Sunday, 7 August 2011

Twilight Chapters 6-8: Now With More Foreshadowing!

And now, the plot finally kicks in! We're only six chapters in, Stephenie Meyer must be economical.

In today's review, Bella 'Slow On The Uptake' Swan finally learns that Edward is (SPOILERS!) a vampire. Wow, never saw that one coming!

I'll take this oppotunity to point out one of my main gripes with the book, in case you haven't guessed it already.

It's boring.

There's a whole of lot of stupid, sure, but it's boring stupid. It's not like, say, the Anita Blake series by Laurel K Hamilton, which are at least so bad and high camp that it's entertaining to read them purely for the lulz. Twilight is about on the same level of badness as Anita Blake, but dull. Really dull. I've said previously that it takes a lot for me to declare a book boring, and it's true. So here I am, declaring Twilight boring. Ta da!

Bella learns that Edward is a vampire, but don't worry, we have a whole lot of filler to get through first, so enjoy the stupid.

Chapter 6: Scary Stories

As the title suggests, this is the Exposition Chapter, and therefore not really worth dwelling on unless you're, you know, actually interested in the plot or something. Which I assume no one reading this is, and if you are, I'm not giving you spoiler warnings.

Bella's in Trig class (not Biology for once!). This is completely irrelevant to the review, I just have an America Question to ask: do you really have seperate classes for different branches of mathematics? As in, Trig class, Calculus class etc? Ouch. I thought one Maths class was bad enough. No seriously, I'd appreciate it if an American can weigh in here because it's something that occurs a lot in American fiction.

But onwards!

I'm going to make a separate entry about the Bechdel Test, because while I think the test is hugely flawed, it's significant how so far Twilight has failed it dramatically. The way a novel/film/tv show passes the Bechdel Test is if two named female characters have a discussion about something that is not a man. And Twilight fails. Repeatedly. This chapter is no exception.

Case in point, Jessica, who seems to worship Bella despite Bella being nasty at every turn, asks Bella about Edward and stresses about Mike and that's pretty much the only thing she does before being forgotten about. I'm seeing a pattern here.

Anyway, this chapter is significant for the introduction of Jacob Black, who is (spoiler) a werewolf and supposed to provide the romantic tension of "Ooooo, who will Bella choose?" Except it's completely pointless because it's obvious from the get go that she's always going to be with Edward. I'm sorry, Team Jacob, but did you ever really think he stood a chance of getting the girl? Really?

Jacob makes his entrance (with at least half a page of physical description, of course).

However, my positive opinion of his looks was damaged by the first words out of his mouth.

"You're Isabella Swan, aren't you?"

It was like the first day of school all over again.

"Bella," I sighed.

And we're off to a rousing start!

Why on earth does Bella hate being called by her full name so much? It's not like 'Isabella' is so darn horrible. I guess it could written that way to show how proud Bella is of being an individual, but instead it comes of petty and immature, much like the rest of Bella's thoughts do. It's also really repetitive. Yes, Stephenie Meyer, we know Bella hates being called by her full name and is clumsy. YOU DON'T HAVE TO KEEP TELLING US ALL THE TIME.

After that scintilating few lines of dialogue, Jacob settles into what is his true purpose in this book, at least: exposition. Which we will skip, because it's boring.

In summary, Jacob tells Bella about the 'cold ones' who are enemies of werewolves (FORESHADOWING) and there's a group of them who claim to be civilised and they went away for a long time and then they came back and they could be dangerous even though they promise not to attack humans and their leader is called Carlisle and OMG, could he be talking about the Cullens? Surely not!

*cue spooky FORESHADOWING music*

So after that Jacob asks if Bella has a boyfriend because he's subtle like that, and that's it.

But wait! The best is yet to come! Because now it's time for

Chapter 7: Nightmare

AKA When Bella Discovered The Existence of Vampires Through The Power of Google.

That's right, folks, vampires, whose existence has forever been hidden, are discovered by a sleep deprived teenage girl with an internet search engine. Not only that, on a site called Vampires A-Z.

Wow. Just... wow.

The Cullens do a pretty bad job of living below the radar already, so if Bella of all people can discover their true identity by Googling, it just baffles me that no one else did so before. Which leads me to think that what if Edward made a habit of seducing teenage girls by appealling to their curiosity and what if there were a long line of Bellas throughout history who found out who Edward was and came to a sticky end when he was tired of them- and that would be a very different book. Possibly written by Anne Rice.

Bella finds an entry on 'good' vampires (in Italian! FORESHADOWING):

Said to be on the side of goodness, and a mortal enemy of all evil vampires.


Okay, so I have trouble taking the word 'evil' seriously in a fictional context. It's cliche, it's black and white, it rarely leads to good storytelling and well developed characters. Of course it's in Twilight!

Through my irritation, I felt overwhelming embarrassment. It was all so stupid. I was sitting in my room, researching vampires. What was wrong with me?

The first moment of sensible self-reflection Bella's had so far. Unfortunately, it's also the last. She also wonders if this means she should stay away from Edward.

Bella, honey, if all the evidence tells you to stay away from a person for your own safety, you should probably stay away from that person.

Bella muses on the impossibilities and inhuman qualities for two pages or so, taking care to mention his unearthly beauty, and wonders if the Cullens are vampires. A lot. Like, for the rest of the rather long chapter.

But oh, dear readers. Dear readers! You have no idea the stupid that is yet to come.

Chapter 8: Port Angeles.


I loathe this chapter. Loathe it with the fire of ten blazing suns. Loathe it to the point that if I didn't have to read this book for my studies and therefore future career, I would have thrown the book across the room and given up. Coincidentally, this is about the point where I threw in the towel back when I tried to read Twilight at eighteen.

But for my thesis and for you, dear readers, I keep on. Please appreciate the sacrifices I make for you.

This chapter contains one of least favourite plot devices: attempted sexual assault. I'm sure you've all come across it before. Young Helpless Girl's honour is threatened by Moustache Twirling Villain(s) only to be rescued by Young Handsome Man.

I realise that personal history is probably causing me to project all over this, but I hate it when something as traumatic and violating as sexual assault or even attempted assault (because that it also traumatic) is used as a way of bringing two characters together. I don't have a problem with it if it's done in a sensitive way, acknowledging the fact that developing romantic feelings for a rescuer is a common effect of trauma and can therefore be very unhealthy if not handled correctly. Twilight... doesn't do this.

I'm going to skip straight to the scene in question because the beginning of the chapter is all about dresses and talking about the prom, so it's mostly filler.

The street was lined on both sides by blank, doorless, windowless walls... Lounging against the western building, midway down the street, were two other men from the group, both watching with excited smiles as I froze dead on the sidewalk. I realised that I wasn't being followed.

I was being herded.

I do have to give Stephenie Meyer credit for successfully creating a tense atmosphere in this section, although only to an extent. This scene plays pretty blatantly on the Rapist in the Dark Alley that is every woman's fear, hence the tension. The Rapist in the Dark Alley is something that women are told to fear so much that for many women, myself included, avoiding situations where the Rapist in the Dark Alley can get us is a subconscious part of our routine. All the while society tends to overlook the fact that most sexual assault victims were attacked by someone they already knew. But I'm getting off topic here.

Just as things start to look really bad for Bella; Edward, the Knight In Shining Volvo, arrives to save the day.

And this is where I get pissed off.

Bella has just been through a traumatic experience. Her personal safety was in serious danger. So of course Edward makes this all about him, because he's a creepy arsehole. Observe:

"Are you okay?" I asked, surprised at how hoarse my voice sounded.

"No," he said curtly, and his tone was livid.

"Bella?" he asked, his voice tight, controlled.


"Are you all right?" He didn't look at me, but the fury was plain on his face.

"Yes," I croaked softly.

"Distract me, please," he ordered.

Edward, she was nearly attacked by a bunch of thugs. Shouldn't you be doing the distracting? But no, that would mean you care about someone else's feelings.

I think it's a pretty big reflection of Edward's character that he can't put somebody else's feelings before his own. I'm not drawing this out of one scene either, it's demonstrated in his behaviour from the first moment he appears. It's also implied that he wouldn't care about any of these horrible things happening to anyone other than Bella, even though preventing them isn't any actual effort on his part. Charming.

Since his introduction, Edward has threatened Bella, intimidated her, mocked her, stalked her and dragged her to his car against her will. I'm disturbed that this is the romantic lead and even more disturbed that thousands of teenage girls are swooning over him.

Look out for my next review, because the stupid and the rage just get worse.


  1. The Bechdel Test is an interesting idea - a simplistic litmus test for movies to fail. Captain America has no scenes in which two named female characters talk about something other than boys. Or anything. I don't think there are two named female characters in the whole movie.

    Sometimes this happens because scriptwriters are predominantly male, and male writers write male parts, because that's what they know. When it occurs to them to specifically write a female role, they often fill it with stereotypical junk, because they think that you have to make female characters "really female", and stereotypes are the only way they know how.

    By contrast, imagine that a female writer created a male character, but because she didn't really know how to make a male "seem" male, she made him a weightlifter with a huge chest who liked drinking Budweiser with his friends and talking about chicks he's banged. The only difference is that the female writer would receive general outrage, but the male writers rarely do.

    What's happening here, though, is interesting, because Stephanie Meyer *is* female, and she should be able to break her characters out of female stereotypes. Why would a woman create a woman that exists solely to a) fawn over a man, and b) smell like dinner? Does Meyer think it'll resonate with her target audience? Is it a subtle commentary on the role of women in Mormon communities - existing to serve their man? Is it just a reflection of Meyer's behaviour?

    (Obviously film/ theatre / music can pass the Bechdel Test and still fail basic equality. Debbie has some meaningful conversations with her mom in 'Debbie Does Dallas 2'.)

  2. As always, the lawls are many. ^_^

    My husband and I were just talking about this the other day, about how scary it is that women/girls out there actually look at this book and like it. What does this say about our society? About the mindset that our young women have? We like to think that we're so far past the "women have to serve men" mindset, but you see stuff like this and you wonder how far we've actually gotten. Why aren't women enraged by this? Why are they giving money to people who think like this? What is it in so many women's psyches that makes them think like this?

    Frankly, I find it really disturbing.

  3. The terror of being dragged to a stranger's car is bad enough. The realisation that you're being dragged to a _Volvo_ really cements the horror.

  4. PS. 'Harry Potter' decimated 'Twilight' at the Teen Choice Awards:

    So, there's hope. Although Justin Bieber isn't going anywhere.

  5. Hey Hannah, nice analysis. Out of curiosity have you come across this?

    It's a blog focusing on the grammatical/syntax errors/English mistakes within the series.