Bella is a stalker, Stephenie Meyer is in love with her own fictional character, and I’m ready to stab myself in the throat just so that SOMETHING interesting happens. Because after four chapters, not only has there been no character development, there’s been no story development. This is a bad, bad book, guys.
Twilight, Chapter 4: Invitation
This chapter has given me significant insight into the mind of Stephenie Meyer, specifically that she’s one sick, twisted person. Though more or less uneventful, I found this chapter to be the most telling not only of how the Edward/Bella relationship will continue through the rest of the books, but how Meyer views relationships in general. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
The previous chapter ended with Bella saying that she had her first dream about Edward. Apparently, that first dream was followed by a great many more. Bella goes on to dream about Edward EVERY NIGHT FOR WEEKS. And in these dreams, he has glowing skin. Weird.
“In my dream it was very dark, and what dim light there was seemed to be radiating from Edward’s skin.”
Bella has apparently gotten over being mad at Edward for blatantly lying to her about how he saved her.
“And, overnight, the heat of my anger faded into awed gratitude.”
So she was justifiably mad that he lied and refuses to explain himself and then after a good night’s sleep of dreaming about him as the Human Torch, she not only ceases to be mad, but is back to being in awe of him. Bella, you’re so dumb.
So she continues to mull over what happened with Edward and the van. I’m relieved that she refuses to doubt what she saw despite what Edward is telling her happened. At least she isn’t that brainwashed. She knows something weird happened and she’s unwilling to let it go. She’s understandably frustrated because it seems that only she and Edward are really in any position to know what actually happened. Evidently, despite there being a “sea” of faces present, no one saw a thing. And here is Bella/Meyer’s explanation, which proves to be one of the most telling things I’ve read in this book so far (though not so telling as an excerpt coming up):
“With chagrin, I realized the probable cause—no one else was as aware of Edward as I always was. No one else watched him the way I did. How pitiful.”
First of all, that excuse is absurd. I don’t care if you’re the most invisible person in the world. If you stop a car with your bare hands, people are gonna notice. Meyer, you need to learn to stop having things be the way you want them to be for convenience. Everything that has happened so far has only happened because it had to for the story. Nothing feels natural. Everything feels forced. Bella inexplicably moved somewhere she hated so that she could meet Edward. Bella is obsessed with Edward because she needs to be for the story. Edward wasn’t seen being superhuman because it would be inconvenient if he had been. A good writer lets the story happen to the characters. The characters experience the story. In this book, the story is experiencing the characters and it’s very jarring. Stephenie Meyer, you are a terrible writer.
Secondly, can I just say HOW CREEPY IS THAT?! And not just that, but this line shows that both Bella and Meyer are perfectly aware that it’s creepy that she is so obsessed with Edward. Sometimes I think Meyer is just trolling us. Then this line happened:
“I watched him sometimes, unable to stop myself—from a distance, though, in the cafeteria or parking lot.”
This reads like a stalker’s diary entry. What is her problem? Oh, yeah, she’s written by a complete hack.
Apparently there’s some dance coming up that Bella refuses to attend on account of her WMD-strength clumsiness and the danger of taking out half the school with an ill-timed trip. Her friend Jessica tries to convince her to go and Bella decides that the attempt is half-hearted.
“I suspected that Jessica enjoyed my inexplicable popularity more than my actual company.”
Wow, a dig and a humble brag all in one. However, I’m forced to agree with her on one thing: I’m not entirely sure why Jessica is friends with her, either. It’s certainly not for her personality, of which she is minus one.
So since their argument in the hospital (over a month before), Edward has been pulling his Lord of the Dicks routine with Bella, refusing to look at her, sitting as far away as he can, clenching his fists as though fighting the urge to beat her senseless (I feel you on that one, buddy), the usual. And to her credit, Bella is angry at that reaction. She feels it’s unfair, and it is. But then he made eye contact with her and this happened:
“I couldn’t believe the rush of emotion pulsing through me—just because he’d happened to look at me for the first time in a half-dozen weeks. I couldn’t allow him to have this level of influence over me. It was pathetic. More than pathetic, it was unhealthy.”
In case you didn’t catch that last bit, I’ll say it again. “I couldn’t allow him to have this level of influence over me. It was pathetic. More than pathetic, it was unhealthy.”
YES! YES, BELLA! It IS pathetic and it IS unhealthy! Meyer is all over the place in terms of the message she conveys, but here she is spot on. This shows me that she knows that Bella’s obsession is unhealthy. She even makes Bella aware that it’s unhealthy. And yet it is never treated as such. Meyer wants Bella and Edward (or rather Bella-as-Meyer and Edward) so bad that she doesn’t seem to care how awful this relationship is. She is laying down the worst foundations of a relationship ever and all that seems to matter is that her avatar get with the most perfectest guy ever.
When writing about something that is referenced often in your work, such as a main character, a building, a ship, etc, it’s really only necessary to give it one good physical description in the beginning and then passing descriptions later. And only when you have some new descriptor to use for it. Stephenie Meyer did not get that memo. Not only does she feel the need to reference Edward’s physical appearance every time he’s “on screen,” but she does it in the exact same way every time. She tells us he’s perfect.
“I turned slowly, unwillingly. I didn’t want to feel what I knew I would feel when I looked at his too-perfect face.”
“I scowled at his perfect face.”
You know what is the single most boring descriptor I can imagine? Perfect. It conveys nothing because perfection is completely subjective in this context. Ivory skin, chiseled features, molten gold eyes, wind-swept hair, those are descriptors that give you an image of someone. If you’re reading a book and a character is constantly described as perfect, what does he actually look like? It’s lazy. And every time I see it, I picture Stephenie Meyer with a notebook full of hand-drawn hearts and “S+E 4EVER” written over and over again.
Toward the end of the chapter, Bella is confronted by three boys asking her to the dance, Mike, Eric, and Tyler (yes, Tyler, the boy who nearly squished Bella as flat as her personality). How any one boy likes her is beyond me, but three? And of course, instead of being flattered, she’s annoyed. She tells them all she’s going to Seattle and can’t make the dance. I suppose at least she was tactful and didn’t hurt their feelings. That’s something. Then she’s confronted by Edward, who acts like a fourth-grade boy who shows he likes a girl by just being mean to her. He tells her that they shouldn’t be friends but that he’d like to be friends but it would be in Bella’s best interest if they weren’t friends but they could be friends if she really wanted. Seriously, that’s the gist of the conversation. Oh, and apparently Bella has to speak to him with her eyes closed because if she looked at his too-perfect face, she’d become a babbling idiot. Seriously.
“‘Then what do you want, Edward?’ I asked, keeping my eyes closed; it was easier to talk to him coherently that way.”
Later that night, as she’s cooking dinner, she comes to the conclusion that Edward has been acting this way because he’s not interested in her and doesn’t want to lead her on, so he’s acting like a jerk to make sure he really gets the message across. Bella has a moment of self-pity followed by what I suspect to be Stephenie Meyer having a moment of self-abuse:
“Of course he wasn’t interested in me, I thought, my eyes stinging—a delayed reaction to the onions. I wasn’t interesting. And he was. Interesting…and brilliant…and mysterious…and perfect…and beautiful…and possibly able to lift full-sized vans with one hand.”
I’m not sure if I’ve properly conveyed this, but I heartily dislike Bella, for a number of reasons. She’s clingy and whiny and a complete asshole to her friends. But there was a scene that really cemented my hatred of her. She and her father are eating dinner and he asks if she’s going to the dance. She then tells him she’s going to Seattle, which is at least two tanks of gas away from Forks. It’s a long drive. She hastily adds, “If that’s okay” to make it seem like she’s asking.
“I didn’t want to ask for permission—it set a bad precedent—but I felt rude, so I tacked it on the end.”
Well that’s just too bad that you didn’t want to ask for permission, Bella. You’re a minor and you live with your father. You have to ask for permission. It doesn’t set a bad precedent, you stupid cow. It’s what’s expected of a child living with a parent. Bella Swan, I hope you die in a fire.
So the next day, Bella is treated to a second confrontation with Edward in the parking lot, which seems to be the setting for half this stupid book. She drops her keys in a puddle (because she’s clumsy, get it?) and before she can pick them up, Edward pops in out of nowhere and snatches them. At this point, he’s seriously just abusing his vampire powers and messing with her head. He talks to her and is still acting pretty dickish, but offers to give Bella a ride to Seattle. He also reiterates that they shouldn’t be friends. But that he’d like to be. Let me just organize this conversation for you:
BELLA: You said we can’t be friends.
EDWARD: I said we shouldn’t be friends.
EDWARD: I’d love to be friends, but it would be in both our best interests if we weren’t.
EDWARD: So you want a ride to Seattle or not?
EDWARD: You really should stay away from me. *actual quote*
I hate this book. So. Much. I had a couple more quotes I wrote down but couldn’t work them into the review proper, so here, enjoy them on their own. You don’t need any context other than Bella is the flattest character ever and Stephenie Meyer is a hack writer who should never have been published in the first place.
“My face got drenched as I looked up at his expression.” (I was very confused by this line until a few pages later when I realized it was raining and Meyer is just a terrible writer and can’t even convey that simple fact)
“I felt a thrill go through me as I said his name, and I hated it.” (Ugh)
“His eyes were gloriously intense as he uttered that last sentence, his voice smoldering. I couldn’t remember how to breathe.” (That last sentence she was referring to was the one where Edward said they shouldn’t be friends but he was tired of trying to get her off his case. Basically it was, “I give up, you creepy pathetic loser, but on your head be it.” And naturally Bella ate it up and asked for more)