Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Midnight Sun: Yes, I'll be reading it.

Just a quick update after many, many months of not posting to say that yes, I will be doing Midnight Sun. Not today, but soon. It's about time, and what little I've read of it makes me believe that it requires -- nay, demands! -- that I write about it.

Is it fair to judge a rough draft? Probably not, but I'm going to do it anyway (sorry, Steph). So be ready for more sparkling vampires...only this time, we'll experience them from the perspective of the most sparkly vampire of them all, Edward Cullen. I'm looking forward to it, much in the same way that I looked forward to having my wisdom teeth removed this time last year!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reason #1 This Series Doesn't Work

If you'd like to write a romance, you should probably have interesting romantic leads. Here's a partial list of characters from the Twilight series that are more interesting than either Bella or Edward:

The entire Egyptian coven
The Romanians (Vladimir and Stefan)
J. Jenks (the lawyer)
That girl Jacob meets in the park when he runs away from Cullen Manor
Renesmee, I guess -- she loses points because she's Edward + Bella, but still
Phil (but not really Renee, she's pretty boring)
Several of Edward's cars
The cleaning lady on Isle Esme

I probably missed a few; a few underdeveloped Cullens and other major secondary characters were left out on purpose, such as the human high school students. If there are obvious omissions, let me know!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chapter Thirty-nine: I am so done.

Let's end this book, once and for all! I am so, so done with Twilight.

Turns out that it was Bella that really decided matters. Of course it was! And as the visitors all leave, Edward says that the Volturi won't be bothering anyone for a while, though they'll probably come back someday. Hello there, sequel bait!

Anyway, everyone leaves. Edward tells more about just how scared the Volturi were, how Bella would have made them fight at a disadvantage since she was just that amazingly powerful and sparkly. Apparently, the wolves did their part too, since Caius is terrified of actual werewolves, so seeing 16 of them in a gigantic organized pack was a bit much, even if they were technically shapeshifters.

Oh, so remember how nobody in the novels ever brought up the fact that the Quileute werewolves were actually shapeshifters, but that there were real werewolves in Europe and Asia? You'd think that would have been thrown in the books at some point if it weren't something that Meyer came up with at the last minute. But it's okay, because Edward has a great explanation for this:

"It never came up."

Alice explains her ridiculous plan to Bella, and that she couldn't tell Bella everything because she's not a good liar and wouldn't be able to hide it from everyone else. Wait, you mean Bella's not perfect??

It comes up that Nessie will be fully grown in about six and a half years, and that Jacob might have some competition in the form of Nahuel, the half-vampire boy from South America. You know, because Renesmee is literally the only non-relative female of his kind he's ever seen. There is a sad bit here, where Edward explains that seeing him and Bella and Renesmee as a happy family makes Nahuel more hopeful, because until then, he thought he was an evil creature just because he killed his own mother.

Bella remarks that the day belongs to happiness. She pays lip service to Irina's death, but then hand waves it away, much like the audience has at this point. Everyone can be happy now, yay!

Bella and Edward head back to their cottage, where Edward says it's time for the traditional, celebratory post-battle sex. But Bella actually says no for the first time in her life. Instead, she plays with her shield and lets Edward enter...her head. Mentally. It's the first time ever, and she's saved up all her super special memories just for this moment. It might be touching, if I cared. It'll probably work well with some sappy music as the last scene in the movie.

And the worst series of books I've ever read ends with Bella and Edward arguing over who loves each other more, and then deciding that they'll have forever together. The freaking end.

I'll be back with a recap soon, but for now, thank the sparkle-gods that I'm done with this torture. I've read everything Twilight had to offer, and I've survived. Free at last!

...what do you mean there's a new book about that vampire girl from Eclipse that surrendered to the Cullens?

...wait, there's a half-finished retelling of Twilight from Edward's perspective, too?


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chapter Thirty-eight: Guess what? Everyone's okay.

Alright, so the Volturi start mentally attacking the Cullen Crew, ready to try to take them down for whatever reason they come up with in the next couple minutes. But who could have guessed it -- Bella's power stops every single one of their attacks! It's a sparklepire miracle! Actually, I'm surprised she even notices the slightest discomfort (and really, that's all she does feel) from their attacks, since she couldn't even tell they were trying to do anything when she was a wimpy human. Alec throws his numbness gift at them, and that fails too, although its a bit reminiscent of Novocain.

So, as the Cullen allies start imagining which of the Volturi they'd most like to kill now that they have the upper hand, Aro says that it's time for them to vote on how to proceed, and pretends that nothing is wrong, reminding everyone that violence doesn't solve anything. Of course, he's still looking for a way to win this battle without killing Edward and Bella, since they'd be very useful; Bella is happy in some sort of masochistic way, since she realizes that the Volturi can't win unless they do kill her. Haha, she wins?

So, it comes to a vote. Caius votes to kill Renesmee. Marcus votes to leave the poor mutant alone. It all comes down to Aro...

But wait! Edward senses something exciting! First, he forces Aro to clarify that if they were 100% certain that Renesmee wouldn't be a threat to their secrecy, they'd let her live, which Aro agrees to. Oh, you tricky sparklepire, Edward!

It turns out that Renesmee is rare, but not unique! And he knows that, because...Alice is back! Alice is so back, that -- not a joke -- six consecutive words in the narrative, and five consecutive words of dialog are nothing but repetitions of the word "Alice." Alice Alice Alice Alice Alice Alice!

Anyway, I'm going to go through this way more quickly than the book does. Alice found some vampires down in South America. One of them had a sister who was once in Bella's pregnant with a mutant situation, only she died during childbirth. The baby then turned its aunt into a vampire. They lived together, the baby reaching maturity seven years later. He's now 150 years old, his name is Nahuel, and he's here today to set the record straight.

Turns out Nahuel has some sisters too, all thanks to his dad, Joham, who sees himself as some sort of mad vampire scientist creating a super-race! Good times. He even has his own daughter, who is not venomous.

So, Aro considers this, and votes not to kill Renesmee, but instead to visit Joham and probably kill him instead. It's a sort of consolation prize, but it'll have to do. The Volturi turn to leave, Carlisle reminds them that they probably shouldn't hunt in the area, since the Cullens would like to remain anonymous, and everyone is friends again. Or not, but they at least say they are.

And then everyone cheers. It doesn't really seem like a "cheering" moment to me; more like a "phew, we just barely got out of that one" moment, really. But hey, I wasn't there, they can celebrate not getting killed however they like. Everyone kisses and they all get to live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, there's still one more chapter. JUST END, YOU STUPID SERIES!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chapter Thirty-seven: Vampires shouldn't talk this much.

I just spent a couple hours reading a much better book with vampires in it, so why not write about a shitty vampire book before bed?

The two sides get within 50 yards of each other, meaning that, because they are super-sparklepires, they're basically withing instant striking distance. Caius is pissed off, because he wants to kill some Cullens, damn it! But Aro is still formulating strategy.

See, Aro sees that everything is all true about Renesmee, and that they can't just slaughter objectively innocent sparkly ones in front of so many witnesses. It's just not good business. The witnesses, for their part, are not exactly ready to crush, kill and destroy anymore.

Bella tests her powers. Yup, just as incredibly amazing as always. Even more so, maybe.

Okay, Caius is on to Plan B: werewolf discrimination! The Volturi have been hunting werewolves for thousands of years, so how can they let these werewolves live?

But Aro has seen everything, and knows that this plan won't work ever. See, because the La Push werewolves aren't werewolves! They're just shapeshifters. If they were real werewolves, they wouldn't be wolves during the day, and such. They are not Children of the Moon, even though Meyer didn't bother telling us that for the first 3.9999 books.

Caius tries to make the charge stick, but Aro subtly points out that any obviously flawed accusations will probably turn the vampire world -- like 80% of which is in this damn field -- against them instantly. By the way, with all these vampires here, they should totally start up an impromptu vampire baseball league, or even a vampire soccer league, since a lot of them traveled from Italy, where there's very little baseball. Vampire sports in general would be awesome.

Caius decides he wants to talk to Irina, who clearly screwed this all up from the beginning with her false accusations. But hey, it was an honest mistake. He just wants to know why Irina made the accusation in the first place. If you recall, she was pissed because the were...shapeshifters killed her love interest, Laurent. Irina has the option of making a formal complaint about the fact that the Cullens were okay with the La Push Pack taking down her sparklelover.

But Irina refuses, showing a good deal of moral fortitude, and saying that there was no crime. As a reward, she is killed instantly. Good times! Irina now becomes the most significant character that we're supposed to like that's been killed, though on a scale of 0-100, her level of relevance is about a 0.5, so it's not exactly as big a deal as Meyer probably thinks it should be.

But the idea is to rile the sparklepires up, and it pretty much works, since a couple people on the Cullens' side decide to jump out at the Volturi. There's a struggle, but of course, nothing bad happens, and everyone is held back just in the nick of time.

Look, this is all going nowhere. Let's skip ahead a couple pages, okay?

So, back to the matters at hand, Aro speaks to some of the witnesses. He goes to Amun, who witnesses that Renesmee does grow and stuff, and that she probably doesn't need to die or anything. He then runs away to safety. Siobhan says that the kid isn't a danger at all, and that no laws were broken. Aro agrees, but then says that she is an unknown factor, and thus is dangerous, since they can't know she'll always keep quiet about the whole vampires are real thing. Apparently, he's even concerned that humans might be able to kill them now, what with nukes and whatnot. It makes you wonder why they needed to be so secretive in the first place, if humans never posed the slightest danger to them until recently. Aro says it was for the sake of convenience...but how is that convenient at all?

The nomad Garrett offers another, rather obvious perspective, that the Volturi are basically making up anything they can to come up with an excuse to kill lots and lots of vampires. This takes like three pages, but I've pretty much summarized it already.

Aro says people basically have three choices: agree with the Volturi, fight against them, or leave peacefully even if they disagree, which seems a little out of place, but I guess it scores them political points with the undecided voters. A lot of the Volturi "witnesses" decide to take the third option, since this is all getting a little ridiculous at this point.

Aro points out to his army that they are now outnumbered, but they confirm that they're okay with fighting to "protect their world" even if that would mean they lose a few of their number in the battle.

So Aro, Caius and Marcus counsel. It is boring.

Meanwhile, Bella prepares Renesmee and Jacob to leave. It's supposed to be touching, but it's really not.

Everyone says their goodbyes to their loved ones, just in case. If you cared about 99% of the characters here, this might be meaningful.

And then Bella feels the pressure of the mental attacks from the Volturi start to push against her shield, and the battle is ready to begin! This would be exciting, if this weren't Twilight.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chapter Thirty-six: Oh look, more vampires.

Okay, I hate this chapter, because it feels extraordinarily cheap to me, even for this series. Before we get into what happens in this chapter (and beyond), let's remember the problems with dealing with the Volturi:

  1. The Volturi are going to be enraged about what they believe to be an immortal child. They are extremely unlikely to even pretend to listen to whatever the Cullens say, which is why they had to amass a virtual army of vampires just to try to get the Volturi to slow down for a few seconds and listen, otherwise it would be instant death with no conversation, debate, or discussion.
  2. Aro wants what he wants. Even if they get the Volturi to slow down -- which, remember, would be a minor miracle in itself -- Aro is likely to come up with excuses with which to collect Edward, Alice (were she to be there), and possibly Bella and/or Renesmee.
Remember, this is what we've been told for the second half of this book: the Volturi are going to rush in, dispense judgment, and that's that. So, what happens?

The Volturi slowly reveal themselves, with the guard slowly giving way to their leadership. To quote Meyer:

Their progress was slow but deliberate, with no hurry, no tension, no anxiety. It was the pace of the invincible.

The problem is not that this is unrealistic. In fact, it's exactly what one does when they believe they are in a position of certain victory in case of conflict, whether that be in a war or in a game: you take your time, consolidate your position, and then win. No need to force things when that might lead to mistakes that give your enemies a chance to win.

The problem is that this is exactly the opposite of how we've been told the Volturi would act by every source in this book. You can't do that! You can't tell us the Volturi are going to act one way, which is a big problem, and then have them act exactly in the way that gives your plan a chance!


Anyway, there are 32 Volturi, as well as another 40 or so vampires there as witnesses for the Volturi, more or less; once they see justice dispensed, they can go tell the world about it. Also, they might get the chance to kill and fight and burn things, which is always fun. Irina is there too, not really feeling like a part of either group.

Edward reads the minds of Aro and Caius. It seems that they have a complex strategy, where if Irina's accusation is proven false, they'll come up with another reason to kill the Cullens. Which means they never intended not to listen; they only intended to win no matter what was said. Which is completely different that what we've been told by everyone for the last 300 pages. Granted, we were told they would eventually try to find any excuse that fit even if the Cullens could make them listen, but the really, really hard part was supposed to be getting them to listen at all...which apparently, the Volturi planned to do all along. Sigh.

The wolves come, and now there are 17 of them, because with so many vampires hanging out with the Cullens, it was inevitable that more kids would get called up from the minors to join the pack. The fact that these kids are generally really young, barely teenagers, would be really sad if I thought they were in any danger at all.

The Volturi stop to consider what to do should it come to a battle, since (not counting their witnesses), they're actually outnumbered for a change, and don't recognize some of their opponents. Carlisle takes the opportunity to chat up Aro a bit.

Aro brings up the immortal child issue, though he seems a little sad about having to kill Carlisle. But Carlisle points out the good news -- he doesn't have to be killed at all, for Nessie is just a freakish, mutant child, and not a tiny vampire!

Caius doesn't take well to this, and brings up Irina to identify Renesmee. Which she does, but she also points out that Renesmee has obviously grown since the last time she saw her. Thus, not a vampire. Oops.

There's a lot of confusion as to just what the hell is going on here, so Aro calls up Edward to read all of his memories. Edward goes out to meet Aro, and Jane makes a little smirk, which pisses off Bella. This incites Bella to throw her shield out further than ever before, reaching Edward way out where he's about to give his memories to Aro. Of course, this would be a bad thing, so she pulls it back. But now she knows she's a superpowered sparklepire after all. Of course she is.

Aro reads Edward's mind for a bit, and then realizes that something very different has happened here. Given that he's thousands of years old, and that his first reaction to everything he saw is described as "amused," I sure hope Aro didn't spend too much time in Edward's mind watching him and Bella sleeping together, because that would be way creepy.

Aro wants to meet Renesmee, and eventually all parties agree to this. Bella, Jacob and Emmett come too, as do a few of the Volturi, just to make sure everyone feels secure. Jane is jealous that Aro got Bella a present (the necklace, which she is wearing). Oh, girls.

Aro is amazed about everything, and sees Renesmee as a new chapter in sparklepire history, while Caius still wants to kill shit. Aro calms him down for a moment, then had Renesmee touch him, and sees everything. He tells Renesmee he's not going to hurt anyone, but everyone else is pretty sure that's a lie.

Aro makes some comments about the wolves. Edward reads his mind, and sees that he'd like to keep them as, like, guard dogs or something. Edward informs him that it doesn't quite work that way, no matter how loyal they may be to the Cullens. The whole eating people thing would probably be a dealbreaker when working with the Volturi, you know?

So now Aro is thoroughly perplexed as to what he should do. He needs some time to think it over and come up with a new strategy. If only he had the end of a chapter to give him a short break...hey, look, there's one right now!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chapter Thirty-five: Small talk is not exciting.

Wow, this chapter is way longer than it needs to be. To make up for it, I'm going to make the review of this chapter as short as it deserves to be.

Bella heads out to pick up her fake documents -- the ones for Jacob and Renesmee -- from Jenks. They spend a few pages on small talk, including Jenks for some reason thinking that Bella might be wanting to kidnap Nessie from Edward. This accusation doesn't further the plot, adds nothing to the meeting, and is entirely unnecessary. But this book wasn't long enough yet, so why not pad it a little? We're only on page 670.

Bella gets home, and the house is mostly empty. She takes the time to go into Alice and Jasper's room and grab stuff that Jacob and Nessie can use. Like cash. How much cash, you ask?

I raided their petty cash, taking about twice the yearly income from the average American household.

Way to make this book timeless by not mentioning an exact dollar amount, but just describing the money as an amount that will always seem like a huge sum to most of your readers! It's not like there are hundreds of other technological, social, and pop culture references that date the books to the early 21st century, or anything.

Bella thinks it would be nice if Alice and Jasper could hook up with Jacob and Renesmee after everyone else is slaughtered (which, remember, is totally going to happen, right?), but Alice can't see into either of their lives. She can see Bella, so she makes a big production about writing RIO DE JANEIRO on a piece of stationary, and hopes Alice will see it. She then puts the note in the bottom of the bag she packed for Renesmee, hoping Jacob will see it. A foolproof plan, if ever there was one.

Around New Year's, the Cullens start preparing the clearing -- you know, that big one where half of the important events in this series have happened for some reason -- and have their witnesses come in formation to be ready when the Volturi arrive. Bella and Renemee say their I love yous, and Bella tells her daughter to run when Bella says so.

There's some talk about where everyone is standing. The gist of it is that Bella is standing near their best threats, so that she can protect them for as long as possible. Vampires without useful powers get to stand far, far away from Bella and wear red shirts.

The werewolves show up. Everyone waits. Then they see the Volturi coming, and the chapter ends.

The good news? Things will actually happen in the next couple chapters! Maybe not as much as you and I want to happen, but a few things, I swear. At least there's a little action. A very little.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chapter Thirty-four: End! ENNNNNDDD!

I'm sick. Not of the book, but really sick. Well, I am sick of this book too, but I don't think it's responsible for my runny nose.

Bella gets back home and hears Edward playing the piano, as he's known to do. Bella tries to hide the fact that she did more than just go Christmas shopping for Nessie, but she's pretty sure Edward isn't buying it. Bella also wants to get in some more combat practice with Emmett, since she lost a whole few hours while running her secret errands. But Edward makes her wait until tomorrow.

Apparently, Bella has made some more entirely baseless assumptions about Alice's plans. Now, she's "deduced" that they'll lose to the Volturi, but that it'll be close, which is how Jacob and Renesmee get away. Oh, and since her and Edward will both die, they can be dead together forever. How lovely!

On Christmas, all the werewolves, Bella, Edward and Nessie hang out at Charlie's place. Apparently, all of the werewolves are pumped up for the fight that Bella has deemed hopeless. Way to have confidence in your friends and family, Bella! The ones who have never left you down ever, and -- if you recall -- killed like 20 vampires without a single casualty. And now there are way more vampires and werewolves on your side. Come on, stop being such a pessimistic whiner!

Renesmee's Christmas presents, for anyone who is interested: Bella got her a locket, Edward gave her a fully stocked MP3 player, and Jacob got her a Quileute promise ring (NOT CREEPY, RIGHT?).

Back at Cullen Manor, there's a little scuffle breaking out. Amun is all mad at Carlisle because he wants to leave, while half his coven wants to stay. This all amounts to nothing, since Amun ends up saying he'll stay, but that he'd be open to switching sides if that's what it took to ensure his survival.

Alistair already bolted, and Amun thinks he's the only sane sparklepire in the group. It seems Alistair thinks that no matter what they do, the Volturi will come up with a reason to get what they want, which is not a popular opinion among your rank-and-file sparklepires. I mean, if the sparklepire government is manipulating their own laws, that would be something never before heard of in human history!

Of course, the Romanians love the fact that at least a few people seem to be realizing that the Volturi aren't as good as they pretend to be. I mean, sure, they were evil overlords of the night when they were in charge too, but at least they didn't pretend to be good! Plus, they think this is the best shot they'll have at taking the Volturi down, or at least making them look silly in front of a lot of the vampire world.

Slowly, all the assembled sparkly ones make declarations, most saying that they'll fight, of course. They scoff at the werewolves also saying they'll help, clearly ignoring the fact that the werewolves' record against vampires is pretty damn good so far in these novels.

Later on, Bella thinks about things, which never leads to good results. What, she reasons, if the reason they fail is that everyone thinks Bella can help shield people, but she really can't? And her shield has holes, because Nessie can do her little memory sharing thing with her. But Edward isn't worried -- she's probably just the opposite of her parents. She can give everyone her thoughts, and she can't be blocked by anyone. Everyone will have to see the truth, since there's no blocking her ability to share the truth.

But will that be enough? Given that this is Twilight, there are two possible answers:

1. Yes, and everyone will live happily ever after.
2. No, but everyone will still live happily ever after.

Almost done...almost done.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chapter Thirty-three: Seriously, why am I STILL reading this?


Okay, so Charlie hasn't seen his granddaughter in a week, but Bella can't very well bring him into a house full of sparklepires who want to eat him just for being human. Instead, Nessie is going on a day trip to grandpa's house. There's a lot of talk about who Charlie is hanging out with, like Billy and Sue and blah blah blah.

Jake is coming too. He has a great nickname for the creepy Romanians: Dracula One and Dracula Two. Keeping with our "one enjoyable bit per every few chapters," we shouldn't expect anything else to be very interesting for a while, so let's milk it for all it's worth and learn more about our Romanian friends!

It seems that unlike everyone else, Renesmee finds the old vampires to be more interesting than fucking creepy. They don't want to touch her, so she speaks with them out loud and asks questions. Why do they have such weird skin? It's because they sat still for a very very long time while everyone came to them. That's the one thing they don't regret, they say, because now it's the Volturi who are sitting still and petrifying while they move about and stay in good sparkle shape. Actually, I have to quote a couple sentences here, because it really is pretty good. The Romanians are speaking to Renesmee:

"I suppose the Volturi did us one favor when they burned our castles. Stefan and I, at least, did not continue to petrify. Now the Volturi's eyes are filmed with dusty scum, but ours are bright. I imagine that will give us an advantage when we gouge theirs from their sockets."

I tried to keep Renesmee away from them after that.
Meanwhile, on the car ride over to Charlie's place, Bella starts being all cryptic. What's she up to?

When they get to Charlie's, he wants to know where Edward is. Jacob tells Charlie he should just be happy he's out of the loop on this one, which is pretty true: I probably wouldn't want to know that my daughter's new friends would like to eat me.

Bella says she's going Christmas shopping, but it's obviously a lame excuse for something. In actuality, she's headed to see J. Jenks in Seattle, based on Alice's strange note. The address she was given is in an awful neighborhood. We know it's awful because of the businesses that are there: a psychic supply store! A tattoo parlor! And...a daycare? Really, who would put a daycare next to a tattoo parlor, even in a bad neighborhood? That's just bad planning.

So Bella talks to some guy who knows J, but won't give her information. She uses her feminine wiles to get him to call J, who responds well to the name Cullen. Bella gets new instructions on where to meet J, and goes for yet another drive.

Eventually, after a bunch of pages that are really just a waste of time, Bella and J meet. It seems that J knows Jasper, but has never met Alice, and would have been perfectly happy to meet Bella at his classier office. Between knowing her situation and hearing the word "papers" earlier when talking to Max, she makes an educated guess as to what she's there for.

Bella decides that Alice saw they couldn't win, and this meant that Renesmee would have to run. She orders two birth certificates, two passports, and one driver's license. Her plan is to leave Renesmee with Jacob, so that the two of them can run away to safety. By the way, Bella's fake names are the best for them: Jacob and Vanessa Wolfe. Are you laughing yet?

Bella wants the papers in a week, which makes it a rush order, doubling the price. On the other hand, money isn't really an issue for the Cullens, since they're super rich vampires, remember? So rich, that Bella pays him 100% of the price up front, and is willing to give a 100% bonus upon delivery. Must be nice!

Bella and J agree to meet in one week. J seems worried about something, but assures Bella that the papers will be ready on time. Luckily, we won't have to wait another week for this chapter to end; mercifully, it's over. Only seven more to go!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chapter Thirty-two: Guess who's coming to dinner? Vampires, of course.

Yes, there are lots and lots of vampires in Cullen Manor, but it's okay, because like, they're sparklepires, and they can't get uncomfortable! Plus, nobody needs a room, since they don't need to sleep. Being a Twilight vampire comes with all sorts of perks.

Dinner is a problem, since most of the guests insist on eating human. The rules of the house are that you can hunt, but you have to do it outside of Washington. Bella decides this is okay, because they'd be hunting somewhere, even if it wasn't in their neck of the woods. You are a woman of great moral fortitude, Mrs. Cullen.

Jacob is described as "upset" by this, because his whole job as a werewolf is to NOT let vampires kill people. But they're hunting just outside of the pack's borders, and it's all for Renesmee, so whatever, right? It's all good.

Speaking of the little mutant baby, everyone loves her. We get a lot of exposition here about all the different vampires coming in from around the world, and how they take a minute or two to decide that Renesmee is not an immortal child, and that they'll stand against the Volturi. That second part seems like a much tougher sell, but inevitably, it works.

Many of the visiting vampires have unique skills, since you're a pretty shitty sparklepire if you don't have at least one magic power. Most of them are pretty irrelevant, but since some of the powers might prove to be relevant, let's do a quick rundown:

  • There's Maggie, from Ireland, who can tell immediately if she's being lied to. That make it pretty easy for her family to believe all the Renesmee crap.
  • Some vampires from Egypt show up. The older ones don't like Nessie, but a younger one, Benjamin, has the power to physically manipulate the elements. He's basically Sparklepire Planet without the Planeteers.
  • There are some singular nomads that show up, including Garrett, an adventurer who is willing to take any challenge he can find.
  • Alistair comes in from England and mostly just sits in the corner listening to Linkin Park and being all emo. But he's a tracker, for the record.
  • A couple of Amazonian women show up. Apparently, Alice was in South America, in case you'd forgotten about her. The book is just begging you to be curious about what she's up to! One of them, Zafrina, can make entirely convincing illusions that effect everyone...except Bella, of course. Renesmee finds this ability really, really fun. Pretty pictures, yay!
Does this seem like a bit much? Don't worry, even Meyer realizes this, because she makes a note of Jacob not being able to keep everyone straight. And then footnotes a reference to an index in the back of the book. Yes, the author can't even trust the reader to remember all of the characters -- always the sign of a great novel.

Bella starts getting fighting lessons from Edward, but they don't go well. He can't bear to think of his wife as a target! Even if it might save her life! Sigh. He suggests she find another teacher. She finds a bunch, as it seems just about everyone is happy to teach her how to fight.

Luckily, other people are actually trying to teach her something useful, like how to project her shield to help cover other people. This way, Bella can help without getting herself killed! It may not satisfy her ridiculous martyr complex, but it's something. Vampire Kate tries to zap Edward, while Bella tries to protect him. Edward gets zapped, because Bella fails. Rinse and repeat!

But, of course, she eventually starts to get it to work. But Kate thinks she could do better with the proper motivation, and wants to bring Nessie in on the fun. This understandably doesn't go over well with Bella, but it turns out that everyone else was in on it together; Kate just walked up threateningly, Bella managed to get the shield over Nessie, and then Edward could verify that by his inability to read her mind. No harm done, though Bella is still angry about this very helpful exercise that never put her child into any danger.

Next, Zafrina tries to do the illusion thing, and Bella manages to protect both Edward and Renesmee from it. This is totally the book version of a cheesy 80's training montage. Just imagine "You're the Best Around" playing, sub in some vampires for Pat Morita, and you've more or less got it.

Skipping ahead a bit (this chapter is far too long for its own good), a couple of Romanian vampires show up, eager to go up against the Volturi. They don't even care what's up, they just want to see the Volturi get what's coming to them. See, they used to be the head sparklepire honchos before the Volturi overthrew them around 1,500 years ago, so they want revenge. They're even pretty happy to see all the neat abilities the collected vampires have, since it might mean they even have a chance.

In total, we have 28 vampires, which Bella thinks is the largest non-Volturi group of friendly vampires ever. Will it be enough to slow the Volturi down for a minute and let them realize that Renesmee is a different kind of freak than the illegal kind? Will the Romanians get to piss on the Volturi's graves? Only a few more chapters before we find out!