This chapter made me yell out loud at the book for the first time since I started reading it again. It wasn’t just badly written, it introduced (or at least built upon) yet another horrendously dangerous behavior for Bella. This was potentially the most irresponsible chapter Stephenie Meyer has yet to write in this series. I was angry for most of it. Care to find out why?
New Moon, chapter 8: Adrenaline
This may be the single most infuriating chapter of anything I’ve ever read, guys. Seriously. I was angry at Bella for being stupid, I was angry at Meyer for being irresponsible, I was angry at myself for stupidly embarking on this voyage of masochism. Those of you who have read this book already are no doubt aware of why I’m so pissed off. For the rest of you, strap in and prepare to develop an eye twitch.
So we pick up with Bella astride her bike and Jacob is going over the vehicle’s anatomy for her and she starts complaining that the bike won’t stay up. She actually has to be assured that it will stay up when it’s actually moving. Seriously, why has Meyer decided to make Bella the biggest moron on the planet? Or is Meyer the biggest moron on the planet and also doesn’t understand why a bike wouldn’t just stand upright on its own? To make matters worse, when Jacob points out that Bella should only worry about the hand brake and not mess with the foot brake, Bella actually tells him that that doesn’t make any sense. Bitch, why are you having Jacob teach you how to ride the bike if you’re going to question what he says? Don’t you think he knows a bit more about it than you do? Seriously, just shut the hell up and do what he says.
It’s at this point, on just the second page of the chapter, that I began to see red at the edges of my vision and it really never let up for the rest of the chapter. Bella has just received the last instructions she needs from Jacob. She’s ready to kick start the bike and take off. And she’s nervous. This in and of itself is nothing special. She’s never ridden a motor bike. She’s got reason to be nervous. I’d be nervous too. No, it’s the way she tries to calm herself down that got to me.
“My stomach was contorting strangely and I thought my voice might crack. I was terrified. I tried to tell myself that the fear was pointless. I’d already lived through the worst thing possible. In comparison with that, why should anything frighten me now? I should be able to look death in the eye and laugh.”
For those of you who may be thinking I must have mistyped that, let me highlight the important bit for you one more time.
“I’d already lived through the worst thing possible. In comparison with that, why should anything frighten me now? I should be able to look death in the eye and laugh.”
Now that that’s been clarified, let’s discuss, shall we? Yes, Bella just implied that breaking up with Edward was the “worst thing possible.” Not the death of her family, not nuclear war, not rape or murder or famine or any other awful, horrible thing that could happen to her or others. No. The worst possible thing is Edward breaking up with her. And since he’s already done that, she has literally nothing left to live for and should be able to look Death square in the face and laugh, because what else could there possibly be more horrifying than breaking up with her abusive vampire boyfriend?
I realize Bella Swan is not only a fictional character, but a teenage girl. And teenage girls often think in such stark, dramatic terms. I understand this. They believe that breaking up with their boyfriend is the end of the world and nothing could be worse. My real question here is, is this just Bella being a teenage girl (though she’s 18 and would ideally be more mature than that) or is this actually the message that Meyer herself is trying to convey? Is she trying to justify feeling that way by having Bella feel that way? It’s such a stupidly melodramatic attitude to have. “My boyfriend dumped me and no one has ever experienced anything as horrible as this ever.” Boo fucking hoo. People get dumped every day, and by partners better for them than a psychotic vampire who would love nothing more than to tear their head off and drink from the stump. You lucked out, you stupid cow. Dumping you was the kindest, most selfless thing Edward ever did. And that’s really saying something considering I’m still convinced he only did it because murdering Bella would put his family in an inconvenient position.
How seriously pathetic is Bella that the worst possible thing is being broken up with? Or more directly, how pathetic is Bella that she genuinely believes that Edward breaking up with her is the worst possible thing that could happen to her? When I read this part, I literally said aloud, “Gimme a fuckin’ break.” I wonder how—though I have absolute faith in her ability to—Meyer could possibly make Bella an even more pathetic character. I suppose she could have her adopt thirty cats and name them all Edward or something.
Moving on, Bella is naturally terrible at everything, so Jacob had to kickstart the bike for her and even then, she nearly fell over the first time. As she loosened her grip on the clutch and started to move, suddenly we get Edward’s voice coming in loud and clear. Fuck.
“This is reckless and childish and idiotic, Bella,’ the velvet voice fumed.”
Yeah. Even when he’s not even in the fucking book, Edward is being a bag of dicks to her. Look at how she imagines him speaking to her. He calls her reckless, which is whatever since she’s purposely trying to be reckless, but he also calls her childish and idiotic. Now, I’m the first person to jump out of my seat and say, “Hallelujah, amen” to that sentiment. I am. However, I am not the person who is supposedly in love with Bella. And yes, I realize this isn’t actually Edward speaking, but as far as Bella is concerned, it is. It may not be him, but it’s what he would be saying if he were there. So her fantasy of Edward is him insulting her. What the fuck? I’m sorry, but what the fuck? In a normal person’s fantasy, they hear the object of their desire’s voice saying things they want to hear. For Bella, it’s Edward calling her an idiot and a child. Is that what she wants to hear? Does she need to be put down like that? I think it’s so important that the hallucination of Edward is verbally abusive because it just serves to highlight that Bella fully recognizes this fact. She just doesn’t care. She has such low self-worth that she can even admit to herself, in the form of an hallucination, that her boyfriend is a verbally abusive dickweed and the only thing that matters to her is that she hears is perfect velvety voice.
And this goes so much deeper than simply imagining what Edward would be saying, too. She actually hears the voice. She hears the voice so clearly that she was startled when it first started speaking. I’m sorry, but that, to me, is a sign of serious mental health issues that should be addressed right away. And she wasn’t just a little startled, either. No. She was so startled that she FELL TO THE GROUND and the bike fell on top of her. Seriously? SERIOUSLY.
“I didn’t hurt the bike, did I?’ The thought worried me. I was anxious to try again, right away. Being reckless was paying off better than I’d thought. Forget cheating. Maybe I’d found a way to generate the hallucinations—that was much more important.”
Fuck this paragraph right in the face. This is so stupid and pathetic and above all, a horrible lesson to take away from this experience. God, I just hate Bella so fucking much.
Bella gets back on her feet and starts revving the engine, eager to try again. And Edward’s voice starts up immediately, like a fucking switch. It’s beyond stupid. In fact, my whole notation for the next two pages is just, “God, this is so fucking stupid.” And it really is. Bella takes off and she’s really flying down the dirt road and the whole time, Edward is telling her how stupid she is and how she should go home to Charlie. And naturally, Bella is eating this shit up with a spoon and a smile. She doesn’t care that Edward’s voice is being a dick, she just cares that she can hear his perfect voice again. She’s so wrapped up in her self-described hallucination that she doesn’t realize how far she’s ridden. The road starts to curve and, well…
“Jacob hadn’t told me how to turn.”
Yeah. Seriously. Bella, are you for fucking real? You can’t figure out how to turn slightly with the curve of the road? You’re really that helpless? Evidently, she is really that helpless because the dumb twat stomps down on the brake Jacob gave her explicit instructions not to touch and she loses control of the bike and flies off into a tree. Her reaction?
“Wow,’ I murmured. I was thrilled. This had to be it, the recipe for a hallucination—adrenaline plus danger plus stupidity. Something close to that, anyway.”
I can’t even.
Jacob, who at this point thinks Bella is just a red smear on a tree trunk, races over and pulls the bike off of her. He tells her she has a big gash on her forehead that’s bleeding quite a bit and he gallantly takes his shirt off (no superfluous and creepy, overly sexual description of his body, thank Zeus) to put on the cut to staunch the blood. Of course, Bella’s first instinct is to apologize. Now, you and I know that Bella is completely to blame and that she should be apologizing. But Jacob doesn’t and besides, that isn’t even why she’s doing it. Bella has this habit of apologizing to people when she gets hurt. Every single time she has been a victim in some way, shape, or form, she’s felt the need to apologize to other people for it. Meyer has a serious problem. It’s victim blaming all over again, except this time, since Edward isn’t there to do it, Bella goes ahead and does it for him. And Jacob, or as I like to call him, “Breath of fresh air,” thinks this is really weird and asks her why she’s apologizing to him for being hurt. THANK YOU, JACOB!
What happens next is just…well let’s put it this way. For page 190, my only notation was:
If you own this book, I urge you to flip to page 190 and see what I mean. The section that really leaps out at me, however, is this.
“I’d cheated—broken my promise. I’d been needlessly reckless. I felt a little less pathetic now that the promises had been broken on both sides.”
That’s right, LESS pathetic. She feels less pathetic now that she’s being stupid and putting herself in danger just to break a promise with someone who isn’t even there and has no means of knowing that the promise has been broken. And also so that she can HEAR HIS FUCKING VOICE IN HER HEAD. This is the most pathetic she’s ever been and she feels LESS pathetic as a result. Let’s also take a moment to break this down logically. She wants to break her promise to him to stay safe because he broke his promise to her to never leave her. This implies that she wants to make some big “fuck you” gesture. Okay. While stupid and incredibly immature, I get that impulse (though at 18, I would have hoped that Bella would be more adult than wanting to “get even” with Edward). But she has coupled her “fuck you” gesture with trying desperately to hallucinate his voice so that she can have even a tiny sliver of him left. THESE ARE CONFLICTING GOALS! One is a means of having closure and cutting ties, the other is a sad means of grasping onto something that isn’t there anymore. GOD I HATE THIS BOOK.
As they’re in the truck driving home so that Bella can stash her bloody clothing before going to the ER (because she’s still hiding shit like that from Charlie), Bella mentally documents Jacob’s muscles in a strangely non-sexual manner. She literally just describes them. Not in any sort of lustful way, just matter-of-factly. And sort of pointlessly. She also says that they’re “long and wiry” and I’m not sure what that means. I don’t know the first thing about fitness, but I’ve seen plenty of muscular people. I don’t recall ever thinking someone’s muscles looked long or wiry. It’s just a very weirdly worded scene. Then Bella remarks that Jacob is beautiful. Only this time, she doesn’t keep it inside. She tells him he’s beautiful. It’s very awkward and Jacob is understandably confused and uncomfortable and does that thing we all do when someone awkwardly compliments us and we just sorta give a smile and say, “Thanks…I guess…?” It was just such an awful scene. I have no idea what its purpose was since Bella was instantly worried that Jacob might take it the wrong way, so it wasn’t even meant to show any sort of budding attraction to him.
Next, we get into more stellar writing from Meyer while they’re at the ER and Bella is getting fixed up.
“Jacob held my hand while Dr. Snow was sewing, and I tried not to think about why that was ironic.”
Okay, first of all, I’m sorry, but doctors do not sew, they suture. Dr. Snow was suturing. Second…ironic? Am I missing a joke here? What was ironic about anything in this scene? There have been lots of scenes that were ironic but not meant to be, but this is the first that was meant to be and I don’t see a hint of irony anywhere. Am I just dumb and not getting something or is Meyer just a hack who has no clue what the hell she’s talking about?
Bella goes home and reflects on Edward’s perfect voice (even when he’s not in the fucking book, everything about him is described as perfect) and then we get easily the most confusing, poorly written transition in the series so far. Without any sort of warning, Bella’s narration references something that happens off-screen but doesn’t bother explaining it AT ALL. I had to reread it like four times to understand that Bella was talking about. She says that the doctor called before she made it home from the ER and told Charlie that she might have a concussion. Only this is referenced as happening “next Wednesday” and the doctor in question was Dr. Gerandy, not Dr. Snow. Apparently, Bella went riding again and again crashed her bike into a tree and again had to go to the ER. Twice in two weeks. She lied and told Charlie she tripped in Jacob’s garage and hit her head on a hammer. Then we get this bullshit.
“And I wasn’t giving it up—I’d had the most amazing hallucination today. My velvet-voiced delusion had yelled at me for almost five minutes before I’d hit the brake too abruptly and launched myself into the tree. I’d take whatever pain that would cause me tonight without complaint.”
I shit you not, that’s what it says. Page 193. Look for yourselves. I can’t make this shit up. Bella is such a fucking moron and Meyer is so goddamned irresponsible to be promoting this behavior with not one word framing it negatively. The characters who would frame it negatively are shrugged off by Bella like they wouldn’t know what they were talking about if they found out. And on top of that, she enjoys Edward yelling at her. She craves his abuse. Bella Swan has serious psychological problems and needs to see a therapist immediately.
She also seems to be using these hallucinations to cope with the still-constant pain she feels.
“I was already planning ahead, looking forward to more delusions, and that was a distraction.”
Yeah, totally not pathetic at all.
Guys, at this point, Bella is essentially a cutter. She’s causing herself SERIOUS bodily harm in this pursuit to experience these hallucinations, which, I will remind you, SHE FREELY ADMITS ARE DELUSIONS. I will never ever stop asking the question, “How is this a sympathetic character?!”
Possibly my favorite part of the whole chapter is when Bella promises her father that she’ll be more careful…but says it while ACTUALLY crossing her fingers under the table. I’m fucking dead serious. She doesn’t just lie, she acts like a goddamn 6-year-old and crosses her fingers.
“I’ll be more careful,’ I promised, surreptitiously crossing my fingers under the table.”
THIS IS A THING THAT IS IN A PUBLISHED BOOK ABOUT AN 18-YEAR OLD.
Bella tells Jacob that Charlie is a bit concerned about her coming home with gashes and concussions so frequently all of a sudden and Jacob absurdly suggests that they cool it with the death-defying activities a bit. Naturally, Bella has a mini internal freakout.
“I hated the idea of losing even my brief seconds of closeness with the memories that didn’t hurt—the ones that came on their own, without me thinking of them consciously.”
If you feel confused because I didn’t mention that Bella was also reliving memories of Edward, don’t be alarmed. I didn’t mention them because NEITHER DID STEPHENIE MEYER. I was so fucking thrown by that line because, up until that point, all I had been made aware of was Edward’s voice. I had no idea memories were part of the package because Meyer declined to write that bit in. Because she’s a fucking awful writer. Unless the voice IS the memory? In which case, Edward yelling at her is something she recalls fondly without pain? Ugh.
They decide to dial back on the bike riding and branch out to do other things together. You’ll recall that besides fixing up the bikes and teaching Bella to ride, Jacob is also being used to just make Bella feel better, so she doesn’t want to stop spending time with him. They decide to take up hiking, and true to her manipulative cow form, Bella cons Jacob into helping her locate the clearing Edward took her to when he sparkled.
“This might be a very bad thing. But it would be worth it, if I got to hear him”
UGH! Bella, you are just the most pathetic piece of shit ever! How is anyone on her side at this point?! How are any readers not sick and tired of her constant pining and whinging and melodrama? If I could wish any literary character into existence right now, I would choose Bella Swan so that I could slap her across the face and tell her to get a fucking grip. Someone needs to.
“He held the compass in a skilled way, twisting the map around till it angled the way he wanted.”
In a skilled way? Is there more than one way to hold a compass? How does one hold it in a skilled way? You can use it skillfully, because there is an art to it, but holding it skillfully? That line was dangerously close to describing Jacob like a vampire. Only that won’t ever happen because Jacob has dark skin and is therefore incapable of the perfection of the Aryan—I mean vampire race. Seriously though, it’s lines like this that make me honestly believe that Meyer has no goddamn clue what life is like outside of her home.
They hike for hours and have some idle, pointless, semi-flirtatious conversation that’s really just classic Meyer filler. Then Bella starts recounting her last trip through those woods with Edward and she gets all emo again.
“If I let myself slip up, I’d end up with my arms clutching my chest to hold it together, gasping for air, and how would I explain that to Jacob?”
You would say that you’re a pathetic lunatic who seriously needs to get a grip and come to terms with having been dumped FOUR MONTHS AGO. That’s how you would explain it to Jacob.
As the sun goes down, Bella remarks that the forest is getting darker (revelation of the century there) and that “the shadows didn’t seem as dark as usual. Not with [her] personal sun along.” What the fuck does that even mean? I know Jacob appeared in a previous dream of hers and he seemed to radiate light of some kind, but that’s some seriously stupid shit right there.
The chapter ends with them getting back into the truck, having been unsuccessful in their pursuit to find the clearing. Jacob then makes the horrendously awkward comment that he bets Bella tastes delicious, to which Bella internally remarks that he isn’t the first person to tell her that. It all smacks of suppressed sexuality and comes off as just plain uncomfortable. I felt weird reading it, I felt weird for Jacob saying it, and I felt weird for Bella hearing it. And I don’t think it was meant to be that awkward, either. That’s just Meyer shining through.
This was a genuinely awful chapter, guys, in terms of quality and content. The themes expressed were unhealthy at best and dangerously irresponsible at worst. With every new word, Stephenie Meyer cements herself more and more as not only an awful writer, but a truly delusional human being. What she attempts to pass as romance is unhealthy lust and obsession. Bella isn’t just willing to hurt herself in order to trigger hallucinations of her ex-boyfriend, she is hurting herself. And she happily endures it. And not just that, she is actively seeking to dial things up. All so that she can hear Edward’s voice despite being fully cognizant of the fact that it isn’t real, that it’s just a delusion in her head. These are the actions of a legitimately very sick mind and Meyer has the perfect opportunity to show that to her readers, to show them that, while what Bella’s doing may not be entirely unrealistic, it is dangerous and people who experience this should seek help. But Meyer isn’t doing that because she thinks this is normal. She thinks this is romantic. She thinks this is how love works. Love means hurting yourself over and over again. No. This is not love. This is obsession. This is someone who is dangerously codependent on someone else. This is a giant neon warning sign telling people the exact wrong way to behave. And the thing that really frightens me is that so many of her readers likely see it as the complete opposite.
This is the worst book ever written and Stephenie Meyer should be ashamed of herself for writing it.