Twilight: Emotional Abuse Workshop

Content Note: Emotional Abuse, Rape, Victim Blaming

Twilight Recap: Bella has successfully fended off invitations to the dance from Mike, Eric, and Tyler, by organizing an all day road trip to Seattle and clearing her plans with Charlie.

Twilight, Chapter 4: Invitations

So today let's return to the subject of gaslighting. The Standard Repository of All Knowledge and Wisdom defines "gaslighting" as "a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory and perception. It may simply be the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, or it could be the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim."

   The next morning, when I pulled into the parking lot, I deliberately parked as far as possible from the silver Volvo. I didn't want to put myself in the path of too much temptation and end up owing him a new car.
   Getting out of the cab, I fumbled with my key and it fell into a puddle at my feet. As I bent to get it, a white hand flashed out and grabbed it before I could. I jerked upright. Edward Cullen was right next to me, leaning casually against my truck.
   "How do you do that?" I asked in amazed irritation.
   "Do what?" He held my key out as he spoke. As I reached for it, he dropped it into my palm.
   "Appear out of thin air."

In the kindest possible light, Edward can be seen as a very complex character. He's a 100+ year old vampire with a compulsion towards murder, and he is trying to make a concerted effort to not murder people anymore. Bella presents a unique temptation for him in that he's strongly attracted to her as a compelling food source (her exquisitely scented blood) as well as an interesting mental puzzle (her psychic shield against telepathy). Edward fully recognizes that any association between him and Bella is very likely to end in her death or in the death of his family -- neither of which are desirable outcomes for him.

So now we come to a problem within the narrative: why did Edward call Bella's name for attention in Biology yesterday, and why is he showing off his powers of speed and/or stealth today?

A reader could see this behavior as that of a conflicted man in the throes of his first new love. In the conflict between his head and his heart, the result is that his behavior is inconsistent and sometimes contradictory. He knows he should stay away from Bella, but he just can't. He knows he shouldn't provide further evidence of his supernatural powers, but he can't resist showing off a little to the woman he loves. Indeed, I think we're meant to interpret Edward this way.

But then you get lines like this:

   "Bella, it's not my fault if you are exceptionally unobservant." His voice was quiet as usual -- velvet, muted.

And I'm not so sure I can agree with the above analysis. The "he can't help himself" argument sort of works if you strip out every piece of dialog that Edward has in the book and just look at his actions. I don't automatically blame Edward for wanting to be near Bella or for wanting to show off to her, because love is a very powerful motivator, and I can understand why he acts in accordance with that motivation.

Yet we don't just see Edward's actions. We have to read his words. His first words to Bella today are cruel, dismissive, and abusive. He blames Bella for 'failing' to see him, even though he knows that the real reason she didn't see him is because of his supernatural powers of speed and stealth. Furthermore, the blame he dishes out isn't merely a failure to see him this time; he calls her "exceptionally unobservant". Edward is claiming Bella is sub-standard to her peers.

If Edward had his good judgment temporarily overwhelmed by a need to show off to the woman he loves, he could have recovered his aplomb in a number of ways that didn't involve insulting Bella. We've already discussed a number of possible covers for Edward's abilities, including a fictional past as a track star at his previous school, or just not answering the question at all. Edward instead chooses to verbally undermine a person that he supposedly cares about -- cares about so much, in fact, that he becomes visibly enraged at the suggestion that he might regret for a moment saving her.

Of course, part of this is a tie-in back to Bella's witnessing Edward's supernatural powers during the incident in the parking lot, and Edward's subsequent attempts to gaslight Bella in the hospital. Edward has an established pattern of trying to undermine Bella's confidence in her perceptions of reality in order to protect himself. But while this is a good explanation for his words, it doesn't mesh at all with the "love" motivation that supposedly forced him to show off to Bella right now against his better judgment.

I mean, he loves her enough to show off his powers and associate with her, thereby putting himself and his family in grave danger, but not so much as to not be emotionally abusive to her? That doesn't add up! He's showing off to Bella now because his heart has overwhelmed his own logical decision to stay away from Bella -- and yet his heart has no problem speaking to Bella as hurtfully and dismissively as possible.

I suspect the key here is that Edward is supposedly trying to push Bella away with his hurtful words. He can't 'help' but give in to his need to be with and around her, but he can consciously choose to be a braying jackass to her, in order to scare her off. Then she'll be safe, as will be the Cullens, and Edward can be nobly sad and lonely forever. This is actually a good set-up for a flawed and abusive character in desperate need of therapy so that he can realize that being a jerk to people isn't a "Get Out Of Moral Dilemma-ville Free" card because hey if she didn't like it she would have left.

It is not a good set-up for the Most Perfect Love Story Ever. 

   "Why the traffic jam last night?" I demanded, still looking away. "I thought you were supposed to be pretending I don't exist, not irritating me to death."
   "That was for Tyler's sake, not mine. I had to give him his chance." He snickered.
   "You . . ." I gasped. I couldn't think of a bad enough word. It felt like the heat of my anger should physically burn him, but he only seemed more amused.

I share Bella's outrage, and could probably come up with a few words for her in a pinch. Edward's 'prank' of physically restraining Bella in order to force her into an emotional confrontation she didn't want with a person whose very appearance causes her existential angst from a near-death experience is not amusing. Nor is his insistence that Bella 'owes' a hearing to every boy in school who wants to get into a romantic relationship with her.

I recognize that this is probably supposed to be another "impotent angry Bella" moment, but I'm going to read this as Meta-Bella lashing out at Edward, and I'm going to savor it as I would a Godiva raspberry white-chocolate star. Mmmmmm.

   "So you are trying to irritate me to death? Since Tyler's van didn't do the job?"
   Anger flashed in his tawny eyes. His lips pressed into a hard line, all signs of humor gone.
   "Bella, you are utterly absurd," he said, his low voice cold.

See, now I would have preferred "so you are trying to exert inappropriate control over my life in the manner of a creepy abuser?", but kudos to Bella for voicing her frustration. And in case the first time wasn't enough, we get to see Edward's complete umbrage at the merest hint that he might be the sort of morally bankrupt murderer who would do whatever it took -- including letting someone die -- in order to preserve his own existence.

Talk about Closet Monsters.

Also, if you are keeping count at home, this is the second time Edward has insulted Bella today.

   My palms tingled -- I wanted so badly to hit something. I was surprised at myself. I was usually a nonviolent person. I turned my back and started to walk away.
   "Wait," he called. I kept walking, sloshing angrily through the rain. But he was next to me, easily keeping pace.
   "I'm sorry, that was rude," he said as we walked. I ignored him. "I'm not saying it isn't true," he continued, "but it was rude to say it, anyway."
 
Meta-Bella is rocking it up today, people. I knew I stole that term from Slacktiverse's Meta-Hattie for a reason, it's just that it's been so long since I've read this passage.

This is good advice on so many levels. If you find yourself wanting to hit someone, walk away. If you find that someone is trying to emotionally abuse and/or physically control you, walk away (if possible). If you ever find yourself in a conversation like this, or indeed in any conversation at all with Edward Cullen, walk away.

Of course, if it's Edward Cullen, there's a strong chance that he'll follow you, despite having sworn to avoid you in order to protect you, himself, and his beloved family. Also, for the sake of the count: that's the third time Edward has insulted Bella today. And extra-credit is in order since he managed to work it into a non-apology.

   "Why won't you leave me alone?" I grumbled.
   "I wanted to ask you something, but you sidetracked me," he chuckled. He seemed to have recovered his good humor.
   "Do you have a multiple personality disorder?" I asked severely.
   "You're doing it again."

Once again we see Edward's propensity to laugh during or immediately after his apologies. We saw this the last time they were in Biology class when Edward was apologizing with his 'sincere' voice while snickering and smirking the entire time. My feeling is that Bella has her wires crossed a little bit: Edward's behavior isn't so inconsistent and mercurial as to mean he has more than one personality at his beck and call; it's just that his one, consistent personality is that of someone who is deeply amused by the suffering of others. If there is a conflict here, it's that Bella seems to expect Edward's personality to be as pretty as his face. Life is rough when you're not in a Lucas 'verse.

The other disturbing thing here is the beginning of the narrative thread that Bella is 'responsible' for Edward's actions. She "sidetracked" him, as though he didn't just show up, grab her keys, and then pretty much not converse with her except to belittle and insult her. But it's ultimately her fault because she didn't stand there in mute silence when he tried to hand her the keys, right?

I suppose "unwillingness to own your actions" might be consistent with the personality of a 100 year old vampire who has murdered to slake his blood-thirst, but at the same time, I have to reiterate that I'm not going to be cheering for this guy unless it's a story of his self-discovery into how to take responsibility for his actions and not blame everything reflexively on his victims. 

   I sighed. "Fine then. What do you want to ask?"
   "I was wondering if, a week from Saturday -- you know, the day of the spring dance --"
   "Are you trying to be funny?" I interrupted him, wheeling toward him. My face got drenched as I looked up at his expression.
   His eyes were wickedly amused. "Will you please allow me to finish?"

So let's recap this. The conversation started -- well, after the opening volley of insults from Edward -- with Bella asking why he physically restrained her on the school grounds the night before. Edward openly admitted to engineering a trap for Bella so that Tyler would get "his chance" to ask Bella out.

Edward did so after observing Mike and Eric ask Bella out, and after observing that the interactions clearly distressed her. He doesn't know how much the interactions distressed her, because he can't read Bella's mind and Bella hasn't confided in anyone, but she's made it clear both in her body language yesterday and in her actual language today that she found the requests extremely unwelcome and unpleasant.

So naturally, Edward designs his next statement to clearly mimic the requests from the day before and in doing so to cause Bella the most emotional damage.

Edward doesn't know why Bella found the invitations painful; in fact, Edward knows almost nothing about Bella whatsoever. Maybe she's had such a bad experience at a previous school dance that invitations to dances are her own personal trigger. I can easily come up with at least four major reasons why Bella might find unsolicited invitations to a school dance to be incredibly painful and traumatic -- and I'll bet we could easily come up with more, if we all put our emotional spoons together.

But the fact of the matter is, Bella doesn't need to supply a good reason to Edward. The fact that the invitations caused her pain is all he needs to know. By presenting her with another invitation -- clearly dressed up to look like the ones from yesterday -- he's deliberately trying to mimic the situation and hurt her all over again. Why? Because he finds her being mistaken funny.

There's one more reason why Edward's request is cruel. Bella is interested in him, and that fact probably isn't lost on him. An extra subtext to his faux request is that if she hadn't come up with this out-of-town excuse to let the boys down gently yesterday, she could perhaps have had Edward take her to the school dance, but that's lost forever now! Whether or not this is something that actually bothers Bella -- she of the Cannot Dance Without A Broken Clavicle, and ooh, put that down for one more Trigger Warning reason for why Bella dreads these invitations -- is unclear, but the point remains that Edward is a jerk here for a whole rainbow of reasons.

   I bit my lip and clasped my hands together, interlocking my fingers, so I couldn't do anything rash.
   "I heard you say you were going to Seattle that day, and I was wondering if you wanted a ride."

Oh my god, YES. Of course I want a ride from the man who:

1. Reacted with physical hostility on the first day we met.
2. Avoided me for days afterwards.
3. Disoriented me by pretending everything was fine a week later.
4. Asked invasive and inappropriate questions about my personal life.
5. Supernaturally saved my life the next day and then heaped lies and insults and threats on me.
6. Aggressively shunned me for weeks.
7. Laughed at my emotional pain yesterday.
8. Physically restrained me from leaving school until more pain was inflicted on me.
9. Piled insults on me from the beginning of this conversation.

As a woman, I would very much love to get into a car with a strange and hostile man I barely know and commit myself to a several-hour road trip. How did you ever guess, Edward? You're practically Miss Cleo with your powers of insight and clairvoyance.

   "What?" I wasn't sure what he was getting at.
   "Do you want a ride to Seattle?"
   "With who?" I asked, mystified.
   "Myself, obviously." He enunciated every syllable, as if he were talking to someone mentally handicapped.

Yes. Because treating someone like they have a disability just because they haven't leaped onto your train of Moon Logic is always classy.

Alright, time for my obligatory rant about Edward's 100 years of practice with telepathy: how does Edward not recognize that this request is totally confusing, disorienting, and inappropriate? Doesn't he spend a huge amount of ink berating Bella for being too trusting? Won't he pretty much behave as if Bella's near gang-rape in the Scary Big City is her fault for not having an armed male escort at her sides at all time? Doesn't he live with someone who was gang-raped and murdered by a combination of Man She Was Engaged To and His Stranger Friends?

So why does Edward think it's so strange for Bella to not immediately understand his oddly-worded request? I wouldn't understand it, were I her. What Edward is doing here is completely and totally socially unacceptable. Remember how I scolded Mike for demanding Bella change her plans, and Eric for waiting by Bella's car in the parking lot, and Tyler for approaching Bella's car when she was stuck in traffic, all because they were not seeing things from her point of view or leaving her an avenue for escape? This is a million times worse than that.

Pro-tip for non-creepy people: do not unsolicitedly offer day-trip car-rides to people with whom your only relationship is a few terse conversational encounters, largely littered with insults. And if you do make such an offer, don't be surprised if the reaction is a Flat What.

   I was still stunned. "Why?"
   "Well, I was planning to go to Seattle in the next few weeks, and, to be honest, I'm not sure if your truck can make it."

Hey! It's another spot on the Emotional Abusers Bingo Card! We'll have five in a row soon if Edward keeps this up. A close cousin to the "You Are Responsible For My Actions" excuse is the "I Am Doing This For Your Own Good" claim.

In the former, Edward doesn't own his behavior because it's really Bella's behavior that is the 'problem' and his is just the logical chain reaction that he has no control over. In the latter, Edward doesn't own his desires because it's all really for Bella's sake that he's offering his services, and not because it's something he wants for himself. This is a particularly insidious tool in the Abusers Handbook, because it masks the real fact that Edward wants certain things from Bella -- things she may not want to give. He's not offering her a ride out of the goodness of his heart; he's offering her a ride because he wants to be with her that day.

   "My truck works just fine, thank you very much for your concern." I started to walk again, but I was too surprised to maintain the same level of anger.

This is not a good sign in abusive relationships. Confusion can be used to further undermine the victim's confidence, as well as redirect appropriate anger, as Bella is experiencing right now.

   "But can your truck make it there on one tank of gas?" He matched my pace again.
   "I don't see how that is any of your business." Stupid, shiny Volvo owner.
   "The wasting of finite resources is everyone's business."

I can't speak to this, so instead I'm just going to bang on my keyboard. Please do forgive me.

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I'm sorry about that, I really am.

   "Honestly, Edward." I felt a thrill go through me as I said his name, and I hated it. "I can't keep up with you. I thought you didn't want to be my friend."
   "I said it would be better if we weren't friends, not that I didn't want to be."
   [...]
   "It would be more . . . prudent for you not to be my friend," he explained. "But I'm tired of trying to stay away from you, Bella."

If there is one thing I've learned about relationships, it's that when someone says "You should stay away from me," there's probably a good reason to take them seriously.

It took me a long time to realize that. I honestly thought that if admitting you have a problem is half the battle to correction, then a lover who knew they had problems was significantly better than one who didn't know or hadn't yet admitted it to themselves. I hadn't really come to terms with the concept that some people don't think they can change, or perhaps don't intend to change. I didn't understand that an expression of remorse ("I'm no good for you...") was not necessarily a statement of intent ("...but I'll try really hard to be.").

It would be foolish of me to say that everyone who says "You should stay away from me," should be listened to and obeyed unilaterally. People are unique individuals, and that statement can be uttered from hardened abusers, to wonderful people with low self-esteem, to any number of people in-between. I'm not saying that Bella should run screaming in the other direction just because of this interaction here.

But I do think Bella should run screaming from Edward. Everything about this statement seems to indicate a total unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions and desires. He's tired of "trying to stay away" from her, and I grok that this is supposed to read as an incredibly romantic confession ("You're so irresistible to me!") but instead sounds to me like an abdication of responsibility: he's tried to stay away from her, but he can't, so it's up to her if they're going to be together or not. But if she accepts him, the responsibility is on her head. Edward is washing his hands of the situation.

Except he can't, because he doesn't have that moral right. Bella isn't deciding to be involved with him based on clear and open communication of the dangers involved to herself. And even if she had, Edward still has a moral responsibility to not be a murderer. If he really thinks he represents a threat to her, he maybe shouldn't leave town forever, but he probably should arrange for a trusted chaperone at all times. Heck, I'd expect S. Meyer to be on board with that.

   His eyes were gloriously intense as he uttered that last sentence, his voice smoldering. I couldn't remember how to breathe.
   "Will you go with me to Seattle?" he asked, still intense.
   I couldn't speak yet, so I just nodded.
   He smiled briefly, and then his face became serious.
   "You really should stay away from me," he warned. "I'll see you in class."
   He turned abruptly and walked back the way we'd come.

"You really should stay away from me, but I'm not going to honestly explain why. OH LOOK A PUPPY!"

125 comments:

Nathaniel said...

"I suspect the key here is that Edward is supposedly trying to push Bella away with his hurtful words. He can't 'help' but give in to his need to be with and around her, but he can consciously choose to be a braying jackass to her, in order to scare her off. Then she'll be safe, as will be the Cullens, and Edward can be nobly sad and lonely forever. This is actually a good set-up for a flawed and abusive character in desperate need of therapy so that he can realize that being a jerk to people isn't a "Get Out Of Moral Dilemma-ville Free" card because hey if she didn't like it she would have left.

It is not a good set-up for the Most Perfect Love Story Ever. "

This. So much. Its actually one of the things that frightens and angers me most about the series. If girls take it seriously enough, they could confuse emotional abuse with "true love" and the fact they instantly go to the abusers favorite excuses such as "he just wants to protect her" or "he knows better than her" is deeply disturbing.

Pthalo said...

Reasons why Bella in particular might have been traumatised by previous dance experiences or reasons why a random girl might have been?

thepsychobabble said...

^Ditto that.
Why would anyone want to write the Most Perfect Love Story EVAH and then root it, from the very start, in classic abusive behaviours?

Redwood Rhiadra said...

The frightening possibility, of course, is that the author doesn't recognize that these behaviors *are* abusive.

thepsychobabble said...

That is a sad thought, indeed.

Libby said...

The best quasi-justification I've ever been able to come up with is that his bad behavior is supposed to show how uncontrollably in love with her he is (romantic) without that lack of control making him weak and unmanly.

DarcyPennell said...

I'm on book 3 now -- you can say a lot of things about this series, but at least it's a fast read -- and I'm deeply disturbed by the abusive nature of Bella and Edward's relationship. It's genuinely upsetting to read. I was trying to explain it to my husband and said "He's not just *like* an abusive partner. He *is* an abusive partner."

What's hardest to take is Bella's reaction. She responds to him not as a lover, not as a partner, god forbid as an equal. She's a bratty child to his overprotective parent. She stamps her foot, sulks, pleads, throws tantrums, sneaks around behind his back and then cringes with worry about how much trouble she'll be in when he finds out she disobeyed. It never seems to occur to her that she doesn't have to persuade him of anything. She hands him the right to control her every move and never looks back. The thought of thousands of young girls reading this and believing it's an idealized love makes me ill.

On a lighter note, Meyer describes Edward's voice as "velvet" over and over and I can't help but imagine him sounding like Mel Torme. Torme had a beautiful voice and a terrific sense of humor. So I imagine Torme saying Edward's lines and lightly mocking, like "can you believe this?" It makes Edward much more tolerable.

Bificommander said...

Ah, see, now this is the kind of thing you miss in Mark Reads Twilight. Or at least, you miss the full extent of the horror Meyer has inflicted on the world by presenting this abomination as the supernaturally perfect lover. Not to say that Bella doesn't have her score of facepalm-actions, especially in book 2, but yikes!.

Reminds me of this:
http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2395#comic

chris the cynic said...

I felt a thrill go through me as I said his name, and I hated it.

Damn you Edward Aslan Mufasa Cullen! Your name sends a deep shiver through me and I like it not.

Sorry, sorry. It's just ... sorry.

-

Probably worth having some reminders before I write this, Edith repaired Ben's truck. She did it free of charge because she enjoyed the opportunity to work on an antique. During that time I figure Ben was driving the Volvo and the Cullens would have come to school in Emma's Jeep because the convertible would be too eyebrow raising. Also during that time Edith and Ben were getting to know each other better because Edith never did the whole, "Shun the puny human" thing.

-

And I fumbled my keys into a puddle. Which I suppose is better than fumbling myself into a puddle. Before I could pick them up Edith got them and handed them to me. I asked, "How do you do that?"

"What?"

"Come out of nowhere."

"I trained for 20 years with a team of elite ninjas." I said nothing. "Ok, I walk softy-"

"And carry a big stick?"

"I actually prefer knives, they've got a lot of practical value as tool where a big stick is pretty much a club or a lever, neither of which you need all that often. I big stick is useful as kindling, but you need a knife to make it into kindling of the appropriate size. Unfortunately school policy prohibits weapons so while I'm on school grounds I'm not carrying much of interest at all." I was lost. She noticed I was lost. She returned to the original topic, "If you don't make a lot of noise when you move, it's actually very easy to sneak up on people by accident."

"Ok," was the best I could manage.

"Anyway, I've been thinking about your trip to Seattle."

"You have?"

"I think I should go with you."

"I was kind of thinking of it as some time to be alone."

"I know, and I'm sorry, but your truck hasn't had to make a trip like that since the accident. I think every thing is fine -I wouldn't have told you it was fixed if I didn't- but if something went wrong with my repairs and something happened to you I'd never... I'd feel a lot better if I could tag along, as your mechanic."

I could understand the sentiment, but I was a little bit lost on the utility, "What difference would it make if you were there?"

"Hopefully none at all. We go thither, we return hither, nothing goes wrong and all is fine." I'd like to pause here to reflect on the fact that she said 'thither.' That is all. Moving on, "But if something does start to go wrong, if the truck starts to feel funny or there's a strange rattle or whatever I can check it out immediately. You just pull over, I'll have a look, and I can say if it's something to be worried about or not. I can tell you that we have to turn around, that we can keep on going, or even, depending on what it is, that I can fix it on the spot.

"I can look over the truck once we get there to see if everything is as it should be. Hopefully all of it will be superfluous, but if something does go wrong having a mechanic on hand could make all the difference in the world.

"So, can I come?" Her points sounded good, her expression was extremely hard to resist. I told her she could and she said, "Groovy," and walked away. I was left to ponder who says, 'groovy.'

Libby said...

Pthalo: Reasons why Bella in particular might have been traumatised by previous dance experiences or reasons why a random girl might have been?

For Bella, I think it's that her legendarily poor coordination makes her a danger to herself and others if she attempts to dance. Since I don't see how swaying on or shuffling one's feet in a small patch of floor space is more dangerous than running around a constrained oblong area with nine other people and a large ball whipping around her, I would also suggest some level of embarrassment. Not everyone is good at sports, but normal people do get hurt while playing basketball. Sprained fingers and banged heads happen all the time, and so Bella is just a statistical outlier in the distribution of not-infrequent sporting accidents. No one gets hurt actually dancing at high school dances (apart from the occasional twisted ankle from wearing ridiculous shoes, which I presume Bella would never do). When is the last time someone besides Bella ended up in the emergency room after a freak two-stepping accident?

Maybe in Phoenix, Bella bought into some of the hype American teen cinema invests in dances. Maybe people convinced her that there was really nothing to worry about, and even she couldn't mess up dancing too badly. Maybe middle-school Bella thought this would be her Cinderella moment, where she could finally get people's attention for being pretty and poised in sparkly flats instead of that poor kid who can't help falling. And maybe the inevitable happened and she somehow fell over and sent someone she really wanted to impress flying into the punch bowl.

Is it possible Bella didn't actually have any friends in Phoenix? I don't remember ever hearing her mention or communicate with anyone from back home besides her mom and Phil, but I only read the first book in a bookstore two years ago, so I could easily have missed something. How can we know Bella actually had friends? Dances are an inherently social event. You go, you talk, and you either dance with your friends or with a partner. Being forced to go to a dance without any friends, especially if your peer group has taken a dislike to you for whatever reason, could be extremely traumatic for someone who hasn't developed an "I don't care" attitude.

There are also a lot of violent events that can take place at dances, but I don't feel that we are supposed to interpret Bella as having been assaulted or witness to an assault at a dance, especially in light of the book's mini fairy tale ending.

DarcyPennell said...

Have you all talked about the Power and Control Wheel? It's a tool used to help victims of domestic violence identify a pattern of abusive behavior. It lists 8 different ways abusers exert control. Edward hits almost every single one:

Emotional Abuse: Putting her down. Making her feel bad about herself. Calling her names. Making her think she's crazy. Playing mind games. Humiliating her. Making her feel guilty. [This is the foundation of their relationship.]

Isolation: Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, and where she goes. Limiting her outside involvement. [So far this is the entire plot of book 3.]

Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming: Making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns seriously. Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior. Saying she caused it. [I'd put Edward's constant laughing at Bella's anger here. Also saying that it's her fault he has to control her every move because she's such a danger magnet. And now that I think about it, the constant threat that he'll lose control and eat her isn't his fault either, it's because she smells so irresistible.]

Using Children: Making her feel guilty about the children. Using the children to relay messages. Using visitation to harass her. Threatening to take the children away. [Okay, this one doesn't fit at all with a teen romance. Wait, she has a child in the last book right? I guess I'll find out.]

Economic Abuse: Preventing her from getting or keeping a job. Making her ask for money. Giving her an allowance. Taking her money. Not letting her know about or have access to family income. [This one I think is a little iffy: he does control her with money, like when he bribes her way into a college she doesn't even want to go to. But she seems more eager to prevent economic opportunity for herself than he does to take it from her.]

Male Privilege: Treating her like a servant. Making all the big decisions, acting like "master of the castle," being the one to define men's and women's roles. [Male privilege, thy name is Edward Cullen.]

Coercion and Threats: Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her. Threatening to leave her or commit suicide. Making her drop charges. Making her do illegal things. [The threat hangs over the entire series that if she acts on her own behalf & doesn't do whatever he says, he will lose control and harm her. Also, he says over and over that he will kill himself without her.]

Intimidation: Making her afraid by using looks, actions and gestures. Smashing things. Destroying her property. Abusing pets. Displaying weapons. [For someone who's supposed to be completely in control, Edward shows rage with alarming frequency, especially when Bella does something he doesn't approve of. His weapon is his supernatural physical ability, and he "displays" that constantly.]


I got the text of the wheel from this PDF: http://www.ncdsv.org/images/PowerControlwheelNOSHADING.pdf

Libby said...

Bificommander: Reminds me of this:
http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2395#comic

Bwahahaha.

chris the cynic said...

In current comments the title of this thread gets cut off. It's "Emotional Abuse Works," I thought that it was a commentary on how Edward's emotional abuse gets him what he wants (Bella) and it took me far too long to realize that the title is actually "Emotional Abuse Workshop".

Silver Adept said...

...Edward should have been hit at least twice by now.

Setting aside Bella's remarkable patience for such a petulant child, um, I may need clarification about how Ed's mind-reading powers work. Because there should be absolutely no reason, short of continuing emotional abuse and/or gaslighting, for him to open with that particular gambit. Edward is presumably reading the mind of Tyler as he does his attempt - and probably of Eric and Mike. Eric, Mike, and Tyler are probably quite good at reading bodily expression, facial features, and the nuance of voice, and would be thinking about that data, whether consciously or unconsciously, as they talked with her. Edward, presumably, should also have that data, as well as the fact that he's been witness to three very similar attempts that have all ended in increasing agitation for Bella.

Unless Edward's mind-reading ability can only read the thing being thought about, without any of the additional stuff that comes along with this, he should know better.

That is, if he actually wants Bella to like him and stay by him.

Also, I'd like to know where Jasper is right now. Bella's abrupt inability to keep her rage going makes me think someone is interfering with her emotions. By now, Bella should have told Cullen to get frakked. Repeatedly. Perhaps this infinite patience and Unaccountable Thrill is Jasper enacting Plan B because Plan A clearly isn't working.

As for reasons why Bella would think that unsolicited invitations to a dance would be traumatic:

(Potential triggers: Low self-esteem, school-age malice, implied sexual violence...)

1) Low self-esteem. If Bella doesn't believe herself to be attractive enough to warrant date offers from the boys, then several requests is jarring to her self-image. This could be good trauma, in that she get a healthier self-idea... or...

2) Past experience: Maybe Bella doesn't need her imagination. In Arizona, perhaps Middle-School Bella was asked out by the attractive Alpha at her school, only to be publicly humiliated by that same Alpha right before or at the dance.

3) Alarm Bells: Three boys asking Bella out within the same time frame? Is there someone playing a game with her? Has someone put them up to this? What's going on here?

4) Statistics: Each time someone asks Bella out and she turns them down, how much more does her chances that someone won't take no for an answer increase...or that one of the people she's turned down won't take her no, either by themselves or with friends? Bella might feel increasing pressure to say yes to someone just to bleed off the idea that she's too "good" for all those boys, and won't they go teach her a lesson.

depizan said...

I understand the appeal of certain kinds of bad boys - the roguish type in certain kinds of romances or in fantasy or space adventure stories, who breaks the social rules, maybe even is a criminal, but against bad people, the Han Solos or Miles Vorkosigans of the universe; also the more realistic roguish type who rides a motorcycle, or plays extreme sports (xtreme sports, whatever), or maybe they have a job that's a little bit dangerous. They're exciting because they have the courage to be a little bit outside the lines, so to speak. But that's a very different thing than portraying emotional abuse as romantic.

Why are at least some modern teen romance writers portraying emotionally abusive - or abusive in general - guys as romantic leads? More specifically abusive guys who struggle with wanting to kill the heroine. It's really freaking creepy. And Twilight isn't even the worst of the lot. Hush, Hush, which I think's been mentioned here before, probably wins some kind of award for HOLYSHITCREEPYDONOTWANTAAAAAAHHHH! If there's worse than that, I don't want to know.

And these are romances. WTF? What is going on that this is a thing? Do the readers just not see the abuse? (I don't know how that's possible in Hush, Hush.) Or are these actually kink-fic? I don't get it.

Kit Whitfield said...

In current comments the title of this thread gets cut off. It's "Emotional Abuse Works," I thought that it was a commentary on how Edward's emotional abuse gets him what he wants (Bella) and it took me far too long to realize that the title is actually "Emotional Abuse Workshop".

Yep, it shows up that way in the sidebar here too. Ah, Internet, how you love to mess with us. ;-)

Kit Whitfield said...

Technical question: if they drove to Seattle, what if the weather turned out unpredictable? It's presumably a long way and the clouds might break any minute, and if they were in the car together there's no way he could hide. Is there an explanation for that?

Kit Whitfield said...

Interesting thing reading this extract: it gives me the powerful urge to rewrite Edwards lines to make them less objectionable. I think it comes from a desire to save Bella, or else to save female humanity from having to see this kind of behaviour as romantic: if I can just re-imagine what he says a bit, it feels better. So the temptation to believe that, for instance, his whole Seattle-petrol schtick is more along the lines of, 'I'm going to Seattle next weekend anyway, would you like a ride? I'd enjoy your company,' is surprisingly strong.

I think this may be part of the book's gravitational pull towards reinterpretation that makes it so adaptable to so many people.

Pthalo said...

@Kit: Alice can predict the weather flawlessly, so she'd be able to warn them about that.

redcrow said...

Good pretty-much-night, Kit! I take it, your arm is better?

Brin Bellway said...

Good pretty-much-night, Kit! I take it, your arm is better?

http://kitwhitfield.blogspot.com/2011/11/just-update.html

redcrow said...

Thanks.

Well, at least better in *some* aspects. Good to know.

Ana Mardoll said...

Damn you Edward Aslan Mufasa Cullen! Your name sends a deep shiver through me and I like it not.

This made me laugh so hard. :)

Kit! She has capitals again! But that update made me sad still. Sending secular prayers your way, Kit.

DarcyPennell, that wheel is awesome, thank you. I'm going to see if I can't make an actual Twilight abuse bingo card.

Ana Mardoll said...

Alright, here is everyone Bingo Card. http://img337.imageshack.us/img337/7268/twilightbingo.jpg

No idea if you can *get* Bingo on it in Twilight, but it's there. The economic abuse one is a bit fiddly.

I love that so many of the passages make so little sense that we're always bringing Jasper in to fix things. I demand a new internet meme called "...because Jasper."

I'm not feeling great today, I'm a little behind in NaNo and my throat is scratchy. Because Jasper.

chris the cynic said...

A Jasper did it!

Nina said...

""It would be more . . . prudent for you not to be my friend," he explained. "But I'm tired of trying to stay away from you, Bella.""

This, and any other version of "I can't stay away from you!" creeps me the hell out. I don't hear romantic when I read that, I hear stalker. Yuck.

Also, chris the cynic, I love love love your gender swapped rewrite of Twilight! Your main characters are so cool! I especially love how you've rewritten Edward/Edith - you make her interesting, kind, and quirky instead of a raging asshole.

bekabot said...

@ chris et al.:

You're making me picture a rascally Jasper who joins the stuckup uptight straitlaced Cullens principally on account of the trouble he can cause them. Every time they start to get super duper ├╝ber extra special smug he throws a soul-bendy spanner into the works, then leans back and grins as he watches them chase their tails. (He has Alice at his side so he knows exactly when to do his stuff.) The one thing he won't do is provoke the Cullens to undisguised bloodshed (even though that's something which he, more than any of his housemates, misses desperately) b/c that might draw unwelcome attention from the humans or the Volturi or both, thus robbing Jasper of centuries of prospective fun.

Jasper riding shotgun with Edward, maybe scrunched down under the seat:

"All right Petey Pan, let's see if you can get Wendy to turn lonesome for Neverland even if you're not a real boy...you did ask for my help, brother, so don't be too startled if I give it to you and give it to you good and hard...here goes...she's mad!! she's glad!! she's hot!! she's cold!! she loves you, no wait a minute, she loves you not!!...meanwhile, you're driveling, driveling, just as usual, trying to come off like some kind of international mastermind, trying to imitate those H. R. Haggard characters you used to read about...oh hee hee hee hee hee hee...oh my sweet General Lee...thank Erebus for vampire hearing...this is better than a month of Sundays with Christmas and Thanksgiving included...no one would believe this nonsense even if it were set down in a book..."

Rikalous said...

That's a lot more sympathetic than my initial reaction to the idea of Jasper mind-whammying Edward.

That Jasper is manipulating Edward into filling out the abuse bingo card against a girl infatuated with him, so he's emotionally screwing with two people for the price of one. You'd think he could just call a family meeting to remind Eddy that he needs to stay the heck away from ambrosia-girl for the could of the clan. Then again, this is the guy whose Personality Power is emotional manipulation.

Rikalous said...

There are plenty of healthy relationships in fiction (random example: Bernard and Rose from Lost), but they generally don't get made central because a healthy relationship doesn't have anywhere near as much conflict as a horribly screwed up one.

thepsychobabble said...

That's a good point. I knew there was historical precedence for it, but it wasn't until I sat here trying to think of a literary couple that is a *good* role model that I realized how barren that category really is.

Silver Adept said...

@chris, et al.

Jasper manipulating Edward? Wouldn't that mean Edward would be able to read Jasper's mind and know that he was being manipulated, and that Carlisle would have to step in before the two family members decided that the family would be better with one of them dismembered and burnt? That would entirely ruin Carlisle's Perfect Family ideal. (Not that Rosalie or Jasper is going to do a whole lot to help with that later on, of course, but we don't know that yet.)

...although, the idea itself still has merit. Of course, we are trying to explain that which is inexplicable using only the text provided. So "Because Jasper" works just as well as anything else.

★☆ keri ☆★ said...

Re: literary couples:

At least with Rochester, Jane mostly refuses to give in to him when he's controlling, but it's complicated because she's still trying to build up her own self-worth and find her voice at the same time. When they get to the altar and everything happens, she very absolutely refuses to be the mistress and have no rights/no voice of her own, to be kept as a pet in a gilded cage. In fact, they don't end up happily ever after until he cedes power in the relationship to Jane (not through his own volition, but it was 1832, after all), in the very last chapter that begins "Reader, I married him".

It drives me batty when romances follow the Jane/Rochester mold, but stop at the altar and don't bother to include, or maybe don't even realize, the significance of her leaving and returning. The whole point of the story is that Jane is learning to have self-worth and to take control of her life, and rejecting the socially proscribed authority figures, while still finding happiness and love.

With Twilight, Bella and Edward are stuck in the same place Jane and Rochester are when he first returns to the household with his party. I know I've seen the two pairs compared, and favorably, just like the Heathcliff/Catherine comparison (which, granted, is a bit more accurate, but not in the fluffy romantic sense that most people intend it).

I just don't understand the way people can't see these things. Or like how Romeo and Juliet are emo teenagers and Shakespeare didn't intend them to represent a wonderful romance. (I'd add Darcy and Elizabeth to the list, because I think they're both pretty terrible people and I'm not sure why they're considered so great, but I might just be negatively influenced by the effusive praise everywhere for that book, which set my expectations pretty high, only to be dashed when I didn't find it very interesting at all.)

Kit Whitfield said...

The sad miserable truth? Because that's how Romance is written.

I'm no expert on the genre, but I'm pretty sure that a lot of intelligent romance fans would find that an unfair statement.

In defence of the Brontes and Austen, I don't think you can really say they were writing 'Romance' - or rather, you can say that they were capital-R Romantic authors, but in the sense of the literary movement rather than the modern plot template. The Brontes' books are more melodramas than romances and tend to focus on intense clashes of will; Austen's are steel-edged, angry comedies of manners in which a good marriage has to be won through moral warfare. They're full of power struggles because, in a world where a woman largely depended on her relationships with men, that was the kind of power struggle a woman could have - but they all read to me as much more about the power than about the love.

(Of Austen's books, the one I've always found most naturalistically romantic is Northanger Abbey. The couple meet at a party, hit it off, hope to see each other again, and most of their drama is spent trying to find opportunities to get to know each other better. Much more like how most actual relationships go.)

The fact that their books are often interpreted as small-r romantic is really not their fault.

(I've blogged about this before: http://kitwhitfield.blogspot.com/2008/12/misremembering-brontes.html)

Pthalo said...

(What I want to know is when Romance stopped referring to the episodic quality of a narrative and started referring to kissing and stuff)

Kit Whitfield said...

Well, I know that Edgar Allan Poe calls a novel a 'romance' in 'The Fall of the House of Usher', if that's any help, though there's no guarantee he wasn't being archaic...

Kit Whitfield said...

Alright, time for my obligatory rant about Edward's 100 years of practice with telepathy: how does Edward not recognize that this request is totally confusing, disorienting, and inappropriate? Doesn't he spend a huge amount of ink berating Bella for being too trusting?

As per the Nice Guy/abuser interpretation, I feel it's actually consistent: that type of predator does tend to assume that a woman should be able to read his minds and see the purity of his intentions at all times, even when he's abusing her. Trusting other people and not trusting him are two halves of the same crime in his eyes, which is resisting his control.

Nathaniel said...

I feel that putting the Elizabeth/Darcy relationship under the abuse label is unfair. They both act like snobby jerks towards each other, but you can be a jerk without being abusive.

Pthalo said...

cool. thanks, Kit. :)

Libby said...

Pthalo: (What I want to know is when Romance stopped referring to the episodic quality of a narrative and started referring to kissing and stuff)
I think "romance novels" in the modern sense acquired pretty much exclusive rights to the name in the past century. "Scientific romance" was still a widely-used name for the SF genre up through the first World War period. Like Kit said, the word "novel" has been around for a while, but "romance" was not an exclusive genre name until later. (Heck, there are probably still a few authors out there who love to identify their books as "romances" in an archaic sense just because. Because Jasper?)

It might or might not be relevant that in French, the word "roman" still means "novel."

chris the cynic said...

I'm hoping that Izzy will come by this thread because I feel like she'd be able to tell us a lot more about how romance is written than most people would know.

-

@Silver Adept

That's a good point, and one that I hadn't considered. Maybe Jasper has already trained Edward to have a Pavlovian aversion to reading his mind?

Amarie said...

I’m agreeing with everyone. If there’s one thing about Edward that I noticed even when I was a fan was that he had this strange tendency to expect Bella to know/understand his every move, action, word, etc. Almost like he forgot that not everyone else was a mind reader like him. What was more was that he expected to be *justified* in his endeavors.

I’ve been asking myself the question of what is/was so *appealing* about such an avid abuser/controller that fans-and the author-literally dubbed him the ‘perfect man’. My first theory is that, of course, we’re *told* that Edward is a perfect man. Like a lot of aspects of Twilight, we are *told* and not *shown* that he is a perfect specimen.

What’s more is that (this may be stretch) I think Edward fulfills the deeply buried fantasy of being able to be a child and a woman simultaneously in a romantic relationship. Bella as a self insert plays this fantasy up perfectly. She blusters, whines, [literally] stomps her foot and pouts. But she never actually takes *action* to stop Edward’s abuse and control towards her. In real life, I think we could plausibly argue that dealing with an abuser/controller in a dominantly childish and petty way is not the right thing to do. Rather, I think it’s best to (if this is needed, first) to acknowledge that the behavior/words are causing pain and turmoil. And then the victim needs to do everything in his/her power to get away and seek help in the safest manner.

But Bella never even *thinks* of doing that, let alone even has a glimmer of thought that Edward may not be in the right one hundred percent of the time. And I think that the fantasy is where what Bella does-or rather *doesn’t* do-ultimately works. Just like Dobson* theorized, Bella’s submission makes Edward temporarily see the error of his ways (in Eclipse, she sneaks away enough and that gets Edward to ‘allow’ her to visit with Jacob). And in the end, she gets everything she wants as her reward.

Personally, the most disturbing aspect of the dynamics of their relationship is that *everything* is placed on Bella’s (the woman’s) shoulders. Edward ‘loses control’ because of her advances and then he gains control back when she apologizes and backs down. I think this mostly happens whenever they engage in sexual advances. It’s a dynamic that I think reinforces the traditional and patriarchal/religious way of life for both genders. That is, the woman is *accountable for everything*, but is in *control of nothing*. Meanwhile, the man is in *control of everything*, but is *accountable for nothing*. And every single time in Edward and Bella’s reaction, we see such a destructive dynamic played over and over again like a broken record.


*Ana, if you don’t mind me saying…is that right? Dobson? The one who said if a woman is submissive enough to her abuser, then over time the abuser will see the error of his ways? From there, the relationship will be repaired…?

depizan said...

Because that's how Romance is written.

Not exclusively, its not. Not even in the romance genre. I won't argue that it never is, but I can guarantee you that it isn't always written that way. There are plenty of heroes in romance novels who do not act at all like Edward (or, gods forbid, Patch), as well as some who start out thinking that being an arrogant ass is the thing to do and discovering that no, that doesn't actually work at all well.

While love relationships in fiction are rarely perfect, I don't recall thinking that Lord Peter and Harriet Vane had a bad relationship (do they have issues, yes, their relationship seems decent, though), and the relationships in the Vorkosigan verse, especially Miles' parents seem good. Vimes and Lady Sybil? The FBI guy and his wife on (at least the first season of) White Collar?

Ana Mardoll said...

Amarie,

Yes, I can't find the record of Dr. Dobson saying that -- I really need to buy and scan a few of his books that I had as a kid, but...ugh -- but yes, he's pretty firmly in the submission camp. Some linkage:

http://www.talk2action.org/story/2007/7/30/172656/698

Silver Adept said...

@Amarie:

Yes, that's the one, but more properly, he is "wife-beating apologist James Dobson", as this was established as his proper epitaph by Slacktivist because of his long-standing support of just such a position.

Also, this continual dissonance between told and shown gives credence to the idea that the series is actually a retrospective, possibly written by an Isabella so far into this relationship that she's disassociated herself from the character in the book as a defense mechanism against what her life is now. (Or that Stephanie Meyer is running the Greatest Of All Satires by telling us one thing, showing us another, and then asking us who we should believe, the narrator or our own lying eyes...but that seems a bit too Marxist for her.)

Ana Mardoll said...

(Or that Stephanie Meyer is running the Greatest Of All Satires by telling us one thing, showing us another, and then asking us who we should believe, the narrator or our own lying eyes...but that seems a bit too Marxist for her.)

Your idea intrigues me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Ana Mardoll said...

Also, not quite on topic, this conversation occurred in our household this morning:

Ana: Husband! Husband! Husband!

Husband: Yes?

Ana: The theater! Down the road! With the pizzas they bring to your table!

Husband: Yes.

Ana: They're having a Twilight marathon from 4pm to midnight, and then they show Breaking Dawn. So it's like 12 hours of Twilight movie.

Husband: Okay.

Ana: We have to go.

Husband: Why?

Ana: Because then I can live-blog about being miserable. With Twitter. Or something.

Husband: ...have fun.

Ana: No! You have to come with me!

Husband: Why.

Ana: It won't be any fun without you. :(

Husband: ....................

Ana: Please?

Husband: No.

Ana: HUSBAND!

Husband: Won't you have to do it again anyway when the second movie comes out?

Ana: ........I'm all sad now. :(

graylor said...

To beat the "because Jasper" thing a bit more... I've been reading New Moon (which is *not* your fault, Ana, there was a blurb in the back of Twilight which falsely, falsely I say, led me to believe Bella was going to be munched on, or at least properly frightened--"Holy shit, I'm surrounded by *vampires*!"--in New Moon.).

Show of hands: who else here has read Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake books? Playing on the trope which has been around at least since Dracula, Hamilton's vampires can create "human servants". The way it works in Blake-verse is some poor human gets hypnotized too deeply and too often by a vampire. I can't remember but there might be a blood exchange, too, for more in-depth stages of servanthood, it's been a while since I read the books. The lower level stages can happen inadvertently on the part of the vampire and without the victim being aware. Until they are out in their night-clothes baring their necks, at any rate.

So, if something similar happened in the Twilight novels, and Jasper maybe accidentally rolled Bella a little too deeply, then there would be an explanation for... hmm, the first hundred-and-twenty-seven pages of New Moon, and especially the months of blankness. Of course, Bella should be Jasper's human servant in that case, but since he was making her focus on Edward when he was manipulating her emotions, the bond is five kinds of screwed up and the Cullens can't figure out how to fix it... except by making her into a vampire, which will break those bonds. Theoretically. They can't let her run around loose because she might accidentally out them and they can't just kill her because that would be Bad.

I am so very tempted to close New Moon and let this be my head-canon.

*

I wonder if Edward's abusiveness seems more blatant because of Meyer's show-not-tell writing style. She seems to expect her readers to take the narration as a definitive guide to the story, despite anything that occurs outside direct narration. It seems like there are two entirely different stories being told here, sometimes. If we take Bella as an entirely unreliable narrator, we get something that is horror or maybe even a pitch black comedy. Most people prefer to go with Bella's version/interpretation of events, though. Is it because that narrative is so powerful in our culture, or because we are a culture of lazy readers? And, to be fair to the teenage Twilight-lovers, young readers who may have never encountered such an unrelaible narrator.

Ana Mardoll said...

which is *not* your fault, Ana, there was a blurb in the back of Twilight which falsely, falsely I say, led me to believe Bella was going to be munched on

I'm so sorry you got suckered in. Although it does sound like New Moon is going to be all kinds of fun to deconstruct. And by "fun" I mean "keyboard smash".

Pthalo said...

tw: abuse

Bella doesn't really act like an abuse victim though. Edward is abusive towards her, but Bella doesn't react to that abuse. She doesn't walk on eggshells around him. Her internal narrative isn't about trying to make everything perfect so he won't abuse her. She doesn't seem to spend all her time trying to please him. A lot of times it doesn't seem like she's reacting to his behaviours at all. She's reacting to what the imaginary Edward in her head is doing instead of the Edward in front of her.

But then, I've seen that too. I was always the type to walk on eggshells, and that's the only thing that reads true for me, but my mother was the type who went into denial, pretending nothing was happening and kept trying to relate to him like he was a normal human being throughout. So she'd break minor rules that he wouldn't have even known about if she hadn't told him, and then she'd tell him because honesty is the best policy, and then she'd be completely surprised when he lost control. Or she'd decide that she was married to a loving person and would tell him her secrets whereas I'd pretty much learned not to volunteer any information to the point that by toddlerhood we were paranoid about being seen to be giving preference to one toy or over another because what conclusions might he draw from that, so we played with our toys perfunctorally and each toy had its shift.

But then, Edward does seem to "like" it when Bella behaves childishly. She pouts and sulks and he snerks at her, and maybe she figures that at least when he's snerking he's not snipping, and that's the only positive reinforcement she gets, so she might as well take it. Maybe someday she'll figure out how to make him laugh, not at her, but with her. But until now that's all she's got, so fume and sulk it is.

But the book is in 1st person. We can see into her thoughts. We don't see her planning her actions around his. We don't see her scheming to try to provoke a specific response. But then, it's early yet. She's not supposed to have attuned to his actions yet, can't predict when his next outburst will be. Took us a few years to get the hang of it too, and our logic centres weren't quite formed yet back then.

Bella learned it from her mother. She used to take care of her mother, and they were close, but the roles were reversed. She had to be attuned to her mother's needs. Her mother didn't actively abuse her, but she was helpless and Bella had to take care of her. Bella can't take care of Edward. He's bigger and stronger than her. If she can't relate to him the way she relates to her mother, then she has to relate to him the way her mother relates to her. And that's why you get all these scenes where she's metaphorically beating her puny little fists against his rock-hard chest, as ineffectual as two year old. You're aren't scared when a two year old shakes their fist at you. It's cute. All that fury wrapped up in such a tiny body.

Edward stalks her. When you're being stalked, you start listening at the front door of your apartment for noises in the hall, trying to make sure the hallway is empty before leaving. It's been 3 years now since I moved away from the neighbour that was stalking me and molesting me in the hallways (same guy that raped me when he thought we were dating), and I still do that, waiting by my front door for all the neighbours to go into their apartments and the sounds of footsteps to cease. I still don't play music except with earphones, lest anyone know I'm home. I look out the windows at the street below before leaving the house. Not because I really think he'll be there anymore, just out of habit.

In contrast, Bella doesn't seem particularly worried about Edward. She's curious about his secrets and confused when he doesn't make sense, and she sulks and pouts at him, but these read more like fleeting, surface emotions.

Makabit said...

I didn't meant to suggest that all romance follows this pattern, apologize for having been too sweeping--but I did want to point out that Meyers is hardly unique in bringing in this dynamic. It's common enough to be more than something of a cliche.

Now, Amarie, Edward actually talks in the text about how Bella's virginity determines whether she goes to hell or not? In the BOOK? Not in metaphorical language, but literally?

Jesus H.

As for Darcy, I shall have to consider Darcy some more. The whole environment of P&P is so punishingly horrible that I've never had much sympathy for the man, who just seems like part of an overwhelmingly abusive-of-women environment. (P&P made me cry in high school. It scared me more than "The Handmaid's Tale" ever did. That book is claustrophobic. The only version I've every liked was "Bride and Prejudice". Because Aishwarya Rai can make anything cool.)

Makabit said...

I'm always encouraged when my ninth-grade students find Romeo and Juliet a bit stupid. They feel bad for them, but they'll say stuff like "How can you love a girl so much that you leave your old girlfriend and let down your parents, after you've seen her, like once?"

They also hate Claudio from Much Ado About Nothing, and don't understand why he's rewarded with the girl without having to at least suffer a lot.

Amarie said...

For the most part, yes. I *think* that it's the entirey of Chapter 20: Compromise in the third book. It's a long, drawn out conversation. Unfortunately, if Ana deconstructed it, we'd get quite a bit of keyboard smash...

Not that I would personally blame her.

Ana Mardoll said...

Amarie, we are definitely chibilicious. And your reading is spot-on: Husband is serious while I an excitable.

I'm so relieved to hear I'm not the only one who hates Darcy. I cannot stand Darcy, and this was a lonely position in my college English classes.

I don't much like Lizzy, either, but it's a whole different degree of dislike.

P&P makes me so sad. I once speculated that Lizzy would regret marrying Darcy and another Darcy disliker pointed out that even in a crappy marriage with Darcy, she probably had a better life than otherwise. That thought depresses me so much.

At least P&P&Z had zombies in...

Amarie said...

Oh my goodness...

You see, I suppose I'm quite childish. Because the Darcy that I imagine is Matthew Macfayden (insert fan girl squeal). So, my likeness of Mr. Darcy is that of a naive, school-girl crush. Do pardon me. v.v

But it sounds SO cute!!! You and your Husband are Cutie-Awesomesauce!!!! *squeals and hugs the imaginary chibis in my mind* :D

Ana Mardoll said...

Well, as we've seen with Robert P., actors can make troublesome roles significantly better. :)

Amarie said...

*sighs sadly*

Poor Robert Pattinson. I don't care for him *that* much, but it's sad that he's stuck playing a character that he can't stand. And I'm so sorry, but when you're an author and the *actors stand the very characters that they portray*...there's a problem somewhere. A sincere problem.

Oh my goodness...>.<

http://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/2011/08/robert-pattinson-on-edward-cullen-sort-of-a-p-ssy/

http://www.hollywoodlife.com/2011/10/28/robert-pattinson-edward-cullen-sexuality-breaking-dawn/

http://www.hollywoodlife.com/2011/10/26/robert-pattinson-thinks-edward-cullen-too-controlling-twilight-video/

*mega facepalms*

Ana Mardoll said...

Beyond anything else, those links disturbed me because of the "Should RP and KS have babies together" poll.

Not their characters, but the actors. What.

Also can't believe I forgot to say: Claudio is a grade-A jerk.

Libby said...

My favorite Robert Pattinson quote on the subject of Twilight is one of the older ones:

http://www.robert-pattinson.co.uk/2008/08/23/empire-magazine-first-look-twilight/

Brandi said...

Someone *please* tell me that this Dobson didn’t have kids. Please…I beg of you. Just as an early Christmas present. I swear I’ll never ask for anything else ever again. Please…x.X

Oh, he's bred. Even unto a third generation.

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/about_us/james-dobson.aspx

PS there's something in the expression of the photo there that just screams "douchebag".

Makabit said...

Bride and Prejudice is great. I love it that the Lydia character's life is not ruined by running off. The Darcy character and the Elizabeth character just go and get her and bring her home. The way things ought to be.

Makabit said...

Claudio is indeed a grade-A jerk. My students have great trouble with him. The kindest interpretation they can come up with is that he's really immature, and might improve, but they feel that until he demonstrates that he has, Hero totally should not marry him.

Cupcakedoll said...

Re: WBA Dobson-- worse, he's written parenting manuals. To go with the marriage manuals. *shudder* I shelved some at work today, along with a "psychiatry is murder" dvd from the scientologists. Today was apparently Donations From Scary People day. I cringe when I sell this stuff, but I have to pick my battles so it was the "vaccines are poison" book that got accidentally-on-purpose dropped into the less-visible sales option where hopefully nobody will see it.

Kit Whitfield said...

In real life, I think we could plausibly argue that dealing with an abuser/controller in a dominantly childish and petty way is not the right thing to do.

Though that said, I've seen it happen. I knew a guy who was (TW: abuse) abusing his girlfriend emotionally, though not physically - one of those relationships where some people just couldn't believe he was acting that way and others just didn't understand what she was upset about. One of his main ways of relating to her was to give her orders and then stand over her telling her in the voice of an exasperated parent that she was doing whatever it was wrong. She often reacted to this by protesting in a fairly child-like voice. She wasn't petty - she was actually a very nice and intelligent woman - but her voice did often go child-to-adult when he picked on her.

And I understand why she did it: standing up to him wasn't going to get him anywhere. He was one of those guys who said he preferred women to men because they were less competitive, but actually meant he wanted to feel like the alpha male and hanging out with women was the easiest way to win that competition, and on the few occasions when I had to ask him to do something he didn't want to do, he would argue for hours and hours over the least little thing. Any woman asserting her wishes against his was in for a big fight. I wasn't in a relationship with him, so I could afford to. Until she was ready to be away from him, she couldn't.

(The story has a happy ending. They broke up, and she's now married to a much nicer man, and has remembered that she's an intelligent, attractive, successful, likeable person.)

If a partner is bullying you, sometimes acting childishly is a way of protesting without challenging them. Basically, it says 'I'm not claiming to be your equal or saying I deserve better treatment as a right, but if I submit enough, maybe you'll decide to grant it as a favour or a reward.' And sometimes it works, a bit, the way a dog will sometimes back off another dog that's rolled over. (Of course, like a dog, the abuser will start harrying again at the first sign of a new challenge.) It can be a survival strategy: like I said, that woman wasn't a childish person and she wasn't stupid either; she was an intelligent adult instinctively doing what she could to protect herself in a relationship she was too worn down to leave yet.

I suspect this is what abuse apologists mean when they say 'Submit and he'll repent.' They're wrong in the long term, but it speaks to the short term stress that makes you think, 'Submit and it might buy me a little time' - which, in the midst of an abusive episode, is something you'd give a lot for.

Pthalo said...

I can see that, Kit. If someone's treating you like a child it's hard to respond like an adult. It's kind of like if someone keeps trying to talk to me in English and I keep trying to talk to them in Serbian. Eventually, my brain can't keep up with translating my half of the conversation into Serbian because they're addressing the native-language part of my brain not the foreign-language part of my brain. So I switch to English, even though my preference is to talk to everyone in their native language if at all possible, and if not possible, then I prefer to use a language that is foreign for both of us.

--
In our case there are certain triggers that can cause us to switch involuntarily, and some of those triggers give us no control over who ends up in the body. We've gained a lot of control in recent years over who is in the body when, but there are still certain situations when a person who wants to be in the body is forced inside and a person who doesn't want to be in the body is forced into it. We have a lot of children in our system, and we exert a lot of effort to keep them from coming out when it's not safe for them. The last time we were raped, I had to spend a lot of energy just blocking the kids from seeing/coming out that I couldn't fight back all that well. But I kept the kids safe at least.

One thing that almost always causes me to get sucked out of the body and one of the kids comes out "to protect me" is if I kneel/sit down with a sponge or rag to wash the floor. I can hold the body for a minute or two and then there's a little kid trying to scrub the floor in my place. The kid in question will keep trying to wash the floor, because they "know" they'll be locked in the closet if it doesn't get clean, but will be overwhelmed by the task and the floor won't get as clean as it would if I'd done it. And ours kids shouldn't have to do chores like that, especially not the ones who can't tell the past from the present very well.

It's just different in our case because it's not an adult acting like a child, but an actual child trying to act like an adult.

Dav said...

If someone's treating you like a child it's hard to respond like an adult.

A lighter example of this: I just bought tickets to see my family for Thanksgiving. I will be twelve for an entire weekend, no matter how adult I feel stepping off the plane.

Ana Mardoll said...

This.

Also, I wonder what effect Renee has had on Bella? I think we can say in text that Edward is Bella's first serious relationship. And there's a strong body of work in psychology indicating that we tend to emulate our parents in relationships, at least until we have enough experience (or deliberate will) to forge our own path.

We already know that Renee is helpless and childlike in adult relationships, because she's helpless and childlike all the time. Could it be that Bella is unconsciously emulating that?

Having said that, being childlike around Edward is probably the safest thing to be. Reminding him that she is vulnerable seems to be her current best source of escalation prevention. :(

Silver Adept said...

@Amarie:

Ah, I sense the presence of a Shorehorn in Breaking Dawn, then, where the flighty and not-at-all-realistic romance attempts to tackle Serious Questions...and fails miserably, because neither of the people in the romance has shown enough maturity to actually be able to ask and answer those questions thoughtfully.

I think you should go read said book - the Purity Myth as a concept is a really destructive one. (If you really want to delve into it, keep your brain bleach handy and do some research on father-daughter purity balls.)

@The Shakespeare fans - Claudio is a jerk. But you can't have a Shakespeare comedy without everyone being safely paired off in the end, jerks and otherwise. (With the exception of Antonio in the Merchant of Venice, and even then I could argue that he's paired off properly, too - with his ships.)

@Cupcakedoll - Ooog, and I'm guessing there isn't a policy in place that says you can make the decision to remand all of that stuff to the clearance-short-sale-Out, Out, Damn Spot rack...

Smilodon said...

A lot of what I see going on is mixing up love as something you feel, instead of something you do. (Is it Fred who gave me that wording for the idea?) I think think happens quite a bit to teenage girls - the idea that love is measured by how strongly you feel about someone, not how you actually treat them. Bella feels really, really, really strongly for Edward, so clearly their love is really, really, really true. To me, that's the biggest problem with most "Romance" books - the idea that you can love someone so much that you treat them badly against your better judgement. (The lack of this is one thing I like in Chris' version of the story.)

Izzy said...

Yeah, "all romance"="Twilight". The genre's got a sketchy history in places--much like SF/F does, for that matter--but I started reading romance with the old-school bodice-ripper books, and Twilight *still* horrifies me. All the more so because I can see bits of how it's trying to work. The Slap Slap Kiss trope has a lot of history behind it; so does the Mysterious and Powerful Dude trope; so does the Sixteen Candles thing where you can't believe a guy like him would notice you blah blah blah. And the thing is...these *can* all work for healthy relationships, but not the way Twilight does it.

Slap Slap Kiss generally requires one or both parties to learn better before there can be a happy ending. Darcy gets shot down, and pretty thoroughly so for the era (Elizabeth's speech pretty much translates to "No, hell no, and go fuck yourself in a barn, jackass" in modern vernacular); he changes, he makes an effort to make up for previous jackassery, and he apologizes. The alternative is couples like Han and Leia or Xander and Cordelia, where the bickering was mostly a cover from the start--and even there, Han ends up working with the Alliance and Cordy gets somewhat less shallow.

Mysterious and Powerful Dude thing and Someone Like You...well, they both require the heroine to have an active life outside of the guy. Jane Eyre has her principles, she has Lowood, she has her art. There are things going on there that don't revolve around Rochester. And the more the power dynamic differs, the more the heroine has to have her own life. Molly Ringwald's Sixteen Candles character could get away with less of that, because a) high school, and b) Jake is "rich and hot upperclassman" not "immortal god-creature", and even there, she had her own stuff going on. She had friends; she had family--and ridiculous fucking stereotypes, excuse me, "exchange students"--she was miserable in a very teenage way because her crush was out of her league, but she absolutely had a life.

That's important. It's also absent here.

Izzy said...

Annnd that should have been a "!=" there. Hello, lack of sleep.

Silver Adept said...

And, now that I've had some time to think and sleep...

@Amarie re: Dissonance and religious experience - that's a possible dissonance explanation, but to make that really stick, we'd need someone other than Bella telling Bella that this is so. Or some explanation somewhere as to how Bella internalized this particular set of values that we're so critical of. Meta-Bella, having the mores and viewpoints of the author, can have internalized things without explanation, but Story-Bella has to have something in her background that suggests it. Renee's not a good candidate, and Bella hasn't met Edward until now. I would have to speculate that Mysterious Man X, in between Renee's relationship with Charlie, and Renee's relationship with Baseball Phil, did the work, but generally speaking, those kinds of people are not the kind who will let their wife/girlfriend and daughter go to somewhere to spend time with the biological father of the daughter...or any other "unapproved" man. I think you're right, but that you can only apply it to the meta-level. (Where it will seep down in because Bella's an Insert Character...)

Or, as suggested above (@Ana Mardoll), this Isabella Swan and her story are engineered to be blatantly contradictory to each other, with the perfect good-looking man having a controlling and abusive streak, the Perfect Family composed of those who died by violence, whether self or other-inflicted, the supposed Ugly Duckling turning out to be the popular beauty, the Chief of Police and father-figure taking little to no interest in his daughter, the mother behaving more childlike than the child, etc, etc. Such deliberate, pervasive orthogonality suggests there is a design to it, and the novel is intended for us to recoil in horror at such a black tale, even at its supposed Happy Ending where Isabella gets everything she ever wanted... at the cost of becoming one of the Perfect Family (Nessie causes Bella to die by violence, after all, and one wonders if there won't be resentment later on...). Stepford wins, people. Stepford wins!

If that was the case, then Stephanie Meyer might be quietly revulsed at how everyone is reading it on the surface as such a True Love Story and missing the not-very-hidden signs that this is anything but. Or is laughing it up as she continues to make money hand-over-fist because nobody stopped long enough to actually read the book, being too lost in the surface fantasy to break through to the deeper layer of reality.

Darkest Sketch, Indeed. But about whom? The writer that doesn't realize what they're doing in their quest to find the perfect romance, or the audience that's not smart enough to realize the satire that's been done to them?

Patrick said...

So my little brother is a reader, and he's dating a girl who's only "real novels" she's enjoyed reading were the Twilight books. He asked me for recommendations of books they'd both enjoy, because we share that sort of thing pretty often, but I'm drawing a bit of a blank because I'd like to stick with urban fantasy, and I don't know urban fantasy. Any suggestions? I know its off topic, but if there's anyone I know who knows Twilight, its this blog.

Dav said...

What sorts of things does he like? Do you know of stuff she's read and disliked?

Kit Whitfield said...

@Patrick: Well, my first novel's been called urban fantasy, so I guess I should plug myself. It features a depressed heroine but also a whodunnit plot, so it might meet in the middle. Or if you like science fiction, John Wyndham's 'The Chrysalids' is pretty good...

--

Amarie - fascinating as always. You probably remember better than me, but it struck me that as a parent figure, Edward seems oddly lacking in one of the essential components, which is praise. Love-talk, yes, but praise and approval seem constantly withheld. Is that right?

BrokenBell said...

I had a thought, regarding Renee, but I'm not sure I have quite enough information yet, so I've got an open question:

Aside from Renee (who is apparently entirely incapable as a caretaker or homeowner, but in the few appearances I remember her having, does seem to try talking to Bella about her relationship with Edward) and Charlie (who functions perfectly well in terms of keeping the bills paid and household in order, aside from being allegedly hopeless at cooking or laundry, and barely says a word to his daughter) are there other examples of single parents in the series?

Kit Whitfield said...

are there other examples of single parents in the series?

Is Jacob's mother around? I have the vague impression that we only see his dad.

Kit Whitfield said...

I wonder what kind of conversations between the author and the actors will ensue…

Based on what I've seen the actors seem to be intelligent people, so I would guess that professional courtesy would rule the day. Unless you're an absolutely unassailable star (and I'd call the cast of Twilight successful actors but not unassailable ones), it's very unwise not to be pleasant to people, because you never know who you might have to work with again and a reputation for being hard to work with will dog you at every future audition. That's the main reason why actors supposedly call everybody 'darling' even if they don't like them; freelancers really can't afford open enemies, and a sensible actor or writer treads carefully. It's just unprofessional to be rude; that's one reason why I don't speculate about Meyer personally and try to discuss her work with a degree of respect. I don't know her, but there's a line you shouldn't cross.

Besides, they might all be very nice people to meet.

Ana Mardoll said...

Urban fantasy... I second the recommendation for Kit's book. I also know there's a LOT of urban fantasy out there, but I haven't read as much as I should.

I do have a soft spot for Yasmine Galenorn's Sisters of the Moon series, but mind you it's a bit more racy than Twilight and it's not without fail in places. Also Book 1 (Witchling) is a bit weak in my opinion - the series picks up after that, I think.

Trying to rack my brain for other urban fantasy I've enjoyed....

Patrick said...

Literally the only thing she's read and liked that she's told my brother is Twilight.

He, on the other hand, will be open to pretty much anything. But he's particularly enjoyed Joe Abercrombie, Neal Asher, and China Mieville, as well as comic fantasy authors like Pratchett and Holt.

Ana Mardoll said...

So I googled "books like Twilight" and scanned through for familiar books / authors.

1. There's "Sunlight" by McKinley. Haven't read it; I've heard it's awesomesauce.

2. There's "The Host" by Stephenie Meyer. I enjoyed it, and I thought it "fixed" some of the Twilight problems.

3. There's "Wolf Tower" by Tanith Lee. Not Urban Fantasy, but still very good.

4. Vivian Vande Velde -- who I enjoyed with "Heir Apparent" -- has a urban fantasy vampire novel called "Companions of the Night".

5. Neil Gaiman's "Stardust" was brought up in a "if you liked Twilight..." context.

6. There's always "The Hunger Games". All the love triangle-ness, none of the fail. In my opinion. :P

7. The Sookie Stackhouse books seem (so far) hell-bent on deconstructing why a relationship with a vampire is unhealthy for you. But I could just be reading that in with my own bias. Can anyone weigh in on this?

Kit Whitfield said...

If Twilight is the only thing she's ever liked, then it could well be the romance rather than the fantasy that appeals to her. In which case, the thing to do is find romances that he'd enjoy as well, maybe with some adventure in them, and go from there. Any romance fans got good tips?

mmy said...

think it comes from a desire to save Bella, or else to save female humanity

I feel a need to coin a word here, perhaps "femanity" -- to offset the degree to which, unless we relentless and constantly clue people in there is a tendency to presume that human beings, unless otherwise specified, are male.

Izzy said...

Sunshine--McKinley--is very good. Actually, I'd recommend most of hers: they're largely fantasy, but they have very strong romance plots with awesome heroines.

Illona Andrews's Magic Bites/Magic Burns/Magic Bleeds series is good as well. Urban fantasy, romance with weird powerful guy--said guy is possessive enough to trigger my particular OH GOD NO buttons, but I think that's just me--and the heroine has her own life and agenda, and the magic and adventure plot is very good.

The Dresden Files don't have a single ongoing romance plot, but the hero does have romantic arcs with many women.

My own tendency in Romance romance is historicals, so I'm probably of less use there; I would recommend Susanna Fraser--Napoleonic wars!--Rose Lerner, and Julie Ann Long as my go-to romance authors at the moment, but I don't know how much crossover there is for Urban Fantasy Guy there.

I will probably think of more once I've had coffee.

Kit Whitfield said...

I feel a need to coin a word here, perhaps "femanity"

How about 'the City of Ladies'?

mmy said...

How about 'the City of Ladies'?

Works for me :)

depizan said...

I'm not a huge romance fan, but I do like romances with adventure, now if I can just remember the names of any of them... Um, Katie MacAlister has some vampire romances that I thought were fun. It's been a few years since I read any, though, so I can't swear as to whether they're fail-free (I tend to expect a certain level of fail in romance, but reject things that rise above that fail. So I'd say they're less faily than Twilight, at least.) There was a romance novel version of the swan fairy tale that was pretty good - it might be The Wild Swans by Kate Holmes, but I'm not sure. Some of Teresa Medeiros is stuff is fun. If you want to go for older books, Mary Stewart wrote some romantic suspense novels I like, the best being The Moon-Spinners, My Brother Michael, and Madam Will You Talk.

But none of those are urban fantasy.

Cupcakedoll said...

Recommendations: for a Twilight fan I'd recommend the Black Jewels books by Anne Bishop. They have a similar feel to Twilight to me, except for being better. They do have some obvious worldbuilding holes that would make a deconstructionist grumble, but they're fun to read.

My favorite straight out urban fantasy would be Nightlife by Rob Thurman, and its sequels. Story of two brothers, one who's half-monster and the monsters want him BACK. There's a lot of love, but it's brotherly rather than romantic, but still sort of feels romantic but in a clean way not a icky incesty-way. Also "Rob" Thurman is actually a woman.

I haven't read a lot of paranormal romance but I liked The Battle Sylph by somebody Macdonald. It had the boring sex so common in romances, but there was a side plot with some fascinating characters-- who she used up in the sequel, curse her. If these had been straight fantasies she could've played out the good characters for AGES rather than having to pair them up and dump them in the 'story finished' bin. Oh the waste!

Amaryllis said...

What about Lois McMaster Bujold's "Sharing Knife" series? Not urban at all, but full of both romance and adventure. And an ordinary woman, a man with psychic powers, family tensions, bizarre monsters, human villains, weddings, pregnancies, travels, the whole catastrophe.

hapax said...

Literally the only thing she's read and liked that she's told my brother is Twilight.

He, on the other hand, will be open to pretty much anything. But he's particularly enjoyed Joe Abercrombie, Neal Asher, and China Mieville, as well as comic fantasy authors like Pratchett and Holt.



Well, there's a huge difference, imho, between "paranormal romance" and "urban fantasy" -- mainly that I tend to hate the former and like the latter. (g) But I do try to keep sampling them, because they are way popular, and it's y'know, my JOB.

The problem with most of the TWILIGHT readalikes that I've seen is that either they are TOO alike -- repeating the same problematic gender and power tropes -- or they cleverly destruct them, like the awesomesauce SUNSHINE, which may irritate Twilight fans.

So.... The first thing I'd suggest is some other YA fantasy -- the works of Kirsten Cashore. Start with GRACELING. Gorgeous prose, plenty of action and adventure for your brother, and swoon-worthy (but far more grown-up, in all sorts of ways) romance for his gf.

If you wanted to stick with with urban fantasy, my first thought would be Lynn Flewelling's NIGHTRUNNER series, but that's m/m romance, and might be a non-starter. There's also her Tamir Trilogy, which plays with gender bending, but doesn't ... exactly ... go there; like the Black Jewels series, there is a very dark subtext (and sometimes overt text) of pain play; once again, it's certainly an element of TWILIGHT, but some fans might feel uncomfortable with making it more overt.

Based on your brother's tastes, he might try the Minneapolis writers, like Emma Bull and Will Shetterly especially, also Pamela Dean and Kara Dalkey. There is a romantic element, but it is more grown-up than fantasy romance, and doesn't always end happily. Pat Wrede might be good, too; her Enchanted Forest Chronicles are a hoot, and her Lyra books are gorgeous straight-up fantasy. Charles de Lint's Newford books would probably appeal to any fan of Mieville, but his Jack the Giant-Killer books are a bit more romance-y.

Ooo. Ooo. What about the more romance-y end of Steampunk? I had my problems with Meljean Brooks's IRON DUKE, but any Twilight fan would probably not share them; and if brother can get past the half-naked hunks on the cover, he might dig the nanotech and zombie hordes and airship pirates...

Okay, shutting up now.

hapax said...

Okay, one more -- an older YA vampire maybe kinda romance, THE SILVER KISS, by Annette Curtis Klause. No HEA, but gorgeous emo vampires and depressed heroines, and the kind of ending that provokes a good cathartic cry. And there's her werewolf book, BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE, which is the sizzling sensual Jacob to SILVER KISS's wangsty Edward.

Amarie said...

At Silver:

You see? I didn’t even *think* about Stepford. Therefore, *you* hold the Dark Mantle, and you always have and you always will.

At Patrick:

I still highly recommend the BlackDagger Brotherhood Series (even if Cupcakedoll has cursed me…*evil, maniacal laughter with a twirl of mustache*). I’m afraid that I’ve outgrown a lot of YA romances. However, I remember the Mary Jane series by Judith O’Brien. I still have those books! :D

And Anne Bishop is G.O.D. “Sebastian” is my favorite! Talk about a fascinating and blatantly erotic look at incubi! :D

At Kit:

Oh, yes. I think I’ll be bold enough to say that I can’t really recall a single instance where Edward *truly* praises Bella for *anything* in the entire series. It’s just a constant litany of contradictory ‘When will you ever see how amazing you are?’ coupled with ‘Bella, you are utterly absurd and it’s not my fault’.

And I apologize for speculating on what Robert Pattinson and Mrs. Meyer would speculate about. I meant it in a joking manner, but I can see that could have been offensive. I just find it morbidly fascinating how the very actors that *portray* your characters actually have *valid reasons* not to like your characters. It’s just so terribly sad and ironic in the darkest way. I don’t think (in my lifetime, at least) that I’ve ever seen anything like it…

Silver Adept said...

You're all excellent in the recommendation department. Benighted, Sisters of the Moon (which does find its stride when it stops being a fetch quest adventure with misfiring magicians and starts being a kinky romance with some high-octane action sequences), Sunshine (very excellent), Klause (whose books are better than the movie), Stardust, and all the rest.

Authors and library-types, are all of us, or just really good readers?

And if we're veering into steampunk, if you're up for it, Cherie Priest's Boneshaker is excellent. Zombies running around Seattle after a gas explosion caused by a bank robbery. She also has a series of Civil War-era horror stories set around Tennessee, starting with "Four and Twenty Blackbirds", I believe.

Anyway, enjoy working through all of the recommendations - there's always the library in case none of those work.

Ana Mardoll said...

How did I forget Patricia Wrede? She's only like my favoritest author ever. This.

Ana Mardoll said...

Sisters of the Moon (which does find its stride when it stops being a fetch quest adventure with misfiring magicians and starts being a kinky romance with some high-octane action sequences)

Another SotM reader? SotM derail!

What do you think -- if you want to share -- of the romance between Camille and Smoky the Dragon. I've only read past Demon Mistress (Book 6) (I'm totally behind in my reading), but the keeping-house stuff in Dragon Wytch made me sort of uncomfortable. I'm not against BDSM fantasy at all (omg thread convergence), but I felt like the whole thing was pushing Camille's comfort limits and instead of working through that it seemed like suddenly BAM! it was all great and turns out she has a great new kink and everything is lovely forever.

I kind of felt like Unfortunate Implications at best (of the Not Bad If She Enjoys It) and total cop-out at worst. But then, I've always found Smoky an uncomfortable figure, and I don't enjoy the Camille POV books as much in general. I love the other two sisters.

Oh, and Smoky's all "oh, yeah, she's totes gonna have my dragon babies," like what. Pretty sure we didn't have that conversation pre-marriage, and also pretty sure Camille isn't really wanting kids now or in the near term or even maybe at all, and I'm NOT gonna be happy if Camille's reaction is a sudden 180 degree turn of babies R awesome. I'm afraid the new books are going there, which is one reason why I'm way behind. I'm dreading fail. o.O

Cupcakedoll said...

OMG, dragonsex. I was just considering the dragonsex part of my fanfic for one of the characters' great sacrifices. Originally the dragon was going to steal the girl because, "you can shapeshift into a lady dragon and have some eggs for me, helping save my species from going extinct. Or else I'll torch your country." But I reluctantly decided that was too squicky and was forced to change to, "you can be my servant and help raise the hatchlings from these eggs. Or else I'll torch your country." This dragon does not believe in the equal rights of all intelligent species.

This has been a derail caused by finding a post about the exact thing I was pondering before getting online. Off to work now! maybe I'll stop at the library after and look up these books...

Ana Mardoll said...

In this case, the Dragon shape shifts to human, but the deal is similarly made under duress. It kind of makes sense from a Dragon perspective, but when it starts being passed off as True Love......

hapax said...

Popping in to go WAAAAAAY tangential, but now I'm thinking of the short-lived SOUTHERN KNIGHTS comic book series. One of the hero team was codenamed "Dragon" because he could shift into dragon form; but in his mini series it was revealed that he was actually a dragon who had the unique ability to shift into *human* form, and this is the only reason he survived when the rest of his species was wiped out. So he's been living for hundreds of years as a member of a species that exterminated his own kind, and eventually becoming one of their protectors.

The really nifty twist is that we eventually find out that "Serpent", the series Big Bad -- think Red Skull to Captain America, or Lex Luthor to Superman -- is actually another dragon-turned-human survivor and she's *female*. Dragon and Serpent eventually decide that their duty to recreate their species trumps their loyalty to their human allies / desire to take revenge on all humanity, and they go off to start a family...

And *nobody* ever read this series but me. That's why it was short lived.

Will Wildman said...

Until I read these last few comments, the human/dragon-in-human-form romance concepts in one of my stories was simple and sweet, like an awkward-teen romantic comedy. Now I am thinking all of the thoughts and I doubt I shall ever fully make them go away. =P

(Okay, that's not fully true, because the adult characters have their variously low-minded Fridge Logic moments, but it wasn't this bad.)

Silver Adept said...

Sounds like a great series, though, hapax. I also recall some rumbling of Abuse in a bad way as possible Fail regarding Graceling, mostly in the way the female lead treats her romantic interest.

Regarding Camille, well, keep reading. I'm four books ahead at this point, and there has been no "Babies are Awesome" fail going on, and "It's Complicated" becomes a major understatement at the point I am at. For all the of the sisters. The Unfortunate Implications are swept under the rug about whether the kink justifies the means, but Camille does not become the dutiful submissive wife. Actually, by the point that I'm at, I'm looking at her relationships and saying "There's no freaking way that house gets doing that well." Plus, Smoky is bringing a certain amount of baggage and politics to the relationship that hasn't really been resolved yet. I will say, however, that if there's Fail to be had, it will be because Smoky it's a controlling jerk, not because he has bedroom kinks.

Ana Mardoll said...

I'm glad to hear it (maybe) gets better. I completely agree the problem lies in Controlling Jerk and not in Bedroom Kinks, my problem was more that Dragon Wytch featured a Controlling Jerk pushing Bedroom Kinks on the heroine who wasn't quite ready for them, but then the narrative seemed to be saying that orgasms made everything better.

Then again, (trigger warning), I'm not happy with the Camille/Smoky relationship from the get-go. She pretty much had to promise him sexual gratification in exchange for much-needed help. Yeah, he "loves" her and she orgasms a lot, but this situation is not one I can personally get on board with as romantic. From the very beginning of their relationship, there were strong rape overtones (with the I-can-carry-you-off-at-any-time speech) and I'm not thrilled with her stamp-my-foot-get-my-way act with him, because while she DOES have power in the relationship in the sense that he listens to her, she has to act like a child to get those concessions.

I get the appeal of the relationship, I really do, but the parts where he pushes her limits but then orgasms make it all better trouble me. It's a good fantasy, maybe, but I'd feel SO much more comfortable if she used a safe word once and awhile. Or if their non-sexual interaction was more egalitarian.

I really like her relationship with the fox-demon guy. Unfortunately, he serves as a backdrop for the dragon-issues such as when he intuits that Smoky's threesome suggestion is an underhanded attempt to drive a wedge between Camille and the dark elf guy. Using your lover's sex drive to try to manipulate her psychologically: Not Cool.

I'm going to read more, but I like Menolly's relationships so far much better.

Wow, apparently I had a lot to say about that. I really like the books in general.

Dav said...

Romances that often have somewhat bickering relationships with a lot of subtext:

You might consider Georgette Heyer. She does witty period stuff that is usually romance. Some are better than others. There's no sex scenes, and the sexual tension is usually fairly equally distributed - women admire men, and vice versa. The secondary characters are often hilarious. I liked Cotillion and Arabella. Stay far away from Charity Girl.

Loretta Chase's Mr. Impossible is also huge fun. Also period (I'm showing my cards, here), but in Egypt.

Jennifer Crusie's Getting Rid of Bradley is half farce, half action, half romance. Modern times. One of those misunderstanding meet-cute set-ups, but fun for all that. Creepy ex like whoa, though, including some trigger warningable content that seemed pretty mild to me, but above what you might expect in such a lemony meringue of a book.

Sunshine by McKinley is great, but it's slower and kind of odd. I'd recommend one of her two (!) Beauty rewrites. They're both fun. (But the Rose Red or Sleeping Beauty/Nazi Germany crossover is not a pick-me-up book.) Or either of the Blue Sword books. (I think it's the Sword and the Crown that has romance elements, but it's *very* background. But rar Corlath.)

Some of Tamara Pierce's stuff is light and fun - the romance can take a couple books, but it's got a very similar mouthfeel to me.

hapax said...

I also recall some rumbling of Abuse in a bad way as possible Fail regarding Graceling, mostly in the way the female lead treats her romantic interest.

????

Okay, Katsa and Po spend a good bit of time beating the holy crap out of each other, but that's because a) they're fighters (i.e., it's consensual) and b) that's how their particular Graces interact. The biggest complaint I have heard about Katsa's treatment of Po is that she really really doesn't want to get married. Now you may or may not agree with her negative view of marriage, but I don't think refusing to get hitched because you find the institution confining and restrictive falls under the heading of "abusing your partner."

Maybe there's something I missed?

Silver Adept said...

@hapax

I don't remember it clearly. It might have been something related to how Katsa relates to the men in her life through some sort of feminist lens, but I only saw it in passing.

@Ana Mardoll

We are both agreed in our squick at the entry of Smoky into the relationship. There's a bit of a handwave that goes on because Camille is the sexually adventurous, polyamorous, can't get enough sex sister and thus is best able to handle having another man in her life. But yes, there's some amount of apparent Orgasms Make It Better over time, but there's also a kind of...unease about the relationship that says with them - Controlling Jerk still thinks that he will eventually be in the primary position, and behaves as such, and it causes tension. Iris routinely tells them to take it outside. With the family issues that Smoky has (saying more will be Spoilers), we start seeing a little bit of why he's doing what he does...and it actually makes him look worse, not better.

As for Camille using a safe word, well, there are a lot of times where she admits to being completely terrified of Smoky, his power, and the control that he has over it (that she doesn't, sort of, but Spoilers...) So he pushes, and she pushes back, but ultimately, she needs him more as a powerful ally and so she acquiesces to his demands. There's some amount of enjoying the sex and the kinks (again, chalked up to Camille being Camille), but there's also a lot of obvious references to that relationship being one that causes a lot of disharmony.

Morio continues to be the stable, dependable, and best person for Camille to have a long-term relationship with. And he bites Smoky, metaphorically, every chance he can to try and get him to back off.

Four books from now, you may shift your perspective on whose relationships you like best. Maybe not. But there isn't a Fail Whale in the water for the next few books, at least.

Ana Mardoll said...

Four books from now, you may shift your perspective on whose relationships you like best. Maybe not. But there isn't a Fail Whale in the water for the next few books, at least.

I'm so glad to hear that, thank you. I've been wanting to read "Bone Magic" but it was a Camille book and I was worried that it would be the last straw for me.

And OMG a Freudian Excuse (I saw a reference to Smoky's Dad in the write up for the latest book) that DOESN'T make everything magically a-boo-boo-boo for the Controlling Jerk? Wow. Yes, I would probably like that a lot. :D

I'll have to move "Bone Magic" up the To-Read list once NaNo is over. :)

Ana Mardoll said...

I've been meaning to get a copy of that. :D

I'm not really sure how to feel about that quote. On the one hand, I strongly support the notion that teenagers are people too, and are capable of absolute intelligence, drive, and consistency. Some people really do know what they want at 17 and stick with that dream for eternity.

But... Bella's "dream" seems possibly not the most healthy of teenage fantasies. I don't know how to parse this, but because of that whole "sparkly" thing, she'll really never be friends with or interact extensively more than maybe 10 people in her lifetime. 20, if you expand to include Jacob's werewolf family, I guess. That's not a lot of stimulation... and that's for an eternity.

I guess there's always internet and the night life. But... but... but I just don't know. There's a difference in my mind between deciding you want to be a doctor at 17 and deciding that you want to go live on a deserted island with no more than a dozen people for the rest of your immortal life. o.O

Brin Bellway said...

Amaryllis: I mean, who does know what they want for the rest of their life at seventeen?

I get the feeling I'm expected to know, at least career-wise. When they start asking you, around eleven or twelve, they're not too surprised when you don't know. But by seventeen...I always get the sense that they're judging me for not knowing.

I suspect it'll only get worse at eighteen, what with Official Adulthood. Only three more days, now. (Don't get too excited just yet. Save the partying for the day. I'll bring (pictures of) brownies. (Much tastier than cake.))

Amarie said...

I agree with both Amaryllis and Ana.

One of the most dehumanizing and non-relatable aspect of Bella’s character is that she doesn’t really second guess anything, much less have any notable critical thinking skills. And one would think that critical thinking skills would be a prominent key in making such monumental and permanent decisions. What’s more is that such a lack of mental skills completely negates the ‘mature’ image that we’re supposed to have of her.

Now, of *course* adolescents should at least have an *outline* of what they want out of life. And they should certainly pursue that outline in all manner of healthy assertiveness. Having graduated from high school not too long ago, I had first-hand experience watching people struggle after graduation because they honestly didn’t have a plan in place. I won’t go so far as to say someone will *fail* without a plan/outline. But I do believe that not having at least *something* in place can make for a lot of easily avoided bumps in the road later on. So, I agree with Stephenie Meyer. To a certain point.

However…I have to disagree with the way she’s portraying such ‘planning’. In all honesty, I see Bella Swan as a largely directionless character because her wants are simply designed to get her closer to a man. Meaning that they are not her own and, despite the stubbornness that we’re assured of, are clearly subject to change as Edward plays her puppet strings. But what I mostly disagree with is the ideology that just *knowing what you want is the entire battle*. You know what you want, you stick to it, you don’t let anyone or anything get in your way and…well, and you get it. Plain and simple as that. No regrets. No second thoughts. No consideration for others. No hard work. No bumps to get through. Just follow these steps and you will have all that you want.

It’s incredibly disturbing at worst and a quite annoying at best. Like Ana said, Bella would be incredibly isolated. Not just because she would be surrounded by only about 10-20 people, but because *her surroundings will never change*. To paraphrase what the father in Tuck Everlasting said, “What we Tucks have, you can’t call it living. We just…are. Rocks stuck at the side of the stream.”

But then again…I can see where the fantasy is. If Stephenie Meyer wished that she knew for a fact what she wanted at seventeen and Bella is her idealized self-insert, then there’s another theory. And that theory is the fantasy of Mrs. Meyer knowing what she wanted with absolute certainty and making no mistakes that she would have been happy as [insert outcome].

What’s more is that I think it’s the religious overtones again. One is constantly assured that God Has A Plan For Them If They’re Good. They’ll get a new body, family, environment, etc. that’s much, much better than the human one has during life. Because it’s The Plan, one should never feel anything but the upmost joy…

Just like Bella.

chris the cynic said...

I'm here at 26 and I'm still not sure. Not that I'm holding myself up as a model of how to be or anything.

Amaryllis said...

Oh, I didn't mean that teenagers never have plans for what they'd like to do with their lives. As Amarie says, it's hard to actually accomplish much of anything without a goal, however broadly defined, and an outline for getting there.

It was the idea that Bella's plan was so set in stone, at such a detailed level and at such an early age, that shocked me. Really, she'll never want anything different for all of eternity?

Surely, part of achieving your goals is catching a glimpse of the next goal, the next opportunity, the new interest? Bella gets everything she wants before she's twenty, and then she just...stops?

And I agree with Amarie's disagreement:
But what I mostly disagree with is the ideology that just *knowing what you want is the entire battle*.
Sometimes you can walk over those hot coals and still not get what you want, because everything is not entirely up to you. And sometimes the coals can really be too hot to bear, no matter what's waiting on the other side.

Kit Whitfield said...

I think part of my disagreement with that statement about Bella is that - well, it works within the confines of the book, because the book is written by the person who made the statement. But if you try to compare it to real life, there's a problem: knowing what you want at seventeen and getting it, instantaneously and permanently and unchangeably at eighteen ... well, that ain't the way it works.

If you know in your teens that you want to be a doctor, and you're smart and you work hard and things go your way, you'll be a doctor in what? ten years? I knew at eighteen or nineteen that I wanted to be a writer, but I was twenty-nine before my first book was published, and I knew even at the time that I'd better make back-up plans because there was a good chance I wouldn't succeed as a writer, and now I am one I still have to deal with the uncertainty of being able to continue as a writer. Making a decision in your teens usually means committing to a long and arduous path that'll get you where you want to be, maybe, in five, ten, fifteen years, and then you have to work hard and be lucky to stay there. Even if your goal is to be married to a particular person, you have to make an effort to keep the relationship working; you can't just snap at them every five minutes the way Bella snaps at Edward and expect to still be married a decade down the road.

Vampirism isn't a very good metaphor for this, because once the venom's in your system, nothing you do - no amount of laziness, bad luck, intervening factors, changing circumstances or anything else - will un-vampire you. You don't just have your feet on the path to your goal; you aren't even at your goal and working to stay there. You're finished; you're done. You don't have to make any effort any more.

Bella works towards her goal of vampirism, but mostly by pressuring other people then getting rescued. Her goal really seems to be to reach a point where she doesn't have to work any more. And while we'd all love to get to that point - or at least to the point where effort becomes optional - it's not a very good goal in the real world.

depizan said...

Vampirism isn't a very good metaphor for this, because once the venom's in your system, nothing you do - no amount of laziness, bad luck, intervening factors, changing circumstances or anything else - will un-vampire you.

Which is it's own flipside. If one heads off to become a doctor and discovers that one doesn't like it, one can change degrees or colleges or drop out and join the Peace Corps or any number of other things. You aren't trapped in the decision you made at seventeen.

Of course, in Twilight, we never see someone unhappy with having become a vampire.

Brin Bellway said...

Of course, in Twilight, we never see someone unhappy with having become a vampire.

And isn't that suspicious? You'd think with all the vampires out there, most of them turned against their will when they weren't dying otherwise*, there'd be a fair bit of angst to go around. Just what does that venom do to your mind?

(If I were more writerly, I would probably put a vignette here about a person being turned and feeling their soul slip away. Unfortunately, I'm not.)

*By "otherwise" I mean "if they hadn't encountered a vampire".

chris the cynic said...

Well given that people who have read more than I have all tell me about this whole, "Your personality is locked in when you're vampired" thing, we're definitely talking about some extremely heavy brain-shattering mind control to begin with. Why not have "no regrets" be part of the mind control cocktail?

-

Actually, if Edward didn't use that as the centerpiece of his, "Vampires have no soul," argument then I am very disappointed in him.

hapax said...

Of course, in Twilight, we never see someone unhappy with having become a vampire.

That isn't really true. We're told flat out that Rosalie is very unhappy, and she votes against vamping Bella specifically because she wishes that someone had stopped her turning.

(Of course, a lot of that is the NO BAYBEES NEVER!!!! deal, but still, Rosalie definitely Haz A Sad.)

And it's pretty strongly implied that both Edward and Carlisle are not happy with having become vampires, but that they suck it up (no pun intended and deal because even suicide is pretty much impossible for a vamp.

Brin Bellway said...

we're definitely talking about some extremely heavy brain-shattering mind control to begin with

Why does Bella want to be turned, again? I can understand a willingness to endure physical changes in the pursuit of immortality*, but the more I hear about the mental effects of vampirism the less I like it.

*I recently watched the Doctor Who episode "The Lazarus Experiment", in which a de-aging machine has the unfortunate side effect of turning the user into a lifeforce-eating Scorpion King. My response to this was to think up plans involving the consumption of livestock lifeforce** to get around the whole murder thing, because if I was offered an indefinite lifespan in exchange for a Scorpion King body I probably would take it. I would at least seriously consider it. (Especially with my youth: by the time I'm in any danger of dying from old age (the only kind of death this protects against), they'll have had over four decades to work out the kinks. Hell, by then they might even have figured out how to keep you in human form.)

**This is assuming the need for lifeforce eventually slows down a lot or stops. He was going through it fast enough that in order to get enough from, say, cows (Wikipedia says ~15 years worth a pop for a calf), he'd have to feed almost constantly.


*refresh* Oh, yes, there is that. I'm not sure if my original point still stands, but considering that most of it is actually about Doctor Who I'm going to post it anyway.

Kit Whitfield said...

(If I were more writerly, I would probably put a vignette here about a person being turned and feeling their soul slip away. Unfortunately, I'm not.)

Actually I think that would be very difficult to write. An interesting challenge, but I don't think I'll attempt it because it'd be unprofessional of me to infringe Meyer's copyright.

The problem is, unless the 'soul' is just a meaningless something that doesn't have any effect on the personality, to some extent you'd need a soul to be able to feel a soul. Once it's gone, what would you use to feel its absence? You'd have to write a stream-of-consciousness piece in which the terms in which someone saw the world gradually changed, a kind of spiritual Flowers For Algernon. Very tricky, because it would basically be a style piece, and style pieces tend not to suit the literary-candy market that Twilight occupies. Style is candy of a different kind.

chris the cynic said...

If you consider vampires to be representative of death and a soul to be representative of life then a soul in the context of the Meyers verse would, I think, be tied up in the ability to change. Lose your soul and you can't age, you can't mature, you can't die, you can't regret decisions you once thought good, you can broaden your horizons, you can't break up, you can't stop being whatever you are.

As Kit says, "You're finished; you're done. You don't have to make any effort any more." And we have to answer Amaryllis question, "Really, she'll never want anything different for all of eternity?" in the affirmative. She'll never want anything different for all of eternity because to change would require a soul and she's without one.

To live is to change, to vampire is to stagnate. Though now I've added another meaning to the verb vampire (now I'm using it to mean be a vampire and previously I used to to mean make one into a vampire) and if I keep this up the word will be meaningless?

But how on earth would you write that? How would you write someone feeling their capacity for change slipping away? Maybe if they were considering all of the things they could do in their eternal life and the longer the process went on the harder became to have an interest in trying new things. At the beginning it's, "I'm going to live forever, I'm going try EVERYTHING!" in the end it's, "I'm going to live forever, I'll just keep doing what I've always done."

Not really sure.

Kit Whitfield said...

But how on earth would you write that? How would you write someone feeling their capacity for change slipping away?

Personally I wouldn't try it in a single scene. If you couldn't change, you'd only discover it in response to changing circumstances. I might try to hint at it by changing the metaphors somebody used or their handling of tense. You could do something with the progressive form of the verb; either they use it all the time - I am going to do this, I am doing that, I was thinking this - or else they never use it - I will, I do, I thought. But mostly you'd show it in subsequent scenes, where they experience things that they could learn from and somehow fail to, making the same mistakes over and over and being equally shocked and upset each time it goes wrong again.

Basically I think having someone be too self-aware about what they were losing would undermine the verisimilitude. It'd work better to aim for a sense of pathos by showing them changing without being fully able to comprehend what they were losing, or at least being fully able to describe it to themselves because their ability to feel certain things was so damaged they couldn't even conjure up clear memories of what it used to be like.

That's what I'd do, anyway.

depizan said...

I forgot about Rosalie. Though, now that I think about it, I find it rather disturbing that, aside from Bella and, er, Dr. Cullen (is that Carlisle? crap, trying to talk about a book I read once over a year ago is not wise) the vamps we meet were all turned to save their lives. Unlives. However one should put that.

It had a very weird feel about vampirism, as if we're supposed to both side with Bella and see it as a bad thing, while simultaneously having super-vampires, who lack the drawbacks of other depictions of vampires. Maybe some of that is that what we're told and what we're shown often don't agree in the book(s). Edward doesn't act like someone unhappy about being a vampire. He uses his vampire traits all the freaking time. He - and the others - have used their lengthened lifespans to learn all kinds of things. It comes off like a particularly weird Cursed With Awesome. That's part of why his "oh noes I sparkle" confession in the meadow strikes a lot of people as unintentionally hilarious.

None of them really try to fit in, either. Or solve their problems in other ways. (Couldn't Rosalie adopt a kid? She's a vampire with awesome powers, she could kidnap a baby if she wanted to, or rescue some poor orphan somewhere. Hell, she could go run an orphanage in some country desperately in need of one and care for a bunch of kids. ... If you took out the mighty whitey angle, that could be an interesting, if weird, story.)

chris the cynic said...

I've tried to put some thought into vampires and children in the Edithverse.

I figured that Ben and Edith both want to have children someday. Not now, but someday. When Edith brings up the near impossibility of this happening as something Ben might want to consider before getting into a long term relationship with someone who almost certainly cannot bear a child* Ben's immediate thought is that adoption seems like an obvious solution.

It also makes me wonder if Ross might have done that. He could have great grandchildren by now. We'd have to assume that he's never turned any of his children or more distant descendants, but by the time Edith and Ben meet Ross and Emma could have had multiple families.

-

* Edith would use caveats. She can say with a fair degree of certainty that two vampires cannot produce a child, but there are less cases of vampire-human sex** so it's harder to be sure about that. There are almost no documented cases of vampire-werewolf sex, but it's generally assumed that that would also fail to produce offspring. Besides, Edith does not recommend that Ben become a werewolf for any reason.

** Especially since I'm thinking that vampirism can be transmitted sexually in the Edithverse*** so most vampire-human couples don't stay vampire-human couples for long if they're having potentially baby making sex.

*** Because Ben sure as hell couldn't be converted the way that Bella was but I could still have it be as a consequence of sex. Though I'm not sure if there's any reason to keep that. Hopefully by Breaking Dawn Edith and Ben are so far from Edward and Bella that the two couples can't even see each other from their respectively places. Plus, "sex will kill you" isn't a very nice message even if the afterlife does sparkle.

depizan said...

I *heart* your version.

Gelliebean said...

Popping in a bit late with a couple of book recommendations -

The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs is pretty good urban (well, a bit more rural-ish :-p ) fantasy; starting with "Moon Called"; her companion series is Alpha and Omega starting with "Cry Wolf."

The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger, starting with "Soulless"; a Victorian setting that's more like steampunk meets the standard UF werewolf/vampire combination.

And more on the romance end of things, "Ten Things I Love About You" by Julia Quinn and "The Countess" by Lynsay Sands" are both fun, light-hearted reads with a very comedy-of-errors feel to them - they're more historical romance, but you don't need an in-depth understanding of history to get into them. I really like these two in particular because they avoid both the Too Stupid To Live heroine and the Overbearing Alpha Male hero. Fair warning, "The Countess" may need a trigger warning for some people; at the beginning of the book, Christiana, the heroine, is just coming from her marriage to a husband who was very emotionally abusive.

Inquisitive Raven said...

Rose Red or Sleeping Beauty/Nazi Germany crossover

Are you sure you aren't think of Briar Rose by Jane Yolen?

Darth Ember said...

Parasol Protectorate! :D Those books are awesome! So many funny bits, but enough action and drama as well.
I think my favourite characters are Lord Akeldama and Professor Lyall. <3 They rock.

Also, someone above mentioned Tamora Pierce, I think, though they misspelled it as Tamara. I'll have to second the recommendation for her work; I first read it in primary school, and love it even now, some years after high school.

Makabit said...

^Ditto that.
Why would anyone want to write the Most Perfect Love Story EVAH and then root it, from the very start, in classic abusive behaviours?

The sad miserable truth? Because that's how Romance is written. As Darcy and Rochester and Heathcliff and a hundred thousand cheesy heroes of romance novels for the last few hundred years could all attest. (Maybe not Heathcliff. He and Cathy are just as insane as each other, so most of his abuse is leveled at other people--although in Isabella's case, she wants to believe the abuse will turn to twoo wuv.)

(I might let Rhett Butler off the hook. He and Scarlett are pretty evenly matched for awful behavior.)

In the Middle Ages, the woman was supposed to be the mentally abusive one who Had Her Reasons, but that's no better, just an inversion.

I'm trying now to think of examples of HEALTHY love relationships in fiction.

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