Twilight - Chapter Two

She hates rain, plant-life, and now snow.

The chapter starts off with Bella immediately complaining about how much her day sucks. She had to put up with such torments in her next school day. Boys paid attention to her, she had a big group of people to sit with at Lunch who were interested in her. Everyone was nice to her. The horror! Even worse, a teacher actually called on her to answer a question. She had to play VOLLYBALL! And the worst of all: the one boy who was ever mean to her yesterday didn't attend class that day. Someone call Child Protective Services, this girl is trapped in a living nightmare. (+1 Wangst)

Here's one of the main problems I have with this book. There is a general rule of thumb about writing which states "show, don't tell." Now, this is not something that every writer must do all the time, but Meyer could definitely stand to do more showing and less telling. You see, we, the readers, are being told that Forks is awful, that Bella's life sucks, that Edward is God-incarnate (that last bit will be happening fairly soon). However, we never see why Forks is so bad, why Bella's life is awful, and why Edward is supposedly so impressive.

In fact, what we actually do see tends to be the opposite. The people of Forks, in general, act pretty nice in the scenes in which they're included. Bella, despite having separated parents, is shown to have a life that is actually quite privileged, and the fact that she spurns the people trying to be nice to her and complains so much about everything just makes her out to be a spoiled bitch. We are told that Edward is such a great guy, but from what I've read of him Edward has all the personality of a turnip. The author expects us to simply take her word for it. The world of Twilight is as it is because Bella says so and none of Bella's overwrought, blanket statements about the people and world around her need to be backed up by examples or evidence.

Meyer tells but she does not show, and sometimes what the narrative actually does show directly contradicts what the narrator (Bella/Meyer) says. This disconnect between story and storyteller is a sign of bad writing.

Back to the chapter. Mike walks Bella to class, and Bella's immediate response is to compare him to a dog. Gosh, it almost makes me think back to last chapter when Bella was wangsting about how afraid she was of other people judging her. Now that I think about it, didn't she insult Eric's appearance last chapter? I believe I even quoted it. I'm sure that isn't hypocritical behavior on Bella part at all. (+1 Bitch)

Then he smiled at me wistfully and went to sit by a girl with braces and a bad perm.

Shallow much? Bella is just sniping at everyone today, isn't she?

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.

There are a couple of things wrong with this statement. I'll start with the obvious. Did Bella, or did Bella not, whine about feeling like an outcast in the previous chapter? Now she has a boy who is kind and expresses interest in her, and now she's complaining that he's too friendly? There is just no pleasing this girl. First it's "Wah! Nobody will like me! I shall cry myself to sleep now." and then it's "Oh no, a boy likes me! Woe is me!"

The second thing I wish to address is Bella's blanket statement about Forks, about how everyone lives on top of everyone else. This is another case of the author telling us rather than showing us or giving examples. That sentence paints Forks as a place filled with people who are merciless cutthroats who enrich themselves off the suffering of others. Have we seen a single example of this? No! Bella couldn't have been treated better by the people of Forks so far if she were Jesus reincarnated. The boys are falling for her, the girls want to befriend her. Everyone Bella has met so far has instantly taken a liking to her. Yeah, these are some real dastardly folk alright. Ironically the one and only person thus far to give Bella a hard time is Edward, the designated love interest of this series.

What gives Bella the right to sit in judgment of Forks anyway? The only time she lived there was when she was in diapers, and the full extent of her experience comes from once a year month-long vacations with her father when they would go fishing (the horror!). According to her own words in chapter one she hasn't even set foot in Forks since she was 14. It's been three years since she'd last set foot in Forks. Also, if you discount the time which she was probably too young to remember (let's say ages 0-4), that brings her total experience with Forks to less than one year spread out over a decade. And it is this limited experience on which she is basing her sweeping generalizations about Forks and all who reside there?

Where exactly does Bella's perception of Forks as one of the Circles of Hell come from? If there is some underlying reason for Bella's irrational hatred of Forks we aren't seeing it, because to do so would require back-story and character development, the hallmarks of good books. Bella fears being judged, yet she has been judging everything in sight from her father to her school mates, to Forks and everything in it, her opinions based on absolutely nothing. This, ladies and gentlemen, is our protagonist.

I hurried from the girl's locker room, pleased that I had successfully evaded my retriever-friend for the moment.

As I pointed out earlier, everyone (with the exception of Edward) has been nothing but nice to her, and how does she repay their kindness? By belittling them. Calling them gangly, insulting their hair, likening them to dogs. All for having the audacity to try to be her friend. What a lovable character this Bella Swan fellow is. (+1 Bitch).

So Bella gets in her truck and is off to go food shopping when she notices the Cullens and Hales. Rather, she notices their expensive car and designer clothes. She stops for a moment both to gawk at their beauty and their money, and ponder their status as outsiders.

The isolation must be their desire; I couldn't imagine any door that wouldn't be opened by that degree of beauty.

Remember kids: physical looks and money are all that matter in life. Thus is one of the life lessons taught in Twilight. Feel free to add the massive sarcasm quotes yourselves.

She does her shopping, slipping in a not quite subtle Forks insult along the way, then goes home and makes dinner. Riveting plot point, isn't it. Bella Swan buys the groceries. What indispensable narration. Not filler at all. Oh look! Bella is now telling us where she put the steak in the fridge. Oh and now she's taking her book bag upstairs. Isn't this exciting? Oh wow, and now she's checking her email. I'm sure glad I spent money on this, I sure am!

Bella receives an e-mail from her mother, who is understandably anxious to know how her daughter is doing and worried that she hadn't e-mailed in the two days she'd been there. Bella, of course, resents this. Afterward, just to show that Bella is "smart", Meyer has her self-inserted avatar read Wuthering Heights.

Her fath--I mean, Charlie, comes home and asks what's for dinner. Bella makes this comment about her parent's marriage.

My mother was an imaginative cook, and her experiments weren't always edible. I was surprised, and sad, that he seemed to remember that far back.

Bella doesn't seem to give her father any credit at all as a human being. Again, I am interested in how Charlie and Renee's relationship came to end, and the effect it may have had on Bella. I think there is a story here that would be much better than anything I've seen in this book. However, writing about such a subject would require characters with depth and feeling, who grow as the story progresses. In other words: it requires a far better writer than Stephenie Meyer.

Over dinner Bella finally admits that the people at school had been nice to her. She brings up the Cullens and asks what their story is. We learn that they are a subject of gossip and Charlie is angered by this fact. This is when Charlie becomes Meyer's megaphone, allowing her to shout how wonderful the Cullen family is, as if we needed another character singing their praises.

The week goes on and Bella continues to obsess over Edward, even though she'd only seen him once and he hadn't been around for the entire week. I suppose I should take notes. All one need do is glare at a woman angrily and disappear for a week, then he'll be all she'll think about. You listening guys? Nothing heats a girl's oven like an angry and neglectful man.

Guess what folks? Even more filler! Yay! Thrill as Bella comments about the local library and thinks about finding a good bookstore in Olympia or Seattle. Apparently she can check her e-mail but hasn't yet discovered Sit at the edge of your seat as Bella wonders how much gas mileage her truck gets and quiver with delight as Bella does her homework and e-mails her mother. Riveting entertainment, this!

Even more filler describing every minute detail of Bella's school day. It's as if Stephenie Meyer couldn't think of anything to write so she simple decided to follow Bella around during an average day until she could come up with something. And come up with something she did. What new and exciting thing has Meyer's boundless imagination concocted this time?

She ... made it snow.

Yeah ... snow.

So ... now Bella and Mike stand around talking about snow.

"Ew." Snow. There went my good day.

Did I mention that Bella hates snow? Not surprising. She does, after all, hate everything.

So after they stand around talking about snow, Bella goes inside where everyone is talking about the snow. People are happy, so naturally Bella is hating every moment of it.

Finally they go to the cafeteria and something actually happens. It's not a big something, but at this point I'm glad for any sign of a pulse in this rapidly-dying story. You see, Edward came back to school and Bella acts as if the sky is falling.

Bella takes a paragraph to ogle the Cullens, especially Edward. Bella comments to Jessica that she doesn't think Edward likes her, and you can practically see her pouting. Yes, folks, this is the high point of the chapter: Bella trying not to stare at Edward. Isn't this exciting?


They talk about snow some more, then they go outside and discover that the snow has melted. Everyone else is disappointed. Bella, perhaps feeding off others' misery like a succubus, is pleased.

So Bella makes her way to Biology class and it turns out Edward shows up and sits next to her. Bella proceeds to do what she does best: describe, at length how Edward is perfect perfectness of perfect perfection.

He looked like he'd just finished shooting a commercial for hair gel.

Loreal ... because I'm worth it.

It turns out that Bella is even more popular than we were let on before, as if the boys crushing on her and girls falling over themselves to befriend her weren't enough. Bella asks Edward how he knows her name, since she hadn't introduced herself, and Edward replies thusly.

"Oh, I think everyone knows your name. The whole town's been waiting for you to arrive."

Really? Are we to believe that Bella is such a special snowflake that an entire town of people had nothing better to do than talk about her and await her arrival? I'm beginning to wonder if I should include a Mary Sue score to add to. I'll settle for giving this a mark for it's sheer stupidity. (+1 Stupidity)

Class begins, and Meyer takes this opportunity to point out how smart Bella and Edward are by having them ace that day's assignment with no trouble at all. It is hand-waved later by stating that Bella had already done that assignment at her previous school, however. The whole time Bella starts to practically foam at the mouth at how devastatingly handsome Edward is. Apparently everything about him is perfect.

... his clear, elegant script intimidated me. I didn't want to spoil the page with my clumsy scrawl.

Even his handwriting ...

OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD ALMIGHTY! This reads like a fan-fic gone horribly wrong. Awkward girl moves to a small town and is loved by all for no adequately explored reason and falls in love with a god-like male figure with no discernible flaws? This couldn't be a worse example of fan-fic writing if it took place at Hogwarts and Bella turned out to be Harry's long-lost sister.

Mary Sue and Gary Stu finish their assignment before everybody else (perfectly, of course). With nothing else to do, Bella makes commentary on Edward's eyes and insult Forks again. In the time it takes to read that paragraph I looked up the proper way to tie a noose on Google. The teacher comes along and the fact is casually dropped that Bella, our special snowflake, was actually in advanced placement classes. Of course. Nothing less for our dear Mary Sue.

... instead of pretending to be normal like everyone else.

Lines like these are supposed to paint Bella as this quietly suffering outsider who is alienated from everybody else, when in fact the exact opposite is what we see from the actual events of the book. Everyone has pretty much accepted her with open arms despite her quirks ... so, what's the problem? There is no reason for this level of angst.

Rather than making Bella's character likable, it makes her come off as a spoiled emo princess who doesn't know what a real problem is.

"Forks must be a difficult place for you to live," he mused.
"You have no idea," I muttered darkly.

Oh, that does it! (+1 Wangst)

Cry more, princess. While you're cutting your wrists with razor blades I'll go take a survey of teenaged girls who would love to inherit your "problems," I'm sure that number would be in the millions.

So Edward asks Bella for her backstory and she explains that her mother married a baseball player who travels a lot, so she moved in with her father to make things easy on her mother. She says all of this in a tone one might expect from someone who was just asked "so what are you doing time for?"

"But now you're unhappy," he pointed out.
"And?" I challenged.
"That doesn't seem fair." He shrugged, but his eyes were still intense.
I laughed without humor. "Hasn't anyone every told you? Life isn't fair."

Yes, because there is no hell greater than having to live with a father who loves you and attend a school where everyone adores you. Life can be SO unfair!

My God! Does this girl ever ... stop ... whining? This book is literally pissing me off. Just a few chapters in and already I want to jump into my Amazon Kindle and strangle Bella Fucking Swan while screaming "DIE! DIE! DIE!" In fact, only the fact that I am reading this on a $360 electronic device keeps me from throwing this garbage out the window. Well, at least I can delete this when I'm done. No physical copy to cluttering my bookshelf.

"You put on a good show," he said slowly. "But I'd be willing to bet that you're suffering more than you let anyone see."

... ... ... *stares dumbly* ... ... ...

You mean ... there's more angst? We haven't even seen the worst of it?


To think that somewhere inside of this whiny, angst-ridden girl is a deeper pool of even more angst! WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS GIRL? WHY IS SHE NOT IN THERAPY? This is too much, I am literally losing lucidity. For a moment I felt such intense disgust that I felt physically nauseous. This book has just promised that this whiny girl may become even more whiny.

Deep, calming breath ...

He smiled widely, flashing a set of perfect, ultrawhite teeth.

Don't look directly into Edward's teeth or the brilliance my blind you!

After this terrible scene is finally over, Mike walks Bella to her next class, then finally goes to her truck. She notices Edward leaning on his Volvo and looking at her, which causes instant orgasm for Bella. As a result she nearly crashes into a Toyota. (+1 Eye Sex)

The chapter ends on that note, and I breathe a heavy sigh of relief that it is finally over. My God, it took an act of will to finish reading that garbage. I need a drink.

Final Tally:

+2 Wangst
+2 Bitch
+1 Stupidity
+1 Eye Sex


Izeas GT said...

There actually seems to be a missed opportunity here. Objectively speaking, Forks is a pretty nice place. Despite this, she still hates it. The solution: make her aware of the contradiction, and have her conclude that the problem is on her end, that she's got no right to complain -- but STILL be unable to bring herself to like it. Thus "Woe is me!" becomes "What the HELL is my problem?" And this way, she's got a semi-legitimate source of angst.

Anonymous said...

These recaps are amazing. Keep up the great work~

Anonymous said...

Errr, I don't think you can be "literally" piss off, can you? I mean you can be literally pissed ON, but that's not quite the same thing... ;-P

Very much enjoying this blog, I must say. It confirms everything I already suspected about Twilight, and it's a fun read, to boot. :)

Celticwolf said...

Can someone explain this to me because I am greatly confused. I must admit I have never read the twilight series (And never will) though I do enjoy rolling my eyes at anyone who dares to say it is a great book. Now what I am wondering is, in chapter one she describes Forks as completely green. Green trees, green grass, green everything. And then in chapter 2 it is it just me or did she seem to skip an entire season between chapter one and two...please someone help me out here.

Fight Tyranny said...

I found a book called "Birthright" by author Nora Roberts (Written in 2003) on Amazon.

Nora Roberts characters in her book "Birthright" are named as follows:

Douglas Edward Cullen.
Jacob Graystone (Native American in this book too!)
Dr. Carlyle

I shit you not!

Anonymous said...

So far I've really enjoyed this blog, and I can only imagine that the book is going to torture you even more as it goes on, so BE PREPAAAAAAAAAARED!!!

Rational Conversation said...

As we sit reading this post in a campsite next to the highway outside Forks, we actually found something legitimate for Bella to complain about; there are insane logging trucks that blast through town at eighty miles an hour. Our tent goes whoomp every time one goes by. So much for the romantically inclined vampires on their woodland romps. VROOM.

Rational Conversation said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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