Ah, baseball. The old American standby, at least until we found more interesting sports to watch (like football… and American football). Unfortunately, there’s a lot to go through in this chapter before the infamous baseball scene, so hike up your shorts, men. We’re wading in.

Chapter 17: The Game

The scene opens with Edward pulling his car onto Bella driveway. Why they went to her house is beyond me, but hey, who am I to question? There’s trouble, however, as they see Jacob and Billy’s car in the driveway. Apparently they came to warn Charlie about.

Edward’s low voice was furious. “This is crossing the line.” (p. 349)

Is it necessary to tell us again that Edward’s voice was low, especially since we already “heard Edward mutter something unintelligible in a low, harsh voice” two paragraphs ago? This is the kind of thing that should scream “I am an amateur!” to any legitimate publisher.

Bella volunteers to talk to the Blacks.

To my surprise, he agreed. “That’s probably best. Be careful though, the child has no idea.”

I bridled a little at the word child. “Jacob is not that much younger than I am,” I reminded him.

He looked at me then, his anger abruptly fading. “Oh, I know,” he assured me with a grin. (p. 349)

Wait… what? What is that supposed to mean? Edward knows that he’s dating a girl one sixth his age? I don’t know which is worse- that Meyer feels the need to remind us of this fact, or that nobody in the story seems to care.

“You don’t have to leave,” I said wistfully.

He smiled at my glum expression. “Actually, I do. After you get rid of them”— he threw a dark glance in the Blacks’ direction— “You still have to prepare Charlie to meet your new boyfriend.” He grinned widely, showing all of his teeth. (p. 349)

Anyway, before leaving, Edward kisses Bella under the jaw, she has another arrhythmia, and life goes on as if she hadn’t. Then she goes to meet the Blacks.

At first it’s all pleasantries with Billy and Jacob. They’ve brought over some homemade fish fry for Charlie. Indeed, the seem pretty intent on talking with him. This could cause Bella some serious trouble.

“Fishing again?” Billy asked with a subtle gleam in his eye. “Down at the usual spot? Maybe I’ll run by and see him.”

“No,” I quickly lied, my face going hard. “He was headed someplace new… but I have no idea where.” (351)

Gee, good thing she’s such a good liar. Otherwise, the scene might have been legitimately suspenseful. Plus, there’s the little fact fact that she’s not SUPPOSED to be a good liar because she EXPLICITLY STATED that she was a bad liar earlier in the story. But hey, what kind of Mary Sue would she be if she let an actual character trait get in the way of an important plot point?

Billy gets thoughtful, and decides to talk to Bella before he goes off to find Charlie. He cleverly dismisses Jacob (who still thinks this whole vampire thing is a bunch of silly superstitions) by telling him to grab a picture from the trunk of his car. Then he begins to grill our protagonist.

He spoke each word carefully with his rumbling voice. “I noticed you’ve been spending time with one of the Cullens.”

“Yes,” I repeated curtly.

His eyes narrowed. “Maybe it’s none of my business, but I don’t think that is such a good idea.”

“You’re right,” I agreed. “It is none of your business.” (p. 352)

This sequence isn’t so bad. It shows Bella being resourceful and a little clever, reminding Billy of the pact between his tribe and the Cullens and generally refusing to be blackmailed. After a short debate over whose business is whose, Billy agrees to let Bella be, for the time.

“ It’s not my business,” he said. “But it may be Charlie’s.”

“Though it would be my business, again, whether or not I think it’s Charlie’s business, right?” I wondered whether he even understood my confused question as I struggled not to say anything compromising. But he seemed to. He thought about it while the rain picked up against the roof, the only sound breaking the silence.

I haven’t been this confused since The Matrix trilogy marathon.

“Yes,” he finally surrendered. “I guess that’s your business too.” (p. 353)

Surrendered? Really? Ditch the dialogue tags, Meyer; they don’t work. I suppose when all is said and done, I wish Billy had put up a little more fight here. He goes on to say that Bella shouldn’t be doing what she is doing, and it’s made clear (albeit through our protagonist’s super perceptiveness) that he is sincerely concerned for her well being.

At this point Jacob returns from the car, complaining bitterly that there was no photograph in the car, and the Blacks exit stage left. Now alone, Bella changes into casual clothes for the baseball game.

bq. As I concentrated on what was coming, what had just passed became insignificant. (p. 354)

Yes, Stephenie, thank you for reminding me what I’m supposed to care about.

Anyway, Bella struggles with apprehension and indecision for a couple of sentences before throwing on a shirt and jeans. Then the phone rang. Bella rushes for it, thinking it’s Edward, but it turns out to be Jessica. You remember Jessica, right? Bella’s shallow friend who only ever talked about Mike Newton? Well, she called to talk some more about Mike Newton, and what they did at the previous night’s dance.

“It was so much fun!” Jessica gushed. Needing no more invitation than that, she launched into a minute by minute account of the previous night. I mmm‘d and ahh‘d at the right places, but it wasn’t easy to concentrate. Jessica, Mike, the dance, the school— they all seemed strangely irrelevant at the moment.

Yes, I said thank you for telling me what I care about, Stephenie.

Oh, but it goes on.

My eyes kept flashing to the window, trying to judge the degree of light behind the heavy clouds.

“Did you hear what I just said, Bella?” Jess asked, irritated.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“I said, Mike kissed me! Can you believe it?” (p. 355)

Ughhhh… Ok, I can kinda see what Meyer is trying to do with this sequence. I place emphasis on the word “trying” because, quite frankly, it’s already been established to hell and back that if your classification doesn’t begin with a “V” and rhyme with “umpire”, Bella doesn’t care about you. I mean, reminding us that Bella has a regular life outside of her new boyfriend is not a bad idea; it adds to the drama when she is forced to flee Forks. The way it is written, however, the protagonist has to struggle to feign interest, completely neutering the drama. If she doesn’t care, why should we? Rather than raise the stakes of her story, Meyer simply ties up the romantic loose ends off screen so that Bella can get on with their obsessive codependence. Rather than set up conflict, this scene ensures that Jessica and Mike will never again contribute to the plot.

Anyway just as Jess is asking about Edward Cullen, Charlie arrives at the house, sparing Bella the trouble of answering. There’s a few paragraphs of domestic pleasantry, and then Bella tells her dad that she’s going out with that Cullen kid.

“Well, I sort of have a date with Edward Cullen tonight, and I wanted to introduce me to his parents… Dad?”

It appeared that Charlie was having an aneurysm.

“Dad, are you all right?”

“You are going out with Edward Cullen?” he thundered.

Uh-oh. “I thought you liked the Cullens.”

“He’s too old for you,” he ranted.

Damn straight, padre.

“We’re both juniors,” I corrected, though he was more right that he dreamed. (p. 357)

Anyway, it turns out that Charlie thought that she was going out with Emmett rather than Edward, though for someone who was actively pushing Mike Newton on his daughter, this reaction seems a little over the top. Anyway, Bella explains that Edward is the youngest of the family (i.e. she lies like she’s being paid), and Dad calms down. He still asks questions, and calls Edward “Edwin” a couple of times. Good old bumbling Dad, eh?

“You said last night that you weren’t interested in any of the boys in town.”

Attaboy, Charlie. Call her out.

“Well, Edward doesn’t live in town, Dad.”

Bullshit.

In any case, she tell him that Edward will be there in a few minutes to take her to watch a baseball game with the family.

Only in Washington would the fact that it was raining buckets have no bearing at all on the playing of outdoor sports. (p. 359)

More bullshit…

Finally, Edward shows up, and the narration pauses do describe how much like a model he looks. Not much interesting happens here. Or lead man comes into the house, talks with Charlie (who, to Bella’s relief, gets his name correct), and generally acts like an homage to the fifties.

“Don’t worry, Charlie, I’ll have her home early,” Edward promised.

“You take care of my girl, all right?”

I groaned, but they ignored me.

“She’ll be safe with me, I promise, sir.”

Charlie couldn’t doubt Edward’s sincerity, it rang in every word. (p. 359)

It turns out Edward brought another ridiculous car, this time a bright red monster Jeep so large that Bella needs his help to get into the thing. And then she needs his help getting the off-roading harness buckled. At this point I’m fairly certain Meyer gave up on trying to tell a story, and just began to write down every circumstance where Edward touches Bella that came into her mind.

I was glad that the rain was too heavy to see Charlie clearly on the porch. That meant he couldn’t see how Edward’s hand lingered at my neck, brushed along my collarbones. I gave up trying to help him and focused on not hyperventilating. (p. 360)

But (as usual) this is nothing compared to what’s coming. Turns out that Edward did not plan to drive all the way there, but to drop the car off near the woods and run the rest of the distance with Bella on his back. Naturally, Bella is reluctant, since the last time is still fresh in her memory. It left scared silly and a sick to her stomach. But even his girlfriends explicit objections don’t deter dear Edward.

“Hmmm…,” he mused as he quickly finished [unbuckling the safety harness]. “It seems I’m going to have to tamper with your memory.” (p. 361)

First he pins her to the side of the car.

He placed his hands against the Jeep on either side of my head and leaned forward, forcing me to press my back against the door. He leaned even closer, his face inches from mine. I had no room to escape.

Then he asks her why she’s afraid to ahem ride him, and she answers stubbornly.

Then he bent his head down and touched his cold lips softly to the hollow at the base of my throat.

“Are you still worried now?” He murmured against my skin. (p. 362)

Yes she is, though she can’t quite remember why. Edward still persists.

He kissed slowly down my cheek, stopping just at the corner of my mouth.

“Would I let a tree hurt you?” his lips barely brushed against my trembling lower lip.(p. 363)

And within a single page, Bella’s resistance has melted like butter before a blowtorch. Edward delivers the coup de grace with a kiss from his (and I quote) “unyielding lips”.

POP

I think that was one of my arteries. There’s blood rushing into my brain. I can feel the end coming. Finally, peace! Freedom from the burden of critiquing this gorram smut.

Get off the floor, Artimaeus.

You’re not fooling anybody.

Bugger… Just let me dust myself off.

Sigh… Well, let’s get the obvious out of the way. This genre book scene is made of wish fulfillment. Shameless, undiluted wish fulfillment. It doesn’t advance the story. It doesn’t add to the milieu. And it certainly doesn’t expand the characterization. It was written solely to give readers the thrill of being vicariously overpowered by anther’s sheer sex appeal.

Thing is, calling Meyer out on this would be much like calling out Tim Curry for cross-dressing.

I mean, it’s valid, but it won’t earn you any extra credit.

What we have here is the old school fantasy. Scenes like this one, where a woman is overcome by the forceful sensuality a man, were helping to sell crappy bodice-ripper romances long before Meyer took up the craft. Nor is it only good for female wish fulfillment, if James Bond (which I, still like, despite it all) is any indication. Seems guys like to vicariously dominate almost as much as girls like to be vicariously dominated. Is it sexist? Horribly. Unfortunate implications aplenty. But that is what you get when happens when you look at people’s base desires.

This is not, in itself, a bad thing. Most people fantasize about things that would not, under any real life-circumstances, be ethical or pleasurable (if you sincerely doubt me, look up “The Fisherman’s Wife” on wikipedia). Fantasies hurt nobody. The damage is done when people fail to differentiate between fantasy and reality. And that is ultimately why I’m here pointing out the obvious with as much wit as I can manage.

Let’s be honest, objectively speaking, worse shit than Twilight has been published. Hell, there are entire genres devoted to worse shit. What Twilight has that the worse shit does not is mainstream recognition: legions of noisy, obsessed fans who take this series as more than fluffy escapism and, if you ask me, desperately need the obvious spelled out for them.

So, here it is:

EDWARD CULLEN’S DOMESTIC ABUSE CHECKLIST: Do you…. – isolate you girlfriend, making her feel like there is nobody she can trust? – belittle your girlfriend, making her feel helpless? – spy on your girlfriend, denying her any form of privacy? – use sex to manipulate your girlfriend into doing things she’s opposed to?

Now where were we?

Ah, right, Edward kisses Bella… which triggers yet another lust attack. We have a paragraph describing Bella’s violent passion as she opens her mouth, clasps his hair, and presses her body against his. At least until Edward’s manly restraint kicks in.

He staggered back, breaking my grip effortlessly.

“Damn it, Bella!” he broke off, gasping. “You’ll be the death of me, I swear you will.” (p. 363)

For the record, I think that’s the first and only time anybody swears in this book. Personally, I can’t read it without laughing.

Anyway, moving on, Edward hoists his hapless girlfriend onto his back and runs off through the forest. It turns out that her fear was completely baseless; the ride was so smooth she could barely tell that they were moving. All she had to do was close her eyes and let the man take charge. Silly woman.

While climbing from her sparkly mount, Bella slips and falls on her back. Edward finds this riotously funny, and our protagonist stalks off, understandably peeved (it’s about damn time). But noble Edward chases her, first to tell her that she’s stalking off in the opposite direction of the baseball game, and then to comfort her.

“Don’t be mad, I couldn’t help myself. You should have seen your face.” He chuckled before he could stop himself.

“Oh, you’re the only one who’s allowed to get mad?” I asked, raising my eyebrows.

“I wasn’t mad at you.”

“‘Bella, you’ll be the death of me?’” I quoted sourly.

I tried to turn away from him, but he held me fast. (p. 365)

Edward then explains that is was not her that he was angry at, but himself.

“I’m never angry with you—how could I be? Brave, trusting… warm as you are.”

“Then why?” I whispered, remembering the black moods that pulled him away from me, that I’d always interpreted as well justified frustration— frustration at my weakness, my slowness, my unruly human reactions…

He put his hands carefully on both sides of my face. “I infuriate myself,” he said gently. “The way I can’t seem to keep from putting you in danger. My very existence puts you at risk. Sometimes I truly hate myself. I should be stronger, I should be able to—” (p. 366)

I placed my hand over his mouth. “Don’t.”

“I love you,” he said. “It’s a poor excuse for what I’m doing, but it’s still true. (p. 366)

I suppose this is another one of the standard fantasies, right? Reforming a bad boy (or, in this case, a withdrawn, self-loathing boy) with the Power of Love. The promise that, simply by being vulnerable, brave, and unconditionally trusting, a girl can work magic in his heart, despite her weaknesses and human flaws. I mean, in practically every conversation, we see a) Edward describe the monumental, transformative effort that loving Bella (without killing her) requires, and b) Bella’s uselessness compared to his divine strength and beauty. And this resonates hard. After all, what girl wouldn’t enjoy imagining herself the center of a love strong enough to remake another’s life? All the better, if that person happens to be totally hawt and in all ways out of her league.

Provided that it works… which it usually doesn’t, at least outside of fiction. You ask me, there are too many girls who do not stand up for themselves because they’re waiting for love to change their antagonists. Who feel they have nothing to offer but trust and helpless devotion. Who blame themselves, their weaknesses and slowness, for their lover’s anger. Gee, I wonder which protagonist of a bestselling young-adult novel that sounds like?

Anyway, I’m moving on.

They eventually move off to meet the rest of the Cullens in a wide field. Alice and Jasper are pitching a ball between them from a quarter mile apart, and Carlisle is setting up a really freaking huge baseball diamond. Emmet and Esme greet them, making fun of Edward for laughing so loudly at Bella

“Was that you we heard, Edward?” Esme asked as we approached.

“It sounded like a bear choking,” Emmett clarified. (p. 367)

You know what, I’m actually beginning to like these Cullens, if only because they don’t treat Edward like an avatar of masculine virtue. I mean, I just don’t get how Edward manages to be so uptight and self important when he’s living with people who seem so well adjusted.

[Esme] laughed too. “Well, I do think of them as my children, inmost ways. I could never get over my mothering instincts— did Edward ever tell you that I had lost a child?

“No,” I murmured, stunned, scrambling to understand what lifetime she was remembering.

“Yes, my first and only baby. He died a few days after he was born, the poor tiny thing,” she sighed. “It broke my heart— that’s why I jumped off the cliff, you know,” she added matter-of-factly. (p. 368)

Ok, well, maybe not completely well adjusted, but awkward moments aside, they’re pretty cool. Esme and Bella talk some more (Esme is the umpire of vampire baseball). She says again how happy she is that Edward’s found somebody to be with, and how he was a lonely, broken bird till she showed up. She’s confident that the two of them will work out because, as she says to Bella:

“You’re what he wants. It will work out, somehow.”

Before she can offer any more sentimental encouragement, however, the game begins. Alice runs like a gazelle and her pitch strikes like a cobra. Eward runs like a cheetah. Bat strikes ball with a thunderous crash. The players run at lightning speed from base to base. How an aluminum bat, a normal baseball, or the players’ uniforms could survive such abuse is beyond me, but apparently the Cullens manage. Though the image of seven ridiculously attractive people literally wearing off their clothes as run certainly adds some excitement to the scene.

I don’t care that they dunked your face in chalk, Ashley Greene, you’re still really really really pretty!

Yea, anyway, they play baseball for a while. Then Alice begins to freak out. Apparently, she foresaw that the non-vedgie vamps that were moving into town heard them playing and are on their way to meet them.

“How soon?” Carliase said, turning towards Edward.

A look of intense concentration crossed his face.

“Less than five minutes. They’re running— they want to play,” He scowled.

“Can you make it? Carlisle asked him, his eyes flicking towards me again.

“No, not carrying—” He cut short. “Besides, the last think we need is for them to catch the scent and start hunting.” (p. 372)

Anyway, they decide to continue playing and wait for the unfamiliar vampires to arrive. Emmett is confident that the family could easily win a fight, if they had to.

“Three!” he scoffed. “Let them come.” The steel bands of muscle flexed along his massive arms.

Can someone please revoke the author’s privilege to use metaphors?

There are a few more pages of anxiety while the game continues. Edward sits out, planting himself by Bella’s side. As usual, he begins to blame himself for everything that’s happened. Then, in the middle of his depressed apology, the other vampires show up at the edge of the field, too far away for Bella to see.

At this point, the chapter ends, meaning that this book has dragged on for seventeen chapters without any semblance of a plot. Next, we take a look at Chapter 18, when stuff actually happens. So let me leave you with a funny video comparing Twilight and True Blood.

I’m Artimaeus, and this had been Twilight: Abridged and Annotated.

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Comment

  1. RandomX2 on 21 July 2010, 02:57 said:

    I think this could be turned into a novel and sold right next to Twilight. I’d buy it.

    You ask me, there are too many girls who do not stand up for themselves because they’re waiting for love to change their antagonists

    Yeah, seriously. Twilight encourages this kind of behaviour far too much. It wouldn’t be so bad if Twilight wasn’t famous, but still.

    Also, that video is beyond awesome.

  2. RomanticVampireLover on 21 July 2010, 07:46 said:

    Loved this. Thanks so much, Arty; perceptive, clever and sarcastic, as always. :D

  3. ProserpinaFC on 21 July 2010, 22:23 said:

    I can’t believe I lose The Game in a Twilight review. DARNIT!

  4. Danielle on 22 July 2010, 13:52 said:

    Ha! I love that video!

    “What I heard is ‘I have eternal youth and get to date girls who look like this.’ Not even Hallmark could express my sympathy.”

    If only Twitards could be convinced to read this….

  5. Dominique on 23 July 2010, 02:17 said:

    “I’m never angry with you—how could I be? Brave, trusting . . . warm as you are.”

    ARGGGGGGGG! BELLA IS NOT BRAVE, SHE’S BRAIN-DEAD! BELLA IS NOT TRUSTING, SHE’S MENTALLY STUNTED! BELLA IS NOT WARM, SHE IS THE EPITOME OF COLD, BITCHY SNOBBISHNESS! THIS GIRL COULDN’T EVEN FEIGN INTEREST IN HER OWN NEAR-DEATH!

    I HATE HATE HATE HATE THIS SERIES!

    Also, I am seriously getting tired of Bella constantly reminding us of how FRAGILE and USELESS and WEAK she is. WE GET IT. Girl needs therapy, not an abusive immortal toyboy.

    Did you skip a couple of chapters?

  6. Artimaeus on 23 July 2010, 12:02 said:

    Skip chapters? I don’t believe so. Last article went through chapters 15 and 16, and this one is chapter 17. Though there were a couple near the beginning that I kinda glossed over so I could rant about some issue or another (since nothing much was happening at the beginning in any case).

  7. Snow White Queen on 23 July 2010, 15:28 said:

    I hate these books, but love your sporks. :)

  8. Dominique on 23 July 2010, 23:48 said:

    Edward’s low voice was furious. “This is crossing the line.” (p. 349)

    Not really, Wardo. You don’t own Bella. You don’t get to decide who can and can’t see her. You don’t get to regulate what those visitors talk to her about. The fact that she agrees with you doesn’t give you the authority to decide that the Blacks’ concern is “crossing the line.”

    If anything, Billy’s worry for a girl whom he barely knows and is a bitch to his son is quite sweet, if misguided. Let me repeat: you don’t own Bella. Besides which, Billy has to protect the people of Forks the best he can against your family. Just because you say you won’t eat humans doesn’t mean you won’t “fall of the wagon” yet again. Billy’s concern is noble, respectable, and warranted. Your arrogant, possessive reaction is not.

    Seriously, I hate this stupid book.

    I guess I got confused since I bookmarked the index to read the parts, and the last part is just titled “Chapter 14,” so I forgot that you also went over 15 and 16. Yes, that one was a doozy.

  9. Steph (what is left) on 30 July 2010, 22:19 said:

    This is the kind of thing that should scream “I am an amateur!” to any legitimate publisher.

    We’re all amateurs. Or, you know most of us on this site, anyway. I wouldn’t criticise amateurs. I’d criticise amateurs who don’t know to never let your first novel see the light of day because it will suck. But I’m nitpicking here.

    Rather than raise the stakes of her story, Meyer simply ties up the romantic loose ends off screen so that Bella can get on with their obsessive codependence. Rather than set up conflict, this scene ensures that Jessica and Mike will never again contribute to the plot.

    facepalm Great point you picked up. I always find those ‘how not to write’ sections you’ve got in here quite interesting.

  10. Artimaeus on 31 July 2010, 00:29 said:

    We’re all amateurs. Or, you know most of us on this site, anyway. I wouldn’t criticise amateurs. I’d criticise amateurs who don’t know to never let your first novel see the light of day because it will suck. But I’m nitpicking here.

    Point taken, but I must protest. Even at our level, we know that we shouldn’t overuse unorthodox dialogue tags. This is because we’ve all made an effort to go out and learn how to write better by reading, researching, and opening our work to critique. Mistakes like these don’t only show inexperience, but that the author never really took the time to learn the conventions of the craft.

  11. Dominique on 31 July 2010, 04:16 said:

    Point taken, but I must protest. Even at our level, we know that we shouldn’t overuse unorthodox dialogue tags. This is because we’ve all made an effort to go out and learn how to write better by reading, researching, and opening our work to critique. Mistakes like these don’t only show inexperience, but that the author never really took the time to learn the conventions of the craft.

    Meyer said she deliberately abstained from taking creative writing courses in college so she wouldn’t be criticized. Then there is the fact that she also admitted to avoiding learning anything about vampires, the Quileutes, or Forks because she didn’t want her ideas to be influenced or “tainted” by actual research. I have empathy enough for amateurs since I am one, but Meyer lost all sympathy with me for actively avoiding the very basics of good writing for the sake of her “creativity” that isn’t very creative at all, with the sole exception of her one sparkling gimmick.

  12. Steph (what is left) on 8 August 2010, 03:04 said:

    @ Artimaeus: My beef is kind of with using the term ‘amateur’ to describe somebody who, not to put too fine a point on it, could use a lot of work before she stops sucking.