Chapter 22: Hide and Seek

24 Oct

I know I said I was going to get this one up quickly, but this chapter turned out to be difficult to write about. Some bad things happen, and I’m not too sure how I feel about Smeyer’s decision to make them happen. I’m pretty disturbed and uncomfortable about the whole thing.

[TRIGGER WARNING: towards the end of the review, description of gratuitous violence (no photos)]

We are finally nearing the climax of the story, and man, is it ever taking a long time to climb to the turning point.

It had taken much less time than I’d thought — all the terror, the despair, the shattering of my heart.

Oh, cry me an emo river, Bella.

Alice has a new vision, and Bella is in the mirror room with James this time. When Bella asks about how her mind reading works, Alice tells her that she can’t see a person’s future until a decision is made, and that if someone changes their mind, the future will change. Obviously. Bella should have a very hard time sneaking around Alice (if not a totally impossible time), so it should be interesting to see how Smeyer handles this.

Here is how Smeyer handles it:

At the airport, Bella says that she wants to eat. Alice gets up to go with her, but Bella says she’d rather Jasper come so she can make use of his mood-changing powers. Once away from Alice, Bella tells Jasper that she has to go to the bathroom, so she ducks in to the ladies’ room, which conveniently (sigh) has two exits, so she starts running. She runs onto a hotel shuttle, she runs into a cab, and the cabbie drives her to Renée’s. Once there, she calls James as she was told, and James, quite predictably and unsurprisingly, tells her to go to the ballet studio.

I have a few things to deal with here before we go onto the next scene.

The fact that Bella just managed to escape from super-fast, super-strong, super-manipulative and super-future-seeing vampires is absolutely impossible and a really depressing use of power as an author. Maybe Meyer really just doesn’t understand the fantasy genre, and thinks that fantasy means anything can happen, no logic required. Or maybe she is just a really bad writer.

Let’s get one thing out of the way, first: Jasper and Alice are inside this airport and they are not sparkling. This inconsistency is killing me. How do they make the trip from the hotel door to their car in a busy hotel car park without bedazzling in the sun? How are they sitting in an airport and not glittering? Most airports have tons of huge windows, if not all airports.

More importantly, it’s been drilled into our heads up until now that Bella is the Queen of Clumsiness, so I have no idea how she managed to run all that way without falling on her face or taking down piles of travelers or something. She used to fall down and take people to the floor with her in gym class even when she admitted she spent all her time trying to remain glued to the spot. This is some serious clumsy disease, kids. Someone like Bella doesn’t just escape swiftly and quickly.

Not only did Bella manage to lose the klutz disease at precisely the right time, but she somehow managed to escape despite the fact that Alice can see the future, and despite the fact that Jasper and Alice can run somewhere around 200km/h. Even if it took until Jasper started suspecting something was wrong with Bella, they would have caught up to her in time. It would be pretty easy to guess where she is going. More likely, Alice would have noticed almost that split second that Bella had run off, and Alice would have been paying attention given the dire situation.

It’s all just too far-fetched.

And it gets worse.

It’s important to remember that these things only happen because Smeyer wants them to, and she must have a reason to make these things happen. She’s doing these things to her characters because she wants to.

Bella goes to the ballet studio. At this point, I was really wondering (and really worried) about why the Final Battle (yes, I think of everything in video game terms) was set in a place full of mirrors.

This is James. He has a ponytail. Be afraid.

Bella enters the dance studio, and I get my first surprise: Renée isn’t there; James was just using an old family video he found in which Renée was calling Bella’s name in a panic. Bella is simply relieved that her family is safe.I have to give Bella credit for that sort of selflessness (even though it is rather stupid, because her death with tear her parents apart, too), and I have to give Meyer credit for that surprise. Pretty clever!

Then, sadly, everything goes downhill, tumbling downhill, there is an avalanche.

James spends about three irritating pages narrating his past and present actions and his intentions. Seriously, Meyer is using her own character to narrate her own character’s actions. This is NOT HOW THINGS WORK. It reminds me very much of that chapter where Meyer unnecessarily and painfully narrates Bella using the internet. It’s so boring and redundant and irritating when we SHOULD be at the tip-top of the building up to the climax, and things SHOULD be happening rather rapidly and excitingly.

In the middle of all this, we discover, briefly, that Alice was rescued from an asylum by another vampire (I think? Not Carlisle? This narrative is too confusing) and turned into a vampire. She was in the asylum because she had visions. And James knows this because he was hunting Alice or something? And James killed the vampire who turned Alice into a vampire. I don’t know and I don’t think it’s all that important right now, in the middle of what is the most drawn-out conflict ever.

Smeyer spends a few more sentences creepily describing Bella’s smell and how deeeeelicious it is. If I ever meet Stephenie Meyer, I am going to ask her about this smelling thing. It has to be addressed.

James sets up a video camera because he is disappointed that Edward didn’t come along to watch Bella get, I don’t know, mutilated? Nice.

Bella, understandably, tries to run, but James stops her and throws her against the mirrors. They break and cut Bella (this is described in much detail) and Bella’s head smashes into the wall and the ground and it’s all very lovely.

And by “it’s all very lovely” what I mean is Holy crap, Smeyer chose a dance studio so that she could make sure Bella got thrown into glass and cut up real good.

James then steps on Bella’s leg, breaking it. He actually just stomped on her bone and smashed it. James smashes Bella once more into the glass, and this time her head splits open. Her head splits open. Blood gushes everywhere, and Meyer makes sure we know how wet and gooey and warm it is, and how much of it there is, and she makes sure we know how the bits of broken glass everywhere are slicing into other various parts of Bella. I am only describing it like this because Meyer goes into even more unnecessary detail. Bella proceeds to pass out.

This is the part I was not sure how to write about. I’m still not really sure. Here is the thing: gore is fine. I love gratuitous zombie flicks and I play video games with tons of gore. Gore that is unnecessary. Slasher flicks that have no other point than gore don’t bother me at all.

But there is a time and a place. This really came out of nowhere. Smeyer is a Mormon who doesn’t even allow herself to watch R-rated movies. So why the violence? Why does Smeyer take such glee is describing all of this to us? Why does Bella’s leg get smashed? Why was the setting so full of glass? When you are reading a book, critically or not, it is important to question why the author includes some things and leaves out others, and to question why the author chooses what it is that happens. I don’t know what point Smeyer is trying to prove. And it unsettles me that all I can see is a big, strong alpha male beating a small, young, helpless woman to within an inch of her life. It disturbs me that these recurring themes of male domination, female submission, and more importantly, abuse, are becoming even more prevalent.

So, I don’t know what to think. Suddenly there is a lot of uncalled for violence, and I’m not sure what Meyer thinks she means by it or why she chose to include it, or where she would have been exposed to such violent writing (unless the book of Mormon is anything like the Bible, which is amazingly violent) if she lives life through as filtered a lens as she says she does in interviews.

I don’t know. What do you think? Is beating Bella up a way to make Edward’s inevitable rescue even more heroic? Is Meyer deliberately putting her leading lady in a submissive position? Does the violence symbolize something that I am missing? Or is Meyer just really sick?

Or am I just over-thinking all of this? Twilight is messing me up.

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4 Responses to “Chapter 22: Hide and Seek”

  1. arallyn October 25, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    Given that fact that she announced that the birth scene in Breaking Dawn or whatever wasn’t going to be toned down for the movie, that would definitely make it so she couldn’t watch her own books film. At least I hope, given that there’s a snapping spine and a “fountain of blood” spewing from Bella, right before Eddy rips open her abdomen/womb with his teeth and stabs her with a syringe to make her a vampire. Oh, and then the wolf falls in pedo-love with the baby. If that isn’t rated R, I’m definitely going to have even more serious issues with the series than I already do.

    • Amy-jean October 26, 2010 at 10:35 am #

      Wait… WHAT? WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?
      Actually don’t tell me. I’m too far in to rage-quit now. But I might go vomit in a bit.

  2. JMJ October 25, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    I didn’t know about Meyer’s Mormon background when I read the series…but now I wonder why she put so much violence into that scene.

    • Amy-jean October 26, 2010 at 10:36 am #

      Maybe it’s because she represses so many normal things due to her religion/lifestyle. The amount of Mormonness in this books is astounding though.

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