So Bella finally went on the beach trip she’s been dreading since chapter 1. And she met some “teens from the reservation,” which is Stephenie Meyer-speak for Native Americans. Also, Bella is a terrible person in new and exciting ways. So let’s get to it.
Twilight, Chapter 6: Scary Stories
This was a refreshingly not-awful chapter, I have to admit. Obviously I believe Stephenie Meyer is a complete hack writer with little to no talent whatsoever, but when she does something well, I’m more than happy to give her credit. This chapter had more than a few bumps, but overall it wasn’t terrible. And it finally advanced the plot.
So as usual, the chapter starts off with Bella complaining, this time because she was dreading going back to school after her fainting spell with the blood. And because Edward said he wasn’t going to be there.
“I couldn’t stop the gloom that engulfed me as I realized I didn’t know how long I would have to wait before I saw him again.”
Gag me with a spoon. Seriously. This guy seriously mistreated her the last time she saw him and gloom has engulfed her because she’s not sure when she’ll get to see him again, even though it’s probably going to be the following Monday (this takes place on Friday)? Come on. Ugh.
So Saturday comes and Bella and her friends (whom she honestly doesn’t even seem to really like all that much) go to the beach. Stephenie Meyer once again has Bella belittle the ever-helpful Mike when she agrees to ride with him in his car.
“He smiled blissfully. It was so easy to make Mike happy.”
I don’t understand why Meyer insists upon crapping all over this character. Well, okay, yes I do. It’s because he isn’t Edward and because she’s a terrible writer, every character who isn’t Bella or Edward is made into more or less a cardboard cutout. Though Bella isn’t really much deeper than Mike or anyone else at this point.
When they all get to the beach, we’re treated with what’s actually a very beautifully painted word picture by Meyer.
“The water was dark gray, even in the sunlight, white-capped and heaving to the gray rocky shore. Islands rose out of the steel harbor waters with sheer cliff sides, reaching to uneven summits, and crowned with austere, soaring firs.”
Where has this writer been for the last 128 pages?? These may be the best two lines of the entire book so far. Sadly, they don’t last. She slips right back into hack-mode after this. Maybe she had a brief stroke.
So after they all arrive and make their little day camp, a few of them decide to take a hike through the woods to see some tide pools. Bells decides to go with them, but naturally worries the whole time about falling into them. And then she actually does fall on the way back.
“I tried to keep up better this time through the woods, so naturally I fell a few times.”
I don’t understand why Meyer seems to hate Bella so much. I don’t get making her such a massive klutz that she can’t even walk through the woods without falling over. Her clumsiness isn’t used as comedy or even a plot device. Why is it there? Is it an attempt to give Bella depth? Because it’s just dumb. She’s a cartoon character. No real person is this clumsy. I think Meyer is just such a poor writer that she can’t think of any real conflict so she has to have Bella worried about something, no matter how stupid.
When Bella and her friends get back to their camp and notice some new people, Stephenie Meyer becomes, in my opinion, just a little bit racist. It’s not anything huge and it’s entirely possible I’m reading more into than I should, but it definitely struck me as at the very least poorly worded.
“As we got closer we could see the shining, straight black hair and copper skin of the newcomers, teenagers from the reservation come to socialize.”
Okay, I get that Native Americans have straight black hair and copper skin. And certainly some live on reservations. It just seemed a little awkward to have it worded like that, as if of course the dark-skinned people were from the reservation. Where else would they have come from? Let’s just say it’s not how I would have written it.
It’s here that we’re first introduced to Jacob, the third angle in what’s sure to be the most awkward love triangle in literary history.
“A few minutes after Angela left with the others, Jacob sauntered over to take her place at my side.”
Yes, dear readers, Stephenie Meyer managed to work yet another instance of the word “saunter” into this book. The first, you’ll recall, was in the preface, in which some horrific killer looked pleasantly at Bella and sauntered toward her, presumably to murder her. So yeah, good job, Meyer.
Bella looks Jacob over and, as usual, judges him solely on his physical appearance.
“However, my positive opinion of his looks was damaged by the first words out of his mouth.
“‘You’re Isabella Swan, aren’t you?’”
Ignoring the painfully awkward wording of that sentence, we’re shown that not only was Bella only interested in Jacob’s looks, but the simple act of saying her name, Isabella, was enough to somehow ruin even her opinion of his physical appearance. How that even works, I don’t know, but how was Jacob to know that she preferred to go by “Bella” and not “Isabella?” I mean, Isabella is her name. Not everyone prefers to shorten their names. Some people are Charles, not Chuck; William, not Bill.
Despite her opinion of his looks being “damaged” by the improper use of her name, she actually seems to take to Jacob very quickly. And here’s where I became immensely confused. Bella and Jacob have a conversation. An actual conversation. And more than that, Bella is an active and willing participant. She even smiles and laughs. So far, Bella has only been involved in conversations she wished she could escape from. She hasn’t shown that she cared to talk to anyone. Even talking to Edward felt very awkward and forced and flat. But with Jacob, Bella seems to have an actual personality, the first hint of one in the whole book. What is going on here?!
And then Bella ruins it by being awful. Someone had asked if any of the Cullens had been invited on the trip and one of Jacob’s friends reacted angrily, saying that essentially the Cullens weren’t allowed on the land. This naturally intrigued Bella so she immediately launched herself into espionage-mode. She flirts with Jacob, all the while telling herself how awful she is at it, and gets him to walk alone with her on the beach.
“I hoped that Jacob was as yet inexperienced around girls, so that he wouldn’t see through my sure-to-be-pitiful attempts at flirting.”
“‘Do you want to walk down the beach with me?’ I asked, trying to imitate that way Edward had of looking up from underneath his eyelashes.”
Yup. Bella is imitating Edward to make Jacob think she’s interested in him so that she can lower his defenses and pump the poor kid for information on her beloved Edward. It’s so gross. And completely out of character, what little character Bella seems to have. And more than a little absurd. Why not just, oh, I don’t know, ask about what the dude meant when he said the Cullens didn’t come up to that land? Because that would be too easy and then there wouldn’t be a chapter. And we wouldn’t have everything laid out for us like we’re all idiots (which, let’s face it, we’re the mooks reading this trash, so we kind of are idiots).
Jacob tells Bella the story of his people (the “scary” story in the chapter title), who are apparently werewolves. He doesn’t come right out and say he’s a werewolf, but c’mon. Stephenie Meyer is not a subtle person. He explains that his great-grandfather brokered a treaty with a clan of “cold ones,” the sworn enemies of the werewolves. He says this clan was unlike the rest, uninterested in feeding on humans. So instead of outing them like they would have any other cold ones, Jacob’s great-grandfather allowed them to remain anonymous with the understanding that they stay off the werewolves’ land. And apparently this clan of “cold ones” were—DUM DUM DUMMMMMM—the Cullens. And not just some Cullens. No. The same Cullens that Bella went to school with. Including her precious Edward.
Bella, being the imbecile that she is, still needs things spelled out even more for her. Apparently the whole cold-immortal-feeds-on-humans thing wasn’t quite enough of a hint for her to deduce what they are, so she asks Jacob.
“Your people call them vampires.”
Ugh. Okay, Jacob, you’re from Washington, the same as Bella. And Stephenie Meyer, just because he’s Native American doesn’t mean he refers to non-Native Americans as “you people.” Welcome to the 21st century.
This chapter had its problems for sure, but it was probably the best I’ve read so far. The writing was above what I’ve come to expect from Meyer and for the first time in 128 pages, the story actually seems like it’s going somewhere. There’s finally a new variable and the seed of a story somewhere in all of this. I’m sure the story will take forever to get into and in the end, it will be disappointing, but at least it’s not complete stagnation as it has been in the previous five chapters. And don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with giving a book a few chapters before you really get into the story. A good writer can spend five chapters laying the foundations of the story and establishing the characters, but as we all know, Meyer is not a good writer. The foundations were laid in chapter 2 and there hasn’t been an ounce of character development since each character’s initial introduction. There’s just been mundane event after mundane event that the characters have been put through. Aside from her massively creepy obsession with Edward, Chapter 6 Bella is no different in any way from Chapter 1 Bella. And her “friends” remain the two-dimensional, undeveloped cardboard cutouts they’ve always been. The only character to have any sort of development has been the disturbingly bipolar Edward, who swings back and forth between angry, violent asshole and condescending, smiling asshole.
This chapter may not have been awful, but I’m not fooled, guys. I have no delusion that it will get better from here on out. You can’t trick me, Meyer! I have your number, and that number is 3263827.