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chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014





Every tradition has its beginning. The practice of sporking, or MSTing, possibly dates back to Paula Smith's infamous 1973 satirical fanfiction A Trekkie's Tale. This story of Mary Sue, the youngest lieutenant in the fleet, gave a name to the stereotypical fanfiction protagonist who does everything better than the main characters and controls the story as the author's self-insert. Star Trek conventions held humorous readings of the story as the zine it was published in made its way through the community. This continued with The Eye of Argon, a horrifically bad fantasy novella written by the late Jim Theis as a teenager. The bizarre purple prose, excruciating gore and sex, and many typos were so hilarious that sci-fi and fantasy conventions would hold round-table readings where you would take turns reading out loud until you were laughing too hard to keep going.

This became a phenomenon with Mystery Science Theatre 3000, bringing humorous commentary on movies and educational shorts to the masses. A troll post on an MST3K newsgroup in 1993 was mocked in the same style as the show, slowly catching on as fellow posters found the idea of line-by-line commentary and criticism pretty funny. But Internet line-by-line mockery of written work was still restricted mostly to fanfics and there was controversy over whether or not to ask permission from the author before mocking their work. Tradition held that you didn't insult the author and treated it as being all in good fun.

What really changed that was Twilight.

Stephanie Meyer is a strait-laced Mormon woman from Connecticut. She got a BA in English from Brigham Young University, considered going to law school because she figured she wasn't that good at actually writing, then got pregnant and became a stay-at-home mom who had never held a job except being a receptionist once.

On June 2, 2003, she had a dream of a vampire in love with one of his victims. She quickly banged out a few pages about it, then decided that it would make a great story. Over the next 3 months she completed a book, but saw rejection after rejection until she finally got a publishing deal; an inexperienced assistant at Writers House failed to realize that her manuscript exceeded the word count of a typical young adult novel by several times and accepted it instead of throwing it out like the other publishing houses. Twilight was released in 2005 and rapidly became a bestseller, hitting #5 on the New York Times list for Children's Chapter Books within a month and climbing up to #1.

Rave reviews and a massive profit led Meyer to pen another three novels that saw wild success. She became the first ever author to claim all 4 top spots on USA Today's bestseller list simultaneously. A woman who had never envisioned herself as an author and was living a quiet Mormon life suddenly shot to the top of the pile as a household name. The series received a highly profitable film adaptation, graphic novels, companion books, and even a gender-swapped remake of the original.

But despite the millions of books sold, they almost immediately became the butt of jokes. What happened?

While the series had appeal, Meyer was heavily criticized for her writing talents; as big a name as Stephen King commented on her struggles with prose (admittedly it takes a lot of work to get Stephen loving King to acknowledge you and read your book, even if he doesn't like it very much). The characters were found to be flat. Some of the conflict felt lame or poorly paced.

The bigger problem was its treatment of romance. The relationship between Bella Swan and Edward Cullen is infamously abusive on a physical and emotional level, raising serious concerns about Meyer's part in normalizing abuse, stalking, and extreme jealousy as "a sign that he really loves you." A lot of talking was had over the prevalence of these attitudes in society and how much they're impressed on girls from childhood, which could have contributed to the high sales of the books: enough people didn't care. Much was had over Meyer's Mormon values being used to craft the morality of the characters. Things only got worse in subsequent books with a very pedophilia-inducing scene at the end. Much of the criticism itself was criticized, especially the general "Twilight sucks" atmosphere that began to pervade the Western world, for seeming to only choose it as the target because of its popularity with young girls while ignoring similarly bad or worse classic literature.

With the release of Twilight right as the Internet was fully exploding into everyone's lives from a young age and everyone had a blog, much mockery was to be had. Countless blogs and forum posts were dedicated to the sporking of the series, to the point where you can read practically the whole drat thing for free online if you want. With such a massive series receiving such widespread criticism, it became common for bad young adult books especially to be torn to shreds line by line, paragraph by paragraph. The demographics of the genre means the sporking field is actually heavily populated by women, especially young ones, and communities and friendships have sprung up from it. Many of them are produced by writers of varying levels of prominence and serve as handy critical analysis of writing, making them highly educational for new storytellers.

The trend continues today, often targeting books that seem to follow in the Twilight series' ilk like Fifty Shades of Grey (infamously a BDSM Twilight fanfic with the names changed for publication) and Handbook for Mortals (which I did what's possibly the first ever full sporking of here and even got into a short-lived Twitter spat with the author over her cheating the bestseller list). It's seemingly impossible to release any young adult novel, especially a bad romance one (and especially a bad supernatural romance) without having a dozen people all tear it to shreds. Twilight changed young adult literature in more ways than one, and not always ones authors like.

Why am I doing this if so many people already did it?

I've done a lot of threads where I read books. Except for my ongoing James Bond thread, they've universally been awful books written by people with highly inflated senses of self-importance. Handbook for Mortals in particular was written by a nutty Twilight fan who managed Jackson Rathbone's band and creeped him the gently caress out with her crush on him, resulting in a temporary band breakup, and tried to use disguised bulk purchases to turn her book into a national bestseller with the ultimate goal of playing the lead actress in the film adaptation. I started on one series, only for it to be so godawful and boring that I didn't even make it halfway through the first book before giving up.

But despite all of that, I've never actually sat down and read a whole Twilight book. I've read synopses of them and a ton of excerpts of text and I've begrudgingly been made to sit through all the movies except the last one, but I've never gone through even one of the books from start to finish. My actual knowledge of the books and my opinions on them are incomplete.

I initially wanted my next bad book read to be the latest EL James novel, The Mister, based on its newness and some excerpts and reviews that have made it out to be disgustingly hilarious and racist. But I also realized that there's a lot of context in the evolution of writing that led up to it: EL James, after all, is most famous for turning a Twilight fanfic into a book that somehow also became wildly popular and controversial for many of the same reasons. I realized that while I could jump straight into The Mister, I and the people mocking it along with me wouldn't really understand where it came from.

The last reason is that I actually wanted to give Stephanie Meyer a fair chance. While much of the Twilight series is pretty bad, it could also be a lot worse. Her books struck a chord with a lot of young girls and there has to be a reason for it, but I'm far outside the intended demographic and missed the book even when girls my age were reading it new. I read a comparison of the opening chapters of this and Handbook for Mortals where it's pointed out that Meyer actually makes some good decisions and seems to have done at least basic planning and editing, whereas Lani Sarem's writing is an atrocious rewrite of a bad film script. While I'm sure we'll get a lot of humor and disgust out of this series, I think it might also be important to point out things that she did right and maybe come to a better understanding of her appeal.

As usual, I'll try to stick to an update per day. Depending on the chapter length, that might be one chapter a day or I might have to combine them or cut them to pieces (I don't know how well she structured her chapter lengths). I'll also talk about comparisons to the films, notes on the actors, and explain some background history on things that come up in the books to hopefully get some improved context.

We all sparkle down here, Bella.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 07:18 on Mar 1, 2020

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Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012
:gas;


Good thread, but I think the OP could touch more heavily on the main reason the series became so much of a joke so fast - the sparkling. Brooding bad-boy vampires being afraid to go out into the sunset because it'd mean they looked like they were dipped in glitter was one of the best moments of comedy of 00s YA, even if (hell, especially because) Meyer never quite realised it herself. I really think the complaints about the abusive relationship and so on (which are not that far out of the ordinary for YA romance - and believe me, that wasn't intended as a defence) wouldn't have got nearly as far off the ground without so many people being drawn in by 'this is the skin of a killer'.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Darth Walrus posted:

Good thread, but I think the OP could touch more heavily on the main reason the series became so much of a joke so fast - the sparkling. Brooding bad-boy vampires being afraid to go out into the sunset because it'd mean they looked like they were dipped in glitter was one of the best moments of comedy of 00s YA, even if (hell, especially because) Meyer never quite realised it herself. I really think the complaints about the abusive relationship and so on (which are not that far out of the ordinary for YA romance - and believe me, that wasn't intended as a defence) wouldn't have got nearly as far off the ground without so many people being drawn in by 'this is the skin of a killer'.

The sparkling is definitely something to mock, but I think the glorification of abuse is what gave everything meat. It becomes the main justification even for people unfamiliar with the series to turn away from it just based on what they heard. You see a book series selling by the millions and becoming a phenomenon and the first thing you hear is “The guy is incredibly abusive but it’s portrayed as love.” Christian Grey rapes the lead and everyone immediately compares it to Edward Cullen and where the book came from.

That’s why I tend to grimace at the “You’re just on the hate bandwagon because it’s a girl thing” excuse. No matter what the book did right, there’s something profoundly wrong and disturbing behind it.

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Don't let Lowtax go down with the ship. Do your part for these dead gay forums.


Betting it's still not as wrong and disturbing as OH JOHN RINGO NO.

Finicums Wake
Mar 13, 2017



no thanks, op

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Somebody Awful posted:

Betting it's still not as wrong and disturbing as OH JOHN RINGO NO.

Yeah, I'd like to actually treat these books fairly. Ringo, Mack Maloney, Larry Correia, etc. are the kind of awful that you want to report them to the police before they hurt someone. Stephanie Meyer managed to make an extremely popular bestseller series that's as hated as much as it's loved, which is pretty different.

Larry Parrish
Jul 9, 2012

by Reene


its was kind of wild since the first couple of these came out when i was like 11-13, but like immediately after i had my first girlfriend i realized that these books very much sucked for reasons besides the sparkling and being popular

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Larry Parrish posted:

its was kind of wild since the first couple of these came out when i was like 11-13, but like immediately after i had my first girlfriend i realized that these books very much sucked for reasons besides the sparkling and being popular

It was my first girlfriend at the end of high school that led to me even looking at Twilight. She was super into everything to do with it for a year or two and this is when the movies were still in production so Hot Topic was just filled with Twilight poo poo. She made me watch New Moon in the theater and I couldn't stop laughing at it.

nankeen
Mar 20, 2019

by Cyrano4747


nooooooooooo

PsychedelicWarlord
Sep 8, 2016




Grimey Drawer

Actually excited to see this as someone who was the target demographic and eager reader when these initially came out.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



This book has some stuff at the beginning. On the first page:

quote:

For my big sister, Emily, without whose enthusiasm this story might still be unfinished.

Stephenie Meyer is one of six children. She sent Emily chapters as she finished them and Emily encouraged her to continue writing and get the finished book published.

quote:

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
thou shalt not eat of it:
for in the day that thou eatest thereof
thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 2:17

This is from the classic King James translation. I think we all know the story of Genesis and where it goes from God's warning. It's difficult to tell exactly what the "knowledge" is a metaphor for her: dating a vampire or becoming a vampire.

Preface

quote:

I'd never given much thought to how I would die—though I’d had reason enough in the last few months—but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.

I stared without breathing across the long room, into the dark eyes of the hunter, and he looked pleasantly back at me.

Surely it was a good way to die, in the place of someone else, someone I loved. Noble, even. That ought to count for something.

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.

The hunter smiled in a friendly way as he sauntered forward to kill me.

So the first problem is in the title of this sequence. A preface is an out-of-universe introduction to the book that explains the author, why they wrote it, etc. What we have here is a prologue.

An in media res prologue is pretty typical. While it tries to start the book with high stakes, the writing is very clunky and uses a few too many words. The big problem with it is that Bella does give thought to how she would die before this occurs!

Chapter 1: First Sight

quote:

My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down. It was seventy-five degrees in Phoenix, the sky a perfect, cloudless blue. I was wearing my favorite shirt—sleeveless, white eyelet lace; I was wearing it as a farewell gesture. My carry-on item was a parka.

In the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington State, a small town named Forks exists under a near-constant cover of clouds. It rains on this inconsequential town more than any other place in the United States of America. It was from this town and its gloomy, omnipresent shade that my mother escaped with me when I was only a few months old. It was in this town that I’d been compelled to spend a month every summer until I was fourteen. That was the year I finally put my foot down; these past three summers, my dad, Charlie, vacationed with me in California for two weeks instead.

The first thing this paragraph does is establish Bella as a whiner, which doesn't exactly endear her to the audience. Imagine your estranged 14-year-old daughter saying "I don't want to visit you unless we can do a two-week vacation in Hollywood every year!"

quote:

It was to Forks that I now exiled myself—an action that I took with great horror. I detested Forks.

I loved Phoenix. I loved the sun and the blistering heat. I loved the vigorous, sprawling city.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PYt0SDnrBE

quote:

“Bella,” my mom said to me—the last of a thousand times—before I got on the plane. “You don’t have to do this.”

My mom looks like me, except with short hair and laugh lines. I felt a spasm of panic as I stared at her wide, childlike eyes. How could I leave my loving, erratic, harebrained mother to fend for herself? Of course she had Phil now, so the bills would probably get paid, there would be food in the refrigerator, gas in her car, and someone to call when she got lost, but still…



Bella's mother, Renee, was played in the films by Sarah Clarke. She's currently starring on Bosch as Eleanor Wish, the protagonist Harry Bosch's ex-wife and former FBI agent-turned-poker player. Her boyfriend and prom date in high school was Jon Hamm!

I'm not fond of how we're introduced to Renee. On the first page Bella immediately introduces her as essentially an overgrown child.

quote:

“I want to go,” I lied. I’d always been a bad liar, but I’d been saying this lie so frequently lately that it sounded almost convincing now.

“Tell Charlie I said hi.”

“I will.”

“I’ll see you soon,” she insisted. “You can come home whenever you want—I’ll come right back as soon as you need me.”

But I could see the sacrifice in her eyes behind the promise.

“Don’t worry about me,” I urged. “It’ll be great. I love you, Mom.”

She hugged me tightly for a minute, and then I got on the plane, and she was gone.

It’s a four-hour flight from Phoenix to Seattle, another hour in a small plane up to Port Angeles, and then an hour drive back down to Forks. Flying doesn’t bother me; the hour in the car with Charlie, though, I was a little worried about.

All of this text is the entirety of Bella's time in Phoenix and flying over. As an editor, I probably would have recommended removing everything before the final line and starting with her arrival in Forks or (if you had room to spare) stretching out the beginning to give Bella more time with her mother.

quote:

Charlie had really been fairly nice about the whole thing. He seemed genuinely pleased that I was coming to live with him for the first time with any degree of permanence. He’d already gotten me registered for high school and was going to help me get a car.

But it was sure to be awkward with Charlie. Neither of us was what anyone would call verbose, and I didn’t know what there was to say regardless. I knew he was more than a little confused by my decision—like my mother before me, I hadn’t made a secret of my distaste for Forks.



Charlie Swan seems to be universally regarded as one of the best characters in the book, even among people who aren't fans. Especially in the films, he remains easily the most relatable and grounded main cast member.

Charlie was played by Billy Burke, who would go on to play the lead Miles Matheson in Revolution.

quote:

When I landed in Port Angeles, it was raining. I didn’t see it as an omen—just unavoidable. I’d already said my goodbyes to the sun.

Charlie was waiting for me with the cruiser. This I was expecting, too. Charlie is Police Chief Swan to the good people of Forks. My primary motivation behind buying a car, despite the scarcity of my funds, was that I refused to be driven around town in a car with red and blue lights on top. Nothing slows down traffic like a cop.

Another two things to note: Bella is continuing her whining and demanding of her father, and she's also calling him by his first name. Calling a parent by their first name is a classic sign of estrangement, but I want to see exactly how Bella and Charlie's relationship got to where it is and if it's deserved. Who comes out looking better?

quote:

Charlie gave me an awkward, one-armed hug when I stumbled my way off the plane.

“It’s good to see you, Bells,” he said, smiling as he automatically caught and steadied me. “You haven’t changed much. How’s Renée?”

“Mom’s fine. It’s good to see you, too, Dad.” I wasn’t allowed to call him Charlie to his face.

I had only a few bags. Most of my Arizona clothes were too permeable for Washington. My mom and I had pooled our resources to supplement my winter wardrobe, but it was still scanty. It all fit easily into the trunk of the cruiser.

“I found a good car for you, really cheap,” he announced when we were strapped in.

“What kind of car?” I was suspicious of the way he said “good car for you” as opposed to just “good car.”

“Well, it’s a truck actually, a Chevy.”

“Where did you find it?”

“Do you remember Billy Black down at La Push?” La Push is the tiny Indian reservation on the coast.

Stephenie Meyer has a big problem with telling instead of showing. Much of the book is very obviously the product of a first-time writer; this might be why it attracted the fanbase it did, as many of its fans are likewise young writers who haven't really developed their craft further than Meyer had by 2005.

quote:

“No.”

“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.

“He’s in a wheelchair now,” Charlie continued when I didn’t respond, “so he can’t drive anymore, and he offered to sell me his truck cheap.”

“What year is it?” I could see from his change of expression that this was the question he was hoping I wouldn’t ask.

“Well, Billy’s done a lot of work on the engine—it’s only a few years old, really.”

I hoped he didn’t think so little of me as to believe I would give up that easily. “When did he buy it?”

“He bought it in 1984, I think.”

“Did he buy it new?”

“Well, no. I think it was new in the early sixties—or late fifties at the earliest,” he admitted sheepishly.

“Ch—Dad, I don’t really know anything about cars. I wouldn’t be able to fix it if anything went wrong, and I couldn’t afford a mechanic.…”

“Really, Bella, the thing runs great. They don’t build them like that anymore.”

The thing, I thought to myself… it had possibilities—as a nickname, at the very least.

“How cheap is cheap?” After all, that was the part I couldn’t compromise on.

“Well, honey, I kind of already bought it for you. As a homecoming gift.” Charlie peeked sideways at me with a hopeful expression.

Wow. Free.

Stop being so loving ungrateful!

It's noticeable how even a few pages in Charlie is already the most endearing character in the book.

quote:

“You didn’t need to do that, Dad. I was going to buy myself a car.”

“I don’t mind. I want you to be happy here.” He was looking ahead at the road when he said this. Charlie wasn’t comfortable with expressing his emotions out loud. I inherited that from him. So I was looking straight ahead as I responded.

“That’s really nice, Dad. Thanks. I really appreciate it.” No need to add that my being happy in Forks is an impossibility. He didn’t need to suffer along with me. And I never looked a free truck in the mouth—or engine.

“Well, now, you’re welcome,” he mumbled, embarrassed by my thanks. We exchanged a few more comments on the weather, which was wet, and that was pretty much it for conversation. We stared out the windows in silence.

It was beautiful, of course; I couldn’t deny that. Everything was green: the trees, their trunks covered with moss, their branches hanging with a canopy of it, the ground covered with ferns. Even the air filtered down greenly through the leaves.

It was too green—an alien planet.





As most of the world found out shortly after the first movie released, Forks is a real town in Washington! It has a population of roughly 3700 people, a pretty typical small rural town that used to rely on the timber industry. The land was occupied by the Quileute tribe until a treaty in 1855 forced them onto the La Push reservation at the mouth of the Quillayute River.

The popularity of the Twilight series revitalized the sleepy rainforest town and turned it into a major travel destination. The Forever Twilight in Forks Festival is held every year during the week of September 13, Bella's birthday. Despite the x7 increase in tourism that Forks has received from the series, none of the films were shot in Forks; they were shot mostly in Portland, OR and Vancouver, Canada due to the superior infrastructure to support such a large film project and the famous tax credits that lead to Vancouver being one of the biggest filming sites on the planet. A big change is that Breaking Dawn saw a lot of filming in Louisiana due to incentives and the Celtic Media Center in Baton Rouge providing a cheap soundstage.

quote:

Eventually we made it to Charlie’s. He still lived in the small, two-bedroom house that he’d bought with my mother in the early days of their marriage. Those were the only kind of days their marriage had—the early ones. There, parked on the street in front of the house that never changed, was my new—well, new to me—truck. It was a faded red color, with big, rounded fenders and a bulbous cab. To my intense surprise, I loved it. I didn’t know if it would run, but I could see myself in it. Plus, it was one of those solid iron affairs that never gets damaged—the kind you see at the scene of an accident, paint unscratched, surrounded by the pieces of the foreign car it had destroyed.

“Wow, Dad, I love it! Thanks!” Now my horrific day tomorrow would be just that much less dreadful. I wouldn’t be faced with the choice of either walking two miles in the rain to school or accepting a ride in the Chief’s cruiser.

“I’m glad you like it,” Charlie said gruffly, embarrassed again.

I just feel sorry for the poor guy dealing with a daughter like this.





Meyer had originally envisioned the truck as a 1953 Chevy, but the films used a 1963 Chevrolet C/10 Stepside. Presumably it was ironically easier to find a rusty but operational truck from a decade or two later, whereas most 1950s car owners with running vehicles keep theirs obsessively pristine. Bella's keys sold for $600 at auction.

quote:

It took only one trip to get all my stuff upstairs. I got the west bedroom that faced out over the front yard. The room was familiar; it had belonged to me since I was born. The wooden floor, the light blue walls, the peaked ceiling, the yellowed lace curtains around the window—these were all a part of my childhood. The only changes Charlie had ever made were switching the crib for a bed and adding a desk as I grew. The desk now held a secondhand computer, with the phone line for the modem stapled along the floor to the nearest phone jack. This was a stipulation from my mother, so that we could stay in touch easily. The rocking chair from my baby days was still in the corner.



The film did an admirable job in replicating Meyer's description. Regardless of what one may think of the quality here, faithfulness to the book even in little details is one of the key elements to a good film adaptation of a novel. With such horrid adaptations as Cirque du Freak on the market, there's something refreshing about seeing them try to get it right.

quote:

There was only one small bathroom at the top of the stairs, which I would have to share with Charlie. I was trying not to dwell too much on that fact.

One of the best things about Charlie is he doesn’t hover. He left me alone to unpack and get settled, a feat that would have been altogether impossible for my mother. It was nice to be alone, not to have to smile and look pleased; a relief to stare dejectedly out the window at the sheeting rain and let just a few tears escape. I wasn’t in the mood to go on a real crying jag. I would save that for bedtime, when I would have to think about the coming morning.

Forks High School had a frightening total of only three hundred and fifty-seven—now fifty-eight—students; there were more than seven hundred people in my junior class alone back home. All of the kids here had grown up together—their grandparents had been toddlers together. I would be the new girl from the big city, a curiosity, a freak.

I'm about 10 years out of high school, but I'll say that Meyer was definitely not writing from experience here! I went to school with basically the same class from elementary school until graduation in 2010; people that I knew before puberty died of car crashes just a few years after the last time we saw each other. There was never once a sense that someone from elsewhere was "a freak", especially not by 16. Hot girl from Canada moves in? Great! Everyone immediately accepts her and just treats her like normal! Meyer never experienced a sudden move during high school in the first place and said in an FAQ that this was actually based on her move from high school in Scottsdale, AZ to Brigham Young University in Provo, UT.

quote:

Maybe, if I looked like a girl from Phoenix should, I could work this to my advantage. But physically, I’d never fit in anywhere. I should be tan, sporty, blond—a volleyball player, or a cheerleader, perhaps—all the things that go with living in the valley of the sun. Instead, I was ivory-skinned, without even the excuse of blue eyes or red hair, despite the constant sunshine. I had always been slender, but soft somehow, obviously not an athlete; I didn’t have the necessary hand-eye coordination to play sports without humiliating myself—and harming both myself and anyone else who stood too close.

When I finished putting my clothes in the old pine dresser, I took my bag of bathroom necessities and went to the communal bathroom to clean myself up after the day of travel. I looked at my face in the mirror as I brushed through my tangled, damp hair. Maybe it was the light, but already I looked sallower, unhealthy. My skin could be pretty—it was very clear, almost translucent-looking—but it all depended on color. I had no color here.

Facing my pallid reflection in the mirror, I was forced to admit that I was lying to myself. It wasn’t just physically that I’d never fit in. And if I couldn’t find a niche in a school with three thousand people, what were my chances here?



While this description is generic, Meyer gave an FAQ answer about her appearance:

In my head, Bella is very fair-skinned, with long, straight, dark brown hair and chocolate brown eyes. Her face is heart-shaped—a wide forehead with a widow’s peak, large, wide-spaced eyes, prominent cheekbones, and then a thin nose and a narrow jaw with a pointed chin. Her lips are a little out of proportion, a bit too full for her jaw line. Her eyebrows are darker than her hair and more straight than they are arched. She’s five foot four inches tall, slender but not at all muscular, and weighs about 115 pounds. She has stubby fingernails because she has a nervous habit of biting them. And there’s your very detailed description.

Many people have noted the similarity of her appearance to Meyer. As Meyer puts it, she "went from a 5 to an 8" because of the lack of pretty girls in Provo compared to back home. Unless she went through some serious changes through adulthood, she is far from an unattractive woman. I wonder how much of Bella's depressing and awkward personality is a reflection of Meyer's own self-worth in her youth.



We see the first of our infamous couple here. The amount of hatred Kristen Stewart received for her part in the Twilight films is unbelievable; she became one of the highest paid actresses in the world off the back of a performance that's honestly godawful. But I don't necessarily fault her for it, as she played the character as directed. She received praise for her pre-Twilight work and has been critically acclaimed afterward, which makes me wary of criticizing her or Robert Pattinson too much.

Stewart's own life after fame has been somewhat tumultuous. She legitimately dated Robert Pattinson for a while, but had an affair with the married-and-19-years-older Rupert Sanders, her director for Snow White and the Huntsman. She's proudly bisexual and has dated probably more men and women than can be counted, currently Victoria's Secret model Stella Maxwell.

quote:

I didn’t relate well to people my age. Maybe the truth was that I didn’t relate well to people, period. Even my mother, who I was closer to than anyone else on the planet, was never in harmony with me, never on exactly the same page. Sometimes I wondered if I was seeing the same things through my eyes that the rest of the world was seeing through theirs. Maybe there was a glitch in my brain.

But the cause didn’t matter. All that mattered was the effect. And tomorrow would be just the beginning.

We're actually still in the first chapter! These suckers are long.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 06:38 on Jun 23, 2019

HIJK
Nov 25, 2012

People were stupid, sometimes. They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books, which was true enough, but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library.


Good thread. I never made it past the halfway point in the first novel, though one of my friends was into it and witnessed the EL James drama go down in real time. (I got a lot of middle of the night texts updating me on everything, minute by minute.)

In terms of Twilight and Bella, I actually think there was some potential here. Bella starts off as a whiny and ungrateful teenage girl but I always thought that was a decent starting place for a high school protagonist. She’s slightly spoiled becaus she’s the sole kid of a pair of divorced parents who live apart. She’s not very happy with herself, and she’s incredibly critical of her own appearance. I put forth that this resonated with a lot of teen girls.

Part of the tragedy though is that Meyer had a legitimately good slice of life story on her hands. If it had been about Bella Swan growing up, becoming closer to her father (the scene with the snowchains stands out in my memory as being very good, especially from the POV of a young girl who loves her father but doesn’t know him or understand him) and getting over herself it would be a much better story.

Shame about the vampires ruining it.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



HIJK posted:

Good thread. I never made it past the halfway point in the first novel, though one of my friends was into it and witnessed the EL James drama go down in real time. (I got a lot of middle of the night texts updating me on everything, minute by minute.)

In terms of Twilight and Bella, I actually think there was some potential here. Bella starts off as a whiny and ungrateful teenage girl but I always thought that was a decent starting place for a high school protagonist. She’s slightly spoiled becaus she’s the sole kid of a pair of divorced parents who live apart. She’s not very happy with herself, and she’s incredibly critical of her own appearance. I put forth that this resonated with a lot of teen girls.

Part of the tragedy though is that Meyer had a legitimately good slice of life story on her hands. If it had been about Bella Swan growing up, becoming closer to her father (the scene with the snowchains stands out in my memory as being very good, especially from the POV of a young girl who loves her father but doesn’t know him or understand him) and getting over herself it would be a much better story.

Shame about the vampires ruining it.

Like I said, I haven't read more than excerpts and watching the movies, but it's one of those series that could have been as legitimately good as its sales suggest. It's clearly got a lot of appeal for its demographic, but it seems like it's let down by shoddy writing (it shows a ton of telltale signs of a first-time writer; it's very similar to reading a teenage girl's fanfics) and some very bad morals that come at least partially from her upbringing.

It's easy to just do a bash thread where you point and laugh at easy targets, but I'm more interested in seeing exactly what she did wrong and right and where the flaws come from.

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Don't let Lowtax go down with the ship. Do your part for these dead gay forums.


Thanks, I hate it.

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016



Honestly fiction is the best place for abusive relationships.

I'm guessing Meyer goes deep into why it's cool and good rather than exploring how we got there or what's wrong with these people, but dysfunctional relationships is half of fiction.

HIJK
Nov 25, 2012

People were stupid, sometimes. They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books, which was true enough, but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library.


Twilight is a trashy novel in the same vein as Wuthering Heights and other gothic romances, it’s hamstrung by Meyer’s Mormon upbringing and her lack of skill. The amount of handwringing from Moral Guardians over whether people would become conditioned to accept abusive behavior as a result of reading it was ridiculous in the moment. It’s the same thinking that leads to linking violent videogames and school shootings.

If we can’t trust an audience to tell the difference between fiction and reality then we would have to do away with fiction all together.

All in all a thread like this is a lot more fun where you find the writing’s actual weaknesses.

Larry Parrish
Jul 9, 2012

by Reene


Probably the only endearing thing for me about Twilight is I live in a town that's almost the same size, except it's in the Sierra foothills/low alpine region so its not as flat. None of the books or movies I had as a kid ever featured a lovely small town, so it was nice. Books still suck though.

nankeen
Mar 20, 2019

by Cyrano4747


edward sucks because he's so ineffectual and he never does anything. i read wuthering heights for the first time last year and heathcliff owns because he's completely loving mad and just on a constant crusade to destroy the lives of literally everyone around him except the one person he can tolerate, who's also completely loving mad. all the other characters would be having nice normal lives if he weren't there, he drives the whole plot with nothing but pure irrational spite and an inability to let things go, ever, until everybody who's ever wronged him in any way is dead. it's great. meanwhile edward just mopes and occasionally runs really fast. it makes the hosed-up stuff like sabotaging bella's car all the more jarring because those are like the only times he ever really shows any agency or personality, when he's being a lovely controlling boyfriend. whereas heathcliff is a nutcase from beginning to end so by the time you get to the eleventh or twelfth awful thing he does you're just like lol that's our boy

nankeen fucked around with this message at 09:02 on Jun 24, 2019

nankeen
Mar 20, 2019

by Cyrano4747


ps i love kstew

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Also while I’ve read little of EL James’ stuff, something many people have noted is that the writing by Meyer is far more competent outside the surprise sex.

nankeen
Mar 20, 2019

by Cyrano4747


chitoryu12 posted:

Also while I’ve read little of EL James’ stuff, something many people have noted is that the writing by Meyer is far more competent outside the surprise sex.
i'm quite liking the actual style of the excerpts, the content is another matter but meyer is not bad at setting a scene

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



quote:

I didn’t sleep well that night, even after I was done crying. The constant whooshing of the rain and wind across the roof wouldn’t fade into the background. I pulled the faded old quilt over my head, and later added the pillow, too. But I couldn’t fall asleep until after midnight, when the rain finally settled into a quieter drizzle.

Thick fog was all I could see out my window in the morning, and I could feel the claustrophobia creeping up on me. You could never see the sky here; it was like a cage.

I would love to sleep to rain and wake up on a cold morning! Phoenix must really mess people up.

quote:

Breakfast with Charlie was a quiet event. He wished me good luck at school. I thanked him, knowing his hope was wasted. Good luck tended to avoid me. Charlie left first, off to the police station that was his wife and family. After he left, I sat at the old square oak table in one of the three unmatching chairs and examined his small kitchen, with its dark paneled walls, bright yellow cabinets, and white linoleum floor. Nothing was changed. My mother had painted the cabinets eighteen years ago in an attempt to bring some sunshine into the house. Over the small fireplace in the adjoining handkerchief-sized family room was a row of pictures. First a wedding picture of Charlie and my mom in Las Vegas, then one of the three of us in the hospital after I was born, taken by a helpful nurse, followed by the procession of my school pictures up to last year’s. Those were embarrassing to look at—I would have to see what I could do to get Charlie to put them somewhere else, at least while I was living here.

It was impossible, being in this house, not to realize that Charlie had never gotten over my mom. It made me uncomfortable.

I can't really blame him. As we later learn, Charlie was an only child and a bit of an outcast who spent much of his time caring for his older parents. Their relationship struggled not because of any inherent problems between them, but because of the stress of his parents' conditions and Renee suffering from clinical depression. She divorced the poor man and took Bella somewhere sunny, with him too upset and spending too much time caring for his parents to contest it.

This is where you have to be really cautious as a writer. Everyone wants to make a flawed protagonist and especially wants someone who starts out with major issues and slowly overcomes them to become a better person, but you have to fight to make sure they remain likable and aren't being really lovely to people who don't deserve it. While Meyer wants to play up Bella's estrangement from her father, the fact of the matter is that Charlie is a nice guy who's gone through terrible poo poo and has continued to try and be a father despite his ex-wife having a ton of issues. Opening up with Bella being such a depressing brat only serves to make her aggravating, especially if you go in knowing that there's not some terrible secret about why she hates living with him.

quote:

I didn’t want to be too early to school, but I couldn’t stay in the house anymore. I donned my jacket—which had the feel of a biohazard suit—and headed out into the rain.

For someone from Arizona, you'd think Meyer would be familiar with how cold Arizona gets in the winter. You're not exactly getting snow in Phoenix but you're gonna be wearing a jacket.

quote:

It was just drizzling still, not enough to soak me through immediately as I reached for the house key that was always hidden under the eave by the door, and locked up. The sloshing of my new waterproof boots was unnerving. I missed the normal crunch of gravel as I walked. I couldn’t pause and admire my truck again as I wanted; I was in a hurry to get out of the misty wet that swirled around my head and clung to my hair under my hood.



The real Swan house was built in 1935 in St. Helens, OR at 184 6th Street. The filmmakers repainted and fixed up the property to resemble the books better, leading the owner at the time to decide to keep the changes made. The house was put on the market and sold in September 2018 for $363,000.

quote:

Inside the truck, it was nice and dry. Either Billy or Charlie had obviously cleaned it up, but the tan upholstered seats still smelled faintly of tobacco, gasoline, and peppermint. The engine started quickly, to my relief, but loudly, roaring to life and then idling at top volume. Well, a truck this old was bound to have a flaw. The antique radio worked, a plus that I hadn’t expected.

Finding the school wasn’t difficult, though I’d never been there before. The school was, like most other things, just off the highway. It was not obvious that it was a school; only the sign, which declared it to be the Forks High School, made me stop. It looked like a collection of matching houses, built with maroon-colored bricks. There were so many trees and shrubs I couldn’t see its size at first. Where was the feel of the institution? I wondered nostalgically. Where were the chain-link fences, the metal detectors?



Here's the real school. At the time of the book only about half of this modern campus was finished; the rest wouldn't be done until 2012.



Real high schools in small towns are obviously very dull places, so the film found a more dramatic (and desaturated) building in Kalama High School in Kalama, WA. Because Kalama has an even smaller population than Forks, the campus is used for all grades in town and they just use the cafeteria and such at different times. Much of the filming for the school scenes was actually done on green screen.

quote:

I parked in front of the first building, which had a small sign over the door reading FRONT OFFICE. No one else was parked there, so I was sure it was off limits, but I decided I would get directions inside instead of circling around in the rain like an idiot. I stepped unwillingly out of the toasty truck cab and walked down a little stone path lined with dark hedges. I took a deep breath before opening the door.

Inside, it was brightly lit, and warmer than I’d hoped. The office was small; a little waiting area with padded folding chairs, orange-flecked commercial carpet, notices and awards cluttering the walls, a big clock ticking loudly. Plants grew everywhere in large plastic pots, as if there wasn’t enough greenery outside. The room was cut in half by a long counter, cluttered with wire baskets full of papers and brightly colored flyers taped to its front. There were three desks behind the counter, one of which was manned by a large, red-haired woman wearing glasses. She was wearing a purple t-shirt, which immediately made me feel overdressed.

The red-haired woman looked up. “Can I help you?”

“I’m Isabella Swan,” I informed her, and saw the immediate awareness light her eyes. I was expected, a topic of gossip no doubt. Daughter of the Chief’s flighty ex-wife, come home at last.

“Of course,” she said. She dug through a precariously stacked pile of documents on her desk till she found the ones she was looking for. “I have your schedule right here, and a map of the school.” She brought several sheets to the counter to show me.

She went through my classes for me, highlighting the best route to each on the map, and gave me a slip to have each teacher sign, which I was to bring back at the end of the day. She smiled at me and hoped, like Charlie, that I would like it here in Forks. I smiled back as convincingly as I could.

When I went back out to my truck, other students were starting to arrive. I drove around the school, following the line of traffic. I was glad to see that most of the cars were older like mine, nothing flashy. At home I’d lived in one of the few lower-income neighborhoods that were included in the Paradise Valley District. It was a common thing to see a new Mercedes or Porsche in the student lot. The nicest car here was a shiny Volvo, and it stood out. Still, I cut the engine as soon as I was in a spot, so that the thunderous volume wouldn’t draw attention to me.

This is another thing Meyer claims to have taken from real life. Scottsdale is an upper class spa and resort town notorious for its club and party scene, as well as having the highest number of destination spas per capita! Provo, where she went to college, is half the size and obviously far more conservative (88.7% Mormon as of 2000).

quote:

I looked at the map in the truck, trying to memorize it now; hopefully I wouldn’t have to walk around with it stuck in front of my nose all day. I stuffed everything in my bag, slung the strap over my shoulder, and sucked in a huge breath. I can do this, I lied to myself feebly. No one was going to bite me. I finally exhaled and stepped out of the truck.

I kept my face pulled back into my hood as I walked to the sidewalk, crowded with teenagers. My plain black jacket didn’t stand out, I noticed with relief.

A teenage girl in Washington wearing a black rain jacket doesn't stand out? Say it ain't so!

quote:

Once I got around the cafeteria, building three was easy to spot. A large black “3” was painted on a white square on the east corner. I felt my breathing gradually creeping toward hyperventilation as I approached the door. I tried holding my breath as I followed two unisex raincoats through the door.

The classroom was small. The people in front of me stopped just inside the door to hang up their coats on a long row of hooks. I copied them. They were two girls, one a porcelain-colored blonde, the other also pale, with light brown hair. At least my skin wouldn’t be a standout here.

I took the slip up to the teacher, a tall, balding man whose desk had a nameplate identifying him as Mr. Mason. He gawked at me when he saw my name—not an encouraging response—and of course I flushed tomato red. But at least he sent me to an empty desk at the back without introducing me to the class. It was harder for my new classmates to stare at me in the back, but somehow, they managed. I kept my eyes down on the reading list the teacher had given me. It was fairly basic: Brontë, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Faulkner. I’d already read everything. That was comforting… and boring. I wondered if my mom would send me my folder of old essays, or if she would think that was cheating. I went through different arguments with her in my head while the teacher droned on.

When the bell rang, a nasal buzzing sound, a gangly boy with skin problems and hair black as an oil slick leaned across the aisle to talk to me.

“You’re Isabella Swan, aren’t you?” He looked like the overly helpful, chess club type.

“Bella,” I corrected. Everyone within a three-seat radius turned to look at me.

“Where’s your next class?” he asked. I had to check in my bag.

“Um, Government, with Jefferson, in building six.”

There was nowhere to look without meeting curious eyes.

“I’m headed toward building four, I could show you the way.…” Definitely over-helpful. “I’m Eric,” he added.

I smiled tentatively. “Thanks.”



Poor Eric was played by Justin Chon, who was 27 at the time the first film was shot (Kristen Stewart was a nearly accurate 18, and Robert Pattinson 22). Chon would later star in Gook, a drama about the 1992 Los Angeles riots and the violent defense of Korean-owned stores.

quote:

We got our jackets and headed out into the rain, which had picked up. I could have sworn several people behind us were walking close enough to eavesdrop. I hoped I wasn’t getting paranoid.

“So, this is a lot different than Phoenix, huh?” he asked.

“Very.”

“It doesn’t rain much there, does it?”

“Three or four times a year.”

“Wow, what must that be like?” he wondered.

Just interjecting here to point out that Meyer does this a lot, and it's a typical mistake among new writers. Beginning writers are often told with an almost obsessive bent to stop using "said" and to find more descriptive words to describe someone's tone of voice or intention. But it's also easily possible to overdo it and start filling your text with extraneous information that any reader could figure out from context or may not need at all; this sequence could easily work without any "he wondered" or "I told him" at all.

In the worst cases your attempts at having a wide vocabulary get too flowery and you start describing people as ejaculating mid-sentence.

quote:

“Sunny,” I told him.

“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 didn’t mix. A few months of this and I’d forget how to use sarcasm.

We walked back around the cafeteria, to the south buildings by the gym. Eric walked me right to the door, though it was clearly marked.

“Well, good luck,” he said as I touched the handle. “Maybe we’ll have some other classes together.” He sounded hopeful.

I smiled at him vaguely and went inside.

The rest of the morning passed in about the same fashion. My Trigonometry teacher, Mr. Varner, who I would have hated anyway just because of the subject he taught, was the only one who made me stand in front of the class and introduce myself. I stammered, blushed, and tripped over my own boots on the way to my seat.

After two classes, I started to recognize several of the faces in each class. There was always someone braver than the others who would introduce themselves and ask me questions about how I was liking Forks. I tried to be diplomatic, but mostly I just lied a lot. At least I never needed the map.

One girl sat next to me in both Trig and Spanish, and she walked with me to the cafeteria for lunch. She was tiny, several inches shorter than my five feet four inches, but her wildly curly dark hair made up a lot of the difference between our heights. I couldn’t remember her name, so I smiled and nodded as she prattled about teachers and classes. I didn’t try to keep up.

Despite her fears that she's going to somehow be a freak that stands out to everyone, Bella immediately has seven people all chatting with her at lunch. She's having an easier time than most at making friends on her first day!

quote:

It was there, sitting in the lunchroom, trying to make conversation with seven curious strangers, that I first saw them.

They were sitting in the corner of the cafeteria, as far away from where I sat as possible in the long room. There were five of them. They weren’t talking, and they weren’t eating, though they each had a tray of untouched food in front of them. They weren’t gawking at me, unlike most of the other students, so it was safe to stare at them without fear of meeting an excessively interested pair of eyes. But it was none of these things that caught, and held, my attention.

They didn’t look anything alike. Of the three boys, one was big—muscled like a serious weight lifter, with dark, curly hair. Another was taller, leaner, but still muscular, and honey blond. The last was lanky, less bulky, with untidy, bronze-colored hair. He was more boyish than the others, who looked like they could be in college, or even teachers here rather than students.

The girls were opposites. The tall one was statuesque. She had a beautiful figure, the kind you saw on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, the kind that made every girl around her take a hit on her self-esteem just by being in the same room. Her hair was golden, gently waving to the middle of her back. The short girl was pixielike, thin in the extreme, with small features. Her hair was a deep black, cropped short and pointing in every direction.

And yet, they were all exactly alike. Every one of them was chalky pale, the palest of all the students living in this sunless town. Paler than me, the albino. They all had very dark eyes despite the range in hair tones. They also had dark shadows under those eyes—purplish, bruiselike shadows. As if they were all suffering from a sleepless night, or almost done recovering from a broken nose. Though their noses, all their features, were straight, perfect, angular.

But all this is not why I couldn’t look away.

I stared because their faces, so different, so similar, were all devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful. They were faces you never expected to see except perhaps on the airbrushed pages of a fashion magazine. Or painted by an old master as the face of an angel. It was hard to decide who was the most beautiful—maybe the perfect blond girl, or the bronze-haired boy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnuhVE4d2D4

One of the biggest points of criticism for the movie (and most hated by Robert and Kristen) was the acting directions given. In particular, Pattinson recognized how utterly creepy his character was and played it up. The use of older actors does help them stand out the way they're supposed to in the text.

quote:

They were all looking away—away from each other, away from the other students, away from anything in particular as far as I could tell. As I watched, the small girl rose with her tray—unopened soda, unbitten apple—and walked away with a quick, graceful lope that belonged on a runway. I watched, amazed at her lithe dancer’s step, till she dumped her tray and glided through the back door, faster than I would have thought possible. My eyes darted back to the others, who sat unchanging.

“Who are they?” I asked the girl from my Spanish class, whose name I’d forgotten.

As she looked up to see who I meant—though already knowing, probably, from my tone—suddenly he looked at her, the thinner one, the boyish one, the youngest, perhaps.

He looked at my neighbor for just a fraction of a second, and then his dark eyes flickered to mine. He looked away quickly, more quickly than I could, though in a flush of embarrassment I dropped my eyes at once. In that brief flash of a glance, his face held nothing of interest—it was as if she had called his name, and he’d looked up in involuntary response, already having decided not to answer.

The last paragraph is awkwardly written, but Meyer is actually somewhat ahead of the amateur writer curve here. If you already know Edward's secret and why he's looking around like this, you can recognize that Meyer had already decided on one of the main characteristics of his powers and wrote it in before it was told to us in the text. Far too many writers go by the seat of their pants so much that they don't go back and edit anything in to match later decisions they've made.

quote:

My neighbor giggled in embarrassment, looking at the table like I did.

“That’s Edward and Emmett Cullen, and Rosalie and Jasper Hale. The one who left was Alice Cullen; they all live together with Dr. Cullen and his wife.” She said this under her breath.

I glanced sideways at the beautiful boy, who was looking at his tray now, picking a bagel to pieces with long, pale fingers. His mouth was moving very quickly, his perfect lips barely opening. The other three still looked away, and yet I felt he was speaking quietly to them.

Strange, unpopular names, I thought. The kinds of names grandparents had. But maybe that was in vogue here—small-town names? I finally remembered that my neighbor was called Jessica, a perfectly common name. There were two girls named Jessica in my History class back home.



In another case of "Appeared in Twilight before they got famous", Jessica was played by a 23-year-old Anna Kendrick. Kendrick's autobiography Scrappy Little Nobody talks at length about her time filming the series; apparently it was miserably cold and rainy all the time and it kept everyone in a permanent bad mood.

quote:

“They are… very nice-looking.” I struggled with the conspicuous understatement.

“Yes!” Jessica agreed with another giggle. “They’re all together though—Emmett and Rosalie, and Jasper and Alice, I mean. And they live together.” Her voice held all the shock and condemnation of the small town, I thought critically. But, if I was being honest, I had to admit that even in Phoenix, it would cause gossip.

“Which ones are the Cullens?” I asked. “They don’t look related.…”

“Oh, they’re not. Dr. Cullen is really young, in his twenties or early thirties. They’re all adopted. The Hales are brother and sister, twins—the blondes—and they’re foster children.”

“They look a little old for foster children.”

“They are now, Jasper and Rosalie are both eighteen, but they’ve been with Mrs. Cullen since they were eight. She’s their aunt or something like that.”

“That’s really kind of nice—for them to take care of all those kids like that, when they’re so young and everything.”

“I guess so,” Jessica admitted reluctantly, and I got the impression that she didn’t like the doctor and his wife for some reason. With the glances she was throwing at their adopted children, I would presume the reason was jealousy. “I think that Mrs. Cullen can’t have any kids, though,” she added, as if that lessened their kindness.

Bella notes that the Cullens and Hales are just staring at the walls, not touching their food. She asks how long they've been in Forks and it turns out they just moved in from probably Alaska about 2 years before.

quote:

As I examined them, the youngest, one of the Cullens, looked up and met my gaze, this time with evident curiosity in his expression. As I looked swiftly away, it seemed to me that his glance held some kind of unmet expectation.

Meyer goes so far as to include this unknown characterization twice in the first chapter!

quote:

“Which one is the boy with the reddish brown hair?” I asked. I peeked at him from the corner of my eye, and he was still staring at me, but not gawking like the other students had today—he had a slightly frustrated expression. I looked down again.

“That’s Edward. He’s gorgeous, of course, but don’t waste your time. He doesn’t date. Apparently none of the girls here are good-looking enough for him.” She sniffed, a clear case of sour grapes. I wondered when he’d turned her down.



Poor, poor Robert Pattinson. For all the hate the series gets, nobody hates it more than the man who became a millionaire portraying its lead. While he's calmed down lately and has come to better appreciate people's enjoyment of the series, he suffered for years from a creepy character that he couldn't stand playing, bafflingly pretentious filmmaking decisions like putting a stiff wire in his shirt collar to get the exact level of dishevelment for the camera, and obsessive fans never leaving him alone. He hated Edward Cullen from the first moment he read the book and nearly got fired due to intentionally playing up his emo scowling.

He's fortunately managed to turn his career around with a number of critically acclaimed roles in Good Time and The Lighthouse, with the controversial decision recently announced to have him star as the new Batman. Only time will tell how he accomplishes it.

quote:

I bit my lip to hide my smile.



Kristen Stewart did a lot of lip biting in the movies. It gets rightly made fun of.

quote:

Then I glanced at him again. His face was turned away, but I thought his cheek appeared lifted, as if he were smiling, too.

After a few more minutes, the four of them left the table together. They all were noticeably graceful—even the big, brawny one. It was unsettling to watch. The one named Edward didn’t look at me again.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 01:07 on Apr 18, 2020

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



quote:

I sat at the table with Jessica and her friends longer than I would have if I’d been sitting alone. I was anxious not to be late for class on my first day. One of my new acquaintances, who considerately reminded me that her name was Angela, had Biology II with me the next hour. We walked to class together in silence. She was shy, too.

If you actually behaved like an adult, Bella, people wouldn't have to constantly remind you of their name.



Angela was played by 17-year-old Christian Serratos, one of the extremely few high school actors to actually be the correct age for the character. She had previously gained minor fame among children for playing Suzie Crabgrass on Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide and would later gain a regular role as Rosita on The Walking Dead, being bumped up to the main credits after the writers killed off most of the older characters that people remembered.

I'm actually not sure if any of the Asian or Hispanic characters in the movies were meant to be so in the books. None of them have an ethnic name or anything about their appearance described in more than the barest sense (Eric's last name is Yorkie), so I think Meyer was just envisioning a bunch of white people before the casting director decided to diversify it a bit.

quote:

When we entered the classroom, Angela went to sit at a black-topped lab table exactly like the ones I was used to. She already had a neighbor. In fact, all the tables were filled but one. Next to the center aisle, I recognized Edward Cullen by his unusual hair, sitting next to that single open seat.

I know Meyer probably meant his hair color, but I can't help but imagine that she's recognizing Robert Pattinson's ridiculous bouffant.

quote:

As I walked down the aisle to introduce myself to the teacher and get my slip signed, I was watching him surreptitiously. Just as I passed, he suddenly went rigid in his seat. He stared at me again, meeting my eyes with the strangest expression on his face—it was hostile, furious. I looked away quickly, shocked, going red again. I stumbled over a book in the walkway and had to catch myself on the edge of a table. The girl sitting there giggled.

I’d noticed that his eyes were black—coal black.

I feel like it would be hard to tell if someone's eyes are literally black? Especially if they're not being directly lit and you're only seeing them while passing, very dark brown eyes would look indistinguishable from black.

quote:

Mr. Banner signed my slip and handed me a book with no nonsense about introductions. I could tell we were going to get along. Of course, he had no choice but to send me to the one open seat in the middle of the room. I kept my eyes down as I went to sit by him, bewildered by the antagonistic stare he’d given me.

Another case of Meyer using too many words and keeping the scene from really flowing. I get the feeling the length of the book that caused it to get rejected by publishers was because she kept using adjectives and excess prose.

quote:

I didn’t look up as I set my book on the table and took my seat, but I saw his posture change from the corner of my eye. He was leaning away from me, sitting on the extreme edge of his chair and averting his face like he smelled something bad. Inconspicuously, I sniffed my hair. It smelled like strawberries, the scent of my favorite shampoo. It seemed an innocent enough odor. I let my hair fall over my right shoulder, making a dark curtain between us, and tried to pay attention to the teacher.

Unfortunately the lecture was on cellular anatomy, something I’d already studied. I took notes carefully anyway, always looking down.

I couldn’t stop myself from peeking occasionally through the screen of my hair at the strange boy next to me. During the whole class, he never relaxed his stiff position on the edge of his chair, sitting as far from me as possible. I could see his hand on his left leg was clenched into a fist, tendons standing out under his pale skin. This, too, he never relaxed. He had the long sleeves of his white shirt pushed up to his elbows, and his forearm was surprisingly hard and muscular beneath his light skin. He wasn’t nearly as slight as he’d looked next to his burly brother.

Real good start to a romantic relationship!

quote:

The class seemed to drag on longer than the others. Was it because the day was finally coming to a close, or because I was waiting for his tight fist to loosen? It never did; he continued to sit so still it looked like he wasn’t breathing. What was wrong with him? Was this his normal behavior? I questioned my judgment on Jessica’s bitterness at lunch today. Maybe she was not as resentful as I’d thought.

It couldn’t have anything to do with me. He didn’t know me from Eve.

I peeked up at him one more time, and regretted it. He was glaring down at me again, his black eyes full of revulsion. As I flinched away from him, shrinking against my chair, the phrase if looks could kill suddenly ran through my mind.

Robert Pattinson was threatened with firing for playing Edward as too sullen and angry, so they sent him a copy of the book with every case of Edward smiling highlighted. He sent the book back with every case of him scowling highlighted. Power move.

quote:

At that moment, the bell rang loudly, making me jump, and Edward Cullen was out of his seat. Fluidly he rose—he was much taller than I’d thought—his back to me, and he was out the door before anyone else was out of their seat.

I sat frozen in my seat, staring blankly after him. He was so mean. It wasn’t fair. I began gathering up my things slowly, trying to block the anger that filled me, for fear my eyes would tear up. For some reason, my temper was hardwired to my tear ducts. I usually cried when I was angry, a humiliating tendency.

First, Meyer is again putting in unnecessary text like "a humiliating tendency" that just brings everything crashing to a halt.

Second, this only serves to make Bella seem even more self-centered than she already has been. All he's done is just look really mad and not talk to you! That's not worth crying over, especially when every other person you've met has been tripping over themselves to be your friend!

quote:

“Aren’t you Isabella Swan?” a male voice asked. I looked up to see a cute, baby-faced boy, his pale blond hair carefully gelled into orderly spikes, smiling at me in a friendly way. He obviously didn’t think I smelled bad.

“Bella,” I corrected him, with a smile.

“I’m Mike.”

“Hi, Mike.”

“Do you need any help finding your next class?”

“I’m headed to the gym, actually. I think I can find it.”

“That’s my next class, too.” He seemed thrilled, though it wasn’t that big of a coincidence in a school this small.



Mike was played by 21-year-old Michael Welch, who played Luke on Joan of Arcadia when he was a teenager. He's been a regular face on TV since he appeared on an episode of Frasier in 1998 and starred as Mack on Z Nation.

quote:

We walked to class together; he was a chatterer—he supplied most of the conversation, which made it easy for me. He’d lived in California till he was ten, so he knew how I felt about the sun. It turned out he was in my English class also. He was the nicest person I’d met today.

But as we were entering the gym, he asked, “So, did you stab Edward Cullen with a pencil or what? I’ve never seen him act like that.”

I cringed. So I wasn’t the only one who had noticed. And, apparently, that wasn’t Edward Cullen’s usual behavior. I decided to play dumb.

“Was that the boy I sat next to in Biology?” I asked artlessly.

“Yes,” he said. “He looked like he was in pain or something.”

“I don’t know,” I responded. “I never spoke to him.”

“He’s a weird guy.” Mike lingered by me instead of heading to the dressing room. “If I were lucky enough to sit by you, I would have talked to you.”

I smiled at him before walking through the girls’ locker room door. He was friendly and clearly admiring. But it wasn’t enough to ease my irritation.

Keep in mind every time Bella stresses about the weird kid not liking her that not only has literally every person she's met in this book befriended her instantly, but she's already got a guy crushing on her on day one! For someone who's supposed to be an outcast who's not like the other girls, she sure is instantly popular.

quote:

The Gym teacher, Coach Clapp, found me a uniform but didn’t make me dress down for today’s class. At home, only two years of P.E. were required. Here, P.E. was mandatory all four years. Forks was literally my personal hell on Earth.

I watched four volleyball games running simultaneously. Remembering how many injuries I had sustained—and inflicted—playing volleyball, I felt faintly nauseated.

The final bell rang at last. I walked slowly to the office to return my paperwork. The rain had drifted away, but the wind was strong, and colder. I wrapped my arms around myself.

When I walked into the warm office, I almost turned around and walked back out.

Edward Cullen stood at the desk in front of me. I recognized again that tousled bronze hair. He didn’t appear to notice the sound of my entrance. I stood pressed against the back wall, waiting for the receptionist to be free.

He was arguing with her in a low, attractive voice. I quickly picked up the gist of the argument. He was trying to trade from sixth-hour Biology to another time—any other time.

I just couldn’t believe that this was about me. It had to be something else, something that happened before I entered the Biology room. The look on his face must have been about another aggravation entirely. It was impossible that this stranger could take such a sudden, intense dislike to me.

Not in a universe where everyone loves you on sight!

quote:

The door opened again, and the cold wind suddenly gusted through the room, rustling the papers on the desk, swirling my hair around my face. The girl who came in merely stepped to the desk, placed a note in the wire basket, and walked out again. 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. The look only lasted a second, but it chilled me more than the freezing wind. He turned back to the receptionist.

“Never mind, then,” he said hastily in a voice like velvet. “I can see that it’s impossible. Thank you so much for your help.” And he turned on his heel without another look at me, and disappeared out the door.

Imagine being a young actor, fresh off a major role in a Harry Potter movie, being told that you're going to play the lead in the adaptation of one of the biggest young adult books in the world. And when you go to research your character the first impression you get of him is this, and also you get to be put in corpse makeup all day.

quote:

I went meekly to the desk, my face white for once instead of red, and handed her the signed slip.

“How did your first day go, dear?” the receptionist asked maternally.

“Fine,” I lied, my voice weak. She didn’t look convinced.

When I got to the truck, it was almost the last car in the lot. It seemed like a haven, already the closest thing to home I had in this damp green hole. I sat inside for a while, just staring out the windshield blankly. But soon I was cold enough to need the heater, so I turned the key and the engine roared to life. I headed back to Charlie’s house, fighting tears the whole way there.

It was one dude Bella! Your first day went better than anyone's first day ever!

Ripley
Jan 21, 2007


chitoryu12 posted:

Inconspicuously, I sniffed my hair. It smelled like strawberries, the scent of my favorite shampoo. It seemed an innocent enough odor.
Has anyone in the history of human civilisation ever jumped from "oh poo poo, do I smell bad?" to "I'd better sniff my hair just in case!"?

You're not wrong about the writing style, it feels very 'new writer'. Strange to see Bella devastated by this terrible first day at school, when she actually had multiple people falling over themselves to show her around (while she barely made an effort to remember their names).

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012
:gas;


Ripley posted:

Has anyone in the history of human civilisation ever jumped from "oh poo poo, do I smell bad?" to "I'd better sniff my hair just in case!"?

You're not wrong about the writing style, it feels very 'new writer'. Strange to see Bella devastated by this terrible first day at school, when she actually had multiple people falling over themselves to show her around (while she barely made an effort to remember their names).

If you have long hair, it can be a concern. Your pits are more obvious, but hair can get pretty stinky. Hang out around long-haired nerds in a gaming group, and you'll soon see why this is a sensible precaution.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Ripley posted:

You're not wrong about the writing style, it feels very 'new writer'. Strange to see Bella devastated by this terrible first day at school, when she actually had multiple people falling over themselves to show her around (while she barely made an effort to remember their names).

Reading ahead into the next chapter, it's astounding how rapidly Bella grates on you. The beginning of the first chapter gives you the sense that she really is going to be an outcast struggling with school, but on her first day she's already ahead of every lesson (except for being clumsy in PE) and everyone except one weird dude is gathering around to be her friend. She, of course, goes ballistic over this one guy being rude in class and acts like it's some kind of traumatic experience.

Bella also exhibits so many Mary Sue traits that it's almost stereotypical:

* Actually attractive but describes her features in ways that make them seem like flaws, then gets surprised when people think she's pretty.

* Everyone trips over themselves trying to love her, even if she seems to show disdain for them and is supposed to be shy and socially awkward.

* Based on the author's appearance, past, and personality (or their own perception thereof)

* Has a cool, exotic name

* Is immediately established as being superior to everyone else (already having read every book for English class and being more advanced in Biology) but has a small flaw like clumsiness so she's not perfect.

* Has unique abilities or traits that set her apart, serving as the entire reason for the plot and ensuring that it revolves around her even if she doesn't actually do anything.

What amazes me is this is published literature. These traits, taken together, would be considered a joke about the worst kind of Sue you could create, that nobody would ever make such an obvious stereotype. But not only is Bella the stereotype, she's in a series that's made the author millions!

Ripley
Jan 21, 2007


Darth Walrus posted:

If you have long hair, it can be a concern. Your pits are more obvious, but hair can get pretty stinky. Hang out around long-haired nerds in a gaming group, and you'll soon see why this is a sensible precaution.

Huh, these threads are always educational.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Gonna be fun to get to New Moon because I just read a list of how Bella fits 20/20 traits on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, something even Edward Cullen didn't accomplish.

nankeen
Mar 20, 2019

by Cyrano4747


thank you for doing this, i never got around to reading those drat books so it's enlightening!

chitoryu12 posted:

Robert Pattinson was threatened with firing for playing Edward as too sullen and angry, so they sent him a copy of the book with every case of Edward smiling highlighted. He sent the book back with every case of him scowling highlighted. Power move.
this is hilarious

MorgaineDax
Nov 29, 2004

Storm On The Sea Of Galilee, it's called, and he's in it. Old Rembrandt, he's in the painting. He's in there, right in the middle of the storm, looking straight at you. But... you can't see him. And the reason you can't see him is because the painting has been stolen.


Wedge Regret

Pattinson spent the entire commentary tracks for the DVDs completely making fun of the entire thing and himself. Some of it honestly rivals the Rifftrax.

https://ew.com/article/2009/03/23/twilight-dvd-ro/

"Pattinson: I bet you that everyone would hate me. I mean, I just look at me walking around with, like, my little peacoat on, little customized peacoat…."

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



MorgaineDax posted:

Pattinson spent the entire commentary tracks for the DVDs completely making fun of the entire thing and himself. Some of it honestly rivals the Rifftrax.

https://ew.com/article/2009/03/23/twilight-dvd-ro/

"Pattinson: I bet you that everyone would hate me. I mean, I just look at me walking around with, like, my little peacoat on, little customized peacoat…."

This made me look up a pic of the three of them:

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Chapter 2: Open Book

quote:

The next day was better... and worse.

It was better because it wasn’t raining yet, though the clouds were dense and opaque. It was easier because I knew what to expect of my day. Mike came to sit by me in English, and walked me to my next class, with Chess Club Eric glaring at him all the while; that was flattering. People didn’t look at me quite as much as they had yesterday. I sat with a big group at lunch that included Mike, Eric, Jessica, and several other people whose names and faces I now remembered. I began to feel like I was treading water, instead of drowning in it

After spending the first chapter acting like the most ungrateful bitch to ever walk the Earth, Bella is beginning the second chapter by insulting a friendly guy for being a nerd!

quote:

It was worse because I was tired; I still couldn’t sleep with the wind echoing around the house. It was worse because Mr. Varner called on me in Trig when my hand wasn’t raised and I had the wrong answer. It was miserable because I had to play volleyball, and the one time I didn’t cringe out of the way of the ball, I hit my teammate in the head with it. And it was worse because Edward Cullen wasn’t in school at all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4HcWtTlrWg

The volleyball incident is actually depicted in the movie and used as her introduction to the friend group. You can see the pain in Anna Kendrick's eyes.

quote:

All morning I was dreading lunch, fearing his bizarre glares. Part of me wanted to confront him and demand to know what his problem was. While I was lying sleepless in my bed, I even imagined what I would say. But I knew myself too well to think I would really have the guts to do it. I made the Cowardly Lion look like the terminator.

Oh come the gently caress on. One guy acted like a jerk to you and you spent all night cowering and crying in bed about having to deal with it?

quote:

But when I walked into the cafeteria with Jessica—trying to keep my eyes from sweeping the place for him, and failing entirely—I saw that his four siblings of sorts were sitting together at the same table, and he was not with them.

Mike intercepted us and steered us to his table. Jessica seemed elated by the attention, and her friends quickly joined us. But as I tried to listen to their easy chatter, I was terribly uncomfortable, waiting nervously for the moment he would arrive. I hoped that he would simply ignore me when he came, and prove my suspicions false.

He didn’t come, and as time passed I grew more and more tense.

I walked to Biology with more confidence when, by the end of lunch, he still hadn’t showed. Mike, who was taking on the qualities of a golden retriever, walked faithfully by my side to class. I held my breath at the door, but Edward Cullen wasn’t there, either. I exhaled and went to my seat. Mike followed, talking about an upcoming trip to the beach. He lingered by my desk till the bell rang. Then he smiled at me wistfully and went to sit by a girl with braces and a bad perm. It looked like I was going to have to do something about Mike, and it wouldn’t be easy. In a town like this, where everyone lived on top of everyone else, diplomacy was essential. I had never been enormously tactful; I had no practice dealing with overly friendly boys

You don't have to "do anything" about a guy having a crush on you!

quote:

I was relieved that I had the desk to myself, that Edward was absent. I told myself that repeatedly. But I couldn’t get rid of the nagging suspicion that I was the reason he wasn’t there. It was ridiculous, and egotistical, to think that I could affect anyone that strongly. It was impossible. And yet I couldn’t stop worrying that it was true.

Shouldn't you be happy? Him being there managed to ruin your entire goddamn life in one fell swoop, so you'd think you'd be fine with him not showing up the next day.

quote:

When the school day was finally done, and the blush was fading out of my cheeks from the volleyball incident, I changed quickly back into my jeans and navy blue sweater. I hurried from the girls’ locker room, pleased to find that I had successfully evaded my retriever friend for the moment. I walked swiftly out to the parking lot. It was crowded now with fleeing students. I got in my truck and dug through my bag to make sure I had what I needed.

Last night I’d discovered that Charlie couldn’t cook much besides fried eggs and bacon. So I requested that I be assigned kitchen detail for the duration of my stay. He was willing enough to hand over the keys to the banquet hall. I also found out that he had no food in the house. So I had my shopping list and the cash from the jar in the cupboard labeled FOOD MONEY, and I was on my way to the Thriftway.

Knowing now that Charlie spent so much time caring for his elderly parents and basically got abandoned by his nutty wife, I feel sorry for him. He probably never had the chance to learn how to cook.

quote:

I gunned my deafening engine to life, ignoring the heads that turned in my direction, and backed carefully into a place in the line of cars that were waiting to exit the parking lot. As I waited, trying to pretend that the earsplitting rumble was coming from someone else’s car, I saw the two Cullens and the Hale twins getting into their car. It was the shiny new Volvo. Of course. I hadn’t noticed their clothes before—I’d been too mesmerized by their faces. Now that I looked, it was obvious that they were all dressed exceptionally well; simply, but in clothes that subtly hinted at designer origins. With their remarkable good looks, the style with which they carried themselves, they could have worn dishrags and pulled it off. It seemed excessive for them to have both looks and money. But as far as I could tell, life worked that way most of the time. It didn’t look as if it bought them any acceptance here.

No, I didn’t fully believe that. The isolation must be their desire; I couldn’t imagine any door that wouldn’t be opened by that degree of beauty.

Bella is a Mary Sue par excellence, but the Cullens and her relationship with them amplify it. They're a family of supernaturally hot, immortal, badass rich people that she desperately tries to get involved with.



Edward's car was intended in the novel as a silver 2005 Volvo S60 R, a relatively sedate luxury sedan that wouldn't stand out in a parking lot unless you knew that it cost over $47,000 new with all the options. Meyer's brothers are gearheads and helped her with picking cars for the series.



The film replaced this with a 2008 Volvo C30 T5, which had a base price of only $25,000 but looked a little more unique.

quote:

They looked at my noisy truck as I passed them, just like everyone else. I kept my eyes straight forward and was relieved when I finally was free of the school grounds.

The Thriftway was not far from the school, just a few streets south, off the highway. It was nice to be inside the supermarket; it felt normal. I did the shopping at home, and I fell into the pattern of the familiar task gladly. The store was big enough inside that I couldn’t hear the tapping of the rain on the roof to remind me where I was.

I was going to say something about Bella continuing to be a whiny brat, but I just noticed how few contractions Bella's internal monologue uses. It doesn't sound natural.

quote:

When I got home, I unloaded all the groceries, stuffing them in wherever I could find an open space. I hoped Charlie wouldn’t mind. I wrapped potatoes in foil and stuck them in the oven to bake, covered a steak in marinade and balanced it on top of a carton of eggs in the fridge.

When I was finished with that, I took my book bag upstairs. Before starting my homework, I changed into a pair of dry sweats, pulled my damp hair up into a ponytail, and checked my e-mail for the first time. I had three messages.

This is another aspect of Meyer's unnecessary padding. Learning about exactly where the steak is marinating in the fridge and what clothes Bella is changing into just adds words without really adding anything to the scene or her character.

That's not to say you shouldn't talk about it! Going back to my ongoing James Bond thread, Fleming was notorious for filling the books with luscious descriptions of food, clothes, technology, etc. Along with being an experienced writer and far better wordsmith than Meyer, it served a few purposes. For one, the books were essentially travelogues introducing the reader (originally Brits still living under rationing in the early 1950s) to exotic places and foods that they wouldn't even be able to buy in the whole country, let alone find at a local grocery store.

The other benefit is that he used it to build the characters. Bond's tastes are elegant but understated and he's a man who knows what he likes. He'll have a breakfast of nothing but a hard boiled egg, toast with spreads, and coffee, but Fleming namedrops premium brands and specific stores and a Chemex coffee maker to showcase that while the food seems plain Bond is very particular and exacting in what he wants. When Bond orders scrambled eggs at a 24/7 diner in Jacksonville, he comments on how they'll probably be made with milk to stretch them and come out poorly for it. Hugo Drax, like all important characters, gets multiple paragraphs describing his exact appearance. The brand of watch he wears is obscenely expensive and his clothes are fashionable, showing off his wealth, but is contrasted by his scarred appearance. Bond's clothing, by contrast, has him wearing loafers to a millionaire's club; this would be a faux pas due to how casual they were in 1950s Britain, but it shows how he picked up the American habit with his loaned clothes in Live and Let Die without outright saying it.

Ironically Meyer would be better to use more words in some cases! Maybe Bella wears cheap Walmart clothes a size too big and hasn't changed her fashion sense in years because she doesn't really put stock in her appearance or fitting in after growing up around wealthier, more athletic people. Maybe the recipe for the steak is something she learned from her mom, which can lead into her thinking about the implications of making it for her estranged father. Instead, Meyer finds a sort of weird in-between place where she uses just enough description to pad out the book with pointless details that don't say anything about the characters or scene.

quote:

“Bella,” my mom wrote…  

Write me as soon as you get in. Tell me how your flight was. Is it raining? I miss you already. I’m almost finished packing for Florida, but I can’t find my pink blouse. Do you know where I put it? Phil says hi. Mom.  

I sighed and went to the next. It was sent eight hours after the first.

“Bella,” she wrote…  

Why haven’t you e-mailed me yet? What are you waiting for? Mom.  

The last was from this morning.  

Isabella, If I haven’t heard from you by 5:30 p.m. today I’m calling Charlie.  

I checked the clock. I still had an hour, but my mom was well known for jumping the gun.  

Mom,
Calm down. I’m writing right now. Don’t do anything rash.
Bella.  

I sent that, and began again.  

Mom, Everything is great. Of course it’s raining. I was waiting for something to write about. School isn’t bad, just a little repetitive. I met some nice kids who sit by me at lunch.

Your blouse is at the dry cleaners—you were supposed to pick it up Friday.

Charlie bought me a truck, can you believe it? I love it. It’s old, but really sturdy, which is good, you know, for me.

I miss you, too. I’ll write again soon, but I’m not going to check my e-mail every five minutes.

Relax, breathe. I love you.

Bella.

Yes, this is how it's formatted in the Kindle copy. I'm guessing that's how she wrote it for the regular published version too, which is awful to read.

quote:

I had decided to read Wuthering Heights—the novel we were currently studying in English—yet again for the fun of it, and that’s what I was doing when Charlie came home. I’d lost track of the time, and I hurried downstairs to take the potatoes out and put the steak in to broil.

“Bella?” my father called out when he heard me on the stairs.

Who else? I thought to myself.

“Hey, Dad, welcome home.”

“Thanks.” He hung up his gun belt and stepped out of his boots as I bustled about the kitchen. As far as I was aware, he’d never shot the gun on the job. But he kept it ready. When I came here as a child, he would always remove the bullets as soon as he walked in the door. I guess he considered me old enough now not to shoot myself by accident, and not depressed enough to shoot myself on purpose.

I can think of a lot of people who were wishing otherwise.

quote:

“What’s for dinner?” he asked warily. My mother was an imaginative cook, and her experiments weren’t always edible. I was surprised, and sad, that he seemed to remember that far back.

Is your dad a goldfish, Bella? 16 years isn't exactly long enough to forget everything about living with your wife!

quote:

“Steak and potatoes,” I answered, and he looked relieved.

He seemed to feel awkward standing in the kitchen doing nothing; he lumbered into the living room to watch TV while I worked. We were both more comfortable that way. I made a salad while the steaks cooked, and set the table.

I called him in when dinner was ready, and he sniffed appreciatively as he walked into the room.

“Smells good, Bell.”

“Thanks.”

We ate in silence for a few minutes. It wasn’t uncomfortable. Neither of us was bothered by the quiet. In some ways, we were well suited for living together.

“So, how did you like school? Have you made any friends?” he asked as he was taking seconds.

“Well, I have a few classes with a girl named Jessica. I sit with her friends at lunch. And there’s this boy, Mike, who’s very friendly. Everybody seems pretty nice.” With one outstanding exception.

“That must be Mike Newton. Nice kid—nice family. His dad owns the sporting goods store just outside of town. He makes a good living off all the backpackers who come through here.”

“Do you know the Cullen family?” I asked hesitantly.

“Dr. Cullen’s family? Sure. Dr. Cullen’s a great man.”

“They… the kids… are a little different. They don’t seem to fit in very well at school.”

Charlie surprised me by looking angry.

“People in this town,” he muttered. “Dr. Cullen is a brilliant surgeon who could probably work in any hospital in the world, make ten times the salary he gets here,” he continued, getting louder. “We’re lucky to have him—lucky that his wife wanted to live in a small town. He’s an asset to the community, and all of those kids are well behaved and polite. I had my doubts, when they first moved in, with all those adopted teenagers. I thought we might have some problems with them. But they’re all very mature—I haven’t had one speck of trouble from any of them. That’s more than I can say for the children of some folks who have lived in this town for generations. And they stick together the way a family should—camping trips every other weekend.… Just because they’re newcomers, people have to talk.”

It was the longest speech I’d ever heard Charlie make. He must feel strongly about whatever people were saying.

This reminds me of those stories people have written where they're an outsider encountering a Mary Sue in their story and are baffled and terrified by everyone around them suddenly falling in love with them and defending everything about them. There's a reason later for why he had such an outburst about the Cullens being awesome, but it's a bit shaky.

quote:

I backpedaled. “They seemed nice enough to me. I just noticed they kept to themselves. They’re all very attractive,” I added, trying to be more complimentary.

“You should see the doctor,” Charlie said, laughing. “It’s a good thing he’s happily married. A lot of the nurses at the hospital have a hard time concentrating on their work with him around.”

We lapsed back into silence as we finished eating. He cleared the table while I started on the dishes. He went back to the TV, and after I finished washing the dishes by hand—no dishwasher—I went upstairs unwillingly to work on my math homework. I could feel a tradition in the making.

That night it was finally quiet. I fell asleep quickly, exhausted.

The rest of the week was uneventful. I got used to the routine of my classes. By Friday I was able to recognize, if not name, almost all the students at school. In Gym, the kids on my team learned not to pass me the ball and to step quickly in front of me if the other team tried to take advantage of my weakness. I happily stayed out of their way.

Edward Cullen didn’t come back to school.

Every day, I watched anxiously until the rest of the Cullens entered the cafeteria without him. Then I could relax and join in the lunchtime conversation. Mostly it centered around a trip to the La Push Ocean Park in two weeks that Mike was putting together. I was invited, and I had agreed to go, more out of politeness than desire. Beaches should be hot and dry.

By Friday I was perfectly comfortable entering my Biology class, no longer worried that Edward would be there. For all I knew, he had dropped out of school. I tried not to think about him, but I couldn’t totally suppress the worry that I was responsible for his continued absence, ridiculous as it seemed.

Let's not forget from here on out that Bella spent a goddamn week with anxiety over a dude who was kinda weird and rude to her on her first day not coming back to school.

quote:

My first weekend in Forks passed without incident. Charlie, unused to spending time in the usually empty house, worked most of the weekend. I cleaned the house, got ahead on my homework, and wrote my mom more bogusly cheerful e-mail. I did drive to the library Saturday, but it was so poorly stocked that I didn’t bother to get a card; I would have to make a date to visit Olympia or Seattle soon and find a good bookstore. I wondered idly what kind of gas mileage the truck got… and shuddered at the thought.

The rain stayed soft over the weekend, quiet, so I was able to sleep well.

People greeted me in the parking lot Monday morning. I didn’t know all their names, but I waved back and smiled at everyone. It was colder this morning, but happily not raining. In English, Mike took his accustomed seat by my side. We had a pop quiz on Wuthering Heights. It was straightforward, very easy.

All in all, I was feeling a lot more comfortable than I had thought I would feel by this point. More comfortable than I had ever expected to feel here.

When we walked out of class, the air was full of swirling bits of white. I could hear people shouting excitedly to each other. The wind bit at my cheeks, my nose.

“Wow,” Mike said. “It’s snowing.”

I looked at the little cotton fluffs that were building up along the sidewalk and swirling erratically past my face.

“Ew.” Snow. There went my good day.

He looked surprised. “Don’t you like snow?”

“No. That means it’s too cold for rain.” Obviously. “Besides, I thought it was supposed to come down in flakes—you know, each one unique and all that. These just look like the ends of Q-tips.”

“Haven’t you ever seen snow fall before?” he asked incredulously.

“Sure I have.” I paused. “On TV.”

Bella did you seriously loving think that snow actually fell in big flakes where you could see every single one?

quote:

Mike laughed. And then a big, squishy ball of dripping snow smacked into the back of his head. We both turned to see where it came from. I had my suspicions about Eric, who was walking away, his back toward us—in the wrong direction for his next class. Mike apparently had the same notion. He bent over and began scraping together a pile of the white mush.

“I’ll see you at lunch, okay?” I kept walking as I spoke. “Once people start throwing wet stuff, I go inside.”

Losing her virginity is going to be one awkward moment then.

quote:

He just nodded, his eyes on Eric’s retreating figure.

Throughout the morning, everyone chattered excitedly about the snow; apparently it was the first snowfall of the new year. I kept my mouth shut. Sure, it was drier than rain—until it melted in your socks.

Have we managed to find a single thing Bella hasn't complained about at least once? I think just the steak and potatoes.

quote:

I walked alertly to the cafeteria with Jessica after Spanish. Mush balls were flying everywhere. I kept a binder in my hands, ready to use it as a shield if necessary. Jessica thought I was hilarious, but something in my expression kept her from lobbing a snowball at me herself.

Mike caught up to us as we walked in the doors, laughing, with ice melting the spikes in his hair. He and Jessica were talking animatedly about the snow fight as we got in line to buy food. I glanced toward that table in the corner out of habit. And then I froze where I stood. There were five people at the table.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 15:16 on Jun 26, 2019

The_White_Crane
May 10, 2008


chitoryu12 posted:

And then I froze where I stood. There were five people at the table.

DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUN!

Goodness but she is an unendearing protagonist, isn't she?
Her and Bond, do you have a thing for books which have unlikable main characters?

... now I'm imagining Bella Swan falling for James Bond, and the horrible ramifications thereof.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



The_White_Crane posted:

DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUN!

Goodness but she is an unendearing protagonist, isn't she?
Her and Bond, do you have a thing for books which have unlikable main characters?

... now I'm imagining Bella Swan falling for James Bond, and the horrible ramifications thereof.

Somehow Bond manages to be more likable! He's a misogynist racist with surprise sex tendencies, but at least he's interesting and has a sense of humor. You could go out and slam a few drinks with him, but Bella would just awkwardly insult you and then complain all day about how mean you were for splitting the bill.

The most astonishing thing is that when we get to the Fifty Shades books and The Mister you'll be loving begging to have Bella and Edward back again. EL James has a real knack for pairing lame women with fake "strength" with monstrous sociopaths.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Of course she's reading Wuthering Heights, the book that set the template for a billion moody rear end in a top hat romantic heroes who just need the right woman to reveal their hidden sensitive depths.

chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



Reading another sporking of the book, it was pointed out that despite supposedly needing to keep a low profile the Cullen kids do everything possible to stand out instead. They show up to school in designer clothes and an expensive car, buy a bunch of food they don't eat, and just stare at the walls before dumping the food and disappearing.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007






Biscuit Hider

chitoryu12 posted:

Chapter 2: Open Book

quote:

“Ew.” Snow. There went my good day.

He looked surprised. “Don’t you like snow?”

“No. That means it’s too cold for rain.” Obviously.

This line really got me.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012
:gas;


Selachian posted:

Of course she's reading Wuthering Heights, the book that set the template for a billion moody rear end in a top hat romantic heroes who just need the right woman to reveal their hidden sensitive depths.

Wasn't WH itself a dark sendup of that sort of book? Heathcliff is straight-up bad news for everyone around him, especially Isabella, the innocent girl who tries to melt his heart.

PsychedelicWarlord
Sep 8, 2016




Grimey Drawer

Wuthering Heights is a great story about how Heathcliff ruins everyone's life but people persist in trying to label it a love story. I doubt Meyer is familiar with it beyond the obvious plot.

Thanks for the reading, chitoryu. I keep having war flashbacks to the twilight fandom days as a teen.

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chitoryu12
Apr 23, 2014



PsychedelicWarlord posted:

Wuthering Heights is a great story about how Heathcliff ruins everyone's life but people persist in trying to label it a love story. I doubt Meyer is familiar with it beyond the obvious plot.

She was accidentally right anyway, as Edward is an abusive stalker and Bella can credibly be called a sociopath.

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