Chapter 11: Complications

Well, with a title called complications, something has got to happen that shakes things up. Personally I’m excited. Some twists are surely about to appear. Bella begins by describing the rest of her day at school, where even the most boring moments are somehow burn with excitement because of our proximity to Edward Cullen…

Wait a minute, this isn’t interesting at all. Ok, fine. I’m sure the complications will arrive eventually, but in the mean time, let’s make fun of the boring stuff.

And then, as the room went black, [they are watching a video about biology] I was suddenly hyperaware that Edward was sitting less than an inch from me. I was stunned by the unexpected electricity that flowed through me, amazed that it was possible to be even more aware of him than I already was.

Ok, I’ll admit, this is fairly realistic. I mean, I can still remember the giddiness I felt in the first few hours after my first girlfriend and I made our relationship “official”. It seemed that, if we were in the same room, my eyes would always wander to her, and even if we weren’t touching, I could feel the warmth of her skin. It faded after a while, it was still pretty intense. Those of you who experienced a middle school romance probably know what I’m talking about. So I can forgive a little indulgent hyperbole. But remember, since this is Twilight, we instead get a LOT of indulgent hyperbole, as Meyer takes realistic feelings and cranks them up to 11. Result is kinda bit creepy.

A crazy impulse to reach over and stroke his perfect face just once in the darkness nearly overwhelmed me. (p 219)
bq. The overpowering craving to touch him also refused to fade, and I crushed my fists safely against my ribs until my fingers were aching with the effort. (p 219)
bq. His expression was torn, almost pained, and so fiercely beautiful that the ache to touch him flared as strong as before. (p 220)

Umm… I guess she must really want to touch him…


Anyway, after Bella manages to make it through biology without touching Edward, she heads off to gym, literally feeling “lightheaded and wobbly” because Edward brushed her cheek with his fingers. In gym class, Bella meets our old pal Mike, who offers to pair up with her for what I assume were games of doubles tennis (they never says exactly what they were playing, but it involved, a “racket” and a “court”). During this game Bella goes past “Endearing Klutz” and becomes a danger to herself and others. Literally.

I somehow managed to hit myself in the head with a racket and clip Mike’s shoulder on the same swing.

Umm… I’m trying to parse the logistics of that maneuver, but it’s just not happening. Excuse me for a moment. I must call see if it is truly possible to hit both myself and a person standing next to me with one swing of a tennis racket.


And now I’m in pain…

Anyway, after the tennis game, Mike asks about Edward, and Bella shuts him down, as usual.

“You and Edward, huh?” he asked, his tone rebellious. My previous feeling of affection disappeared.

“That’s none of your business, Mike,” I warned, internally cursing Jessica straight to the fiery pits of Hades.

First off, I don’t see how anything Bella just said “warned” Mike about anything (warn: verb- to give notice of a danger), except perhaps for her implausibly dangerous tennis playing. Really, Stephenie, if you must use a nonstandard dialogue tag, at least use it correctly. This is just amateur writing. And incidentally, Hades isn’t fiery. I thought this girl was supposed to have read all of the classics. But wait, there’s more!

Bq. “I don’t like it,” he muttered anyway. “You don’t have to,” I snapped “He looks at you like… like you’re something to eat,” he continued, ignoring me.

… Really?



I don’t know what Mike did to deserve all of this abuse. Here he is, trying to be nice to this girl, expressing some not-entirely-unjustified concern for her wellbeing, and she bites his head off every time he says something. I’m simply baffled by Bella’s hypocrisy. I mean, Edward follows her around in a car, watches her while she sleeps, and invades the minds of other people, and she creams herself over his valor. But heaven forbid Mike ask her something.

Yawn… anyway, Edward shows up, he reads Mike’s mind when Bella clearly doesn’t want to talk about gym class. Bella’s pissed for a few short seconds, and then lets Edward drive her home. This is really freaking boring guys. Bla bla bla… Exposition about Edward’s hunting …. Bla bla bla… Bella is yet again rendered dizzy by Edward’s sexy. And then, Edward finally drops her off, promising that the next day he’ll be the one asking the questions. Shocking, isn’t it?

Anyhoo, the night passes, and the next day there’s a brief, but sweet moment where Charlie acts like a father concerned about his daughter’s happiness. Or, at least it would have been sweet if Bella hadn’t been acting like a self-centered prick.

“And you’re sure you can’t make it back in time for the dance?”

“I’m not going to the dance, Dad.” I glared

“Didn’t anyone ask you?” he asked, trying to hide his concern by focusing on rinsing the plate.

I sidestepped the minefield. “It’s a girl’s choice.”

“Oh,” he said as he dried the plate.

And that’s where their conversation ends. Come on, Bella, the guy’s concerned about your happiness (just like every other character in this book). Would it be so hard to just have a sincere moment and tell him that you’re not upset? My issue is that Stephenie Meyer clearly wanted Bella to seem selfless and mature, and indeed, there is a paragraph following this conversation where she explains how she sympathizes with her father and how hard it must be to have a teenage daughter. But this doesn’t change the fact that she just totally shut him down, and has generally been playing the part of the pitiful, self-important, misunderstood teenager for the past 220 pages. She says that she sympathizes with him, but she doesn’t act like it. Show, don’t tell damnit!

Bah. On the following morning, Edward is waiting for our heroine outside the house. At this point it seems that Meyer realized just how dull this part of her book is, and began randomly throwing in sentences like “His voice was silky,” hoping that the target audience would zone out and fantasize about him… or something. I don’t know. For the next three-ish pages, we hear about all of the questions that Edward asks Bella. You know, boring personal things like “What is your favorite type of flower?” This question-and-answer session lasts all through the day and into the evening, and of course Edward gives her his undivided attention and commits every word she says to memory, because that’s what the perfect boyfriend is supposed to do. All the while, the narration bounces between pseudo-charged dialogue and an obsessive analysis of the changes in Edward’s facial expression.

This continues all through the school day and after Edward takes Bella home, until Charlie arrives with Jacob and Billy (who, in case you forgot, is the chief of Jacob’s tribe) to put an end to this nonsense. Edward skids away in his Volvo as they drive up, with Jacob and Billy’s russet colored skin shining in the darkness (whenever a Native American appears in Stephenie Meyer’s books, his skin is inevitably compared to a russet). Well, since Jacob and his bunch hate Edward and his bunch, this has to be a set up for some drama, right?

His [Billy’s] eyes were wide, as if in shock or fear, his nostril’s flared. My smile faded.

Another complication, Edward had said. Billy still stared at me with intense, anxious eyes. I groaned internally. Had Billy Recognized Edward so easily? Could he really believe the impossible legends his son had scoffed at?

The answer was clear in Billy’s eyes. Yes, yes he could.

Shit’s gonna hit the fan, right? I mean, something interesting is bound to happen, right?


Chapter 12: Balancing



Ok, I mean, stuff does happen. Jacob and Bella greet each other and have a normal, friendly conversation (you know, about cars, family issues, mutual interest, the kinds of things that normal people talk about), which, after countless chapters of Edward ogling, comes as a welcome relief. But nothing… actually…. happens. Jacob hints at some animosity between Billy and the Cullens, but that’s about as tense as the situation gets. Billy and Charlie just watch a game on TV, and then he leaves.

” Come up for the next game,” Charlie encouraged.

“Sure, sure,” Billy said. “We’ll be here. Have a good night.” His eyes shifted to mine, and his smile disappeared. “You take care Bella,” he added seriously.

I can’t stand it. Is this really what all of the buildup at the end of the previous chapter was headed towards? I hate this book so much right now…

But onwards. Charlie and Bella have another moment, which I’m glad to say wasn’t as bad as the one in the last chapter, even though it’s painfully obvious that Dad is trying to set Bella up with Mike Newton. It’s better because Bella actually gives some encouragement to her father. Also, here’s something that I’ve noticed but I haven’t really commented on this before. You read Meyer’s dialogue, and you’ll notice she has an annoying habit of documenting the emotional state and/or facial expression of her characters after basically every line. Here’s a short section:

“Oh yea—you said you were friend with that Newton kid.” He perked up. “Nice family.” He mused for a minute. “Why didn’t you ask him to the dance this weekend?”

“Dad,” I groaned. “He’s kind of dating my friend Jessica. Besides, you know I can’t dance.”

“Oh yea,” he muttered. Then he smiled at me apologetically.

There are several reasons why this habit irritates me. First and foremost, it’s out of character for Charlie, who is supposed to be somewhat subdued and withdrawn. He shouldn’t be “perking up” whenever he thinks about Mike Newton (squick). In the abstract, this is also a bad habit because both the reader and the viewpoint character know immediately what motivates other characters and what they want to hear. There are no unknown dynamics to the conversation, making it less interesting, less tense. Plus it makes the viewpoint character look manipulative, since this narrative device by default puts her in control of the conversation. And also, it means that she never makes a mistake about the intentions or motivations of another person. In short, less is more.

The next morning, Edward picks Bella up, and we must endure more of her obligatory gushing.

He grinned his crooked smile at me, stopping my breath and my heart. I couldn’t imagine how an angel could be any more glorious. There was nothing about him that could be improved upon.”

Why? Why? I just don’t understand anymore. Why is this necessary? Like, did Meyer think that the readers would be likely to forget that Edward is glorious, divine, perfect, and what have you? Eventually I just get tired of being told how vastly, hugely, mind bogglingly pretty he is.

Either way, Edward continues to ask Bella questions about her history and personal life. After lunch, he announces that he will be leaving school early with Alice, and since this will leave Bella without a ride, one of the Cullens plans to break into Bella’s house, take the keys to her truck, and drive the hunk of metal back to the school parking lot for her.

I am not making that up. Bella even says that the keys are under a pile of clothes in the laundry room in one of her pockets. And yet she’s cool with the Cullens breaking into her house…

Oh, but it gets better. Edward and Alice are leaving school early to go hunting, because Edward wants to be nice and full when he and Bella are alone. You know, so he doesn’t eat her. Because he’s SOOO DANGERUS!!!

His face grew morose… and pleading. “You can always cancel, you know.”

I looked down, afraid of the persuasive power of his eyes. I refused to be convinced to fear him, no matter how real the danger might be. (p. 243)

Bella, you seem to be laboring under the delusion that your life is worth a few moments alone with Mr. Sparkles. Repeat after me: He’s not that pretty.

At lunch, they quickly sort out when and how they will meet each other on the coming Saturday. Then they talk about Edward’s family, who seem a lot more sensible than Edward about the whole “dating a sentient pile of heroin” idea. Edward again tells Bella that she’s special, she’s not like anyone he’s ever known, and that she doesn’t see herself very well, because normal people are all just sooo boring and predictable. Mary Sue, folks. You gotta love her.

I felt his eyes on my face, but I couldn’t look at him yet, afraid he might see the chagrin in my eyes.

Stephenie, I’m sorry to say that using the word “chagrin” in inappropriate places does not make your prose sophisticated.

Anyway, Rosalie shows up, glares at Bella, and hisses. Edward has an episode of guilt. We meet Alice briefly, and it seems that Bella gushes about her “exquisite, elfin face” and “brilliant obsidian eyes” almost as readily as she does about Edward. (Lesbian subtext? Any takers? Come on, anything to make this book more interesting.) They greet and exchange a few words. Then she and Edward leave, but not until he has reminded Bella how dangerous a small northwestern town can be, and how the slightest lapse in caution could result in death. Charming fellow, this Edward.

The rest of Bella’s day passes uneventfully (shocking, I know), except for a short conversation with Mike where he again pressures Bella to come to the dance and acts transparently jealous of Edward.

“Are you going to the dance with Edward?” he asked, suddenly sulky.

“No, I’m not going to the dance at all.”

“What are you doing, then” he asked, too interested.

Yes, Meyer, we get it. Mike’s into Bella. You don’t have to tell us that he gets sulky every time Edward’s name is mentioned. Though, to be fair, I’d also be pretty glum if my sole purpose in life was to make a Vampiric Adonis look charming by comparison.



To deflect suspicion from herself, Bella lies about her plans for Saturday (“Laundry, and then I have to study for the Trig test or I’m going to fail”), and again makes it clear that she is not going to the dance. Mike starts sulking again, but I’m done with Mike. After the school day ends, Bella finds an “elegantly scripted” note from Edward in her car (since the perfect boyfriend must have perfect handwriting), telling her to “Be safe”.

Once past this sentimental farce, Bella goes home. We have a couple of domestic scenes, most of them unimportant, though for someone who claims to be bad at lying, our protagonist certainly does a lot of it. Then she mulls over her decision to risk meeting Edward.

I had to keep reminding myself that I’d made my choice, and I wasn’t going back on it. I pulled his note out of my pocket much more often than necessary to absorb the two small words he’d written. He wants me to be safe, I told myself again and again. I would just hold on to the faith that, in the end, that desire would win out over the others. And what was my other choice—to cut him out of my life? Intolerable. Besides, since I’d come to Forks, it really seemed like my life was about him.

But a tiny voice inside of me worried, wondering if it would hurt very much… if it ended badly.

Here’s something for that tiny little voice to worry about: how would Charlie explain to Renee that her only daughter had been brutally murdered? It irks me that never once does our supposedly mature, selfless protagonist thing that her friends and family might want her alive and safe. I mean, does she really think nobody else cares about her? Does she really think her life before Edward really so void? Bella has friends, a father and mother who care, like most people. Nobody’s life is about any one person. There are always other people, other relationships, other aspects of her life, and healthy, mature relationships must balance them. It’s ironically fitting that in the chapter titled “Balancing” our protagonist chooses to disregard all of her other relationships for the sake of this Edward who she barely knows. Ironic and idiotic.

I wish I could blame Stephenie Meyer for this notion that exclusive, single-minded devotion is a virtuous, romantic ideal, but it’s far more deeply ingrained in our culture. Seems somewhere along the line, our collective unconscious forgot that Romeo and Juliette was not a romance, but a tragedy, because it blinded the characters to everything else in their lives. Their love was passionate, powerful, consuming, but it did not leave them happy (or alive, but that’s beside the point). In my experience, a strong love is patient, understanding, and trusting. It can make concessions when it needs to, and let the lovers manage their own problems, like a flower that takes to seed in the winter, so it can bloom again in spring. It can bend to meet the demands of living, without breaking or dying.

Er… yea. I suppose what I’m saying is that in fiction, these “tragic” romances get far too many happy endings. Authors and readers alike are bent on believing that, if two people just love each other hard enough, then all of their problems will disappear. The world simply doesn’t work that way, and if the author is honest, such a love will end in tragedy. If the author is not, it will end like Breaking Dawn. “Love conquers all” is a fine message, but it is so often presented as “Nothing matters but love” or “love precludes all else”.

But aside from being unrealistic and morally questionable, this is also quite plainly bad storytelling. In Pride and Prejudice, the romance between Darcy and Elizabeth was part of a larger drama surrounding the Bennett family, and before the lead couple could have their happy ending, they had a great deal of personal and interpersonal issues to sort out (Darcy’s prejudice, Elizabeth’s injured pride, Wickham’s elopement with Lydia, the objections of Darcy’s family, Bingly’s sisters, etc…). This made the book interesting. In Twilight, there are no conflicting interests, no family ties, no misconceptions, and no meaningful outside relationships for Bella to consider. The only conflict Meyer chose to explore was Bella’s fear of death and her lust love for Edward, and since her fear of death is practically non-existent, the conflict is also. It’s already been clear that Bella doesn’t give two shits about her own wellbeing, so why drag us through pages of Bella’s tedious and shallow contemplation of her own mortality. If you want to show that love conquers all, then for Aphrodite’s sake, give it something more formidable to conquer. Like her (alleged) love for her friends and family. Or at least write her fear of death more convincingly. It deserves more than a single apprehensive sentence about the pain.

We have not reached the end of the chapter quite yet, but this article is plenty long already, and I’m tired. The next chapter has the infamous meadow scene, so don’t miss it.

Tagged as:


  1. Danielle on 2 June 2010, 14:22 said:

    Anyway, after Bella manages to make it through biology without touching Edward, she heads off to gym, literally feeling “lightheaded and wobbly” because Edward brushed her cheek with his fingers.


    Let’s play a quick round of MadLibs, shall we?

    Anyway, after Bella manages to make it through (class/event) without touching Edward, she heads off to (new location/class/event), literally feeling “lightheaded and wobbly” because Edward brushed her (body part) with his fingers.

    Follow the instructions, and presto! You have most of the major events of the book!

    Anyway, after Bella manages to make it through [the funeral] without touching Edward, she heads off to the [supermarket], literally feeling “lightheaded and wobbly” because Edward brushed her [big toe] with his fingers.”

    Ta daaaa!

  2. puppet on 2 June 2010, 14:41 said:

    Once again, nicely done. Although I suggest you don’t have any pics in the last one, they are distracting and just disrupt the flow of your commentary.

  3. SMARTALIENQT on 2 June 2010, 15:09 said:

    “He looks at you like… like you’re something to eat,” he continued, ignoring me.

    … Really?

    “Subtlety: some people are still unclear on the concept.”

    This was my favorite part. Oh God, the meadow scene this shall be great fun!

  4. Nate Winchester on 2 June 2010, 16:35 said:

    (they never says exactly what they were playing, but it involved, a “racket” and a “court”)

    If it’s like my high school, it would be badminton. Which makes your next quote even funnier.

    (since the perfect boyfriend must have perfect handwriting)

    Yeah, I pity all those dateless doctors, never able to find love because of their handwriting.

  5. dragonarya on 2 June 2010, 17:44 said:

    And incidentally, Hades isn’t fiery.

    My thoughts exactly! Do your research Meyer! Just like in Breaking Dawn, the WEST COAST OF BRAZIL. headdesk

    This is really freaking boring guys.

    Happy relationships without conflict are boring indeed.

    He grinned his crooked smile at me

    The only crooked smile I’ve heard of is Loki from Norse mythology, and that’s ‘cause he had his lips sewn together…

    (Lesbian subtext? Any takers? Come on, anything to make this book more interesting.)

    I’ll take it! Les yay plz.

    Ooh, the meadow scene. This should be good. :D

  6. SMARTALIENQT on 2 June 2010, 23:13 said:

    Let’s play a quick round of MadLibs, shall we?

    Ooh, MadLibs, what fun!

    Anyway, after Bella manages to make it through [the Cave of Wonders] without touching Edward, she heads off to the [skating rink], literally feeling “lightheaded and wobbly” because Edward brushed her [left pinky] with his fingers.”

  7. Danielle on 3 June 2010, 11:47 said:

    Anyway, after Bella manages to make it through [a chase scene reminiscent of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre] without touching Edward, she heads off to [the hospital] literally feeling “lightheaded and wobbly” because Edward brushed her [eyelid] with his fingers.

  8. fffan on 4 June 2010, 03:53 said:

    Anyway, after Bella manages to make it throught [another Shrek movie; honestly when are they going to stop?!?] without touching Edward, she heads off to the [basketball game] literally feeling “lightheaded and wobbly” because brushed her [pet poodle] with his fingers.

  9. Romantic Vampire Lover on 4 June 2010, 15:30 said:

    (Lesbian subtext? Any takers? Come on, anything to make this book more interesting.)

    That’s exactly what I thought when I first read that passage. ;P Wonderfully perceptive, as always, Arty. :D Well done.

  10. swenson on 4 June 2010, 19:15 said:

    Anyway, after Bella manages to make it through the entire Harry Potter series without touching Edward, she heads off to Iceland literally feeling “lightheaded and wobbly” because Edward brushed her nose with his fingers.

    Wait, who am I kidding? Bella couldn’t make it more than half a chapter into those books before she had to put her grimy little hands all over Eddie…

    In other news. The more I read (or at least read about) these books, the more I realize that Edward is a terrible person. He’s manipulative, using his MANLY CHARMS and sexy bod to get what he wants—in this case, the attention of this rather fascinating specimen of humanity who conveniently throws herself all over him. He’s playing with her! She’s like his private chew toy. It doesn’t matter what he does or says, she’s always going to keep coming back to him, especially after he manages to isolate her from her family and any potential friends. It’s not that his caring concern accidentally comes across as abusive behavior; no, he is perfectly aware of what he does. The cruelty, taking advantage of a mentally disabled girl like that!

  11. Artimaeus on 5 June 2010, 18:55 said:

    Let’s play a quick round of MadLibs, shall we?

    Bahaha! That’s brilliant, and so true.

    He’s manipulative, using his MANLY CHARMS and sexy bod to get what he wants—in this case, the attention of this rather fascinating specimen of humanity who conveniently throws herself all over him.

    It’s an interesting way to look at it. I agree. Edward is being manipulative by claimimg not to want sex while going out of his way to create sexual tension. Bella and Edward both want plainly different things from their relationship (Bella wants to touch him), and Edward dominates the situation so his needs are always fulfilled, and Bella’s are not.

  12. Steph (what is left) on 9 June 2010, 05:34 said:

    I totally thought Alice was going to hit on Bella when I read Twilight the first time. The way both of them act: Alice sniffs Bella and says she smells nice, and kisses her on the cheek; Bella describes her in such terms that I really thought it was going to happen.

    (since the perfect boyfriend must have perfect handwriting)

    Boys don’t tend to have have neat handwriting, right? Don’t they normally have messy handwriting! So what kind of guy spends almost a century perfecting his handwriting??

    He’s manipulative, using his MANLY CHARMS and sexy bod to get what he wants—in this case, the attention of this rather fascinating specimen of humanity who conveniently throws herself all over him.

    To go deeper into the psyche of Edward Cullen, Midnight Sun, anyone? There’s all sorts of stuff in there about Eddie finding it funny when he confuses Bella, and dazzling her on purpose. He full-on admits it!

    Edward is being manipulative by claimimg not to want sex while going out of his way to create sexual tension.

    To be fair, there is the issue of knowing you shouldn’t do something and then skirting on the very edge, just shy of actually doing it as a way to get around it. Because he actually does want sex, he just knows he really really shouldn’t try. Then again, shouldn’t have Edward grown up by now, or had the overactive hormones sucked out of his body by the vampire venom anyway?

    … should vampires even want sex, considering this?