up about? The whole rest of the school is trying to do things with you. Who cares what some pale, emotional, foodless jerk thinks of you or why he isn’t at school? Please, go about your business.

Unfortunately, going about her business, including sitting at a very chatty, friendly table is not enough to distract Bella from wondering where the hell Edward is. You know, so she can confront him about why he was such a dick. Yeah, that’s the only reason, and totally not because he’s a complete hottie, OMG.

Mike, who was taking on the qualities of a golden retriever, walked faithfully by my side to class. …Mike followed, talking about an upcoming trip to the beach. He lingered by my desk till the bell rang. Then he smiled at me wistfully and went to sit by a girl with braces and a bad perm. It looked like I was going to have to do something about Mike, and it wouldn’t be easy. In a town like this, where everyone lived on top of everyone else, diplomacy was essential. I had never been enormously tactful; I had no practice dealing with overly friendly boys.

Sheesh, the girl is cold as ice. Were you really so spirited away by the mere thought of Edward Cullen without having so much as had a single conversation with him that you’re that bothered by nice guy Mark over here? And you’re either saying that you get boys flaunting over you all the time hence why you’re not very tactful about slaughtering hearts (in which case, I don’t entirely understand your problem), or you’re saying you don’t actually want attention from the boys in which case, what exactly is wrong with you? I’m not really sure what message this is sending to the reader. After all, the novel is obviously meant to be enjoyed by teenage girls, and what teenage girl doesn’t want to be fawned over by the boys? Sometimes it seems like Meyer gives you what you’re looking for with all this attention, but the rejection of the attention makes it all the more confusing.

A good fair hunk of this chapter describes the boring day of a shy, self-pitying, average teenage girl going through the embarrassments of high school gatherings (she’s already invited to the beach) and gym class. The book takes the time to tell us that she’s wearing jeans and a blue sweater, so I guess that’s pretty important.

Bella is unsatisfied with the food her father cooks and insists upon cooking for as long as she lives at that house. She even goes out of her way to do all the shopping and all the table setting. Something that seems wholly unbelievable to me about what exactly a girl her age would want to be doing with her time. But finally all this excitement comes to a halt when Bella starts having a conversation with her dad about the Cullens. He actually goes on and on, doting on how nice the family and the doctor Carlisle are. Well, at least this means that Charlie is gonna like the new in-laws eventually somewhere down the line, right?

More boring events to the day, more boring events to the week, but this is the important part.

Edward Cullen didn’t come back to school.

Oh, good! I mean, you shouldn’t even be worrying about it to begin with, but at least this means the story will be much shorter than originally anticipated.

“My name is Edward Cullen. … I didn’t have a chance to introduce myself last week. You must be Bella Swan.”

DAMMIT!

Okay, well, let me back things up. So, it’s Friday…

…and there’s pages of boring, extraneous stuff. This includes just how much Bella loves reading her required reading, Wuthering Heights. Oh, what a coincidence! It just so happens Stephenie Meyer loves this book! The fun never stops as we see the inclusion of snow. Wait, snow! Oh! So, now I have an idea what time of year this is happening during. So, maybe my estimate of taking place in November was correct.

Throughout the morning, everyone chattered excitedly about the snow; apparently it was the first snowfall of the new year.

Oh. So, it’s not November? It’s January, maybe? But wait, that doesn’t line up with the temperature it was outside back in Phoenix just barely a week ago. The average high temperature in Phoenix during January is only 66 degrees. I mean, sure, that’s just the average. But wouldn’t 75 degrees be a pretty freaking extreme jump in temperature for January?

And wait a minute. Mike just invited Bella to the beach earlier in the week. Is it common to go to the beach in the winter? I mean, okay, I know it’s a rocky Northwest coast and all. I guess nobody was planning on swimming. Just standing around, maybe?

“Ew.” Snow. There went my good day.

Lord. Rain isn’t good for you, snow isn’t good for you… Can you really not handle changes in weather and climate? What a boring young woman. You know, living in Texas, I would kill to occasionally see some snow. Any time I have, it’s thrilled me. You know what? Maybe Bella IS as weird as her self-pity indicates. You know why? Because she ISN’T REAL. There’s nothing real about this girl. If you identify with her then… well, gosh, how?

Alright, back to Edward’s magical reappearance at school. After the two main characters make eyes at each other from across the lunchroom (ooh, can you feel the butterflies?) they sit and talk extensively in Biology while working together as lab partners. Luckily, the both of them are really freaking smart, and Bella’s already done the lab before, so this gives them plenty of extra time to just talk and get to know one another. Edward is already doing and saying all the right things. He knows to call her Bella instead of Isabella (how do you know that? Nobody else did.), and his voice is described as being quiet and musical. And now his eyes have flip-flopped in color from being black to being golden. She shrugs it off when Edward doesn’t explain it, but I think either one of those colors in a person’s eyes is room enough for concern.

Mr. Banner looked at me now; his expression was skeptical.
“Have you done this lab before?” he asked.
I smiled sheepishly. “Not with onion root.”
“Whitefish blastula?”
“Yeah.”
Mr. Banner nodded. “Were you in an advanced placement program in Phoenix?”
“Yes.”

Of course you were! You are a self-insertion Mary Sue character! OF COURSE you’re freaking brilliant! I’m not saying people don’t end up in AP classes, I mean, obviously they exist. Hell, I was in a few AP classes myself (some of which I flunked out of, but that’s beside the point). But when a character starts checking off every single perfecting box on the form, there’s a very real and yet unrealistic problem!

Edward keeps asking her questions, and seems to read her better than anybody else at the school did. He can tell without having to ask that she hates the cold.

“Why did you come here, then?”

Oh, finally! This is what I was waiting for! Maybe there’s a good explanation for the reason why she’s in Forks, because chapter 1 certainly didn’t give me a very good reason!

“My mother got remarried,” I said.

“And you don’t like him,” Edward surmised, his tone still kind.
“No, Phil is fine. Too young, maybe, but nice enough.”
“Why didn’t you stay with them?”

“Phil travels a lot. He plays ball for a living.”

“And your mother sent you here so that she could travel with him.” He said it as an assumption again, not a question.
My chin raised a fraction. “No, she did not send me here. I sent myself. … She stayed with me at first, but she missed him. It made her unhappy …so I decided it was time to spend some quality time with Charlie.” My voice was glum by the time I finished.

Huh. That’s… really weak. Bella is supposed to be seventeen-years-old. She only has one more year to go in high school. Then she’ll be a legal adult and can go where she pleases and do as she pleases. Her mom may not like having to wait around for the guy she loves, but you know what? She’s a PARENT. Parents have to do the parental thing and PARENT. All she’d have to do is take care of her daughter another year, then Bella can leave to go off to college or whatever, and then she can go be with her new husband. Why is this such a family-breaking thing?

Either way, it seems like even Edward can’t figure out why he’s so curious. Huh. I feel like ironically, in Edward, I’ve found the one character I can relate to, since I can’t figure out why I’m supposed to care about Bella, either.

“Am I annoying you?” he asked. He sounded amused.
I glanced at him without thinking …and told the truth again. “Not exactly. I’m more annoyed at myself. My face is so easy to read – my mother always calls me her open book.” I frowned.
“On the contrary, I find you very difficult to read.” Despite everything that I’d said and he’d guessed, he sounded like he meant it.
“You must be a good reader then,” I replied.

Wait, how did you come to that conclusion? I SAID, how did you come to THAT conclusion? You just said it yourself. Your face is easy to read. And yet he’s having to ask if he’s annoying you, and he’s straight up telling you he can’t read you. Where in all of that do you hear him say, “I’m a good reader”? He’s obviously sucking at reading you the way he’s expecting to, and he’s not catching how you’re feeling in your face. The only two things he guessed correctly about you was your nickname (and, again, how the hell did he know to call her that?) and that she didn’t like snow. Past that, he was guessing your motives for coming to Forks all wrong. Don’t get swept up in him just because he creepily somehow knew to call you Bella instead of Isabella!

But class ends, and despite the fact that they’ve had such a good conversation, he takes off out the door without a moment’s hesitation.

Mike skipped quickly to my side and picked up my books for me. I imagined him with a wagging tail.

You insensitive…! The least you could do is say, “Thank you!” But no, kindness is completely intolerable! It’s just simply annoying!

And the chapter ends with Bella getting into her truck to go home and catching one final glimpse of Edward. She’s paying so much attention to him that she nearly hits another car in the parking lot.

I stared straight ahead as I passed the Volvo, but from a peripheral peek, I would swear I saw him laughing.

HAHAHA! That Bella! Nearly causing collateral damage and injury to herself and other people! That’s incredibly hilarious!

So, to recap. Bella is an incredibly boring individual who concerns herself with all the shallow things, enjoys all the safe, girly things like cooking, shopping, reading, and studying, hates things like [insert unusual weather here], and after having only seen Edward for a single day is completely obsessed with whether she’s going to see him or not. Edward himself seems pretty dull. He’s pretty, sure. And he asks questions. Sure, girls like being asked questions about themselves. But literally every other guy she’s met has been asking her personal questions, and she’s played the whole thing out as though it’s an annoyance to her thus far. And as Edward sits and asks her questions, she asks next to none of him in return. The only thing she can manage to ask him about is his eyes, a physical feature in his body. She doesn’t ask him about where his family moved there from (in the last chapter we were told they were from Alaska), she doesn’t ask him about hobbies or interests, she doesn’t ask him why he was missing from school all week, or anything of that nature. She just lets the show be all about her. Thus far, I don’t yet hate Edward as a person. But as time goes on, I continue to hate Bella. A good youth role model, she isn’t.

Tomorrow I continue on to Chapter 3, Phenomenon.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Limey permalink
    October 8, 2011 3:20 PM

    Having read the book myself, I can only guess Edward knows to call her Bella because he can read peoples thoughts and probably got it from one of the people she had talked to.

    Doesn’t excuse any of the other crap though.

  2. October 8, 2011 5:19 PM

    This book is proof that we are not progressing as a society.

  3. October 8, 2011 7:18 PM

    You know what? I liked Mike. A lot. I reiterate: I entered the series expecting to like it at least a little bit, but after seeing how insensitive Bella was to this sweet, thoughtful guy, I knew I was in over my head with this series. That “wagging tail” remark was nearly too much for me by itself.

    …Okay, I’ll be honest, the image I get from that is kinda cute in my humble opinion, but I know it was meant as an insult, or at least as a patronizing statement, so, yeah, it really ticked me off.

  4. October 8, 2011 8:45 PM

    I never got why Bella had to travel to Forks. I happen to know for a fact that a teenager can stay with friends to finish out high school. My cousin did that. Her family moved to another state the last two years of her high school, and she stayed behind with friends. As long as there is someone of legal age to take legal responsibility in the absense of the legal guardians, a teenager can stay with friends in such a situation. Bella did not have to move to Forks, especially when it was very clear she didn’t want to. Granted, if she had the same attitude of self-pity and self-entitlement in Phoenix as she does in Forks, she might not have had any friends who could put up with her for a year and a half.

  5. Creature SH permalink
    October 9, 2011 1:08 PM

    Woahza, I almost missed this one.
    You are pretty damn good at picking out the bits that make the so-called protagonist so contemptible. Then again, Mrs. Meyers doesn’t make that very hard to begin with.

  6. Cody permalink
    October 11, 2011 2:56 AM

    Wait, the science teacher is Mr. Banner? HULK SMASH PUNY HONORS STUDENTS!
    There, now the horrible story is cut short forever.

  7. Joey permalink
    November 20, 2011 10:28 PM

    You were on the mark about how unrealistic Bella is about the snow thing. I was born and raised in Florida. Now, I understand why people in other places might not like it when it snows. It’s cold, it’s dangerous to drive in, you have to shovel it, etc. But Bella says that she’s never seen snow before, and her first thought is “Ew?” That is just…WRONG. You don’t grow up watching “Frosty the Snowman” every year and develop that kind of a joyless mindset.

    It’s a little thing, I know, but it’s the little things that make this book even more deplorable than “sparkling vampires” would lead one to expect.

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