In the twenty second chapter of Twilight, Bella escapes mind-reading, superhuman vampires, despite the insane impossibility of such an action. She predictably goes right to the dance studio where Alice knew she would be and predictably listens to the vampire narrate his actions and intentions for way too long. Then Stephenie Meyer takes great glee in describing a scene in which Bella's leg is shattered and her head is sliced open. Intrigued? Then it's time for Mark to read Twilight.
CHAPTER 22: HIDE AND SEEK
I'm sitting at my desk. I'm typing these words as I think about how I can properly convey to you how I feel about the 22nd chapter of Twilight. I just took a drink of water. I don't want to write this, you see, because it pains me to have to spend any.
I just stepped way from the computer. I'm avoiding writing this, even though I know I have to write another review later today because I might not be around to write it tomorrow. I wandered around the Buzznet offices for a bit, making small talk with different people I work with.
I sit back down at my computer. I type the intro to this review. That's usually the easiest part. How am I going to write this? What should I do differently this time? Do I have any originality left in me at this point?
I don't feel like I do. I get up from my computer and grab the lunch I brought to work: punjab choley and brown rice from Trader Joe's. I walk to Buzznet's kitchen. Someone from Engineering beats me there and puts a Lean Cuisine in the microwave. Realizing it's going to be a while, I head back to my desk.
I sit and think about what I need to write about. What happened in chapter 22 of Twilight that's significant? What can I mock? What important message do I need to import?
It doesn't come to me. I look at the unmailed letter sitting on my desk. Suddenly, I have a definite task that I can complete. I grab the envelope and head to the post office.
The heat outside in Los Angeles is oppressive, no thanks to the Station Fire burning in the San Gabriel Mountains. A thick layer of smoke rests on the horizon and sits lightly above my head. I feel like I'm walking underneath a wool blanket. I start sweating before I even cross Sunset Blvd.
I walk a block up Wilcox to the post office. I'm still trying to think about how I'm going to write my review of the 22nd chapter. Should I focus on Meyer's obsessively detailed description of a totally defenseless woman (Bella) getting the shit beat out of her by a strong, alpha-male? (James) Should I focus on the inanity of little old Bella, who has been portrayed as the world's biggest klutz, somehow magically escaping? Or should I instead talk about the irritating method in which Meyer uses one of her characters to explain his own motivations? Out loud?
I arrived at the post office and pulled open the door to some much-needed air conditioning. I purchased my postage from an automated machine and decided to buy a full book of stamps to prevent this sort of trip from happening in the future. I mailed my letter and my task was suddenly done. I'd have to face my review, head on, and complete it now.
I walked back to the Buzznet office. The heat seemed worse when contrasted with the cool air of the Post Office. I checked my iPhone a bunch, looking for something to distract me from writing my review. No new emails. No requests to delete accounts or any desperate cries from members asking for my intercession. Nothing.
I crossed Sunset Blvd again and entered the office building where I worked. Air conditioning again. First world problems. I board an elevator that arrives immediately and head up to the sixth floor. I can see the book sitting on my desk in my head. I have to do this. I have to write this.
But I walk back to my desk and see my lunch sitting next to my copy of Twilight. I have a new task.
I take my food to the kitchen again. The microwave is empty. I put my bowl of rice in the microwave, followed by the choley, and hit 90 seconds. The food starts turning. Repetitive.
I walk back to my desk and stare at the book, turned on its pages, the spine staring at me. I don't want to read this anymore, but I'm so close to being done with it forever. The book was just so redundant.
I heard the microwave beep as the word "redundant" stayed in my thoughts. I had an inspiration.
I quickly walked to the kitchen to grab my food. It was too hot, but I didn't care. I had an idea. The entirety of Twilight suffered from a technique that I could never quite put my finger on until this chapter, when James personified it to an extreme degree. James spends four full pages narrating, out loud, both his actions at that very moment and his entire plan to attack Bella. It was very reminiscent to Meyer's seventh chapter, in which she unnecessarily narrates Bella using the Internet.
The repetitive microwave spinning, the banality of my tasks to avoid writing, and the sheer boredom this book elicited in me brought me to a revelation: Stephenie Meyer narrates Twilight in the most redundant way possible.
I sat down at the computer. I had food. I had an idea. And I began typing, taking small breaks to shovel food into my mouth, barely chewing. There's only one way to properly demonstrate how uninteresting Meyer's writing is and how infuriating it is to have her characters announce everything they're doing: to mock it, ruthlessly.
A final note that I couldn't fit into that silly narration. At the end of the chapter, Bella tries to run away from James and he throws her into a mirror after punching her in the stomach. Her head splits open and, as she tries to escape, he steps on her leg and breaks it.
I don't know how Meyer is going to deal with this, first of all. Please don't tell me one of the vampires can magically heal people, too. That'll be convenient!
What bothers me most about this scene is something that bothered me when I tried to watch that French horror flick, Martyrs. (Brief synopsis: A young women aims to get revenge on the family who imprisoned/tortured her for years, only to discover that the family were only a small part in a horrifying experiment dealing with the afterlife.) At heart, there was a lot that I, a horror fan, thought I'd like about the movie. It twisted genres. It had two strong, female leads who weren't helpless or stupid. It dealt with, arguably, a fairly intelligent theme: life after death.
However, the movie's attempts to ignore the low-brow techniques that their peers so easily slip into was later destroyed when the movie devolved into a pretty sad message: that enlightenment can be attained by having strong, hypermasculine men beat defenseless women within an inch of their life.
This book isn't the same. (Yet.) And I'm not sure what Meyer's point is in writing these events. Is it to have Edward save her, so that she feels even more compelled to devote herself to him than she already is? Does she mean to suggest that Bella truly is the hopeless female she's been written as? Why does an author who outright admits that she doesn't watch R-rated movies or read horror novels write such violent scenes into her book? To prove a point? What point could that be?
I don't actually claim to know the answer or to even have a theory. But the scene at the end of this chapter was unsettling, just like the second half of Martyrs. How will Meyer explain the violence?
One more thing: Meyer claims that Orson Scott Card is one of her favorite authors. Do a little research on some of the things that man believes. Surprise!