Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Twilight Chapters 3, 4 & 5

In light of my previous review, I feel the need to point out something I have to give Stephenie Meyer credit for: she does manage to portray the mind of an average sixteen year old girl with almost frightening accuracy. Teenagers for the most part are nasty and self-absorbed. I was a teenage girl myself not too long ago, and I know that sometimes if you're forced (or feel you're forced- everyone seems to bend over backwards to please Bella and yet she still thinks everyone's out to make her life hell) to do something you you don't like you will be determined to hate everyone and everything involved with it. It's a teenager's way of saying "Fine, Mum and Dad, you may legally be able to tell me what to do, BUT I DON'T HAVE TO LIKE IT!" *door slam*

In that respect, Bella's initial attraction to Edward despite, or even because of, his stalker-like behaviour actually starts to make some sense. I mean, explaining your feelings to someone is hard, I get it. Therefore it must be a dream come true when someone 'gets' your feelings without you having to say anything, and then also validates them for you rather than saying "Actually, Bella, you're behaving like a brat." Because not all feelings are justified. Sorry, kids. Feeling creeped out because the boy in Biology knows a little too much personal information about you? Justified. Feeling annoyed at someone just because they come from a town you don't like? Unjustified.

So Bella is a fairly accurate depiction of an average teenager. Does this make her a good role model for teenagers? Not in the current state. It would depend on her character development, but I have it on good authority that Bella's character development (spoilers!) is pretty dismal. Does this make her an interesting character? Well, no. I mean, c'mon, if the biggest problem in your life is the fact that the guy you're vaguely interested in happens to be the one guy in school who doesn't like you, you have a pretty great life.

A character being an average Joan does not automatically make them uninteresting, nor should it. My main problem with the depiction of Bella so far is that everyone, Bella included, seems to act like she's so much better than everyone else, and she's not. She's ordinary. Normal. Bland in the extreme, like an underdone piece of dry toast. So why all the fuss, male population?

Since writing the above I have in fact read up to Chapter 9 of this monstrosity, but I'll still only review two chapters this time and split up the rest, since there's a whole lot of stupid to be discussed.

From now on I will also be keeping a tally of the Foreshadowing Moments (because good God, are there many. Stephenie Meyer is about as subtle as a butcher wielding a cleaver) and the Edward Is A Controlling Creep Moments. Let's see the score for this review.

Chapter 3: Phenomenon

Bella is approached by two of her admirers at school, but all she cares about is the whereabouts of the Cullen's Volvo. That's right, folks, Edward Cullen, supposedly the coolest guy on earth, drives a Volvo. Not a BMW, not a Mercedes, not a Lamborghini or any other car that would make the hosts of Top Gear drool. A Volvo.


But wait! What's this I see here? Could it be- yes! It is! Some action at last!

The action being Edward saving Bella from a skidding car with his Awesome Vampire Powers, and despite being moments from death, Bella still has time to observe how unnaturally fast and strong Edward is. In other words, FORESHADOWING!

Bella gets taken to hospital and somehow still manages to be whiny throughout. She asks to speak to Edward alone and confronts him about how he saved her.

"Hey, Edward, I'm really sorry-" Tyler began.

Edward lifted a hand to stop him.

"No blood, no foul," he said.

I see what you did there, Stephenie Meyer. How witty you are!

"Then why does it matter?"

"It matters to me," I insisted. "I don't like to lie."

But earlier on, Bella was saying that she lied all the time... Consistency, you have none.

"Why did you even bother?" I asked frigidly.

"I don't know," he whispered.

See, this is one of the things I had trouble with in this chapter. Are we supposed to think that had anyone other than Bella been in the way of the car, Edward wouldn't have saved them even though he has the ability to do so with no risk to himself? Because that's sure how it comes across. Dear readers, meet your romantic lead. Isn't he a gem?

Chapter 4: Invitations

This is pretty much a filler chapter, so we'll race through it. Onwards!

Bella has a dream about Edward (FORESHADOWING) and is perplexed as to why. I can tell you, Bella: hormones. They appear during puberty and proceed to fuck up your life, forcing you to make stupid decisions like getting married when you're eighteen.

There's some more stuff about Bella being chased by all the boys and it's all a bit of a yawn. Moving on.

Edward and Bella have a conversation again, and Edward offers to give Bella a ride to Seattle in his car while being creepy. So far the interactions between Bella and Edward have been dull and vapid at best and disturbing at worst (and that, dear readers, is me foreshadowing the next couple of chapters. Take note).

And that's the end of this chapter. Thank God.

Chapter 5: Blood Type

The Edward Is A Controlling Creep Moments begin here!

Edward beckons (no really, beckons. With his finger and everything) Bella over to join him at lunch, and this is where things start to go from mildly creepy to really creepy.

"I decided as long as I was going to hell, I might as well do it thoroughly."

"You know I don't have any idea what you mean."

He wants to jump you, Bella. It's not that hard to figure out.

"I think your friends are angry with me for stealing you."

"They'll survive."

"I may not give you back though," he said with a wicked glint in his eyes.

I gulped.

He laughed. "You look worried."

No kidding.

"Yes, I'm giving up trying to be good. I'm just going to do what I want now, and let the chips fall where they may."

Edward, please stop what you're doing and read Schrodinger's Rapist. Now.

Edward Is A Controlling Creep Moment number 1.

"I don't like double standards."

Neither do I. A pity this book is full of them.

And now it's Biology class again, and Edward is ditching. How rebellious of him. Oh, they're testing for blood types in class! FORESHADOWING!

Bla bla, Biology, bla. Seriously, this book loves its Biology classes.

Bella feels faint during class, Edward mysteriously appears and takes her to the nurse's office, scooping her up in his arms despite her protests. Edward Is A Controlling Creep Moment 2.

"I smelled the blood," I said, wrinkling my nose.

"People can't smell blood," he contradicted.

I don't know if this is is Edward's mistake or Stephenie Meyer's, because in fact, people can smell blood, and very easily too, so being able to sniff out blood doesn't make Bella a special snowflake. And just in case you forgot, FORESHADOWING!

Bella skips gym class (I can't blame her, I did that all the time too) and wants to go home.

I veered left, toward my truck. Something caught my jacket, yanking me back.

"Where do you think you're going?" he asked, outraged. He was gripping a fistful of my jacket in one hand.


He was towing me toward his car now, pulling me by my jacket. It was all I could do to keep from falling backward. He'd probably just drag me along anyway if I did.

"Let go!" I insisted. He ignored me.

Jesus Christ! Did Stephenie Meyer honestly not realise that having a man drag a woman towards his car against her will was just a little bit problematic?

I was mentally calculating my chances of reaching the truck before he could catch me. I had to admit, they weren't good.

"I'll just drag you back," he threatened, guessing my plan.


So after Edward Is A Controlling Creep Moment number three (now with added WTF!), Edward successfully manages to drive Bella home without getting any creepier and we get a bit of exposition *cough* I mean deep conversation.

End Chapter Five! Did you have fun? I know I didn't.

Foreshadowing Moments: 4
Edward Is A Controlling Creep Moments: 3

Friday, 22 July 2011

Twilight Chapters 1 & 2

Here goes. *deep breath*

I attempted to read Twilight when I was eighteen and wanted to know what all the hype was about. I remember at the time coming to the conclusion that it wasn't worth the hype and not finishing it because I got bored. And I read Charles Dickens' Bleak House for funsies. It takes a lot to make me declare a book boring.

But my thesis is on female characters in young adult and fantasy literature, so alas, Twilight is inescapable simply for the massive influence it has on the entire young adult genre. A casual glance at the YA shelves in my local Dymocks reveals titles such as Vampire Diaries, Vampire Academy, Vampire Beach-

Wait a minute.

Vampire beach? What is this, The Supernatural Hills? Or were all other settings already taken? Oh dear.

So I admit, I approach Twilight with some trepidation. It's not that I don't like vampires or urban fantasy. I do. A lot. I've been a huge Buffy fan since I was a teenager, and I watch True Blood, albeit more for the hilarity (speaking of which, I'm actually really impressed by the current season. But more on that in another entry). It's more that I find the whole premise of Twilight kind of silly. Still. It's beloved by teenage girls (and older women!) across the entire world, it must have something going for it. Right?


I'd never given much thought to how I would die- though I'd had reason enough in the last few months

Bella darling, maybe you should consider a lifestyle change?

I knew that if I'd never gone to Forks, I wouldn't be facing death now. But, terrified as I was, I couldn't bring myself to regret the decision. When life offers you a dream so far beyond any of your expectations, it's not reasonable to grieve when it comes to an end.

Really? Because to me that sounds like a perfectly good reason to grieve. If I'm having a good life I don't want it to end, thanks.

Oh wait, the prologue's over. So... that was pointless. We know at some time Bella's life is going to be in danger, so good job ruining that tension, Stephenie Meyer. But as the opening two chapters reveal, if there's one thing Meyer loves it's foreshadowing, and therefore killing the plot.

On to Chapter One!

Chapter 1: First Sight 

Giving away the plot in the chapter title will become a recurring theme, so please take note.

A summation of the first three pages: Bella loves Phoenix. A lot. I mean, she really, really does. Bella is moving to Forks, which she really really hates. Why is she going to Forks if she hates it so much? God knows.

Bella leaves her mother, about whom we know next to nothing (but we do know what Bella is wearing!), and meets her dad, who's a police chief. Bella muses that this meeting and subsequent car ride would be awkward. It... really isn't. Or at least not any more awkward than most teenage girls' conversations with their fathers.

Car ride, car ride, Bella's lack of decent clothes, car ride...

"He used to go fishing with us during the summer," Charlie prompted.

That would explain why I didn't remember him. I do a good job of blocking painful, unnecessary things from my memory.

Wow. Either the last fishing trip occurred during a hurricane or Bella's kind of a bitch.

"He's in a wheelchair now," Charlie continued

And Bella immediately asks how the man ended up in a wheelchair, how his health is and how's he's coping with such a dramatic change in his life. Oh wait, no. She just wants to know about the truck he can no longer drive.

So Bella gets a car and loves it and we're treated to a full description because anything Bella owns/will be seen in is important, unlike her parents.

Bla bla, Bella's room, bla bla, Bella's pale (translucent, even!), bla bla...

I didn't relate well to people my age. Maybe the truth was that I didn't relate well to people, period.

You think?

Bella gets ready for school, and this takes two full pages. Suddenly I'm realising why this book is so damn long.

Bella goes to school, her classmates stare at her, Bella's read everything on the booklist (this is another recurring theme: Bella is always better than any other mere mortal. Always. She talks about this a lot). A guy tries to talk to her and she's snappy, but he persists with being helpful. The nerve!

"You don't look very tan."

"My mother is part albino."

He studied my face apprehensively and I sighed. It looked like clouds and a sense of humor [intentional use of American spelling- what does that nation have against the letter 'u'?] didn't mix. A few months of this and I'd forget how to use sarcasm.

...I don't think clouds are your problem, Bella.

More people are friendly to Bella (the nerve!) and she is unfriendly back. Then she spots seven curious strangers! DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUN!

I'm going to skip the two page description of the Cullens because it's kind of dull and expositiony. In fact, lets skip ahead some more...

Aha, first class with Edward! Edward seems hostile and unfriendly. Bella seems hostile and unfriendly. I see the connection.

Another guy is nice to Bella, but all she can think about is why Edward isn't nice to her. Well, I guess having only having 99% of the guys in school lusting after you must be a bit sucky.

But Edward Cullen's back stiffened, and he turned slowly to glare at me- his face was absurdly handsome- with piercing hate-filled eyes. For an instant, I felt a thrill of genuine fear, raising the hair on my arms.

Behold, Bella, your future husband.

Bella declares that her first day at school was ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE and runs home in tears. And that's Chapter One!

Chapter 2: Open Book

Bla, bla, guys lust after Bella, Bella is nasty...

Bella likes cooking. Ooo look, an interest! Finally!

Bella is condescending to her mother, Bella reads Wuthering Heights. Wait. Bella loves Wuthering Heights. Stephenie Meyer loves Wuthering Heights. IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW!!!

Bella asks her dad about the Cullens, exposition occurs, Bella goes to school, Bella notices Edward doesn't come to school, Bella cares about this. The first time she's cared about anything other than herself, by the way.

Edward speaks to Bella. Edward is stalker-y. Um.

Biology, biology, Edward has gold eyes, biology... You know, for vampire supposedly living undercover, the Cullens sure aren't very good at it.

They talk, Edward is creepy and socially inept, Bella is also socially inept, Bella is nasty to people who aren't Edward again.

And that's it!

So Bella, our narrator and heroine, is anti-social, hostile, bitchy, no good at sarcasm and completely and utterly self-absorbed. Great. I can't wait to spend the next 400+ pages in her company.


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

X-Men Legacy 249, AKA Screw You, Character Development!

Oh, Rogue. How they mistreat you.

I started reading the X-Men comics solely because I loved Rogue in the animated series and was disappointed by her treatment in the films. So as a disclaimer for this entry, I'll admit that I read X-Men pretty much soley for Rogue.

Rogue started out as one messed up little girl. And I like Rogue a bit batshit; the fact that she has demons is what first interested me in the character. But as I ventured into the comics I got annoyed with her lack of character development.

X-Men Legacy started to change all that. Rogue got some decent character development, she got control over her powers (finally), she moved into a leadership role. It was good. Now, my inner sixteen year old girl will always want Rogue and Gambit to be together forever, but I was cheering for Rogue when she told Gambit that she wasn't mentally or emotionally stable enough for a relationship and wanted some space to come to terms with her issues. She was finally taking control over her life. Now that's good character development!

Enter Magneto. Who is, as we all know, an evil homicidal shithead who is about 80 (yes, I know he looks physically younger. That's beside the point) and has a thing for young girls. Yes, Rogue's not a teenager any more, but that doesn't change the fact that in an alternate universe he married her when she was seventeen and they had a kid together and ew, ew, ew. Long story short, Rogue hooks up with him after saying a speech about how she should hate him but she can't.


Magneto. Magneto. The man who brainwashed her, held her captive and watched her lose her virginity through a camera, had her tortured and electrocuted, murdered her friends, beat her up, had no qualms about her getting killed, mentally raped her, stalked her and kept her locked in a vault for years just three issues before this hook-up occurred, and has yet to apologise or even show regret for any of these things. And this is just what he's done to Rogue, not to mention the entire human race.

Rogue was constantly telling him no. So the plotline of Legacy is "No no no no no YES."

Um. *twitch*

In one issue they've managed to erase years of character development and turn Rogue into a pathetic abuse victim. Jesus Christ. And this all happens after Magneto tells her this sob story about how he killed a doctor who did experiments on Holocaust victims as an example of what a bad person he is, not, you know, all the times he tried to DESTROY THE HUMAN RACE. Manipulative, much?

All of this comes not one issue after Gambit tells Rogue that she's the love of his life and he's willing to wait as long as it takes for her to deal with her problems and it's actually kind of adorable (yes, I'm a Gambit fangirl. Why do you ask?).

So author Mike Carey, a hearty Fuck You from me. You clearly have a) a mid-life crisis and must therefore place beautiful young women with men decades older than them, b) no idea about how to write romance from a woman's perspective, c) no idea about how to write women in general, or d) all of the above. Rogue is not a battered woman you can stuff back into her fridge whenever it suits you. She's a Badass Queen of Badassity and you know it. I mean, this is how you write the woman who had 80,000 different personalities in her head at one time and lived to tell the tale? Seriously?

Basically, X-Men Legacy 249 can be summed up best in the following comment I saw on a comic book forum:

Gambit finally called her out on her wishy washiness and told her to put on her big girl panties. Magneto doesn't care how wishy washy she is just as long as her panties stay on the floor.

It's empowering, folks.

So It Begins...

I'm starting a review blog so that I can keep track of all the ragey thoughts that come into my head as I do research for my Masters. That, and it might be better to rant about things I love or hate in blog form rather than boring anyone within a ten kilometre radius to death with my semi-coherent rambling.

I have to read Twilight for my Masters, and obviously this blog will mainly revolve around my thoughts on that monstrosity. But a variety of things are also on the agenda, including, but not limited to, X-Men, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, True Blood, Doctor Who and scattered thoughts on Women In Fridges and Manpain.

Sit back, pour a cup of tea and prepare for the fanaticism.