"What can I do for you?" he asked us pleasantly, rising from his seat.
You can set off a nuke, destroying everybody and everything in this book. Or you can bring me cookies. Either works.
So Edward announces that he wants to show Bella some of Carlisle's history, even though she really doesn't have any reason to give a crap about Carlisle.
"Not at all. Where are you going to start?"
"The Waggoner," Edward replied,
Does it strike anybody else as weird that Edward using an archaic form of "wagoner" is spelled out correctly in Bella's empty head? This is not a spelling of the word that is still used.
And since Bella has a vagina and must be treated like a piece of meat, Edward just grabs her and spins her around instead of just saying, "Turn around." And of course, Bella practically orgasms over how hot it is. Apparently he can't just ask her to look at the wall they just came through, which has a bunch of framed pictures on it. Bella just tries to perceive how matchy-match they are, which doesn't say much about her artistic knowledge.
Edward pulled me toward the far left side, standing me in front of a small square oil painting in a plain wooden frame.
"Being a clumsy idiot I immediately fell over, but he just dragged me by the hair and yanked me upright. It was SOOOOOO hot!"
So basically it's a picture of... London of the 1560s. Which sounds more interesting than it is, since it just shows the Thames, the rooftops, and a bridge. It's effectively like those cheesy quaint town-scape paintings you can buy for ten bucks.
But when Edward asks Carlisle to tell the story, Carlisle pusses out by announcing that he's got to go to work and he then leaves. Wow, that was a completely pointless and unengaging story, and Carlisle's screen time has now been upped to a WHOLE THREE MINUTES. I am SO glad that half this chapter will be devoted to his backstory when he's had less screentime and less development than Jessica. HEY SMEYER: just because a character is a vampire doesn't mean that they are automatically interesting. Or likable.
After another warm smile for me, Carlisle left the room.
"I'm just going to get her cage ready."
"When he knew what he had become," Edward said quietly, "he rebelled against it. He tried to destroy himself. But that's not easily done."
After all, heaven forbid one of the vampire characters be in DANGER from a human character! No! Must not be! So vampires have no fucking weaknesses except each other, and if Smeyers could kill THAT bit of tension she would!
So in the story, Carlisle jumped off cliffs, jumped in the ocean, and tried to starve himself while being emo. Wow, this is NOTHING like that part of Interview with the Vampire where Louis becomes so emo that he tries to starve himself... except Anne Rice actually DEALT with that impossible situation instead of giving her emo vampire an easy out.
What easy way out? Carlisle wandered off into the countryside and eventually drank the blood from a bunch of deer. See? Easy out! No moral ambiguity at all! He can just take the easy out and not have to worry about the moral ramifications of being a vampire, unless you happen to be a snotty elf. Seriously, this pissed me off when I first read this, because the aforementioned Rice DID NOT PUSS OUT ON THIS. She actually addressed it, and like in real life, there is not always an easy out. She basically said, "Sorry Louis, it's die or drink human blood. No third option." Her vampires are unable to drink bagged blood or animal blood - they need HUMAN blood from the actual HUMAN, and there is no alternate route so their consciences can be assuaged.
Seriously, what is the point of having vampires if you drain all the moral ambiguity and "are they predators or murderers?" from their story? It's like Smeyer is WORKING HARD to make sure the story and characters are as Suefully 2-D as possible, with all the wangst of Louis but none of the real moral concerns about being eternally damned and killing innocent people.
I fucking hate this book.
So since Carlisle was now perfect in every way, he went off and studied every night... and swam to France. Bella is shocked at the idea that someone would swim to France from ENGLAND, because as everybody knows, swimming across the English Channel is IMPOSSIBLE. Nobody EXCEPT a vampire could do that.
"People swim the Channel all the time, Bella," he reminded me patiently.
Oh, buzzkill. She was about to coo about how perfect and powerful the vampires are.
"Swimming is easy for us —"
"Everything is easy for you," I griped.
What the hell is she even complaining about? I mean, why the hell does this statement make her stop whining, except that her lack of personality means that Smeyers has to keep reminding us that she exists?
He chuckled darkly, and finished his sentence. "Because, technically, we don't need to breathe."
"We just do it recreationally. Sometimes we just sit around and breathe all evening. Woo, what a high!"
"You can't spring something like that on me, and then expect me not to say anything," I mumbled against his finger.
Yes, because after finding out he's a VAMPIRE and he fucking SPARKLES, it comes as such a huge shock to find out that a SPARKLING VAMPIRE doesn't breathe. The whole not-breathing thing is TOTALLY unbelievable, not like vampires and sparkling!
"You don't have to breathe?" I demanded.
"No, it's not necessary. Just a habit." He shrugged.
BULL. SHIT. You don't breathe out of habit any more than you poop out of habit. A habit is something you can voluntarily start, and something you can voluntarily break. BREATHING is a biological necessity which is controlled by your body WITHOUT YOUR SAY-SO. You can CHOOSE to stop, but eventually your body will take over and MAKE you breathe. Most of your important bodily functions like salivation, excretion, breathing, digestion, hormone regulation and heart pumping are not under your control because you would DIE if you ever fell asleep or lost focus.
So no, you can't get into the HABIT of breathing, because it is never voluntary to start with.
"How long can you go… without breathing?"
"Indefinitely, I suppose; I don't know. It gets a bit uncomfortable — being without a sense of smell."
There are people with almost no sense of smell. They are perfectly comfortable with this.
His features were immobile as stone.
It was SOOOOOOO HAWT!
So since Edward hasn't made a big deal of HOW VERY DANGEROUS he is in the last ten minutes, he starts whining about how, "I know that at some point, something I tell you or something you see is going to be too much. And then you'll run away from me, screaming as you go." Yes, because swimming the English channel, not breathing and killing deer are SO terrifying.
You are NOT SCARY. Deal with it!
"I won't stop you. I want this to happen, because I want you to be safe. And yet, I want to be with you. The two desires are impossible to reconcile…"
Seriously, enough with the "Woe is me, for I am sooper-dangerous but I also want the girl!" whining. Put on your big girl panties and stop whining, dammit.
"I'm not running anywhere," I promised.
"We'll see," he said, smiling again.
I want to run away. Can I run away now, preferably screaming and weeping that some idiots are actually saying that this book has shaped their views on literature and/or romance? Please?
So Edward goes back to showing us some painting of three vampires as Greek gods, which really doesn't have much to do with their actual story.
"Carlisle swam to France, and continued on through Europe, to the universities there."
- So, there's France, and there's "Europe."
- This is like the reverse of LKH's view of Europe, where France IS Europe... and Europe is France. For Smeyer, Europe is something unconnected to France.
- Thanks for specifying what universities in what countries and cities, you cosmopolitan bastard!
"By night he studied music, science, medicine — and found his calling, his penance, in that, in saving human lives." His expression became awed, almost reverent.
I hate to say this, but I think Carlisle is becoming even Suier than Bella, especially since we've devoted at least a CHAPTER'S worth of text to his backstory even though we've barely seen him. He has been in what, three scenes? And in two of them he doesn't even do anything.
Seriously, this guy is so obnoxiously perfect that he probably craps cotton candy - he's perfectly forgiving, kind, unselfish, controlled, he heals the sick and radiates sickening niceness at all times. Does he walk on water too?
Oh yeah, he's a creepy sexual predator who only seems to include teenagers into his little "family." There's that.
"I can't adequately describe the struggle; it took Carlisle two centuries of torturous effort to perfect his self-control."
It's almost equal to the struggle of reading this shitty book.
"Now he is all but immune to the scent of human blood, and he is able to do the work he loves without agony. He finds a great deal of peace there, at the hospital…"
All those helpless teenagers he can, er, HELP.
"He was studying in Italy when he discovered the others there. They were much more civilized and educated than the wraiths of the London sewers."
Because Italy has lots of art and stuff. Even Smeyers knows that! So logically their vampires would be arty and sophisticated... yeah, I don't quite understand that. It's not like Italians would magically be okay with bloodsucking undead where the English aren't. So what's the difference, pray? We're never told.
And the answer... is ultimately born of bigotry. So hang tight.
"Solimena was greatly inspired by Carlisle's friends. He often painted them as gods," Edward chuckled.
Because, like, who deserves to be depicted as gods OTHER than vampires? Nobody, that's who! They're like, perfect! Like, who OTHER than vampires would inspire a Baroque painter? (Yes, Solimena was a real painter... poor bastard)
And you gotta love the assumption that Bella knows who Solimena is. We've seen no indication that she knows ANYTHING about art of any era, or has any interest.
We're informed that these three vampires are Aro, Marcus and Caius, who are still in Italy "as they have been for who knows how many millennia." Well, judging from two of those names, I'm going to make a random stab in the dark and and say somewhere between three and two millennia, but I'm not as smart as Edward.
Anyway, Carlisle hung out with them because they were way cooler than he was, but he couldn't cope with the fact that they
I'mma gonna bring up the whole religion thing briefly to note that Stephenie Meyer is a Mormon... and the "good" vampires are led by Carlisle. He is a tall, blonde, blue-eyed white guy who spontaneously generates a morally superior way of life in defiance of the evil vampires who live in an Italian city, with no admitted outside earthly source for his ideas (ie, nobody before him did the right stuff). To avoid the Evil Vampires, he decided to go to the western United States and find a place where he could do things his way, as the head of a group of people who revere him for his saintly goodness despite some very questionable issues.
So... yeah. Carlisle is basically Vampire Joseph Smith. Normally I might say that these similarities are subconscious or coincidental... but just wait for New Moon. Things start getting ugly and extremely deliberate there.
"He was very lonely, you see."
"Yes, so lonely that he decided he wanted a teenage boy with him for always."
So Emo Carlisle was Emo, and fortunately people decided that vampires were HAHA just "fairy tales," which doesn't really matter because nobody would look at this bleeding-heart sparkling wuss and think "vampire." So he became a doctor, and when the flu epidemic of.... some year hit Chicago, he was doing doctorish things.
"But the companionship he craved evaded him; he couldn't risk familiarity."
Or lynch mobs, since the companionship he craved evidently was that of an underage boy.
"There was no hope for me; I was left in a ward with the dying. He had nursed my parents, and knew I was alone. He decided to try…"
... see, this is what I mean when I say that Smeyer doesn't acknowledge any sexuality outside of "so straight it hurts." I don't just mean that she refuses to have any gay or bisexual characters, although clearly she does. It's that she doesn't even want to look at her characters' actions and realize that some of them don't come across the way she intends, because it would imply sexuality that she doesn't want to acknowledge.
I mean, is there ANYONE who didn't think "sicko pedophile" when they heard this? I can't imagine that if a straight, non-pedophile man wanted an immortal, ETERNAL companion to keep him company, he would ignore all the women in the hospital in favor of a pretty teenage boy.
And I'm sorry, there is no other way to interpret this. I sincerely doubt that in a large city during a PLAGUE before the advent of modern medicine, there would be only ONE person with no immediate family who was dying. This plague lasted from 1918 to 1919, killed 600,000 people in America, and 8,500 of those victims were in CHICAGO. Apparently most of the victims were between twenty and forty. Is Smeyers seriously suggesting that the only dying person with no immediate family... in eight and a half THOUSAND people... was a pretty teenage boy? Because if she is, then fuhgeddaboutit.
Aside from the excessive creepiness of choosing an underage boy as his personal "companion," it's also freaky as hell that he chose a person who was ALONE. Who had no one to notice his absence. Who was completely vulnerable. Who could not give consent. Whom he could do whatever he wanted to, and whom he hid away from the world so that nobody would know what Carlisle was doing.
Think about it.
And it doesn't help that Smeyers likes to hammer the BLOODSUCKING = SEXY SEXY SEX!!!!! cliche right between our eyes. So, apparently Edward craving Bella's yummy blood is a metaphor for sex, but Carlisle "craving" the companionship of a pretty underage boy whom he turns into a vampire without his consent? Totally not sexual.
His voice, nearly a whisper now, trailed off. He stared unseeingly through the west windows. I wondered which images filled his mind now, Carlisle's memories or his own.
This is not diminishing the creep factor of this whole scene, Smeyers. Actually, this reaction is INTENSIFYING IT.
"And so we've come full circle," he concluded.
No! No we haven't! What is he even talking about?!
So Edward admits that he had a "typical bout of rebellious adolescence," which is stupid because he was mostly through that phase when he BECAME a vampire. It makes you wonder if your brain chemistry freezes when you become a vampire, making you into a horny emo adolescent forever.
So he went off by himself and gave up the whole animal-blood thing for the typical vampire diet... meaning he murdered human beings. Does this bother Bella? HELL NO.
"Really?" I was intrigued, rather than frightened, as I perhaps should have been.
Please, please let this idiot be eaten by a mob of crazed vampires. And let it be described in loving graphic detail.
Seriously, WHY AM I SUPPOSED TO LIKE BELLA? She finds out that Edturd has murdered people deliberately, in cold blood, and she literally doesn't give a damn. Forget fright, there's not even an intellectual disapproval here, because Smeyer can't admit that her fantasy man is anything but "perfect."
"That doesn't repulse you?"
"I guess… it sounds reasonable."
Yes, the whole sucking blood from victims and leaving them to either die or become vampires as well sounds VERY reasonable. Again, this wouldn't be a problem if the vampires were depicted with the slightest hint of moral ambiguity. Instead, we're supposed to see them as shining paragons of morality.
And maybe this wouldn't bother me so much... if Smeyer hadn't dismissed the idea of vampires as murderous monsters EARLIER IN THE BOOK. Remember that fun part where Bella skipped over hundreds and hundreds of vampire myths, all of them explaining that vampires are murderous monsters that kill people. The ONLY one she wanted to read was the one that said that vampires were nice and friendly and wouldn't hurt humans.
So... I don't know what the fucking point of that scene was, because apparently it doesn't MATTER to Bella that... the legends about vampires being murderous monsters WERE RIGHT. Smeyer brought up the idea of benevolent vampires... and then cast it aside to inform us that the most supposedly saintly of the vampires DELIBERATELY MURDERED PEOPLE. And not to stay alive or out of hunger, since he KNEW that he could survive on animal blood. He CHOSE just to say "fuck you, Vampire Dad!"
In other words, she could have had Bella looking at all the entries about murderous, bloodsucking monsters who prey on the innocent... and had Bella's reaction be "Yup, okay. Whatever."
SO WHAT WAS THE FUCKING POINT OF FUCKING BRINGING UP THE IDEA? Or does Smeyer just like reminding us that Bella is a complete sociopath who doesn't fucking care if people die, because they were just ordinary HUMANS?
Edward whines about how his entire vampiric unlife, he's been able to hear everybody and so he took ten years to say "Eff you, man!" to Carlisle because saintly Carlisle is just SO sincere and wonderful. Yes Smeyers, wet your panties over how amazing Vampire Joseph Smith is yet again. We haven't heard you singing his praises often enough.
"It took me only a few years to return to Carlisle and recommit to his vision."
... what vision?
No, seriously, what vision? Is this some sort of sexual euphemism? We've never heard about Carlisle having any kind of "vision" except refusing to drink human blood... which isn't a vision. I mean, if a person refuses to eat meat, that doesn't mean they have a "vision."
This brings me to another big problem with the Cullens: there is no real basis for their whole way of life. You would think that vampires choosing not to prey on humans would be a moral issue; say, that Carlisle was a very devout Christian in his human life, so he believes it's wrong to kill humans for food. That would work beautifully. And the whole idea is that he gets other vampires who also would feel bad about killing vampires, so they can live lives that are as morally acceptable to their beliefs as possible. Because life should be treasured and preserved whenever possible, and after all, these people were what they used to be. So you would expect them to feel some affinity to human beings, along with a sad knowledge that now they are no longer alike.
Except... that isn't what happened.
I hate to keep bringing up Midnight Sun, but since it gives us first-hand knowledge of Edward and his family, it's kind of unavoidable. See, in that book we find that Edturd doesn't value humans at all. AT ALL. He seems them as livestock, doesn't feel any kind of guilt at the idea of killing them, and only avoids killing because it would make Esme and Carlisle sad. Not because it's bad, or because it causes suffering, but for the selfish wish to not have two people make sad eyes at him.
The other vampire "kids" don't have any moral compunctions either. Jasper is always about to eat people and doesn't show any signs of empathy, Alice only cares about Bella and nobody else, Rosalie doesn't give a shit as long as they don't have to move again, and Emmett outright tells Edturd to just kill Bella and get it over with. Hell, Vampire Joseph Smith apparently has no problems with killing. His only reason for not wanting Edturd to kill Bella is because it would make Charlie sad, and that... is somehow something he cares about. Not that killing is bad. It's that ONE PARTICULAR SPESHUL SNOWFLAKE'S DEATH would be bad.
So what the hell is this "vision"? It's not based on any actual belief or moral stance. It's hollow and meaningless. And it doesn't make the Cullens look "good," because they're doing things with no logical reason to do them. They do them because Smeyer doesn't want moral ambiguity, and having Edward kill people would make him look imperfect. So he does hollow, fake things to maintain the semblance of a decent person with a soul, merely because it will make him look good.
I suspect a lot of Smeyer's life is like that, really.
"Because I knew the thoughts of my prey, I could pass over the innocent and pursue only the evil. If I followed a murderer down a dark alley where he stalked a young girl — if I saved her, then surely I wasn't so terrible."
Edward Cullen, we have a call from a Mr. de Lioncourt of New Orleans. He's demanding that you give back his personal moral-vampire-thing RIGHT NOW because you're making it sound stupid and lame, and he did it long before Smeyers had her dreams about you. Also, you sparkle and that offends him.
Bella, of course, thinks about how hot and awesome he must have looked. Does this girl have any blood in her tiny brain, or is it all further down?
It must be, because her boyfriend just confessed to MURDER. Cold-blooded, premeditated murder. No joke.
And of course, Smeyer tries to soft-pedal it by claiming oh, he was only killing serial killers and rapists... which there seemed to be a conveniently large number of. Funny how they apparently didn't run out. I guess her logic is that if you kill bad people, it doesn't count as murder. How nice for Edturd and his shriveled excuse for a conscience!
But you know what? He could have saved those girls and stopped the murderers WITHOUT killing them. But he wanted to drink blood as a sort of "teen rebellion," so he killed them for his own selfish reason, with the "saving the girls" thing as a lame-duck cover so he wouldn't seem like a murderer. Except he is. Just because you're killing a murderer doesn't mean you're not one yourself. Just ask Jack Ruby.
I think this is Smeyer copying Anne Rice again, since her "moral" vampires would try to drink mainly from killers. But the thing is, her vampires also didn't have the "out" of being able to drink animal blood. They can only have human blood, so targeting killers is just limiting the damage they do to human society.
Think of it this way. Imagine that there was a person you really despised, and you wanted to kill them. You knew this person was planning to murder someone else. So instead of calling the cops and tipping them off, or warning the potential victim, you just get a spiked club and beat the potential murderer to death. You're not doing it to save the potential victim, but just using their plight as an excuse to get your way. THAT IS FUCKING MURDER.
So then Edward talks about how he went home to Carlisle and Esme because "I began to see the monster in my eyes." Yeah, because murdering other people is only a problem if YOU feel bad about it. And since Carlisle is sickeningly, creepily nice, he and Esme welcomed him back instantly and they became a happy little fake family again.
"My room," he informed me, opening it and pulling me through.
Yeah, of course he would. After all, after a century of never getting laid, he's wasting no time!
Anyway, we get a boring description of how his room is full of CDs with a huge sound system and no bed, only a wide and inviting black leather sofa. Yeah, I bet it's inviting. A bed, a couch, a mini dog bed, a tree in the woods, a pile of rusty metal - anything would seem inviting to her if it meant getting some of Edward's cold stony lovin'.
The floor was covered with a thick golden carpet, and the walls were hung with heavy fabric in a slightly darker shade.
... so what, wallpaper and paint aren't good enough for Eddie? I'm getting horrible flashbacks to the Anita Blake series, and that incredibly tacky Circus of the Damned with its fabric draped over the walls. Also gold-and-silver overstuffed furniture, and fans in frames.
Eddie turns on some elevator music, and they have another boring conversation about how he organizes his music. Just fascinating, isn't it? I mean, I just don't feel that Frodo Baggins is a full and complete character because I don't know how he organizes his underwear.
"I was prepared to feel… relieved."
"But you seem to not be having sex with me, so somehow I don't."
"Having you know about everything, not needing to keep secrets from you. But I didn't expect to feel more than that. I like it. It makes me… happy." He shrugged, smiling slightly.
Wow, he's certainly had a tepid emotional reaction, hasn't he? Then again, Smeyers' characters are apparently barred from having any kind of emotional satisfaction until they meet their Wun Troo Luv, because you simply CANNOT be a whole content person in yourself.
"You're still waiting for the running and the screaming, aren't you?" I guessed.
A faint smile touched his lips, and he nodded.
"Because I'm scary! I'm really, really scary! Scarier than anything else! Please tell me I'm scary! Please! Validate my existence!"
"I hate to burst your bubble, but you're really not as scary as you think you are. I don't find you scary at all, actually," I lied casually.
I was actually agreeing with her until the "I lied" part. Because despite Smeyers' pathetic attempts to convince us otherwise, HE IS NOT SCARY. He is a sparkling whining prettyboy who TELLS us he's dangerous but never SHOWS us. And his constant reiteration doesn't make him seem MORE dangerous, but LESS. It makes it seem like he's desperately compensating.
Hell, Bella has REPEATEDLY STATED that she is not frightened of him, even though a smarter person would be. So... how is this a lie? DOES MEYER EVEN READ HER OWN FUCKING BOOKS?
So since Eddie's fragile little ego has been bruised by how unscary he is, he pounces on Bella and slams her into the sofa, even KNOCKING IT AGAINST THE WALL. Yeah, add this to Edward's list of dickish actions. But don't worry, because apparently vampires make you immune to the laws of momentum.
All the while, his arms formed an iron cage of protection around me — I was barely jostled.
This is not physically possible. If he's moving SO FUCKING FAST that you can't even see him, having his arms around you will not magically neutralize the motion. This is the most basic physics there is.... and SMEYERS GOT IT WRONG. Did this woman graduate from kindergarten?!
And since Edward is an asshole, he physically forces her into the fetal position and forces her to stay against him. No, Bella's attempts to get free are completely ignored, but apparently we're supposed to be charmed by this because he seemed well in control, his jaw relaxed as he grinned, his eyes bright only with humor. Yes, because rapey physical assaults and holding someone against their will is just SO CUTE when it's done with a smile.
"You were saying?" he growled playfully.
"That you are a very, very terrifying monster," I said, my sarcasm marred a bit by my breathless voice.
"Much better," he approved.
And if she'd refused to humor him by rewarding his rotten behavior, what would he do then? Cry? Sulk? Run down the stairs wailing for Esme because his girlfriend is saying mean things about him?
"Um." I struggled. "Can I get up now?"
He just laughed.
This is actually scary, but not in the oooh-scary-super-vampire way that Smeyers wants. This is scary in the serial-killer/rapist/do-you-have-Mace-because-you-need-it kind of way. HOW ROMANTIC.
Then Alice asks if she can come in, and Edward puts Bella on his lap despite her obviously not wanting him to.... because he's an asshole that way.
Alice seemed to find nothing unusual in our embrace; she walked — almost danced, her movements were so graceful — to the center of the room, where she folded herself sinuously onto the floor.
Has Smeyers ever seen a person who dances instead of walking? They look really stupid.
So do people who make a big deal of "gracefully" sitting down.
"It sounded like you were having Bella for lunch, and we came to see if you would share," Alice announced.
That's the first intentionally funny line in this whole book. Get outta there, Alice - you're too good for Twilight!
Anyway, Bawla is sufficiently humorless that she doesn't realize this is a joke until she sees that Edward is grinning. I don't see how she could since she was supposed to be sitting in his lap.
"Sorry, I don't believe I have enough to spare," he replied, his arms holding me recklessly close.
So, what's reckless about it? Are her ribs bending? Could she get pregnant from this? WHAT?
But no, it turns out that Alice has foreseen a thunderstorm that night (assuming that a butterfly over the amazon doesn't flap its wings), and Emmett wants to play baseball. BASEBALL. OF ALL FUCKING THINGS. We get a boring speech about Bella coming to watch them play ball, and how they can't play unless there's a thunderstorm in the area.
"You will be watching," Edward clarified. "We will be playing baseball."
I rolled my eyes. "Vampires like baseball?"
"It's the American pastime," he said with mock solemnity.
Hear that THUNK? That was my head hitting the table as they suck whatever microscopic shreds of coolness might be left from these stupid sparklepires.
Seriously, vampire baseball? There are a few authors like Jim Butcher who could pull this silly stuff off and make it work... but honestly if Jim Butcher were drunk and had lethal flu, he would still outwrite Stephenie Meyer. And really, only someone like him or Rachel Caine could pull it off even SLIGHTLY. Smeyers is just making them look progressively less awesome.