Sunday, 24 January 2010

Chapter 2 - In Which Evasion Is Attempted

Still haven't found the right skin for this site. Suggestions in the comments for the blog skins in which you'd like to see our reviews. Personally, if I can find one that has an "old library" feel to it, that'd be excellent.

But for now, we delve into Chapter 2: Evasion. And sad news, some evasion is attempted. Which means that at some point in the future... Twilight's going to Switzerland! Probably.

Stuff That Happens
- Grab a copy and read along! It's the only way this section can really make sense!
- "Holding hands with the most perfect person on the planet"? God, you can almost see the puppies and rainbows.

Looks sort of like this.

- This scene could literally be lifted straight out of an episode of Saved By The Bell. Except for the psychic vampires.
- Alice is back! Everybody cheer!
- Ah, so Edward's reading Alice's mind while she sees Bella's future. How Very X-Men.

But with Puppies and Rainbows

- Sure, "almost deliberate". Subtle writing moment here.
- Oh god. Mike. The tragedy begins in earnest.
- Yeah, Mike! He's dating the girl you're interested in, he's older and smarter than you, and he can fix your car. Don't you feel like a loser now?
- You know, telling your brother that he's no good with cars in front of his girlfriend, and that your sister could do it much better? I mean, that's just vicious.
- "And speaking of Italy and sports cars that I stole there,"... I've mentioned this before, but I adore Alice. I would put up with a lot of Bella's inner monologue for a few lines of Alice's dialogue.
- I believe that many of my friends have "settled into a patient mode" when listening to me. It's both offensive and appreciated.
- "I didn't want to freak out". No, absolutely not. Just sit in uncomfortable silence. That solves so many problems.
- Do something frustrating and cover it with food. Oldest, most successful trick in the women's book of manipulating men.
- You know, everyone whines on about the celibacy message of Twilight, but Ian Fleming wrote entire sex scenes that are less steamy than this kiss.
- Nice character pieces here. A bit of insight into Bella, without having to leave her viewpoint.
- "What did you do to this?" Really? Really, Edward? You're going to ask what she did to the radio she got for a present from your family a few days before you left her to die in a forest? Because I'd imagine she worked out some anger on it, Office Space style.
- "You didn't get much good out of your birthday presents last year" REALLY? Man, you just can't stop picking at that emotional wound, can you?
- Ahhhhhh. Clever. So that's why he brought up the presents.
- One question. How is a vampire, even a sparkly one, going to stay out of the sun in Florida?
- Edward's dead set on this. Maybe he's got a craving for alligator.
- Intruiging. I suspect he's telling the truth, but not the whole truth.
- Mmmm. Stroganoff.
- Okay, he's definitely trying to get her out of the state. Just don't tell Charlie that you're going, and you might get away with this.
- Oh, and everything was so nice. And now there's going to be a row.
- Yep. There we go. And now she's going to use the "I'm an adult" gambit.
- Oh, the "My house, my rules" thing. Classic defence, but she's called his bluff.
- Go on Charlie, point out that Jacob didn't stamp on her heart like it was a tin can. Do it. Do-it-do-it-do-it.
- "Are you implying something about Mom's ability to take care of me?" - I'm sorry, is this the same "mom" we've just spent a chunk of text describing as the flakiest flake in all of Flakington?
- Okay, row's over. Time for guilt and blame.
- There we go. That train's never late.
- "Nobody said you had to" Well, maybe you could have helped by sending Alice with her rather than going yourself. Moron.
- I kind of hope we get to see psychic vampire chess in the movie.
- Oh no. Oh god. Not the talk. NOT THE TALK.
- It's the talk. The less said here the better.
- You're trying to sneak away from someone who could track you from the other side of the country and can read the minds of the people around you. I think you may be being optimistic about your chances.
- Now that's just pure vampire cliché. Creepy as hell too. It's a lovely moment for the film, mind.
- Get Charlie to take you. What's Edward going to do, trash a police cruiser?
- That's right, you show him how unacceptable it is to trash your junkmobile. You... ah, dammit, she opened the window.

Fantastically Atrocious Dialogue (and the actor/actress who'll be stuck with it)
"And I should feel sorry that you're not sorry, but I don't. Maybe I should go sit on the bed" - Robert Pattinson
"The outside world holds no interest for me without you." - Robert Pattinson

The Infinite Swirling Madness of Bella Swan's Inner Monologue
"I couldn't remember the witty response I'd been about to make. I couldn't remember my name."
"You have to let them go their own way eventually, I reminded myself. You have to let them live their own lives." - Sounds sane, till you realise she's talking about her mum.
"I'd always been indulgent with my mom, amused by her, even a little condescending to her."
"I was a very different person from my mother. Someone thoughtful and cautious. The responsible one, the grown-up. That's how I saw myself. That's the person I knew." - Man alive...
"Mature people went to college and started careers before they got deeply involved in a relationship" - Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe this counts as irony in its actual sense.
"He was always so impossibly selfless; I knew it was making me spoiled."
"I'd taken a perfectly normal afternoon and twisted until it looked like Edward was going out of his way to keep things from me. I needed therapy" - Hang on. Bella's not already in therapy? Someone's dropped the ball there, I fancy.

The Unrelenting and Unbearable Tragedy that is Mike Newton
His eyes darted ahead and then back to Edward warily.
"Not that it wouldn't be fun to watch his face if Rosalie showed up to help."
"Though I suppose, for Mike's car, you'll do."

My Take
You know, I'm really beginning to enjoy this.

I should explain that I'm pacing myself a lot slower than Patrick, partly because I'm moving home and job, looking for a permanent flat in London, and trying to improve my chronically appalling lovelife. Reading chapters of Twilight novels and writing 2,000 word rants is what I do to relax. Which, now I come to think of it, explains the last problem on that list. Meh, I'm a complicated person, deal with it.
The other reason is that I'm obviously doing this chapter by chapter, rather than in four chapter bursts. So when I do find time to read, such as the train, I can only get to the end of the next chapter, until I have time to write a post.

Of course this also means that Patrick has a chance to take a break every other week and read books that don't instill a mad rage in him. Now, I haven't read beyond the opening line of his review, and I can't till I get to chapter 4, but I'm going to assume from the line "whom I shall demean by referring to her henceforth by her initials", that he's still not a 100% fan. And I happen to know that his rage against Bella Swan could melt icebergs. This was a definite clue.

What my slow pace also means is that, rather than reading through this book within 24 hours as is my norm, I'm re-reading the chapter I'm going to review again and again.
And I have to say, this isn't badly written fanfic. It's actually quite good. Better than most Young Adult fiction, certainly. The characters are given clear personalities, the writing might be full of teenage monologue and dialogue but it's still clear what's going on, and the plot keeps moving at a decent pace. Every character is flawed, even when viewed through the fractured viewpoint of a teenager in love. Most importantly, I actually want to get this review finished, so I can get to the next chapter. Making you want to read more of their work is what a professional author is supposed to achieve.

"Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought Everything Else I've Ever Written"

There are some rather neat moments when Bella's e-mailing her mum. The parallels between what her mum went through and what she's setting herself up for are staggeringly obvious, but she clearly doesn't want to dwell on them. Also, she clearly cares about her mother and wants to look out for her, but hasn't really taken on board what will happen when she's turned.
Bella obviously has a mental image of herself as a sensible and responsible person, which from what we've seen is so blatantly inaccurate as to be hilarious. I also love her impression that she was the one looking after her mum for most of her life, because that would have meant she's been doing it since she was nine. Yeah, I bet she was earning a lot of bill money on that there paper round. This isn't bad characterisation, incidentally. From what I remember, this staggering arrogance and lack of awareness about what parents put up with is very teenager.

We then see Edward pick up on her uncertainty, and try to capitalise on it to remind her what she's about to give up. Remember, he doesn't want her to change. She's the one who's all gung-ho about it, whereas he's trying anything to make her see how much she'll actually be losing. Considering the situation, I'm not sure that's a good idea, since if she doesn't get vamped, Michael Sheen simply will rip her head off. But at least Edward's trying to make sure she understands all of the implications of just charging into immortality.

The fight with her dad is a thing of beauty, by the way. Hits all the far too familiar notes of a proper family row. And of course, the aftermath is hilarious. There's probably a culture somewhere where that conversation between father and daughter is not cringingly embarrassing for all concerned, but I'll lay odds it's not an English-speaking one. It's a lovely demonstration of family in action. They'll fight to the death through the row, but by the end, they're back to nicknames.

Finally there's the thing with the car. Edward is of course a smug and creepy git, but well, Vampire.

Just to put some car trouble in perspective, this fellow's kidnapped a girl and is making her his undead slave.

And as I've said, I can see his point. There's no room for compromise here. This isn't just some guy he's jealous of at school. This, at least to Edward, is basically an angry, wounded predator. Those kill people all the time. So, either she goes defenceless into a den of monsters, or he stops her going in. He can't go in with her to make sure she's safe, and there's no-one he could trust to look after her who could.
And she could still go. If she asked her dad to drive her over there, what would Edward have done then? Sure, he could have trashed the police cruiser, but I imagine that would have ensured a response from Charlie, who's clearly itching for an excuse to put Edward in the cells for a few nights.
This is not to say that it's not a bad thing to do. But it's understandable, it makes sense for the character, and it allows for that brilliant moment at the end, where she slams the window, mad as hell, pauses for a moment, and then opens it again. Which just demonstrates her character and their relationship so neatly.

Two chapters in, I've found this to be much better written than the original Twilight. There's more self-awareness in the writing, which occasionally requires the reader to look beyond what the "viewpoint character" is thinking to what's actually going on, such as in the e-mail scene above. That's tricky to pull off, and while it doesn't always work here, it's an impressive attempt, especially for someone who people keep writing off as a "bad fanfiction writer".

So, definite thumbs up. But what did you think?
This reviewer stands by the fact that his definition of "professional author" means that James Joyce was an amateur. I know, great writer, splendid poet, but the fact remains that after reading the first chapter of Ulysses, most people want to read anything except for the next chapter.
This review was written to the sounds of "High School Never Ends", "Self-Centred" and other songs performed by Bowling for Soup, and "Kiss the Girl" and other classics from The Disney Experience soundtrack.

1 comment:

  1. Oh God, I had forgotten about "the talk", but to be honest I didn't find it that offensive or awkward. So since it didn't fit my worldview where Twilight can burn in a fire I must have excluded it. :P