Day Five of New Moon. God this book is annoyingly long.
When we last left Bella she’d just been clued in on the existence of werewolves and she and Jacob had a very touching moment where one of them was accusing the other of being a blood-thirsty, murderous monster and the other was saying they were intolerant of their monstrous nature. Then they realized that wasn’t what they meant at all and it was Snickers bars and sunshine. Or something.
And then Jacob had to go and ruin it by going, “So, I’m part of this super cool new werewolf pack who reacts badly whenever you’re around you, WANNA GO MEET ‘EM?!”
And because she’s got that near-terminal stupidity thing going on, Bella doesn’t say “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?”
Jacob brings Bella to the pack meeting with predictable results: i.e. the group hot-head Paul flips out and “explodes” into werewolf form, a giant silver wolf. Now, I get this is fantasy and that all fantasy takes liberties, especially when it comes to werewolves, but teenage boys, even larger-than-average teenage boys, don’t have the body mass to change into a werewolf larger than a grizzly bear. I know this is something that almost all werewolf stories skimp on, the conservation of mass, etc. but come on; being able to instantaneously grow your body mass to several times what it was? Meh. Jacob flips out that Bella’s being threatened and turns into the large russet colored wolf seen in the woods and the two werewolves go at it.
In typical SMeyer fashion the action takes place off scene, the two werewolves rolling into the forest and beyond the trees, overseen by Sam to make sure things don’t get too out of hand. The other two members of the pack, Embry and Jared (I think SMeyer has a thing for J-names: Jacob, Jared, James, Jasper) take her back to Sam’s house where she meets Emily, Sam’s fiance, whose left side of her face is the picture of Native American beauty (because I don’t think there’s anyone in this book who isn’t attached to a supernatural creature that isn’t attractive in some fashion) and a right side that looks suspiciously like a werewolf tried to claw her face off. But despite the horribly disfiguring scars, Sam and Emily are very much in love, as shown when Sam, Paul and Jacob come back from their friendly scrap, which Sam shows by kissing her in front of them. This also has the predictable effect on Bella:
This was worse than any romantic movie; this was so real that it sang out loud with joy and life and true love. I put my muffin down and folded my arms across my empty chest. I stared at the flowers, trying to ignore the utter peace of their moment, and the wretched throbbing of my wounds.
Other people’s happiness, singing happiness apparently, puts Bella off her muffins. So sad.
It should be noted that, at no point, does Bella really take a good look at Emily’s face and say, “Holy crap, that could be me!” and actually consider the possibilities of having a new, young werewolf as her friend.
Paul see’s Bella and is all “Hey, sorry about going all rageface and trying to kill you, we cool? BTW, you kind of look like hell.” And Bella’s response is “It’s cool.”
Actually it was “Don’t worry, I’m okay” without any apparent trepidation. Because that’s what sane people say when surrounded by a bunch of werewolves who just moments before were trying to tear you apart.
They spend the rest of the day in La Push and Bella finally goes home. Charlie asks about Bella’s 180 what with the last update he heard was that she and Jacob were fighting and Jacob was in a gang. Bella hand-waves it all away as a misunderstanding and Charlie accepts it without a second thought.
The next week is Spring Break and Bella spends most of it up at La Push. We get some more back story on what it’s like to be a werewolf, why Jacob is a werewolf (and apparently a “good” werewolf in the sense that he’s strong, can phase/shift quickly, because his forefathers were werewolves too). Being around Sam and Emily is painful however and she goes down to the beach to have a good mope. Jacob finds her there and, to cheer her up, suggests they go cliff diving. I don’t know about you but that’s how I like to get cheered up, by throwing myself into the cold, Pacific ocean in the middle of March (I think it’s March in the story by now, maybe April) from several hundred feet in the air. Bella likes this idea and you can probably guess why:
But it had been days since I’d heard Edward’s voice. That was probably part of the problem. I was addicted to the sound of my delusions. It made things worse if I went too long without them. Jumping off a cliff was certain to remedy the situation.
Even Bella knows she’s an addict and doesn’t even bat an eye at her situation.
Only the next day there’s no Jacob waiting for her and no Jacob in La Push when she arrives at his house. He’s off with the pack, hunting Victoria, and after a while Bella gets stir crazy and has to head down to the beach where she sinks further into depression and withdrawal. Until, that is, she realizes the solution is right there in front and above her.
The burning in my chest flared agonizingly. There had to be some way to quench it. The pain was growing more and more intolerable by the second. I glared at the cliffs and the crashing waves. Well, why not? Why not quench it right now?
Now, keep in mind, this is not some bright, sunny day we’re talking about. No, it’s gray and getting darker, the wind picking up, the waves of the ocean look “angry” as they beat against the cliffs.
TOTALLY THE PERFECT TIME FOR UNSUPERVISED CLIFF DIVING FOR THE FIRST TIME!
Bella climbs to the top and instead of looking for the path to the lower jumping area, the one that Jacob, who is only mildly insane, jumps from, she finds herself at the top area and thinks, “F’ it, I don’t have time to search for a safer place to do this insanity.”
I knew that this was the stupidest, [keep the word stupid in mind, it’ll come up later] most reckless thing I had done yet. The thought made me smile.
The girl is not all right.
And, like usual, guess which perfect, beautiful voice she hears as she cozies up to the cliff? Yep. Edward tries to convince her to not do it but Bella, being Bella, thinks it’s all in her head (which, to be fair, it is) and dives anyway. And then, wouldn’t you know it, realizes she’s quite literally in it over her head.
I’d been so preoccupied by the size of the cliffs, by the obvious dangers of their high, sheer faces, that I hadn’t worried about the dark water waiting below. I never dreamed that the true menace was lurking far below me, under the heaving surf.
Bella not think through the possible consequences of her actions? Who would’ve thought?
Bella is grabbed by the tide and beaten against rocks, like I’d assume would happen during a rough sea day near rocks in what is quickly beginning to build into a serious storm. She very nearly drowns (due to the near part of that nearly-terminal stupidity) but is rescued by Jacob. Jacob, understandably, is upset.
“Why would you jump, Bella? Didn’t you notice that it’s turning into a hurricane out here? Couldn’t you have waited for me?” Anger filled his tone as the relief faded.
“Sorry,” I muttered. “It was stupid.”
“Yeah, it was really stupid,” [see, there it is] he agreed, drops of rain shaking free of his hair as he nodded. “Look, do you mind saving the stupid [and again] stuff for when I’m around? I won’t be able to concentrate if I think you’re jumping off of cliffs behind my back.”
“Sure,” I agreed. “No problem.”
I don’t know what’s worse, Bella lying and saying she won’t do stupid stuff anymore or Jacob for buying that. Or maybe she was being hyper-specific, agreeing to not jump off of cliff’s behind his back? Who knows.
They go back to Billy’s house and learn that a friend of Charlie and Billy’s has died just died, making Billy’s home uncomfortable for Bella to be in, who finally feels some guilt (which you know just isn’t going to last) that she’s been possibly risking her life in stupid ways, and Jacob takes her home, where, upon opening the truck’s door, gets a big ol’ whiff of vampire.
Only it isn’t Victoria but one of the Cullens as Bella recognizes Calisle’s car waiting near her house. Jacob becomes upset because A) they’re vampires and he automatically hates all vampires, and B) it’s pretty clear to him who Bella wants to be with by her reaction. Jacob bails and Bella finds Alice waiting for her and immediately throws herself at the vampire.
I locked my arms around her, gasping to inhale as much of the scent of her skin as possible. It wasn’t like anything else –not floral or spice, citrus or musk. [Well, yes, that’s what “wasn’t anything like anything else” usually entails, #authorfail] No perfume in the world could compare. My memory hadn’t done it justice. I didn’t notice when the gasping turned into something else – I only realized I was sobbing when Alice dragged me to the living room couch and pulled me into her lap…
“I’m…sorry,” I blubbered. “I’m just…so happy….to se you!”
Try to tell me she isn’t an addict.
Alice is there because she saw in her head what she thought was Bella killing herself, the jump from the cliff, and when Bella explains what she was doing and how she survived, Alice lays out what I think most adult, non-Twilight-infected people have been thinking all along:
“I’ve never seen anyone so prone to life-threatening idiocy.”
AND SHE’S THE HEROINE.
Bella further clues her in on the whole Laurent-and-Victoria-coming-back-to-have-a-Bella-Bite and the state of Bella-dom in general (i.e. it is a shambling mound of angsty teenage pain).
“Alice,” I sighed. “What did you think you were going to find? I mean, besides me dead? Did you expect to find me skipping around and whistling show tunes? You know me better than that.”
“I do. But I hoped.”
“Then I guess I don’t have the corner on the idiocy market.”
Alice fills Bella in on what’s been happening with the family and what’s going on, Charlie comes up hurting from the loss of his friend, and Bella goes to bed. The next morning Bella wakes up and hears Alice giving Charlie some of her backstory, which she’s found out from investigating the info we learned from James in Twilight, and Charlie fills Alice in on how Bella’s been since the Cullens pulled up stakes. Charlie leaves for the funeral, Bella and Alice talk, and Alice leaves when one of the werewolves, or Jacob because why would any of the other pack members visit Bella, shows up.
And that’s where I’ll stop for now.
Now, this portion of New Moon dealt with the pretty infamous cliff-diving scene and I’ve heard a LOT of people characterize it as Bella trying to commit suicide for attention and, technically, she’s not; at no point does Bella mean to kill herself, despite her depression. Now, the end result of being suicidal versus being the klutziest person in all of Forks while engaging in seriously stupid and dangerous activities and having the self-preservation instincts of a quadriplegic KKK-member protesting a Black Panther convention from inside the convention might be the same but the intent isn’t.
She’s not suicidal, she’s an addict, one who will do anything for a fix of what she wants: vampires in general, Edward in particular. Edward made Bella feel special, because he in his [fill in the purple prose adjective here] liked the not-so-mundane Bella, and she got hooked on that attention and being around the vampires, who are so much cooler than all of those normal people around her. This is the reason why she does the things she does once she figures out she can make Edward talk to her in her head, she’s just looking to score a fix. She even acknowledges this issue in several ways through the book. But, in typical Bella fashion, doesn’t see it a bad thing beyond acknowledging that she might have an issue.
What I want to know is did SMeyer actually mean to make Bella such a fucked up character or does SMeyer think this is in some way normal? And I get that Charlie is kind of an absent father-figure even with Bella living with him, they don’t interact much beyond meals, but give me a break: no drugs, no doctors, nothing? He does mention he and Renee tried to get her to leave Forks, and that Bella flipped out, but that’s it. At no point does Charlie actually act like a parent and parent.
I don’t know the answer to those two questions above but I do know one thing: I don’t think I’ve hated a character this much since Scarlet O’Hara.