This chapter was refreshingly not so rage-inducingly sexist that I wanted to punch cute furry things. Don’t get me wrong, it was seventeen flavors of awful, but it was awful you could laugh at, not feel warranted psychological evaluation. I think my favorite part was when Edward used the title of the book in conversation in a super obvious way. I seriously laughed more than raged this chapter.
Twilight, chapter 11: Complications
Alrighty, let’s get this thing started. After the previous two chapters, I had to take a short break before I could pick this book up again. I was so legitimately disturbed and outraged by what I read that I just couldn’t continue reading. This chapter offered a much-appreciated break from the misogyny of recent chapters. Please don’t think I mean it wasn’t there, though. It was. But in comparison, this was bra-burningly feminist.
Okay, so as tradition states, this chapter picked up right where this one left off. Chapter 10 ended with them heading to Bio and this chapter starts with…them walking into Bio. Seriously, half the reason this book is such a tedious read is because Meyer chronicles every day in what seems like real-time, describing even the most menial events in agonizing detail. Why? Because that’s how you fill pages, and when you’ve only got twenty pages of story, you need a lot of filler to make it a book.
Apparently, as they strode into class, everyone was staring at them. Again. Even though they sit at the same table and have since Bella started school. But I guess everyone knows they’re a couple now and somehow, they also care. I don’t know why. When I was in high school, I couldn’t give two craps who was dating who. But I guess this is a small town and there’s not much else to do. Whatever. What happens next had me laughing so hard I was crying.
When Bella and Edward took their seats, this is how Meyer described it:
“I noticed that he no longer angled the chair to sit as far from me as the desk would allow.”
Well, folks, if that isn’t true love, I don’t know what is. Oh, Bella, you’re so lucky that the boy you like no longer treats you like you have herpes! I’m so happy for you! Maybe you can eventually get him to stop looking at you like you’re a pot roast. Baby steps.
So he pops the tape in, shuts the lights, and then things get simultaneously hilarious, creepy, and SO PATHETIC. I was forced to break the next paragraph up into its component sentences because I had commentary on each one separately, something that amazingly hasn’t happened before now. But boy howdy did Meyer string together some winners with this one.
“I was stunned by the electricity that flowed through me, amazed that it was possible to be more aware of him than I already was.”
Ignoring the fact that “stunned” and “amazed” mean the exact same goddamn thing, this is just such a sad sentence. Bella’s brain is on overload because the lights are out and Edward is sitting close to her. She’s literally unable to function because of it.
WOOOOOOOOOW. We went from sad to intensely creepy in .05 seconds there. I feel like this was Meyer reaching through her text and having to slap her own hand to keep herself from touching Edward inappropriately. Then we have the next sentence in the paragraph and things get weird…
“I crossed my arms tightly across my chest, my hands balling into fists.”
That’s right, folks. Bella had to restrain herself in an imaginary straight jacket to keep from molesting Edward. And the best part?
“I smiled sheepishly as I realized his posture was identical to mine, fists clenched under his arms, right down to the eyes, peering sideways at me.”
This sequence really does sum up the entire series, doesn’t it? Two people fighting an intense internal struggle not to just ravage one another right there in class. Seriously, this is painful to read. Who actually behaves like this, physically restraining themselves like that when they’re around someone they like? Maybe there are some people who should, but are there any who actually do? This whole scene was hilariously bad and gave me a much-needed laugh. And the chapter kept on delivering after the lights came on.
“I stood with care, worried my balance might have been affected by the strange new intensity between us.”
HAHAHAHAHA, Bella has been mentally boned by Edward so hard, she’s afraid she can’t walk straight. THIS IS IN THE BOOK! Stephenie Meyer, you are so awful, I almost don’t hate you for this chapter. But you’re still terrible and I hate you for everything else.
As usual, Gym follows Bio, so Bella and Edward part (with a SUPER creepy, wordless face caress that Edward does a second time later in the chapter). It’s the first day of badminton and we get to see yet again just how much Meyer hates Bella, which I find very strange given that Bella is unarguably Stephenie Meyer. So I guess she hates herself? She puts a badminton racket in Bella’s hand and off goes the Wile E. Coyote-level clumsiness. Bella manages to not just hit herself in the head but hit Mike in the arm as well. ON THE SAME SWING. Bella’s clumsiness defies most natural laws. It’s seriously that absurd. Every time Bella is portrayed as clumsy, I have to say, “Really?” in a slightly higher register because it’s just getting more and more unbelievable. In another three chapters, only dogs will be able to hear me.
Because Bella and Edward are evidently the talk of the school, Mike has heard about it and asks Bella if it’s true. His literal words are, “So you and Cullen, huh?” And Bella’s totally rational and not at all bitchy response is:
“That’s none of your business, Mike.”
Ah, but that’s not the full line. The full line is much, much better. This is the actual line that somehow made it past editors and publishers:
“‘That’s none of your business, Mike,’ I warned, internally cursing Jessica straight to the fiery pits of Hades.”
WHO TALKS LIKE THAT?!
As Bella prepares to meet Edward after school, she suddenly realizes that she may run into the rest of the Cullen clan and has a bit of a panic attack, unsure whether they knew about her or if they were aware that she knew what they really were. Here Meyer tries to show how clever she is.
“Was I supposed to know that they knew that I knew, or not?”
I can just imagine her sitting at her desk giving a satisfied little chuckle to herself, can’t you?
When they meet in the parking lot, Edward reveals that he had listened in on Bella and Mike’s conversation during Gym. This is just another instance of Edward feeling entitled to control Bella. He listens in on her private conversations and seems to feel that he has every right to. He claims he was “curious.” Though I was pleased that Bella actually became mad at Edward for the invasion of her privacy, it loses its potency a few paragraphs later. Here’s the whole rage-inducing “compromise” they come to:
“He sighed. ‘Will you forgive me if I apologize?’
“‘Maybe…if you mean it. And if you promise not to do it again,’ I insisted.
“His eyes were suddenly shrewd. ‘How about if I mean it, and I agree to let you drive Saturday?’ he countered my conditions.
“I considered, and decided it was probably the best offer I would get. ‘Deal,’ I agreed.”
Goddamn it, Bella. Have you no self-respect? Why were you even mad at him if all it took to appease you was allowing you to drive yourself to the dance on Saturday? You really think someone who is willing to invade your private conversations without your permission and against your wishes is someone you should be with? I guess if you’re dumb enough to ignore all the other mistreatment, what’s a little invasion of yours and your friends’ privacy?
Breaking away from the plot of the chapter for a moment, Stephenie Meyer has established herself as an impressively bad writer in ways I didn’t even think were possible. Putting aside the fact that she’s just bad at telling a story, she loves to hold onto a way of describing something and reuse it over and over and over again, vis-à-vis Edward’s consistently “perfect” face. The current trend I’m noticing is Edward’s incredible eye acting. They seem to be able to convey every emotion and mood you can imagine without him having to say a word.
“…his eyes somehow managing to smolder even in the dark.”
“His voice was dark and his eyes were cautious.”
“He raised his hand, hesitant, conflict raging in his eyes…”
“His eyes were suddenly shrewd.”
“His eyes burned with sincerity for a protracted moment—playing havoc with the rhythm of my heart—and then turned playful.”
“When I looked back at him, he was staring at me, measuring with his eyes.”
“His eyes roamed over my face, as if his question was something more than simple courtesy.”
This isn’t all of them, folks. Just this chapter. And I stopped halfway through the chapter (and I don’t even know what that last one means) because I think I’ve demonstrated my point. Either Edward has the most remarkable eye communication ever or Bella is the most perceptive person on the planet. Or the always-correct third option: Stephenie Meyer is a hack writer.
During a conversation with Charlie after dinner (during which Meyer actually writes in detail Charlie putting soap on his plate, scrubbing it, rinsing it, drying it, and putting it away), he asks about Bella’s trip to Seattle on Saturday and she actually takes pity on him, commenting that it must be hard being a father to a teenaged daughter, simultaneously afraid of boys asking her out and of boys not asking her out. For a moment, it was almost touching. Then this:
“How ghastly it would be, I thought, shuddering, if Charlie had even the slightest inkling what I did like.”
First of all, HIS NAME IS DAD, YOU DISRESPECTFUL BINT. Second, yes, yes it would be ghastly. What father wants to know that his only daughter has an unhealthy obsession with not just a cruel, sadistic, misogynistic, abusive sociopath, but a cruel, sadistic, misogynistic sociopath who ADMITS TO FINDING IT DIFFICULT NOT TO EAT HER FACE?
So because Stephenie Meyer has all the creative range of a Q-tip, the next day starts exactly as the previous day did (and plays out the same for the whole freaking day, too), with Edward picking Bella up for school. As she walks out to his car, this is the literary treat I was given:
“He was smiling, relaxed—and, as usual, perfect and beautiful to an excruciating degree.”
Yes, folks, that happened. Let me just reiterate that this is an actual sentence in an actual book that was actually published and has made BILLIONS of actual dollars.
The ride to school consists of Edward asking her all the questions you used to see on those personal quizzes everyone filled out and posted to MySpace back in the day. You know, “Favorite color, favorite band, favorite gemstone, etc.” It’s pretty lame, but it does put forth an interesting premise. Maybe Edward does care the most, as he claims he does. I mean, let’s compare the two of them. Bella, when she thinks of Edward, thinks solely in terms of his physical appearance. She doesn’t think about how great it is that they have so much in common because she knows nothing about him. She thinks his face is perfect and his smile is dazzling and his breath is exquisite. Edward, on the other hand, is actually trying to get to know Bella as a person. He wants to know things about her, her likes and dislikes, things she actually dismisses as insignificant. And to someone as shallow as she is, they are insignificant. But to everyone else, these little “insignificant” tidbits of information combine to make a whole person. These are the things we use to connect to other people. We connect through bands we like, through films we’ve seen, through places we’ve visited. Not once has Bella asked Edward about his interests (outside of his favorite predatory animal to eat, which, if you’ll recall, is mountain lion). He allowed her to ask whatever questions of him that she wanted and all of them pertained to him being a vampire. Because Edward doesn’t need hobbies or interests because they would detract from his looks. Meyer doesn’t care about that stuff. If Meyer is Bella, then she believes such things are trivial and insignificant the same as Bella does, which is why Edward is only ever described in the most shallow terms possible.
Okay, that got away from me a bit, but I thought it was important to point out. It really serves to highlight how truly awful the message of this series is. Onto something more amusing, like Meyer being such a hack (believe it or not, I use the term “hack” to describe her far less than she uses the term “perfect” to describe Edward) that she has one of the main characters use the title of the book in dialogue in such an obvious way that I could almost hear the fourth wall crashing to the ground.
“It’s twilight,” Edward murmured, looking at the western horizon, obscured as it was with clouds.”
Bravo, Meyer! I bet you gave yourself a treat for that one, didn’t you?
Edward grills her for hours after school, just sitting in his car outside her house. They’re there so long that they lose track of time. Apparently Charlie is on his way home and it would be very bad if he were to find them together. As Bella is getting out of the car, another car approaches theirs and parks in front of it. As it happens, the car is driven by Jacob Black, who only just turned 15 but I guess werewolves mature faster than regular people and are allowed to drive young or something (not that we’re supposed to know he’s a werewolf yet despite the painful foreshadowing). This whole scene is a little odd, but not near so much as the description of the passenger in Jacob’s car.
“In the passenger seat was a much older man, a heavyset man with a memorable face—a face that overflowed, the cheeks resting against his shoulders, with creases running through the russet skin like an old leather jacket.”
This man is Billy Black, Jacob’s father. But let’s look at that description again, one part in particular. “…a face that overflowed, the cheeks resting against his shoulders…”
Uh, like this:
Seriously, there is no human in the world who fits that description. Have you ever seen a person before, Stephenie? Maybe on TV or in books? I don’t care how heavyset a person is. Their cheeks cannot rest against their shoulders. Meyer, you’re a terrible writer.
Just before running into the house, Bella stares at Billy and, using her super-perceptions, can tell that Billy not only recognized Edward before he peeled out, but knew that Edward was a vampire.
“Could he really believe the impossible legends his son had scoffed at?”
You mean the impossible legend you yourself confirmed when you started dating one of the legends in question? That legend? God you’re so stupid, Bella. I hate you.
All told, this chapter was one of the more readable. The misogyny was kept to a minimum and all the awfulness was more laughy and less murdery. It really just offered further proof that this is the worst book ever written, a claim I will believe right up until the moment I start reading the next book, I’m sure.