31 Days of Twilight – Eclipse, Day 1 – Bella? Get to make her own decisions? What, it’s not as if she’s her own person or anything…

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And here we go again. Eclipse. After the first episode of Your Books is Why Daddy Drinks and what Tyler had to say about it, I’m kind of worried about this book. Tyler knows me pretty well and if he says that this book is guaranteed to piss me off even more, and if there’s one thing that Tyler knows it’s what will push my buttons, then I’m sure to get really freaking irritated.

But, hey, that just means more laughing at my pain for you lot, right? Let’s move on.

Eclipse picks up soon after the events of New Moon with Bella still, sort of, grounded. My idea of when a kid is grounded, and my experience with it growing up, is you’re under house arrest. No friends over, no talking to them on the phone, and maybe a loss of fun things to do at home (my parents were fond of taking my computer cables once they realized that getting grounded just meant I’d hang out on my computer instead) but for Bella it seems to mean a tight curfew. Edward can still come over and stay, officially, for a certain length of time and in theory she could call her friends if Bella honestly cared about any of them aside from Edward (and sometimes Jacob). However, it’s also been long enough that Charlie decides to relax his “punishment” (because, really, the idea that he’s grounding his eighteen year-old daughter is kind of laughable) in the hopes that Bella will spend time with her non-Edward friends, Jacob-shaped ones in particular.

Edward comes over for his after-school hanging out and brings with him a large stack of college applications which he pretty much forces on Bella. Bella doesn’t really see the point in applying for colleges as she doesn’t really intend going to any of them; she got accepted to a university Alaska which is good enough for her alibi covering being changed into a sparklepire. Edward, on the other hand, is hoping she’ll change her mind and wants her to apply to as many colleges as possible (and, of course, to colleges where he’s already been accepted).

Edward and Bella get on the subject of Jacob and the werewolves and we start to see the beginning of what I think is a theme in Eclipse in that people start to ignore what Bella wants and just make her do what they want. Bella feels guilty for the pain that Jacob is in because, just maybe, she’s starting to not be so horrible and so she wants to see him in order to start making things right. Edward thinks this is a horrible reason, that werewolves are not to be trusted to maintain their control (which is rich coming from someone who spent two books telling Bella he could kill her at any moment).

“No werewolves.”
“I’m not going along with that. I have to see Jacob.”
“Then I’ll have to stop you.”
He sounded utterly confident that this wouldn’t be a problem.

Of course, this totally disregarding what she wants, or the friendship that she has, does nothing to change Bella’s opinion of Edward the next day:

I felt oddly buoyant as I walked from Spanish toward the cafeteria, and it wasn’t just because I was holding hands with the most perfect person on the planet, [*various gagging sounds* -Matt] though that might be part of it.

Bella is high on life now that her dad is said she could go out (which I find mildly hilarious that she’d even agree to being grounded at the age of eighteen but whatever). Her friends want to celebrate her newly reacquired freedom. School ends, Edward comes over, and Bella answers an e-mail from her mom and has this amusing little of self-delusion while thinking about her mother:

I saw her cornucopia of mistakes and laughed privately to myself. Scatterbrained Renee. I was a very different person from my mother. Someone thoughtful and cautious. The responsible one, the grown-up. That’s how I saw myself. That was the person I knew. Emphasis mine.

I’m sure you all just joined together in echoing the “WHAT?!” I shouted when I first read that little bit. Responsible? Thoughtful? Cautious? Where the hell is this Bella and did one of her numerous blows to the head wipe out the memory of all the things that happened in Twilight and New Moon?

Moving on, Edward goes through her stuff while waiting for her to finish up writing her response to Renee and finds the stereo she got from his siblings (the one she tore out of her dash with her fingers after he left her in the last book) as well as a pair of plane tickets to Florida so she could visit her mom. The tickets are about to expire but Bella hasn’t done anything about them since she’s been grounded (and doesn’t want to fight with Charlie). Charlie mentions over dinner that Billy has invited the Swans down to the reservation for a play-off party and Edward takes matters into his own hands (the second instance of someone taking control of Bella’s life without her permission) and tells Charlie about the tickets to Florida, and the fact that there are two tickets with one meant for him, and Charlie flips out. Bella cows her father with threats of moving out, since she’s eighteen, and Charlie backs down. Later Bella confronts Edward about what he did and we get:

He nodded. “But clearly you were too much of a coward to deal with Charlie, so I interceded on your behalf.”

When Bella points out the convenient timing of Edward suggesting a trip to Florida vs. the play-off game at the reservation, he denies the connection but still says that it wouldn’t matter because Bella’s not going. Edward’s not doing anything to reduce his douche rating.

Bella comes home and Charlie tries to have the Talk (you know, the one where parents try to talk to their children about sex but the only thing that comes out is half-heard mumbles and embarrassed foot-scuffing?), which goes as well as you might expect, and then asks about the “balance thing”, and by balance he means Bella’s attempts at trying to hang out with Jacob in the hopes she’ll drop Edward. Bella thinks more about the situation between her and Jacob and makes the split decision to run down to the reservation for a quick visit to see if she could talk to him.

Just as she’s getting into her car Edward pretty much materializes in the seat next to her, holding something in his hands. Turns out Alice called and told him about Bella’s plans to go see Jacob and so he decided to help with his douchebag rating by sabotaging her car, removing some vital part of her truck’s engine so she couldn’t leave (third time taking control of her). This little scene has another inconsistency in Meyer’s writing where Bella, at first, doesn’t know what the object is that Edward is holding but a few sentences later, somehow, has deduced it’s a part of her engine (and considering how little Bella knows about cars it’s even more glaring of a flaw on how she’d know what the metal in his hands was or was for). Bella, rightly so, gets pissed and storms out, goes to her room, shuts her window (to indicate she doesn’t want Edward to come over after Charlie goes to sleep). And then, to show she really means it, she opens it back up again so he can come join her.

That’s one issue I have with Bella in all this, she just keeps taking it. And taking it. And taking it.

Edward and Bella go to Florida, have a decent trip, and her mother tells her to be careful regarding Edward and displaying an uncharacteristic degree of observation. Upon returning home Charlie tells Bella that Jacob’s been calling non-stop for her, which is when Jacob promptly calls for her. By way of greeting, Jacob gets pissed that she didn’t call him (not that she really could’ve having just gotten home). Bella points that out, he apologizes, and what happens next is the most awkward, non-conversation that has happened so far in the book where Jacob pretty much just hangs up on her after asking if she’s going to be going to school the next day. It takes Bella a few for the hamster wheels to turn but she finally gets that Jacob was calling not to really talk to her, but to make sure that she was still human after her trip.

The next day Edward and Bella run into Jacob at school. Jacob wanted a safe place to warn them that Victoria came back while Bella was gone. Only it turns out that Edward knew and didn’t tell Bella, which does nothing for Bella’s level of FREAK THE HELL OUT RIGHT NOW. Jacob acts like a prick toward Edward, which he had coming, by remembering what Bella was like when Edward was gone, which of course Edward can see in Jacob’s mind. The principal comes outside, Jacob leaves, and Bella yells at Edward in note form for having her leave, possibly putting Charlie in danger. Edward, of course, doesn’t think much of it.

Neither do the Cullens as they all pretty much blow off her concern. Edward leaves to go hunting but puts Alice in his place of making sure Bella doesn’t get too out of line do something dangerous:

“I’m staying close to home to hunt. I’ll only be fifteen minutes away if you need me. I’ll keep an eye out for trouble.”
Translation: don’t try anything funny just because Edward is gone.

NUMBER FOUR!

Bella goes to work but is told she isn’t needed and, on the fly, decides to go see Jacob. Alice can’t get to Bella before she crosses the line because Alice’s precognition only works if someone’s made a decision and she didn’t have enough warning due to Bella’s snap decision. Jacob, of course, is overjoyed to see her and they go for a walk to talk about the most burning issue between them.

“…You forgave him for all of that?”
I took a deep breath. “There was nothing to forgive.”

Abandoning you, leaving you to mental anguish, pretty much for nothing, putting you under direct attention of the strongest group of vampires in existence? Naw, that’s just water under the bridge.

Jacob fills Bella in on the story about how the pack and the Cullens almost caught Victoria but she managed to elude both of them when the two groups got into a minor tussle. Jacob can’t get over, or understand, why Bella loves Edward. To be fair, neither can I.

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And that’s the first day. So far the general theme seems to be that Bella doesn’t know what’s best for her, so all of the men in her life have to tell her. Between Edward keeping her from doing what she wants, Charlie all but trussing her up and shoving her at Jacob, and Jacob’s constant wheedling about why she chose the corpse, I’ve pretty much decided they’re all crap and I take back the positive things I’ve said about Charlie.

And Bella’s not any better. She gets angry but forgives over and over again without them stopping, which does nothing to actually keep them from trying to control them.

I have to wonder if Jacob’s going to try and pee on her leg to claim her as his territory. Certainly seems that we’re heading that way.

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