It was seventy-five degrees in Phoenix, the sky a perfect, cloudless blue.
I'm assuming this is very early spring or winter, because despite what Meyers seems to want us to think, Arizona is not exactly the Garden of Eden. It's kind of hot. And dry. And hot. And dry. And I've been there, and I didn't like it.
I mean, it has rocks! And spiny things! And snakes that can kill you! And more rocks!
Okay, before anyone from the desert tells me that I suck and Arizona doesn't, I know people have their preferences in climate, just like anything else. I just don't understand why Bella is supposedly so enamored of Arizona, considering that she apparently never goes out in the sun.
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.
I'm not sure why Smeyers feels the need to tell us this, except as a Suey gesture wherein clothes must always be described if they are on the main character. And usually items of clothing that you actually put on your body don't count as "carry on items."
In the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington State, a small town named Forks exists under a near-constant cover of clouds.
Which seems more appropriate for Bella, since she has all the brightness and sweetness of a lump of frozen clay.
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.
- And here we have the first indicator that Bella is a selfish bitch.
- See, this is what I bring up whenever someone says that Bella is an unselfish person who cares TOO MUCH about everyone but herself.
- She literally does not care that her mother DUMPED her father... because that divorce keeps her from having to live somewhere she doesn't like.
- For further explanation: her father experienced the destruction of his marriage, the loss of the woman he loved AND long months of never seeing his only child for many years... but Bella doesn't give a shit, because she's busy thinking about HERSELF.
- And as the final cherry on top, she doesn't give a shit if the "a few months" of seeing her father is shortened to "two weeks"... as long as she doesn't have to stay anyplace she doesn't like.
- That's the very picture of unselfish saintly kindness.
So of course, having bitched about this town and all its defects, she tells us, It was to Forks that I now exiled myself— an action that I took with great horror. I detested Forks. So why is she going to live there full-time, after spending years and years avoiding going there? Why, it's because she's so selfless and mature and caring, despite throwing baby tantrums for the past few years about the idea of spending a month there.
The alleged reason is that Bella's mom and stepdad are... doing something related to his minor-league baseball career. Apparently they have no friends whom they could leave a seventeen-year-old with for a couple months, so the only option is for Bella to move.
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…
Oh, right. So she's the Grown-Up of the family, wise and mature beyond her years and all that crap. Her poor mummy is such a blithering idiot that Bella has to babysit her all the time, but that's okay because it makes Bella look super-mature.
Sorry, I find this unbelievable. Not only because Bella has just been introduced, and has demonstrated that she only cares about herself. Her mother allegedly left her ex husband when Bella was a baby. Are we supposed to believe that Bella has been cooking, filling the car, calling the police when mommy gets befuddled and paying the bills since infancy? Or is her mom supposed to have gotten some sort of brain damage?
And for that matter, how would someone this monumentally stupid have managed to get all the way from Washington to Arizona? Hitchhiking?
"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.
So maybe Mommy should grow up and take responsibility for her whiny spawn, and Bella should stop pretending to be a martyr and paving the road for Mommy to be a brat.
Flying doesn't bother me;
I'm astonished. It seems to be the only thing that doesn't.
Bella starts wangsting about how her father has been incredibly happy and nice about her arrival. I can see why, because the poor man has only gotten to see her for a few weeks every year, most of which she's apparently spent whining about how horrible his home town.
... okay, maybe it IS surprising. But despite her having the personality of a rotten onion, he's registered her in high school and is planning to help her get a car. Basically, he's a dad above and beyond the call of duty.
But it was sure to be awkward with Charlie. Neither of us was what anyone would call verbose,
I'm not sue what you'd call these whiny rambling rants, if not verbose.
I'd already said my goodbyes to the sun.
Man, dial down the Dramahz already! We get it, you feel like you're descending into hell because you have to go to a town you don't like rather than the paradise on earth that is.... Phoenix.
Charlie is Police Chief Swan to the good people of Forks.
Swan, huh? Well, I guess that her...
Oh no... oh crap.
That means her name is "Bella Swan." Bella. Meaning "beautiful." Stephenie Meyer actually gave her main character the name "beautiful swan."
You know, I am not even one chapter in, and already Meyer has given the main character a despicably selfish personality, a transparently Suey name, and a bitchy, whiny, melodramatic inner voice. FIRST. CHAPTER. This does not promise good things.
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.
And what brat princess wants, brat princess evidently gets. Heaven forbid Charlie just say, "Tough tits, Bella. You either ride in the police cruiser or you walk." She might put her foot down again! And nothing is scarier than Bella putting her foot down!
Nothing slows down traffic like a cop.
In a town as allegedly small as Forks, you would think it wouldn't actually matter that much. It's not like it's set on the friggin' Autobahn.
So anyway, Bawla Wan (not a typo) arrives at the airport and he dad rather awkwardly greets her. They exchange vapid pleasantries for a minute, during which Bella contemplates that, I wasn't allowed to call him Charlie to his face. Yeah, because calling him "Dad" might imply that you're not the one in charge. I'm not surprised she constantly refers to him by his name rather than by "Dad," since her royal highness seems to consider her dad to be a lowly creature beneath her respect.
Then she whines a bit more about how her awesome Arizona wardrobe isn't suited for Washington's like-totally-dismal weather, and how she and her mom had bought as many winter clothes as possible. But like, she's practically naked - her clothes actually fit in a car trunk! Quelle horreur!
And then Charlie irritates her further by announcing that he's found a car for his spoiled princess.
"What kind of car?" I was suspicious of the way he said "good car for you"as opposed to just "good car."
Given that I am some years older than Bawla Swan and still can't afford a car... fuck you, Bella. I am not exactly weeping tears of pity over her rough life of Dickensian deprivation.
It turns out that her impending car is a Chevy truck that belongs to an old fishing buddy from the local Indian reservation. Bella interrogates her dad about where he got it and who this dude is, while sneering that that would explain why I didn't remember him. I do a good job of blocking painful, unnecessary things from my memory. Yeah, this guy has done absolutely nothing to her, and will in fact be MUCH nicer than she deserves through this entire series. But she's going to be a giant raging twat anyway.
Her dad says that the poor guy is now in a wheelchair and can no longer drive, so Charlie got a good deal on the truck. Of course Bella's good fortune in getting an ultra-cheap truck from a man who can NO LONGER WALK OR DRIVE is completely ignored, because she starts demanding to know what year it is. Oh well, the guy who's crippled from the waist down is much luckier than Bawla, because he doesn't have to leave Phoenix for FORKS! Truly no one is as tragic as she!
And oh our poor unselfish heroine, she's got an OLD TRUCK with a new engine. Never mind that she would realistically be one of the few teens with actual transportation of her own - all that matters is ewwwww she's got a big old truck rather than a sleek little car like she deserves. But she finally simmers down once her dad reveals that she won't have to pay a cent, and it's a present to her. Amazingly, she doesn't whine about how he totally should have bought her a Mercedes as a present.
It's really impossible not to pity this Charlie dude. He lives in SADS central all year round. His ex-wife is a selfish flake who dumped him because she didn't like the climate and clearly didn't give a shit about him. His daughter is a selfish brat who also hates his hometown, avoids seeing him, and hasn't got a shred of respect or liking for him unless he's giving her expensive presents. She also prefers her moron of a mother, presumably because "Mommy gets me whatever I want!"
Charlie wasn't comfortable with expressing his emotions out loud. I inherited that from him.
Which is pretty hilarious since she spends the rest of the series shrieking her "love" for Edturd from the rooftops, having TWO massive emotional meltdowns in the second book, and being an insufferable bitch around anyone sycophantic enough to put up with her shit.
So neither of them talk for awhile, and since Bella basically whines like a looped recording all day every day, she hates the uniquely temperate rainforest around her: 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.
Oh, just shut up. You know they could plop the Seven Wonders of the world in the middle of all this, and Bella would whine about it because waaaaaaa it isn't Phoenix!
Amazing, the one thing she doesn't hate about her new life is the truck, which she inexplicably loves because, I could see myself in it. She doesn't care if it runs or if it's ugly, she just cares that she might look cool in it. We're never told WHY this particular car is so alluring to her, except that it's as unattractive as she is. That, and she won't be offered the truly horrifying choice of either walking TWO WHOLE MILES to school or driving in (eek!) a cop car.
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.
How horrible! I would expect the Sue Princess to have at least two bathrooms for her personal use! I mean, imagine having to SHARE! HORRORS, I say!
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.
How very terrible for Bella Wan and her terrible, terrible life. Seriously, it's becoming very difficult to give a damn about a whiny, picky little princess who hates everything and whines about everything, and considers it the end of life as we know it to be moving out of Phoenix. Her dad has actually been awesome to her and has made the transition as easy as possible, and she's just griping about how awful it is to pretend to be happy.
You know, a well-written character can convey a difficult life without whining nonstop. One of my favorite urban fantasy series is Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. Aside from the hero's rotten past, for most of the series he lives in a basement apartment the size of a shoebox, with no electricity and which he shares with a pony-sized dog and sheep-sized cat (as well as a snarky skull). He makes almost no money. His car is an ancient object that regularly sheds its parts. His job is a joke.
And you know what? He doesn't complain about it. Not even when his brother moved in and a fungus demon ate his backseat! Hell, he doesn't complain about it when his office and apartment blow up, his cat vanishes, his best friend loses her beloved job because of him, and he has to kill his true love. SO SHUT UP, BELLA.
I would be the new girl from the big city, a curiosity, a freak.
- And won't she be disappointed if they DON'T stare and whisper? "THEY'RE IGNORING MEEEEEEE!"
- Smeyer, this is not the 19th century... and yes, I know that bothers you. But transfer students are not that unusual or "freakish." People moving into new towns are no longer a big deal. Yes, even small towns.
- I used to live in an area more rural than this, and you know what? Nobody gave a flying shit when someone new moved into the neighborhood or started attending school. At all.
- And since Bella is so humble and unassuming, she AUTOMATICALLY assumes everyone will give a damn about her.
- "Big city," you condescending twatbag? Forks is not that far away from the city of Seattle, which is 15th on the list of MSAs. By population, it's 20th. Yes, Phoenix is a bigger city, but you know what? There are other cities like Houston, L.A., Chicago and Philadelphia on the list, not to mention NYC... all of which have more to recommend them than Phoenix does.
- Logically, we should assume that anyone from those cities should see THEMSELVES as a "big city" person compared to Bawla. A person from NYC would laugh themselves sick at Bella styling herself a "big city" person because she lived in the middle-class suburbs of Phoenix.
- And it's not like Bella's "big city" life actually involved... you know, living in the big city. She seems to have gone to school and done nothing else. No mention of friends, hobbits, interests, anything... just that she likes her schools to feel like prisons.
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.
Ah, another Sue trait - being totally different from all those cookie-cutter outdoorsy blondes! She doesn't fit in anywhere, poor her. How strange and unique she is. MARVEL AT HER UNIQUENESS, DAMMIT!
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
- So basically she's pasty, out-of-shape and skinny-fat.
- Since Bella is the author's avatar, she's basically required to be stunningly attractive but utterly unaware of this fact. She will only see her beauty as a defect. Oh woe is her, she's not a tan blonde!
- And note that she has to make a HUGE DEAL of how she has the palest of pale skin, the kind you normally find on ginger people. But it's also magically untouched by that sun she loves so much, even though fair skin, being exposed to sunlight, tends to either burn or freckle.
- I also love how she has to mention that she is TOTALLY not an athlete, and NOBODY would ever think she was. I can interpret this in two ways: either Smeyer wants us to know that Bella is lazy and everyone knows it, or she thinks athletic women are mannish, gross, undesirable creatures, and a PROPER woman should just sit passively and sew petticoats or something.
- Apparently she's supposed to look like THIS:
I wonder why.
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.
Evidently Smeyers thinks that superhuman clumsiness is somehow a valid character flaw in an otherwise perfect person. Well, it's not. And if it's THIS exaggerated, it's definitely not good enough. You'd have to be anesthetized from the knees down to be THAT klutzy.
Also, it's not a real FLAW like, say, being snarky or having a quick temper or being a little selfish.
I was forced to admit that I was lying to myself. It wasn't just physically that I'd never fit in.
"Oh woe! I'm such a lonely outsider that no one understands! Just like all the others!"
I imagine Meyers thinks that this makes Bella a deep and unique character, but honestly she sounds like every other teenage Mary Sue ever written. All of whom are special, too smart, misunderstood, and too deep for their stupid peers... with no actual evidence to support this.
I didn't relate well to people my age.
Because she's deep! Wise! Mature! DEEP, I tell you! It's NOT being a bitchy snob, it's being DEEP!
Maybe the truth was that I didn't relate well to people, period.
Funny, isn't that one of the things they say about budding serial killers?
Sometimes I wondered if I was seeing the same things through my eyes that the rest of the world was seeing through theirs.
Yup, she's a sparkling Speshul Snowflake that sees everything differently, and nobody understands her deep soul. Just like every other whiny emo teen.
So then she cries all night and I pulled the faded old quilt over my head, and later added the pillow, too. If she'd just pressed down, then the book could have shifted to someone a little more interesting.
And the next morning she whines even harder about how Forks is making her claustrophobic and good luck avoids her and it's soooooo embarrassing to have her school pictures on the wall. After griping about how pathetic her dad's house is, and by extension how pathetic her dad is, she turns her attention back to the climate, which is EWWWWWWWW wet.
Apparently Stephenie Meyer thinks the best way to convey misery is to be a bitchy bitchy bitch about everything. Which it isn't. You can convey depression and misery WITHOUT sneering at everything.... and sneering at everything is all Bella does. She doesn't seem like a person who's actually unhappy. She seems like a bitchy, whiny slag who dislikes wherever she is and whatever she's surrounded by... until she goes somewhere else, and then suddenly her past home is a paradise.
If she actually were in Phoenix, you know she'd be bitching about her house, the sun, the dryness, etc. Which is exactly what she does later on.
As the peak of all the stupid, she also gripes about how there are actual SHRUBS around the school and how it's not set up like a minimum security prison where they expect the students to shoot the teachers. Where was the feel of the institution? I wondered nostalgically. Where were the chain-link fences, the metal detectors? Waaaaaaaa, I want it to be miserable and prisonlike! Stop making it comfortable or pleasant! I WANT IT THE WAY I WANT IT!
So Bella drags herself into the place and meets an extremely friendly and helpful woman, whom she basically ignores. Then she contemplates how she's glad all the other students are pathetically uncool as she is, and tries not to draw their attention with MonsterTruck.
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.
Aha! See what Smeyer did there? She talked about people "biting" her in a book about VAMPIRES! Brilliant! Brilliant, I say! BE IMPRESSED, DAMMIT!
So she tries her absolute best to avoid having people notice her at all, short of holding up a maroon blanket to blend into the wall like a ninja. I mean it's such a DRAAAAAAG when people pay attention to you.
In a realistic book, a few people might notice Bella in her actual classes, but most wouldn't notice another brunette white girl wearing bland sexless clothing. In this book? EVERYONE notices her. Teachers, students, everybody. They're ALL staring at Bella as if she actually were interesting, and she's just so mortified by all the attention. Poor poor her!
A lot of people - including Smeyer herself - have tried to claim that this is because small-town schools are so dull and so full of rubes that anything new gets lots of attention. This is absolutely untrue, both in real life and in the books. In fact, New Moon features a new transfer student... and no, she receives not even a fraction of the attention Bella does in this book. Furthermore, the Cullens transferred in a relatively short time before, and yet nobody really pays attention to them despite their alleged superhuman beauty.
So yes, there is only one possible reason for everyone to be dazzled by Bella: because she's just so beautiful and alluring that everyone can't stop staring. Vom.
It was fairly basic: Bronte, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Faulkner. I'd already read everything. That was comforting… and boring.
Awww, did they fail to run the curriculum by Bella to make sure it met her exalted standards? Is the public school system failing to amuse her?
And this is another clumsy attempt by Meyers to convince us that Bella is, like, really deep and smart and stuff. I mean, she reads CLASSIC BOOKS which means she's deep and smart and wise beyond her teenage years. She's like totally on another level from the other, shallower kids who probably haven't read any of the basic classics.
... even though those books are on the fucking curriculum for many schools. And honestly, it wouldn't surprise me if Smeyer hasn't read much more in her life than those books, but apparently views herself as an intellectual because she was REQUIRED to read Smart People Books.
But oh horrors!
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.
I think Twilight just got its first official Cliche Nerd. I'm surprised Smeyers didn't also give him coke-bottle glasses and a pocket protector, or maybe an obscure sci-fi T-shirt.
What am I saying? Smeyers wouldn't admit to knowing about any obscure sci-fi movies/TV shows. She probably thinks Firefly is a glowy bug, and a xenomorph is some Biblical demon.
Anyway, Bella talks to the nerd (whose name is Eric) because she has to to make the minimum politeness quotient. It's obvious she can't stand him, and she's completely paranoid about the dozens and dozens of people who are staaaaaaaring at her. Note: she isn't worried that they hate her, or think she's weird, or anything like that. She just doesn't want any attention at ALL, of any kind. Because... being rude and antisocial = humility.
Eric asks about Phoenix, and Bella immediately blows him off completely because he's only a Cliche Nerd. What a kind unselfish person she is.
"You don't look very tan."
"My mother is part albino."
Then when he fails to appreciate her sledgehammer wit, Bella starts internally whining about how clouds and humor don't mix, and how waaaaaa soon she'll lose her sarcasm. Don't worry Bella, nobody will miss your biting Wildean wit. Oh what's that you say? You don't know who the hell Wilde is? Big surprise. He isn't a part of the high school curriculum.
For the rest of the day Bella whines about how people are daring enough to actually LOOK at her, INTRODUCE her and even SPEAK to her. This is treated as being some sort of freakish phenomenon, as if she's been transported to an alien planet and been put in a zoo, rather than a totally normal way of greeting newcomers.
Then Bella switches to contempt for the various other girls, whose names Brat Princess can't even be bothered to remember. When one girl tries to be nice to her by introducing her to her friends and sitting with her in the cafeteria, Bella reestablishes her superiority by ignoring all of them, plus poor Cliche Nerd. Isn't she just sooooooo awesome? What a kind, unselfish person.
Then she sees.... THEM. The Hot Rich People.
Having talked about how terrible it is to have people stare, Bella proceeds to stare at the Hot Rich People across the cafeteria - one's a big meathead, one's a thin blonde guy with no real presence, and one is lanky and red-haired. Smeyers says bronze, but since he's a Gary Stu you have to take it with a grain of salt. There's a hot blonde babe who is basically Bella's opposite in every way, and a pretty pixie girl who apparently doesn't walk so much as dance (I suspect she's supposed to be quirky).
They're also all paler than the usual Forks people... which, considering the lack of sunlight, means they probably look like Tim Burton characters on crack.
Paler than me, the albino.
Oh please. You wish you were that unique, princess. You're just pasty and unhealthy-looking from staying indoors all day.
So having spent her entire time at school thinking about how much the people there suck because they look at her, obsess on her and whisper about her, Bella... stares at the Cullens, obsesses on them and tries to get as much information on them as possible. No, this is not meant to be ironic. It's just that since they're beautiful and hot and ignore the pathetic ordinary people... THEY ARE JUST LIKE HER! Unlike all these stupid common sheep, they are superior beings... LIKE HER! They came down from Alaska which means they're LIKE SO TOTALLY LIKE HER because they DIDN'T LIVE HERE AND NOW THEY DO!
It turns out they're the Cullens, adopted teenagers who live with the local doctor, and are considered weird by the locals (ewwwww, small town people!). Despite knowing nothing about them, Bella decides that everyone is just jealous of how Hot and Rich the Hot Rich People are. She's sounding more and more like a stalkery fangirl with each passing second.
And yes, it's quickly established that they ARE weird by any normal person's standards. But we're expected to think they are NOT weird, and the people of Forks are just narrow-minded and judgmental... which is funny, when you consider the racist, sexist, culturally-deaf approach of this story.
Bella is especially interested in the redheaded boy who is completely ignoring her except for a single second-long glance. Really, Bella's sounding more stalkerish with each moment, although I suppose this is supposed to be the Fascination of Twoo Wuv.
"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.
Of course, Bella would never have such petty emotions, sniff sniff. She's too good for all these pathetic girls who are stupid and ugly, but she's definitely awesome enough for Edward.
Then she bumps into Hot Rich Redheaded Guy in biology class, and is shocked when he... he looks angry at her. Oh horrors! The Hot Rich Guy is rejecting her! Time for a klutz attack! And though Edward spends the entire class trying to get as far away from her as possible, Bella continues her creepily obsessive little gestures.
Pay attention to biology? NEVER. She's got a Hot Rich Guy to lust after.
It couldn't have anything to do with me. He didn't know me from Eve.
Wow, and there's a reference to a half eaten apple. And hey.... the cover has a half-eaten apple on it too. And she mentions EVE... think there's a theme here? Oh, my brain is so tiny and I've read so few books!
He was glaring down at me again, his black eyes full of revulsion.
Evidently Hot Rich Guy hates Mary Sues too.
I sat frozen in my seat, staring blankly after him. He was so mean. It wasn't fair.
"He's not worshiping me! HE DOESN'T LOVE ME ON FIRST SIGHT! NOT FAIR! HE'S SO MEAN!"
See, this is why I don't buy the idea that Bella is actually bothered by people paying attention to her, like she claims she is. A SINGLE person in the entire school doesn't want anything to do with her? She's outraged and regards him as "mean," whines that it isn't "fair," and views him rejecting and ignoring her as being a personal attack.
And considering that the only person who isn't paying attention to her is also the wealthiest, richest boy in the entire school, and is the ONLY person she doesn't want to ignore/reject her... it kind of highlights that Bella is a shallow, gold-digging bitch.
She then ends up walking to Gym with a cute nice boy... whom she ignores because Hot Rich Guy ignored her.
Here, P.E. was mandatory all four years. Forks was literally my personal hell on Earth.
It's really hard to believe that a thirtysomething woman wrote this book. Apparently without effort, she manages to capture the selfish, whiny, emo, melodramatic, immature attitude of girls like Bella.
It turns out that Bella is volleyballphobic. Presumably this was because she is SUCH an adorable klutz that teehee she can't do anything in gym without dealing herself a deadly injury. I suspect it has more to do with laziness - the more time she isn't exercising, the more time she has to lie around groaning about how much her life sucks. Then she encounters Hot Rich Guy again:
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 can't blame him. The odor of a fine whine must be overpowering if you're sitting right next to Bella. Anyway she ends up upwind of him, and her Sue stench causes him to freak out and leave.
And that's only the first chapter. It gets way worse.