Evil Love: A Bully Romance by Ella Fields

Is it read-worth? Welcome the new member of my DNF list. Evil Love is absolutely not worth reading. The relationship at the heart of the book is toxic and, while I could have forgiven that and even enjoyed it, the writing is just terrible. It comes across more as poorly written teenage smut than anything else. Everything I read was overly sexualized and deeply disturbing. And, based on the reviews I read after not finishing it, it just gets worse from there. How anyone can think this book is romantic or sexy is beyond me. 

Back of Book Summary (Amazon.com)

Bestselling author Ella Fields delivers an all-new standalone enemies to lovers, bully romance.

There was a time Jude Delouxe didn’t hate me, and I’m fairly certain it was when he didn’t know I existed.

Senior year, I finally caught his eye long enough to throw word vomit at him like the obsessed teenage girl I was.

That was then.

You see, the most wanted guy in school blamed me for losing his second chance with his girlfriend. Ex-girlfriend? Whatever. Point is, the Adonis loved to hate me.

It wasn’t my fault he’d followed me. It wasn’t my fault he’d stared too long and stood a little too close, just daring me to accomplish my wildest dreams.

And it most certainly wasn’t my fault his ex-girlfriend arrived when he’d decided to kiss me back.

Then the cruelty began.

I’d thought I could handle it, so long as his lips kept gracing mine and he kept giving me more scorching firsts. Until he took it too far, and all his carefully kept secrets blew open the doors to a brand-new world. A world he was all too familiar with.

Obsession became loathing and fear replaced naivety as Jude was forced to hold my hand and help me navigate a secret society rife with sin and debauchery—the crème de la crème of Peridot Island.

If I wasn’t careful, I’d do more than lose what remained of my heart. My first love and greatest foe wouldn’t be satisfied until he’d devoured my soul, too.

First off, what is bully romance?

Bully Romance is apparently the follow-up to an ongoing saga of dark romance novels. In the past, dark romance novels were books where the “hero” of the story was a bad guy. He’s unpleasant to deal with, but also extremely attractive. Trust me, he’s always hot. He would treat the heroine (usually a nerdy girl who doesn’t know how good looking she is) horribly for most of the book. But, in the end, he’d always be redeemed when he inevitably realizes that the heroine is beautiful and falls in love with her. Not always good, but sometimes they’re great reads.

A lot of girls absolutely love dark romance books. It’s appealing to think that the snarky sexy guy who treats you poorly will end up being a good guy. He’ll love you and treat you great. A lot of us have guys we’d probably love to make a little bit nicer! Or a lot of bit, as the case may be. Even the worst, meanest guys can be sweet and tender towards the ones they love. They have redeemable qualities that books like this capitalize on. Vampire Diaries anyone?

Bully romance takes dark romance one step further into an even darker, more toxic place. The heroine still falls for a hero who is still a very bad guy, but there’s usually no redeemable qualities to him. He doesn’t have some hidden trait that saves him from being a jerk all the time. He doesn’t always start to treat her better. He’s usually just a bad guy that the heroine, for some reason, can’t help but love. 

Going into this book, I had absolutely no idea that the genre of “bully romance” existed. I thought it was just a tacky side note meant to catch potential reader’s attention. I didn’t understand the full implications of the genre or the toxic side story to it. It’s an extremely abusive genre that promotes the degradation of women, particularly teenage girls. At its core, unhealthy.

And it is even worse that most of these books are apparently marketed to teenage girls specifically. Once I did a little bit of research about them and looked at other books in this genre, I found that most take place in high schools. The bully and the girl usually go to school together. He treats her terribly and she loves him anyways. Their relationship is marketed as romantic and sexy instead of disturbing. How horrible is that to sell to a teenager? What are we telling them to look for in a relationship?

Oh, boy, I hope people don’t read this genre, let alone this book. It’s disgusting. 

Because (1) bully romances do not work in real life. If someone treats you poorly, you should not take that as a sign to start a relationship with them. Romanticizing abusive behaviors is part of the reason why women (and men) end up in abusive relationships. They aren’t cute. They aren’t romantic. They aren’t even remotely okay. Stop telling young girls that they are! 

I mean, I thought that Twilight was bad. This is just a whole new level of horrible. 

And this is coming from someone who loves a well-written anti-hero. I love heroes with bad traits. They feel more real to me. But some bad guys are just bad guys. That’s all they are. We shouldn’t romanticize their immoral behavior. We should romanticize their redeemable qualities and path to redemption, not their debauchery and cruelty towards others.

And (2) Evil Love just isn’t good. Everything is overly sexualized, especially for a teenage reader. From the way the characters think to how they talk, it’s just deeply disturbing. What they actually do? Too much information and feels more like pornography than a book marketed to teenagers should. There is a way to write sex scenes in young adult novels that come across as more than poorly placed porn.

Based on what I’ve seen from other books in this category, this catastrophe of a book is the standard and not the exception. These books are not profound, well-written pieces about strong heroines who fall in love with the wrong guy. They’re books that sexualize teenage girls and encourage young women to degrade themselves in return for the affection of an abusive man. I cannot emphasize enough how disgusting some of those scenes I read were. Do not read this book. Do not let your kids read this book. Throw it away.

3 of My Favorite Books

Okay, I’ll be the first one to admit it: I probably have around fifty favorite books total. Once I fall in love with a story, it’s just too difficult to compare it to another story that I absolutely love. I’m really not capable of picking favorites when it comes to well-written novels. I can’t do it.

But I can give you some examples of my favorite books.  Not just the ones that I’m going to discuss below, but books like The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (and the rest of the series), and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. 

Certain books just capture me for the rest of my life. Once I read them once, I’ll keep reading them forever. And books like that have been few and far in between lately. Sure, a lot of the newer books I read are good. Don’t get me wrong: they’re good. Sometimes very good. I enjoy reading them. But they don’t hook me. They don’t make me want to read them every twice a year for the rest of my life. I want them to, but they don’t.

Yet other books are somehow straight up the most addictive books I’ve ever read. I absolutely adore them. Sometimes I don’t even know why I still read them until I’m picking them up again and completely absorbed in the storyline. Even knowing exactly what’s going to happen, I love them. 

I’ll probably list more than these three at some point, but here I go.

1. Into the Wild by Erin Hunter

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

Epic adventures. Fierce warrior cats. A thrilling fantasy world. It all begins here.

Read the book that began a phenomenon—and join the legion of fans who have made Erin Hunter’s Warriors series a #1 national bestseller.

For generations, four Clans of wild cats have shared the forest according to the laws laid down by their ancestors. But the warrior code has been threatened, and the ThunderClan cats are in grave danger. The sinister ShadowClan grows stronger every day. Noble warriors are dying—and some deaths are more mysterious than others.

In the midst of this turmoil appears an ordinary housecat named Rusty… who may turn out to be the bravest warrior of them all.

My Take On It

I figured I’d start with my earliest literary addiction: The Warriors Series. Into the Wild follows the journey of a normal house cat into becoming a fierce warrior of Thunderclan. The cat, Rusty, encounters a lifestyle and pattern of behavior that he barely understands. These new cats prioritize each other, their clan’s history, and their own honor above everything else. He meets new cats, learns about their rich society, and fights for the honor of his clan. It sounds a little bit ridiculous, but it’s anything but! It’s probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. Meant to target readers eight and up, these books still completely captivate me. The entire first series is literary gold.

A lot of the appeal for me, however, is definitely nostalgia. I grew up reading this series and absolutely fell in love with these books. I feel at home when I read about Firepaw and Thunderclan. I’m not sure if another adult my age (22) would have the same reaction to this series if they picked up the first book now. They are written with the intention of appealing to children after all. But that’s honestly fine with me. Sometimes you don’t need a book that’s at the level you are. Sometimes you want nostalgia. It’s amazing that these books are capable of still appealing to me even though I’ve grown so much since first reading them. Talk about inspiring reader loyalty! These books have been out for 17 years!

Into the Wild may be targeted at kids, but it has a special place in my heart and, as a twenty-two year old, I read the entire first collection at least once a year. If you have a child (or some free time for yourself), I definitely recommend picking this book up. Heck, I’d recommend picking up the entire first series. They’re that good! You may not love it quite as much as I still do, but they’re still worth a read. Plus, you can let me know if this series is capable of appealing to an older audience from the first read or if you have to have that element of nostalgia to really enjoy them.

However, if you do plan on gifting this book to a child, you may want to read it with them. The series does include some elements of violence and death, but I definitely feel like it’s at an approachable and child-friendly level. They’re incredibly tame compared to most video games young kids play! The fights are literally cat fights. Plus, the series isn’t really gory and is more meant to reflect the challenges of survival and diplomacy.  The Warriors Series also includes a bunch of positive role models and messages, gives you a great chance to educate your kids about survival, wildlife, and death. They even include a cat version of heaven and hell. They’re just really good books.

2. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

Kristin Cashore’s bestselling, award-winning fantasy Graceling tells the story of the vulnerable-yet-strong Katsa, a smart, beautiful teenager who lives in a world where selected people are given a Grace, a special talent that can be anything from dancing to swimming. Katsa’s is killing. As the king’s niece, she is forced to use her extreme skills as his thug. Along the way, Katsa must learn to decipher the true nature of her Grace… and how to put it to good use. A thrilling, action-packed fantasy adventure (and steamy romance!) that will resonate deeply with adolescents trying to find their way in the world.

My Take On It

Ahhhh, enter my teenage years. Meeting Katsa for the first time was an absolute blessing. I was struggling with my own identity and sense of self worth. Meeting such a strong, independent woman who tackled her own sense of self worth inspired me. I wanted to be as strong as Katsa was. She made me feel like I could believe in myself. No matter my flaws, no matter what I struggled with, I was worth something.

Plus, her impossible feats made me feel awe-struck. It was so refreshing to see a beautiful young woman that was completely competent in survival and combat situations. I had never encountered such a character before! Katsa’s power came across to me, during that first read, as seemingly limitless. Sometimes it even gave me chills.

And the author managed to do this all without diminishing the value of being soft and kind to others. Katsa’s extraordinary strength and power didn’t leave her without the ability to love. Graceling is jam-packed with unexpectedly touching scenes and relationships. Katsa’s interactions with Prince Po in particular captured my whole heart. They made her shine all the brighter and they made me wonder what love had in store for me.

Years later, I still make a point to read Graceling at least once a year. It’s one of those books that remind me of my own strengths, but still make me want to become a better version of myself. It’s the perfect book for teenagers to read, but I recommend it for all ages teenage and up. Cashore’s writing is still beautiful years later and Katsa will always have a special place in my heart.

However, if I’m being critical, I wouldn’t say that this book is perfect. It does sometimes bother me that the villain in this book is so black-and-white. There is no complexity to him. He is simply evil. I would have liked this book better if Cashore had given the villain the same level of complexity and honesty as she gave to Prince Po and Katsa. They are not perfectly good so why would their villan be perfectly evil? It’s the one flaw in the book for me.

Yet that is a small side-note in comparison to the overall success of the novel. And it does get remedied a bit by my next constant re-read…

3. Fire by Kristin Cashore

Back of the Book Summary (Goodreads.com)

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.

This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she had the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.

Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City, The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.

If only she weren’t afraid of becoming the monster her father was.

My Take On It

I can’t talk about Graceling without mentioning Fire. I read Fire two or three times a year, more so perhaps than almost every other book I make a point to reread each year. It is the perfect compliment to Graceling, but is a powerful standalone as well. The main character, Fire, is equally as strong as Katsa, but in a completely different way. Whereas Katsa is bold, Fire’s strengths are more based on her compassion and kindness.  They give a surprising level of depth to what makes a hero a hero when you compare the two. You do not need to be masculine to be a hero and you do not need to be feminine to be beautiful. You can just be yourself.

It’s a really beautiful, amazing book full of beautiful, amazing messages.

Plus, the world-building in Fire is just stunning. Imagining the appearance of everything from Fire herself to the world around her captivated me from the very first page. I also personally loved the fact that Fire isn’t white. So many authors focus only on white beauty being the best type of beauty that it was refreshing to see another type of beauty reflected in who is supposed to be the most beautiful woman in the universe. However, Fire’s beauty was both a blessing and a curse, and I loved to see that played out. It added a level of depth to her character and her world that she fully understood the horrible impact her own beauty could have on others.

It also furthered the complexity of her relationships with people. Fire constantly struggled with a king who couldn’t resist her beauty, a general who hated her for it , and an ex-lover who couldn’t loosen his grip on her. Almost everyone around her was impacted by the sight of her. It was inescapable.

And a lot of this behavior made me stop and think. Is this how we all really act? A lot of scenes in Fire were very reactive and explosive with a calm and caring main character at the heart of it all. Everything from politics to love were involved. I think in a lot of ways, human society is very reactive. Humans, no matter how beautiful they are, are prone to violence. Fire is in a position where she wishes to prevent the outbreak of war without compromising on her deeply held values. She’s in a complete ethical tangle. You find yourself wondering what you would do in her shoes. From a young age, asking myself questions like that always appealed to me. Books like these make me question myself and get to know myself better. They’re simply art.

Plus, this book revisits the villain from the first book much to his benefit. While he doesn’t get many positive traits, the depth this provides excuses his existence as a purely evil character. There is just something wrong with him, as simple as that.

However, this book isn’t for people who don’t enjoy slow build ups. Much of the action for this series doesn’t happen until later on. It focuses more on character and world building than anything else. I was spell-bound by it all. Other readers might feel more bored. It’s worth giving it a try though if you’re interested! I haven’t found anything else quite like it.

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: The End is Here (Ch. 29 – Epilogue)

SPOILER ALERTS

Now that I’ve finished the book, start to finish, it’s hard to say that I liked it. I enjoyed reading it, but it’s just not a good book. Edward is a creep. He has been a creep the entire book. If Meyer writes more from his perspective, he will continue to be a creep. It is ingrained in him. 

The additions for the most part were lackluster. Meyer refused to go into real detail with new scenes and there was very little excitement to be had in any scene outside of the Bella-Edward relationship. Considering I had already seen all of those events in the original Twilight book, they just didn’t have a lot of appeal for me. The most interesting characters, as per usual, were side characters. And any type of excitement I had built up towards the middle quickly sputtered out at the end. It was just disappointing. 

Would I recommend it to someone? No.

Is it worth reading? Not really. 

Will I read it again? Yeah, probably. 

So do with that what you will. Here’s my last analysis from the last two chapters:

First off, I really, really, really hate the way Alice and Edward manipulate Bella’s mother, Renee. It seems almost dirty to me. They don’t really care about Renee. They aren’t really doing it out of the kindness of their hearts. They just manipulate her to make their lives easier. Alice only befriended Renee to make it seem like she is trustworthy and to make sure she was out of the room when Bella woke up. That felt so wrong. She’s Bella’s mother. She should have been there. I understand the reasons why they did it, but it still doesn’t sit all that well with me. I wish they had more regard for the feelings of others. It just feels cruel to make someone feel like you’re their trusted confidant when you’re only using them for your own gain.

I also wish Edward wasn’t such a judgemental jerk. His opinions about Renee added insult to injury. He sees her as narcissistic. Everyone always caters to her needs and she has no frame of reference for anything else. He also judges her for silly things, like opening the door too loudly. I forgot how endlessly condescending he is. He is incapable of just letting a person be. He just has to ridicule them.

For someone who hates himself so much, Edward really does think he’s better than everyone.  

I found it somewhat endearing that Renee was so concerned about Bella falling in love, personally. Renee may be flawed, but she isn’t without motherly instincts. She recognizes that Bella is a lot like Charlie and will love deeply. She worries about how that will impact Bella because Bella isn’t the type who can just move on. Charlie never really got past Renee. Renee doesn’t want that same future for Bella. I get it. 

When Edward talked to Bella about how wonderful her blood tasted to him, it did make me wonder about what exactly vampires absorb from human blood. It is obviously their food source more than anything else. It fuels them. It’s all about making them feel strong.

But what if, in a different universe than the Twilight universe, vampires drank human blood and actually got something out of it more than just fuel? What if vampires actually absorbed the life force and traits of humans through their blood? Because humanity bounces back so quickly, I could see a world where vampires drink from humans, the humans survive, and the vampires are changed a little bit by human blood. What if that had lasting impacts on who they were and how they acted? 

Say they wanted to be like Edward and only drink and kill evil humans. What if they would absorb the evilness in their prey? And if they drank good people, they would become better. They would be kinder and more patient. If they drank from someone intelligent, they would become smarter. They could control their own behavior and thought processes purely on what they drink. Human blood would be their remedy to the monotony of human life because vampires could become anyone. Everything about their personality, wants, and desires could change the more they drink. There are so many routes that something like that could take. 

I think I’m more excited about that concept than I am about Midnight Sun. It’d make a great book to read about a vampire whose personality changes depending on the blood he drinks. He could drink from evil individuals and act horribly, just to regret it when he drinks the blood of someone good and pure. I think it’d be super interesting to read. Maybe some core traits would remain unchanged, but it’d be a constant balancing act between drinking from good people and bad people. What is the better thing to do?

But we’re talking about Midnight Sun so let’s get back to that.

Beyond everything going on with Edward and Bella, I do really want to learn more about Alice. Her human past is a constant unknown in this series. The information we do eventually get about her is stunted and vague. She had visions. She spent her life in an asylum. No one knows. It’s just a little bit shorter than I would like for her. 

And, in conjunction with the little pieces of information we get about the mortal lives of other vampires, I’d love to know more. We know the most about Rosalie and Carlisle without a doubt. But what about the others? I’d love to have more background on Emmett. What was his mortal life like? Did he ever miss his family? I’d enjoy getting to know more about Jasper and his experiences down south. 

Even characters like James, Victoria, and members of the Volturi deserve better background stories. I want to know where they came from and what they did. What are their stories? What do they miss? What do they want out of forever? It’s all very intriguing and Meyer didn’t really give us enough new information during Midnight Sun to placate me. I wonder if it just never occurred to her that readers would want to know.

Yet, it was also interesting to start to see Edward planting the seeds for his eventual departure from Bella. He began to act detached at the end of Midnight Sun, as if Bella was beginning to matter less and less to him. Watching him force himself to act like that was hard. It seemed like a huge challenge for him. It was also an odd departure from his usual attitude and perspective on things. I do really think the tape made him lose his mind. 

However, I think it’s bold of Edward to assume that Bella would just resume her normal human life after he leaves. He allows her to get closer to almost all the members of his family, fully knowing he is preparing to leave forever. Her closest friend is Alice and Bella has no idea that the Cullens will leave soon. Instead, it’ll come as a shock when she’s eventually alone. It’s just so unnecessarily cruel. It is even more cruel if you consider the fact that Edward has seen the visions of how Bella will act and feel after he leaves. He knows the excruciating pain he will cause her, but he somehow also thinks she will just move on. It’s laughable. 

And then the book ends. I don’t think Midnight Sun ended at the right location. It was very random, ending in the same place as Twilight where Edward takes Bella to prom. In the context of Twilight, that was fine. For this book, it’s strange and a way too sudden cut-off. It’s almost like stopping a thought mid-sentence. I think it should have entered into New Moon a little bit and ended when Edward actually leaves Bella. It just comes across as randomly ending in the middle of nowhere. Considering my obvious distaste for the past few chapters, I think I needed more to make up for it. This wasn’t enough.

All in all, not impressed with the ending of this book at all. Meyer caught her stride in the middle of the book just to immediately drop the ball. I’m not surprised it ended so poorly, but I am disappointed. I don’t even know if I want her to write another one.

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer (Ch. 27-28)

After that last chapter, I considered adding Midnight Sun to my DNF. I honestly don’t even really think that it deserves to be finished. The entire book is next to worthless to me if the author makes it abundantly clear she doesn’t even care if readers enjoy this book. I want to promote authors who care about their readers, not ones who milk them like a cash cow. 

But I guess I’m hopeful still. I remember moments where I genuinely enjoyed this book. Maybe I can justify her complete lack of effort as boredom on her behalf. Maybe she just genuinely hates battle scenes. It’s a bit of a stretch for me that she’s fine with writing endlessly about how perfect Bella is, but won’t write about the death of an insanely powerful threat… But maybe that’s the case. She just doesn’t care for violence. I don’t know for sure.

I do know that we, as readers, deserved better. And I’m particularly let down on behalf of her loyal fanbase. How can she continuously let them down when it comes to the scenes that they scream for? It is horrible that they begged for action the entire Breaking Dawn book and then she turned around and wrote another book that completely misses the point. 

What is the point of a vampire without a little bit violence?

Especially in a romance novel. I’ve always thought the allure of supernatural men in romance novels is that (1) we can excuse their violence as them not being human so (2) we can all find it super attractive. Without the element of violence, what is the appeal of someone like Edward? It can’t be his broody and depressive nature. That’s just not good enough for me.

And I’m not sure the fact that he makes Bella feel special is really good enough for me either. Although I am starting to think that that is the key to why the Twilight series is wildly successful. It’s not the writing. It’s not really the characters. It’s the fact that a completely average girl is viewed as a goddess by a hot, rich vampire. She becomes his entire world. And she’s exactly like everyone else, no matter how much Meyer emphasizes that she’s not (a problem in itself in my opinion, but we won’t get into that again.) Maybe people like this book because it makes them feel like they too could be special in the eyes of another person. Their completely normal traits can cause someone to fall in love with them. If someone can love someone as boring as Bella, they can love us too. 

However, it’s not necessarily an incentive for perfect love just to think the other person is special. Love is independent of a healthy relationship. They may intertwine, but they’re not necessarily directly in proportion to each other. So, in the context of their relationship, I still don’t get the appeal. Edward is toxic. His patterns of behavior are unhealthy. His personality sucks. I’d rather be alone than have someone like him think I’m great. Obviously the things he does to great people are horrible. He’s a stalker.

You might have to risk a lot for love, but it has to be worth it in my opinion. He’s not.

And it’s a bit disappointing.

But writing about isn’t always.

So here I am.

And am I happy about it? To be honest, no, not really. I’d love to be the type of person who can have a dramatic “I hate this series, I’ll never read it again,” moment, but I’m not. I probably will read it again. I might even read Midnight Sun again. It sucks. The writing sucks. The climax sucked. A lot about it just isn’t good. 

But for some reason I’ll still enjoy reading it. It’s like the worst type of guilty pleasure because even I don’t understand why I like it. I spend more time complaining about this series than complimenting it. Maybe it’s the little bit of nostalgia I feel to return to these characters I knew when I was younger or maybe it’s some type of deal with the devil Meyer made to make people addicted to her poorly written books. I’m not sure which is more likely at this point. The one thing I do know is I’m mad about it. 

Especially because my convictions about this series are so strong. I feel like they completely normalize unhealthy patterns of behavior. They romanticize abusive relationships as well as horrible things like suicide. They make death seem appealing. They make young girls think that men like Edward are romantic. They condition people to seek out similar attitudes in their own relationships instead of seeing things like stalking and telling someone who they’re allowed to go see as gigantic red flags. A lot of readers wouldn’t even notice that this behavior is horrible unless it was pointed out to them, especially during the original Twilight books. They might even find them romantic. That’s how deeply effective this type of conditioning is.

Because I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: stalking someone isn’t romantic. Sneaking into their bedroom to watch them sleep isn’t romantic. Controlling what they do? Not romantic. None of Edward’s behavior is romantic. 

I don’t personally ever find anything Edward does to be romantic, but the fact that I can find these books easy to read if I just don’t look too hard at them is a bad sign for how toxic literature impacts us all. It makes horrible behavior seem normal. I am fully aware that these books push an unhealthy agenda. And yet I still read them and like them. How messed up is that?

And how messed up is the fact that, as a teenage girl, I was recommended to read this by an adult? Did no one ever notice how horrible these books are? Or did they just not care? It feels like girls were encouraged to read books like this so they could fall in love with toxic, overly controlling men. Instead of being taught to be wary, they were taught to rush into unhealthy relationships headfirst. As long as the man could justify doing these things as protecting their loved one, they were a hero and not an abuser. 

Gag me with a spoon.

But of course I’m going off on another long-winded tangent. Toxic masculinity will kill us all if we’re not careful, but that’s not the entire point of this blog post. I’m supposed to be trying to read some of the actual book. 

Back to the chapter.

SPOILER ALERTS

I find it odd to watch Emmett ponder over the impossibility of Edward’s strength. Emmett knew he would never have the strength to start drinking someone’s blood and then just stop like Edward did. I wonder if he fully realizes that he has strengths entirely independent of Edwards. He is more open and honest than Edward, for one. To me, he comes across as more intensely loyal than Edward. He doesn’t ever seem to consider abandoning his family. He fiercely loves them. He allows new people into his heart without any fuss. He is not at all judgmental like Edward is. He is not condescending. 

More than that, Emmett is capable of loving someone completely without infringing on who they are and their own autonomy. He never asks Rosalie to be someone she isn’t. He never tries to control her behavior or her actions. He is not a creepy stalker. He is, instead, a healthy partner. 

I also wonder what would have happened had Jasper just revealed himself to the tracker from the get-go. Instead of hiding himself, maybe he should have just made it clear that he was a man of war during their very first interaction with the other vampires. Maybe then James wouldn’t have risked threatening the Cullens. Jasper can come across as deadly just because of the sheer number of vampire-related scars he is covered with. If he uses his talent to amplify that during their original meeting, he would have looked like the deadliest vampire alive. He might even be the deadliest vampire alive. 

I would love to see him in a fight with Alice or Edward. I don’t know if even their advanced detection skills would allow them to defeat him.

Watching how Alice solved the problem of Bella’s accident was interesting enough, but kind of added insult to injury. Why would we go into such detail about this, but ignore almost the entire battle scene? We got to hear about Alice interacting with the hotel receptionist in detail for pages on end, not entirely to my despair. Yet, we heard so little about Emmett and Jasper literally ripping a vampire into pieces and setting him on fire. It’s pure agony for me. Stephanie Meyer’s endless boredom with violence causes real damage to her series time and time again. Maybe she should hire a ghostwriter for her next book.

I wonder why she didn’t for this book when she put so little effort into adding anything new to the series. It’s all starting to come across as an afterthought to me. But perhaps I’m being a little too critical now that I know the extent to which I’ll be disappointed by Midnight Sun. I did originally enjoy that chapter about chasing James, for example.

But I didn’t realize throughout the original books the extent to which smell really would help a vampire doctor. Edward could tell that the blood in Bella was not her own. It smelled completely differently to him than her own. It would continue to do so, to some degree, for many weeks.  If he can pick up those small differences for the next few weeks, what can Carlisle’s trained nose really pick up? I’ve heard before about sniffer dogs that can detect sickness in a human far before any other medical devices can. I wonder if Carlisle often does the same and how he prevents that talent from becoming suspicious. Such an advantage would undoubtedly aid him in being a skilled doctor, but it would be extremely odd for him to have such early detections of human ailments. 

I also found it interesting that Renee’s mind is the exact opposite of Charlie’s. It makes sense, considering how different their personalities are, but I didn’t really think that Renee would be just as unique as Charlie. Her mind is extremely loud, unable to be ignored by even humans. While they may not be able to hear her thoughts like Edward can, they can’t seem to ignore what she wants. When Edward tried to imagine Renee as a vampire, he pictured a woman who would constantly be projecting her thoughts at the people around her. Her thoughts would be inescapable. Even now, as a human, her thoughts impact the way Edward feels about the people around him. It also helps her get what she wants. That’s very interesting.

It was also unusual that Renee’s blood was overly sweet compared to the average human. Bella’s parents seemed almost as unique as her. Renee had her overly impactful thoughts and sickeningly sweet blood. Charlie had thoughts that were more hidden from Edward than any other humans except for Bella. Why did Edward never mention any of this to Bella? It feels like pertinent information he should have shared with her. It might have made her feel like less of a freak.

Plus, it’s just pretty interesting stuff to know. Now she may never find out at all until long after her parent’s deaths.

Watching Bella interact with the tracker through Edward’s mind was also very interesting. Her calmness and patience came across as jarring in such a violently-minded scene. No wonder James was so thrown off by her behavior. It is very oddly placed. 

However, it made sense in the original book so I suppose it makes sense now.

But Edward never should have been given that tape to watch. I don’t understand why Alice didn’t just destroy it when she realized she would never be able to convince him not to watch it. So much of this is probably why he evolved into a completely toxic, overly controlling partner. Bella could barely move without his permission. The entire video was designed to traumatize and infuriate him, and it worked. 

But it worked after James was already dead. Edward had no recourse for handling this trauma and rage. He couldn’t go and kill James himself and I doubt there’s a vampire psychologist waiting in the shadows to provide him with the therapy he needs. So, instead, he directed these huge emotions towards himself and Bella. Their relationship suffers as a result. For a vampire that already believed he was the worst creature to walk the earth, this could be the unhealthiest moment in his life. It is almost definitely the most unhealthy moment in this series.

Alice should have just destroyed the tape.

And, then, I was hopeful again. Maybe Edward shouldn’t have watched this tape, but I definitely wanted to. Perhaps this was the moment where Meyer would detail the fight scene. But of course not. Vampires move too fast for videos to really capture them. Of course we would miss the entire thing. Another let-down. 

The next section absolutely crushed any progress these past few chapters made, at least in my opinion. The section where Edward begins to pray is extremely off putting. It has an odd mix of strong Christian beliefs and the overwhelming sense that Edward believes he is his own God: “It made no sense for immortals to have a god; we had taken ourselves out of any god’s power. We created our lives, and the only power strong enough to take them away again was another like us. Earthquakes couldn’t crush us, floods couldn’t drown us, fires were too slow to catch us. Sulfur and brimstone were irrelevant. We were the gods of our own alternate universe. Inside the mortal world but over it, never slaves to its laws, only our own.” 

The hubris kills me.

It also comes across as a section from a completely different book. Normally Edward is melodramatic, but this is to a whole new extent. It is aggravatingly dramatic and almost disturbing to read. I can’t explain the concrete reason why I hate it so much, but I do. It is just so out of place. Perhaps it is some type of psychotic break. He might have finally lost his mind. 

This is probably also the moment where he really commits to leaving Bella behind. He prays to “her” God for the strength to leave her. This came across as utterly ridiculous to me. I know he had some type of breakthrough while she was in the hospital recovering that caused him to leave in New Moon, but I really couldn’t imagine the scene where he makes that decision would be like this. If the next book is just about his mental breakdown, and it sounds like this passage, it will be the first book in the series I absolutely do not finish. 

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: The Chase (Ch. 24)

Is it read-worth? This section of the book came across more as a competition than a life-or-death scenario, but I didn’t mind that at all. I think it’d be silly to take Twilight super seriously. It wasn’t a bad chapter though. It was just a little bit unexpected.

But . . .

I was really, really confused today when I went to go read a chapter of Midnight Sun. I ordered the book through Amazon and I’ve been reading it on PC. Normally, I don’t have any issues with it. 

But today I did. When I went to the store page for Midnight Sun, I received an error code that the book was currently ‘under review’ by the Amazon team. The kindle edition was no longer available for purchase. It took me a few minutes to access my copy through another page, but I wonder why it’s no longer for sale with Amazon. Google didn’t give me any answers. Do any of you guys know?

I mean, maybe the Twilight series has some deep, dark secret that I’m missing out on.

SPOILER ALERT

Thankfully, I finally managed to start reading. And once I did I thought the beginning of chapter twenty-four was really funny. During the first section of the first page, Edward was detailing to Alice and Jasper how to keep a human alive. He told them how often humans are supposed to eat, how much they should sleep, and that we need constant access to water. It felt so ridiculous to me that they wouldn’t know this information considering that they go to school with humans, but to be honest they probably don’t. Edward himself seemed to have forgotten how humans take care of themselves when he first started dating Bella.

It was just really funny to me. 

However, once we got back to the action, I was more hooked by that than the humor. It was so exciting! When Edward was in the vehicle with Emmett and Carlisle being chased by the tracker, I was a little put off by that however. Edward seemed to believe that he being able to evade a speed trap was an immediate sign that he had a special ability. I don’t necessarily agree with that. 

With all of the resources that the Cullens obviously have at their fingertips, it would make more sense for them to have a police radio in their vehicle than a built in radio in Edward’s head. I’m not sure if phone apps existed at this time, but there are also apps for avoiding police officers. I just don’t know if the tracker would connect Edward’s evasion to the police trap. 

But it is pretty obvious that Edward has special skills considering how quickly he protected Bella at the baseball field. I just didn’t think that that one little detail made sense in the car. I’m being a little bit nitpicky here. 

Of course, if I was a vampire in the Twilight universe, I’d probably just always assume that other vampires have supernatural abilities. It’s supposed to be rare, but based on how many vampires we encounter that do have extra talents, it’s not that rare. Better to assume they’re gifted and act warily than assume that they don’t and die. 

It was nice, though, to see Alice’s ability put to good use during this chapter. Her talent at seeing the future is a huge benefit for the Cullens. It helps them prevent wasting time with bad ideas and keep themselves away from danger. They can even somewhat predict when James will grow bored with the chase in the beginning of the chapter. In my opinion, if they had used her better, it would have probably set them up for a near win. But maybe it was just impossible to predict just how gullible Bella is. 

But I do sometimes wonder if they could really use Alice’s talent better. Is it possible for her to explore more options on how they should proceed than she currently does? If she had an idea to contact Carlisle and have them change plans, wouldn’t she be able to imagine a different future than the one they’re currently set in? Or do her ideas have to be more firmly in place for her to imagine different ways forward? Was there never an easy option for capturing and killing James? Or did she just never think of one? It’s hard to understand her talent when the scope seems so wide and yet so enclosed at the same time. Her talent is obviously fallible, but I don’t really understand just how fallible it is.  It could just have been that her view of the trackers actions were so limited that it was hard for her to predict better futures, but it still feels like her ability could be sorted to more offensive uses.

I did also really enjoy learning more about how James evaded the Cullens. Edward was always so vague in the first books about any potential risks to Bella. He was always too embarrassed to say that someone outsmarted him and James definitely did so. He evaded Edward, Emmett, and Carlisle with extreme talent. He even made a game of it. And then to use an airstrip to completely escape them? I was shocked. It made sense though considering the fact that Laurent had implied that James enjoyed such games.

It was also great to see how completely gleeful James was. Even when the Cullens turned on him towards the middle of the chapter, he was extremely excited instead of fearful. He is so excited that their chase had just been a trap. He’s a complete psychopath and I’m loving it. James just lives for the danger of the hunt. It made the chapter feel more like a competition than a live-or-death scenario, but I’m okay with that. 

I mean I obviously know the end of the book so I’m not going to worry too much about the details.

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: More James Please (Ch. 23)

Is it read-worth? I enjoyed this chapter. While the beginning of Midnight Sun was very tedious, these last few chapters have been very action packed. They’ve also given more depth and insight to characters that lacked it in the original series. Meyer may never be one of my favorite authors, but I personally think that the end of Midnight Sun shows a lot of growth compared to writing in the original series. It is worth a read if you’re interested in comparing the two books and I’m actually starting to hope she continues to write from Edward’s perspective. He may bother me to an extreme, but the characters around him deserve better representation moving forward. I’d love to get to know them more. 

SPOILER ALERT

The alternative realities that Edward explores in the beginning of this chapter are very intense. He has so many ideas on how to protect Bella from the tracker. Imagining a large group of vampires trying to protect one weak element (a human girl), possibly for years, does sound like the ultimate challenge. I understand why James is interested in winning. It sounds impossible to win. 

The most interesting option Edward explores, in my opinion, is the option of letting Bella continue to live her normal life under constant 24/7 vampire protection. It is such a radical, yet simple, idea. How hard could it be to protect one human girl? With seven vampires, it doesn’t sound insanely difficult. 

Of course, it would be. Thinking about James starting a war of attrition over it is absolutely crazy. The fact that Alice could see him attacking all of Bella’s friends, teachers, and other citizens of Forks is insane. Why would one man kill so many people over a girl?

Again, I find myself wanting to know more about James. Why is he such a singularly minded vampire? Why is he absolutely obsessed with tracking? What did he do in his mortal life? Who changed him? Why did they change him? Did they even teach him anything about being a vampire? 

Considering the drastic measures James would take if the Cullens protected Bella from him for years, I don’t think the person who changed him into a vampire really taught him anything about vampire rules. Killing off almost an entire town of people would direct the Volturi’s attention towards him. They would never allow him to do such a thing and, unfortunately for him, they already have their own talented tracker. The Volturi would kill him. James must not even know that they exist.

I really enjoy trying to figure him out.

However, I also really hate Bella’s intense cruelty towards Charlie when she has to quickly leave Forks to evade the tracker. It just comes across as deeply unnecessary. Why even go home just to hurt someone like that? Especially if you might die. It might have been better for her to just leave without another word. 

I do understand that she was just trying to get quick results, but it was still too much for me. Being able to feel Charlie’s intense pain was also a lot to handle. I really love Charlie and I hate seeing him hurt throughout the Twilight series. He cares so much about his daughter. He loves his town. He is just a genuine person who deserves better than that. 

But I resumed enjoying this chapter as soon as that scene was over. Emmett feeling so intensely protective of Bella was endearing to me. He usually loves chances to fight with other vampires. They are tests of his strength. It was nice to see that his focus was one hundred percent on protecting Bella and not on fighting the tracker. His only priority was her safety.

I also found Edward’s musings about whether or not it would have been better to fight James from the get-go. In the original Twilight book, I did wonder why the Cullens didn’t immediately attack James for lunging at Bella. Based on how I imagine vampire instincts working, they would be more primal than that. They would physically need to protect Bella. Plus, seven against one seems like pretty good chances. Given Jasper’s past alone, he could have taken on James, Victoria, and Laurent at the same time and still come out the winner. He is a soldier. 

It did make a little bit more sense after Edward explained that the idea of attacking them for James’s slight alone just didn’t occur to him. The Cullens strive to be so peaceful that violence doesn’t naturally take its course. They don’t respond to violence with violence. Normal covens do, even just in response to minor insults. 

However, I don’t necessarily agree that their refusal to partake in violence makes them stronger than other vampires. It is nice to say that refusing to fight is a point of strength, but it isn’t entirely realistic, especially if you’re a vampire. Refusing to fight puts you in more danger sometimes. Sometimes you have to fight. If they had fought originally, they would have prevented this whole dangerous scenario. Of course it always sounds better to try for peace, but it’s hard to determine the real cost of doing so. 

And that makes me wonder more about Edward’s past. When Edward separated from Carlisle and Esme during the earlier stages of his immortal life, he hunted morally corrupt humans. He only killed people who were doing harm to others. He justified by saying he was saving lives. But would it be possible for him to have hunted and drank the blood of other vampires? Undoubtedly the average vampire has ended more human lives than even human serial killers have. They live off of human blood. Wouldn’t another vampire be able to target vampires, hunt them, and drink their blood instead of human blood? Maybe the only real vampire hunters in the Twilight universe are other vampires.

Maybe the idea of hunting vampires is too edgy for Edward though.

I also found myself wondering more about Victoria’s past. Her extra talent for escaping dangerous situations seems to be entirely fueled off of fear. Her overwhelming feeling of terror bleeds into all descriptions of her. What about her mortal life had lent itself so well to using fear as a supernatural skill? What had made her feel so at risk all the time? What dangers was she escaping?

It was also interesting that Laurent joined up with Victoria and James out of boredom. I can’t even imagine how tedious forever feels, especially when you’re so closed off from the rest of the world. Being an immortal sounds great until you actually have to figure out what you should do with forever. 

However, I can’t really understand the appeal of pure sadism either. What pleasure can you possibly derive from what Laurent remembers James doing to people? How could he see it worthwhile to involve himself with something like that? And how could he not realize that those same sadistic ideas and tendencies could be turned against himself? It sounds foolish.

It also sounds strange to me that these sadistic behaviors would be appealing to Victoria. Her entire personality is based around self preservation. She only wants to protect herself from danger. Why would she fall in love with danger? Does she find James’s lethality appealing? Does she believe he will protect her? I want to know more about their relationship. It is hard to tell, even based off of the second book, what lent such strength to their relationship. 

Of course, maybe their relationship is reminiscent of Will and Hannibal’s from the Hannibal television series. It’s easy to see why Will and Hannibal have such an intense relationship. It may not be a romantic one, but maybe the reasons behind it are the same. Their skills and personality build off of one another. Victoria and James are probably similar.

Laurent also made me wonder if there was more to Carlisle than I originally thought. It has been said that Carlisle is not gifted in the same sense that Jasper, Alice, and Edward are. He is just an ordinary vampire with one strong trait, the same way most other vampires are. His is just his overall sense of kindness and generosity. His patience. 

But perhaps there is more to Carlisle than just having a strong personality trait. Maybe he is gifted. Laurent’s reaction to him made me wonder if Carlisle gives others a stronger sense of their own humanity. Most vampires are calmed by his presence. They’re more in touch with their own humanity. Laurent himself seemed reminded of his human life whilst in the presence of Carlisle and even felt an intense level of respect for the man. Perhaps Carlisle’s special talent is being able to remind vampires of the good in themselves. 

However, it was hard to like Rosalie throughout this chapter so maybe it doesn’t work perfectly on all vampires. While I usually commend Rosalie on her tenacity, she was a bit grating during chapter twenty three. I understand her anger over being put at risk due to Bella’s involvement in the Cullen’s lives, but it’s hard to feel compassionate towards someone who would rather be obstinate than help a person in danger. Would she really rather Bella die? 

Rosalie’s fear of Emmett being hurt helped dissuade part of my annoyance, but it didn’t completely dissipate. Emmett is a vampire. Bella is a teenage human girl. The difference between the two is astounding. Feeling annoyance over having to protect Bella from danger is almost like being annoyed at having to save the life of a child. Bella is utterly defenseless against a vampire on her own.

However, Jasper was a good distraction from my annoyance. At this point, I am absolutely dying to know more about him. The constant reminders of his life as a soldier make me want to imagine terrifying battle scenes. His past is all the blood and gore the Twilight series largely ignores. He is a very scary vampire. 

All in all, though, it’s nice to see my interest in Midnight Sun growing, even so late in the game. I was largely unimpressed and even offended during the first few chapters. But Meyer’s writing has improved since she wrote the Twilight series originally and I’ve even found myself enjoying these past few chapters. I hope she continues this level of improvement. It may not be the best writing ever, but it’s pretty good and I’m loving the side characters. 

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: THE TENSION (Ch. 21 – 22)

Is it read-worth? I’ve been really surprised by how much I’ve been enjoying these past few chapters. While Stephanie Meyer will never be my favorite author, they’re not bad! I find a lot of the new information included recently to be super interesting and it makes me think about the Twilight universe is really like.

SPOILER ALERT

Let’s start from the beginning of this section of chapters: I’ve never fully understood the purpose of Billy Black’s visit to Charlie that day. What was he really going to say to him? That Edward Cullen is a bloodsucking vampire and Charlie’s daughter should avoid him? I can only imagine that that would go brilliantly for him. Charlie definitely wouldn’t think that Billy had lost his mind. 

Or was he just coming to warn Bella? It seemed like they knew each other quite well, but not really that well. After all, Bella had only rarely visited her father growing up. She preferred the warmth of Phoenix over Forks. Could he really be that close to her? 

I just don’t particularly understand Billy. I wonder if he showed up at Charlie’s wanting to do something to make sure Bella was okay without any real game plan in mind. Bringing Charlie some fried fish was obviously just an excuse to stop by. 

Of course, it is rather sweet that Billy wanted to protect Bella. It probably scared the heck out of him to imagine her spending time with a vampire. Wanting to protect her from a creature he views as highly dangerous is entirely admirable, especially considering his limited ability to protect himself from vampires. 

Plus, it is easy to understand his sense of revulsion towards the Cullens. Who in their right mind would want to date a bloodsucker? Vampires are violent creatures that kill humans. In his eyes, there could be nothing worse.

But I did enjoy the fact that, after he realized the extent of Bella’s knowledge, he knew there was nothing he could say to change her mind. As a father, Billy probably had a lot of experience with stubborn teenage girls. You can’t convince them of anything; they’re always right. I know this because I was one. Admitting that he would have to wait until later on to do something about Bella’s relationship with Edward showed a lot of self control. 

I do also wonder how Billy Black really felt when he received Carlisle’s call. I wonder how many nights the poor man lay awake worrying about what the return of vampires would mean for his people. How could he protect everyone without the werewolves around? How could he prevent the Cullens from drinking blood? How could he trust vampires? Billy probably had no idea how to make the Cullens adhere to the specifics of their treaty. 

More than that, the poor man almost definitely didn’t even think that their legends were all true. It had apparently been hundreds of years since werewolves had walked their woods. Similarly to Jacob, Billy probably thought the stories about them were fictitious and possibly even ridiculous. Everyone knows vampires don’t exist! The horror of finding out that the horror stories from his people’s past were one hundred percent true probably bothered him. I can’t imagine finding out that my family’s folklore is all true. 

I hate the way Edward reacts to Billy’s thought processes and emotions. For someone who is always talking about how much he hates vampires and thinks that they’re terrible monsters, it’s absolutely laughable that Billy’s reaction to them would aggravate him. What a hypocrite! It’s unbelievable that Edward feels justified in hating his own species, but Billy’s not allowed to for the very same reasons. His description of the Quileute Tribe being Billy’s “cronies” also felt reductive. The Tribe deserves better than that. Edward needs to check himself. 

And shouldn’t he find Billy’s desire to protect Bella endearing? Edward is constantly going on and on about how fragile Bella is. He is worried about her literally all the time. Why wouldn’t he want all the help he can get? 

Well, the answer to that is simple: because if Billy protects Bella from him then Bella would be out of his control. Everything Edward does in regards to Bella is about controlling her. He doesn’t let her make her own decisions ever. Even when she has ideas later in the chapter on how to prevent disaster, his word is the last say. He really drives me up the wall. 

I have very little to say about events leading up to the baseball game. Of course, I found some scenes minutely interesting. Small details like Charlie’s instinctual reaction to meeting Edward, Rosalie tearing her hand away from Esme, and Alice’s excitement in running towards Bella were all perfectly nice details to include. But there was nothing in them that’s super interesting to think about. I guess the most interesting thing about those scenes is that Bella is completely missing a gut reaction to vampires. She has no sense of self preservation! 

It starts to pick up again soon thereafter though. When Alice has her initial vision about the vampire coven changing their direction to head towards the baseball game, that’s when you know things are about to get good. 

Seeing this scene develop from Edward’s perspective was actually more interesting than I expected. In the original Twilight book, I never really thought that they actually considered having Edward escape with Bella on their back. I thought it was just a momentary consideration, not something Alice envisioned potentially going wrong. I loved the tension in these scenes. It made me more interested in what was to come.

I was very excited to begin chapter two. In the beginning, I really enjoyed the fact that the newcomers were not fully capable of appreciating the true size of the Cullen family. They assumed that they were made up of two or three friendly covens meeting for a game, not one large group of vampires. It felt exciting to be in on the secret! 

Laurent’s initial attraction towards Rosalie was also funny. Of course he wondered if she was mated already! She’s gorgeous. I wonder how Emmett would have reacted had he known about Laurent’s thought process. 

Victoria’s internal dialogue was fascinating as well. I had never imagined her as having such a nervous energy about her. In the movies in particular she had always come across as extraordinarily confident. Her sense of self preservation was everything I had been missing in Bella, funnily enough. They were obviously made to be foils of each other.

Realizing the true extent to Jasper’s skill completely absorbed all of my attention after that though. The fact that he can camouflage himself with his skill is very cool. He is covered with battle scars on every potion of his body. He is a warrior, even more threatening than Emmett. The fact that they don’t notice him is remarkable. Making anyone who gazes at him unbearably bored with him is extremely impressive and such a useful thing for their group. It is even more impressive that he can extend this level of protection to Esme, Alice, and Bella at the same time. If a fight broke out, the three encroaching vampires would have no idea what they were up against. 

James, as a character, has more depth to him than I thought. His sense of excitement over the challenge of hunting Bella is almost childlike in nature. I find his high level of emotions intoxicating compared to the monotony we usually encounter in the Twilight series. He is completely present in the moment, ready to fully feel every emotion that passes through him. He is easily provoked and volatile. Based on his description, I want to know more about him. Why does the hunt bring him so much pleasure? What was his past like? What was he like as a mortal? What makes a tracker a tracker? 

I love the concept of vampire trackers after reading how James feels about tracking. It made me so more curious about the Twilight series than I was. I mean I always wanted to know more about Alistair in the original series, but learning more about James has only made me more curious. I couldn’t comprehend the extent of James’ excitement and I wonder how it extends to Alistair’s ability as a tracker. Alistair comes across as so serious that I wonder if he feels the same glee while tracking. Probably not, but it would be kind of funny if he did. 

 Alice’s visions for the options moving forward did suggest that there was one way for them to avoid having James hunt them. I do wonder why Edward didn’t consider the option of turning Bella for even a second, but I am not surprised. He is such a control freak that he would never have even given her the option. His religious beliefs would prevent him from letting her turn into a vampire. I find it annoying. It should be Bella’s choice if that’s the route she wants to take. 

I feel like these past few chapters have been very interesting compared to the tedious beginning of this book. It’s still not my favorite book in the world, but I love being able to feel some level of excitement to keep reading. It’s been so rare that I don’t have to drag myself back to this book! I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing what happens next, particularly if it’s all new scenes of what Edward did while separated from Bella.

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: Yes! Finally! (Ch. 18-19)

Is it read-worth? These chapters weren’t so bad. I enjoyed them at times, hated them at others. I think some of the actual writing in these chapters was of decent quality, especially compared to many of the scenes in the original series. I really love getting to know some of the side characters more, especially Rosalie.

SPOILER ALERT

To be perfectly frank with you guys, I was a little bit underwhelmed by the beginning of chapter eighteen. I was not looking forward to reading more and my earlier optimism was long forgotten. Edward’s condescending explanation for why he should drive Bella’s truck home from the trail kind of turned me off to this book more than I expected. I don’t know why it bothered me so much. Of course, Bella definitely wasn’t in a state to drive after how dizzy their run made her, but their kiss seemed a little bit extra. It was too extreme. Especially considering that it only impacted Bella to such a large extent. The blood drinking vampire was largely okay. 

Plus, I’ve never personally fainted from kissing someone so it’s hard for me to imagine. Have you? It’s probably realistic for people who are prone to fainting, although I’m not sure Bella falls into this category. I wonder if she fainted a lot in Arizona. 

However, I didn’t mind their conversation about Edward’s age. I was hoping they would have it soon. I couldn’t really remember when it happened in the first Twilight book so it felt like a welcome surprise. Thank my memory for small delights! 

Thinking back on it now, though, it is a little bit strange to me that Bella was so surprised at Edward’s age. He’s old! But vampires in most folklore are pretty old and I would probably have been expecting older. The last one hundred years is pretty recent for immortal beings! I guess it’s pretty hard to put two and two together when you’re looking at someone who appears to be seventeen.

I do kind of wish Edward remembered more from his human life during this conversation. It’s very sad to me that he has such a limited memory of his human parents and his mortal life. From the way Carlisle describes his mother, she at least deserved a more well developed memory on his behalf. It’s hard to imagine forgetting the people who loved and cared for you. I wonder a lot about what his father was like.

I also wonder if that means Bella will forget about her family in the future. Will memories of Charlie and Renee quickly fade into the background? Mortal memories must be completely different from immortal memories. Everything seems to intensify as a vampire so I understand why memories of so long ago would eventually fade. But it’s still a little bit sad to lose such valuable memories as the years pass by.

Of course, that means I do completely understand why Carlisle felt like he should change Rosalie into a vampire, hoping she would be Edward’s perfect match. With his human memories gone, Edward would need something to ground him to humanity. Love could do that. Also feeling like you doomed someone to spend eternity alone must be horrible. Rosalie’s beauty would have spoken to someone like Carlisle. He would have seen something in her face. I would have probably done the same thing he did.

But of course I adore Rosalie. Edward doesn’t. He does not seem to give her any benefit of the doubt. Even immediately after she became a vampire, Edward was passing judgement on her. He ridiculed her for moping and feeling bad for herself. Meanwhile Edward is CONSTANTLY moping. He’s like the KING of moping. How hypocritical is that? Rosalie can’t have time to process her own emotions regarding the end of his human life and he can spend the last one hundred years brooding about what an evil creature he is. 

I think a large part of it is that he knew she was supposed to be his life partner and felt a bit of resentment towards Carlisle towards trying to set that up. He would never, however, admit to himself that he felt negativity towards Carlisle. So instead he takes it out on Rosalie. That is so completely unfair and immature in my opinion. Rosalie deserves better than that. I think that she is possibly the strongest, most well-developed female character in the entire series. She has so much inner strength that it is unbelievable. I hate the way Edward regards her.

However, I did enjoy hearing more about her from Edward’s perspective. I love getting to know more about her and Emmett. I can’t imagine the impossible feat of strength it must have been for her to travel so far with him human in her arms, bleeding. Hearing the story from Edward’s perspective was much more telling than learning about it from Bella’s. He was actually there to see her face and hear her beg for Emmett’s life. Her fear and need to save Emmett felt very, very real compared to a lot of the writing throughout the Twilight series. Good job Meyer! 

I also enjoyed hearing more about when Alice joined the family. While I find her character a lot less interesting than I did during the original Twilight series, I do still want to like her. It was hilarious that she made sure to arrive while Edward and Emmett were away from the rest of the family. Why bother knocking down a wall when you can walk in the front door? I love it.

When Bella asks Edward to come into her home, my prior sense of enjoyment was partially interrupted. He absentmindedly wondered if she thought that he needed an invitation in order to enter her home. While we obviously know he does not, I almost wish that he did. Beyond just wanting to avoid his creepy stalker-y behavior, it bothers me that vampires in the Twilight universe have so few weaknesses. It takes so much effort to kill one! The sun doesn’t bother them. Garlic doesn’t do a thing. They can enter your home without a problem. They can even eat food if they want to! They just have to throw it up later. In the real world, I feel like they’d have at least a few weaknesses for humans to exploit. They wouldn’t be so impossibly stronger than us. 

Everything dies one day after all. It’s kind of a bummer that the only thing really capable of killing a vampire is another vampire. I mean how am I supposed to imagine groups of vampire hunters in this world then?

Of course, there are werewolves… but still. I want more options than that.

I also absolutely one hundred percent hated Bella’s reaction to finding out what a creep Edward is. The fact that she was embarrassed of her own behavior (talking in her sleep) instead of focusing on him being a complete and total stalker is completely laughable. In a bad way. I cannot believe that a supposedly mature and well-rounded main female character wouldn’t be horrified by his behavior. She is supposed to be the best of us! How does she not see what a red flag that is? 

Obviously I knew her reaction was going to be completely dismissive and on the edge of flattered. It was still disappointing. Edward’s behavior is not romantic! It’s not! Why does Meyer insist that it is?

And then when Charlie goes on to disable Bella’s truck so she can’t sneak out? Yuck. I hate it when parents act like that. Bella never gave Charlie a reason not to trust her. She is not the type of person to sneak out. Why does he think it’s justifiable to mess with her vehicle? I understand that he’s her parent and he’s trying to protect her, but it feels like a total violation of the trust between them. Why can’t he just trust her? And wouldn’t it be more likely for Bella to ask to do whatever she wants to do? He usually encourages her to socialize. 

Regardless, over-controlling men seem to be a common theme in the Twilight series.

In any case, I did start to like chapter eighteen again soon thereafter. I really love hearing about the science behind vampirism. Hearing Edward ponder the evolution of vampires was right up my alley. However, I do believe it makes more sense that vampirism would come long after the evolution of humankind. It is often described as some type of disease. It would need time to develop. I think he was coming at it from a more religious perspective, believing that the same greater force created both at the same time. That’s fine too. I’m open to all theories when it comes to my supernatural creatures.

Similarly, I particularly liked hearing more about vampire science in chapter nineteen. It was my huge ‘YES! FINALLY’ moment with this book. I’m finally getting a little bit of what I asked for! According to Carlisle’s research into vampires, vampires consume blood and it is absorbed directly into their muscles instead of processed by their circulatory system. Nothing else is capable of moving throughout their body at all. How interesting is that? I want to know even more now!

It got a little bit awkward, however, when Bella asked Edward about sex. I don’t know how Meyer does it, but she makes all sex very unsexy. Plus why wouldn’t vampires be interested in sex? They can’t sleep after all. They’re probably bored a lot of the time. 

During the beginning of chapter nineteen, I was excited to get back to Edward interacting with Rosalie. As I’ve said many times prior, I can’t get enough of her! Even just imagining her facial expressions and reactions to things makes me laugh. I was disappointed again by Edward’s thoughts about her. He was so surprised by the true depth of her character. She isn’t the shallow person he makes her out to be! He always assumes her reactions are because of petty explanations. They aren’t. 

Rosalie’s dislike for Bella has more to it than just being spiteful that Edward found someone he thinks is prettier than herself. Rosalie feels like Bella is giving up everything she has personally ever wanted. The chance to be human and live a normal human life is so valuable to Rosalie that it absolutely enrages her to see someone want to give it up. She doesn’t want to watch Bella make choices that she herself would regret. It causes her physical and emotional pain to do so. 

And that is so admirable. Every one else seems to have come around to supporting Bella and Edward’s relationship. The fact that Rosalie wants to stay true to what matters to her is so impressive. I love the fact that she doesn’t just blindly tell Edward to go for it. She genuinely wants a better life for Bella with kids and marriage and human happiness. She isn’t even sure if years of happiness are worth the risk of possibly losing her grasp on humanity. I love it. Edward needs to stop passing such critical judgement on such a strong and caring person. He’s being a jerk.

He’s also being a jerk in other ways. Edward is so constantly dismissive of his family and his species when comparing them to Bella: “I hated that Bella referred to herself this way, as though there was something wrong with her, and not the other way around.” If vampirism is relatively common, why does he continue to view it as such a disability? If anything, it’s an improvement. Also, stop hating on your family! You have spent the last decades with them! They deserve more than being compared to some teenage girl you just met. 

It also feels reductive that Edward reduces Bella’s concept of forever as such a short period of time. If he truly believes that she is vastly more mature than her peers, she would have a longer version of forever. But of course I don’t necessarily disagree with him. What teenager, or person, has a real concept of forever? I don’t really believe that even vampires are completely unchanging as decades pass. Outside triggers must eventually work their forces on them. It is just a slower process. How I wish we got to see more vampires break up.

I was a bit surprised at how much more realistic Esme feels during this book. During Twilight, she was definitely very far into the background of the story. She’s still a side character now, but she has more character traits. I like the fact that she’s a homebody and is quite happy for the rest of her family to bring her news of the outside world. Who doesn’t love the idea of a homebody vampire?

Thinking about the entire family now, however, it is a little bit strange that Carlisle and his family have met so few other vampires like themselves. He has travelled the world and has met seemingly hundreds of vampires, but very few others have developed a “conscience” about their food source like himself. I wonder if there are smaller groups of covens, outside of the Cullens and Denalis, that abstain from human blood as well. Maybe they just haven’t found each other yet.

However,it does sound absolutely gruesome to be created as Edward and Carlisle were. Carlisle believed that his slow change is what resulted in his more reserved and kind personality and immortal desires so he inflicted the same wounds he had experienced onto Edward. I am very much so looking forward to more information about Carlisle’s past and his thoughts on the vampire universe.

But are my chances very good that Stephanie Meyer will go into more detail? Not so sure. I had to wait eighteen chapters to get these tidbits of new information. Here’s to hoping! 

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: Endless Boredom (Ch. 10 – 13)

Is it read-worth? I’m going to be candid with you: A lot of what I’m going to say in this review isn’t new information. The past few chapters haven’t been the most interesting for me to discuss. I still feel the same way as I have in previous reviews. There’s just not a lot going on right now in the book itself. It’s kind of boring, if anything.

SPOILERS:

But let’s start from the beginning of the section before I get too far ahead of myself.

In chapter ten, Edward and Bella are right in the middle of Bella asking him questions about being a vampire. I’ve heard the answers before in Twilight so I really didn’t find them all that interesting. Like, yes, I know that Edward’s a mind reading vampire. I know he’s stalking her. I don’t know why he’s so fixated. Yeah, I guess it should be interested, but I don’t know if it actually is. I don’t think it is. I wish Meyer had included a little bit of new information to pique my interest. 

Even the stuff with the waitress was just stupid. Edward knew she was interested in him. She was literally thinking about it. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise a day later.

Although, I’ve got to say: I am confused about a different part of their interaction. When Edward tells Bella he thinks her mind runs on a different frequency, she thinks she’s a freak. Why didn’t Edward tell her that it was an inherited trait? He can’t really understand Charlie to the same extent he understands everyone else either. His thoughts are more off limits than anyone’s except for her’s. Bella isn’t a freak. She has some type of strange genetic trait.

And imagine the places Meyer could have taken that trait! She could have followed the same mindframe as other mythical books and made Bella part fairy. She could have made her part nixie. She could have included some other type of mythical creature. If all myths are true, then why not that one? Or, vice versa, it could have been something that Charlie and Bella’s ancestors had developed over time, as a defense to vampires. The options are unlimited! Anything would have been more interesting than “Bella is just super duper special.”

I also didn’t enjoy most of Edward’s internal dialogue these past few chapters. He always comes across as very condescending, creepy, and just plain old unsettling. I was hoping the development of Midnight Sun would benefit his character development, but everything I’ve read so far is to his detriment. Even when Edward is trying to show that he cares about Bella, it comes off as a parent making the best decisions to protect their child or some other unbalanced relationship. Bella isn’t on the same level footing as Edward is. His behavior is manipulative, constantly trying to keep her calm or incite specific reactions. He makes all the calls – his speeches about her choices notwithstanding.

When Edward was discussing how he couldn’t be sure that their vegetarian diet was the perfect alternative to human blood, I did find myself asking new questions about the Twilight Universe that I had never really asked before. Are no vampires scientists? Within the last one hundred to two hundred years, vampires would have had the chance to change at least one person interested in the science behind vampirism. But had it really never happened? Why not? What would they have found if they did? What processes does the body undergo during the change? Can they really subsist off of an animal diet or does it negatively impact them? What do their brains look like? Can you tell when they have gifts? Can we replicate the change in other humans without vampire involvement? Can we replicate immortal strength? Why can’t they process food?

I have so many questions and very few answers.

I would also love it if Stephanie Meyer answered my questions about Edward. I’ve heard rumors that Midnight Sun ends up going into more detail about his past, but I’m thirteen chapters in and there hasn’t been much new information about him and his family. We just barely glazed over anything added. Even the few scenes Meyer added where he interacts with his family, much of them come across rushed and undeveloped. 

Even if she had just added more information about why Edward loves Bella, I would have been happier. His whole spiel about her perfections doesn’t cut it for me. It doesn’t feel real. Of course, neither does their love-at-first-sight complex, but I’ve made it clear previously I don’t enjoy that dynamic either. They barely know each other. Their character traits aren’t well fleshed out. I like watching love and characters grow, not stagnate.

And, similarly to the big battle scene at the end of Breaking Dawn, I found Midnight Sun’s version of justice to be extremely lackluster. What was the point in Edward telling Carlisle about the would-be rapist and asking for help if the author won’t even disclose what Carlisle did to fix the situation? I don’t think Carlisle would kill anyone… But they do mention on CNN that the man is a suspected murderer by the next morning. How did that happen? What did Carlisle do? Why was the reader left in the dark? It’s not like they’ll ever bring this up again so why not delve deeper into what good wholesome vampires do to solve problems? It was utterly underwhelming.

As far as everything else goes during this section of the book? It’s a lot of the same. Edward listening into Bella’s every conversation is extremely invasive. I hate the fact that she thinks it’s romantic. I hate the fact that Stephanie Meyer seems to be encouraging abusive behaviors. I also hate the “not like every other girl” rhetoric that Edward constantly spews when talking to Bella. 

I dislike the fact that Edward justifies his own bad behavior. Manipulating people, even for their benefit, is not a kindness. I wanted to like him helping Cheney, but what’s the limit when you start manipulating people? If you do it once, won’t you justify it again? Apparently, the limit does not exist. Because he uses the same mentality of “it’s for their benefit” to justify sneaking into Bella’s room at night. He does it to “protect her” because he’s a good guy, not a creepy weirdo. And the rest of chapter thirteen was pretty boring, all in all. There was some comedic relief (Emmett’s bet), but not enough for me to feel excited to keep reading.

Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton: Part Two

Is it read-worth? Absolutely. The characters in this section of the overall story are so completely relatable. You can almost imagine yourself living their lives and being faced with the same decisions. What would you do if your religious beliefs told you not to do something that would save your life? What if everyone hated you for it?

Switching from Part One to Part Two of Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful was a complete and total tone shift. Unlike Part One, where everything comes across as familial and almost innocent, Part Two starts off a little bit sexy. To be perfectly honest, the transition was a little bit jarring for me. Again, I wasn’t expecting this to be a collection of short stories. I was expecting a novel. The back of the book didn’t set me up for an easy comprehension of what was happening. I was confused as to the change in writing style and, during my first read-through, kept wondering where Julia and Evan were. That was my fault, though, for not looking into this book before buying, but it was a bit difficult to understand as a reader.

I’ll save you the trouble: STRONGER, FASTER, AND MORE BEAUTIFUL IS A COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES.

And very well written ones at that. Once I got past the original confusion, I loved this second part of the collection. I especially enjoyed the way it is written. It starts off at the moment before a big event and then keeps going back in time to explain the background story. The main character, Milla, keeps warning you that you’re going to hate her for what happens. Spoiler alert: I didn’t, but I can see how many people would. 

Plus, it was really nice to have a completely normal girl as the main character in a book. It is especially nice in comparison to Midnight Sun where the emphasis is always on how different Bella is than other girls. I’ve been reading that lately and I don’t particularly enjoy books that spit out “not like other girls” rhetoric. I like reading about normal girls. I like the fact that Milla would normally blend into the crowd. I like imagining regular people in extraordinary circumstances. It feels more real to me than anything else.  It feels more like I could be her.

I really do recommend reading this collection so far. It’s extremely interesting and the writing is just phenomenal. Even with the tone shifts, I have enjoyed both parts I’ve read so far. And once you have read it, read the rest of my review below so we can talk about it!

SPOILER ALERT

Like I was saying, I really enjoyed Milla as a character. She seemed so completely normal. There she was, in a coffee shop, watching a book who hasn’t noticed her yet. It seemed to me like she had a crush. She is just a completely average, normal girl who’s a little bit nerdy and a little bit smart and a little bit pretty, but mostly just blends into the crowd. She could be anyone. I felt like I could relate to her. 

When she mentions her mesh line at first, I mostly just glazed right over it. I didn’t understand what that meant, but it couldn’t be that important? It was mentioned so casually I hardly noticed it the first time through. But then it ends up that it matters quite a bit. 

Milla had been in a horrific car accident a while back. She almost died, but, due to modern science, it was possible to replace her more damaged parts, such as her heart and eye, with new parts that were 50% artificially grown and 50% “her.” A mesh line is almost like a regulatory device between the “not so real” parts of Milla and the parts that are 100% herself. It’s a wonderful, life-saving technological innovation, but it comes out later in this part of the collection that not everyone agrees with the procedure. Some hate them. People like Reverand Tadd, the religious figure from the first part, believe that procedures go against God’s plan. The people who have them done are cursed to hell. 

It comes out that the boy Milla was staring at in the opening passage was Gabriel, someone she had been on a date with the night before. When she arrived at school that morning, Milla was barraged by her fellow students. Her friend, Lily, asked her “Did you really Milla? You hardly even know him.” Boys point and make gestures. Everyone seems in on a secret that the reader is not yet privy to. And I love the suspense. 

Strangely enough, it’s mentioned at this time that Milla is unable to blush, the second clue towards her current state. She says that “in her current configuration” it is almost impossible to do so. She also cannot cry. Her emotions seem to be locked down because of the mesh line. 

One kid, a person who was supposed to be her friend, mimics a robot vagina crushing a penis. It is a crude and disturbing thing to imagine, but these little details make the story much more realistic. Teenagers can be incredibly cruel, especially in regards to female sexuality. People in general can be extremely cruel to those they deem other than themselves. I really enjoyed the fact that, even with these clues, I didn’t really understand completely what was happening. The reason Milla was being mercilessly mocked had not come out yet. What the heck is a robot vagina?

I also liked reading about Gabriel and Milla’s date. It was easy to imagine myself in Milla’s shoes. Her crush on Gabriel seemed cute and understandable, almost like a long-distance crush that girls often have in middle and high school. He was cute and likable, but always seemed unreachable to her before her procedure. She couldn’t quite have him. Other girls liked him too. It was even rumored that he had girlfriends at other schools. He had never seemed to notice Milla. It all felt very approachable and honest. 

But the infusion of science fiction, Milla’s procedure, is what actually seemed to make Gabriel notice her and I liked that as well. It seemed to add a little bit to the power of such an intense medical procedure. Unbeknownst to him, the reason why she seemed more attractive and noticeable after returning to the hospital was that her eyes had been damaged in the car accident. Everyone at school thought only her legs and jaw were damaged. But she had actually lost one of her eyes and, because of that, the doctor performing the operations replaced both so that they would look like a matching set. It had the bonus of making her face more symmetrical and slightly improving her looks. It may have been a shallow reason for Gabriel to notice her, but that felt completely lifelike for the actions of a teenage boy. We’re all a little bit shallow sometimes.

It was also interesting that this section of the short story collection included such a large amount of religious background in it. Milla herself was named after St. Ludmilla of Bohemia who brought Christianity to her people. It is odd to think that Milla herself could have been the first student to bring those procedures to her school. Somewhat ironic maybe. During their date, Gabriel and Milla listened to the sermons of Reverend Tadd, warning of the spiritual danger of these medical procedures. He warned people that they would be doomed to hell if they approved of these procedures let alone had them. Fake livers and hearts and eyes were against Jesus. Just Milla being able to breathe violated his religious beliefs.

Milla and Gabriel had a theological debate regarding these issues, drawing away from their kissing. It came to Milla’s attention that Gabriel’s grandmother had extremely strong views against the procedure. She believed people with mesh lines were demons and that it was against God’s plans to save lives in this manner. Gabriel seemed unwilling or incapable of disagreeing with her views which seemed to wound Milla. Gabriel’s grandmother openly hated people who have had it done.

This felt very real in a plethora of ways. First is the fact that religious beliefs do stop scientific exploration and discovery from taking place. Stem cell research in particular has been partially prevented, especially in the US, due to people’s religious beliefs. Even though the results of this research could save a million lives, and improve the lives of many more, many people believe that it’s against God’s plan to delve into it too deeply. We cannot play God in this manner. I don’t necessarily agree with this perspective, personally. I think we should use every tool at our disposal to save and improve lives. I’m not super religious, but I can’t imagine a God who would give us such wonderful tools just to ignore them. I do understand that any type of stem cell research, or this procedure as discussed, comes with its own risks though. What is our limit? Do we have one? 

It also felt real because it seemed like this hatred towards people who have the procedure done was extremely similar in nature to racism or sexism. People hate other people just for one arbitrary reason. Many wouldn’t give Milla the chance to explain, or care. As she states, “How do I tell people that I’m so grateful to be alive, when I know they’ll never be able to look at me with anything but pity or, or, or judgement from here on out?” It’s such a powerful line and it struck me with how true it is. Because of her procedure, Milla will be judged the rest of her life. She cannot save herself from it.

Gabriel’s reaction to that seemed so kind and caring at first as well. He came across as so sympathetic and understanding. At least, until they had sex. And then I hated him.

He told her that, because she had robotic parts and had undergone such an invasive procedure, that it wasn’t like them having sex should be a big moment for her. She had already lost her virginity to either a doctor or a surgical device. Not to him. She was already damaged goods, based on the way he described it. I hate that. First off, women aren’t defined by their virginity. I understand that, as students of a Christian school, they might put a lot of weight on it, but it just comes across sexist and gross. The fact that her undermined her feelings immediately after having sex with her was degrading and cruel. It also shows how deeply rooted the prejudice against people with this procedure is in their society. She is less valuable, as a woman, because she has a mesh line. Yuck. 

And she begs him, afterwards, not to tell anyone about her procedure. He promises. And then he proceeds to tell everyone.

It is so startlingly real and cruel. Teenage boys do this to girls all the time. They brag about their hookups and act like the girl is a slut. It’s hypocritical and disgusting. But Gabriel’s actions are especially disgusting because of how he adds insult to injury with his descriptions of the sex. He tells his friends that she begged him to have sex with her, that she wanted to finally lose her human virginity. He tells fellow students that Milla is trying to convince herself that she’s a real girl, but based on how the sex felt? She’s anything but. 

It’s revolting. 

And I think it’s very honest and telling. It’s extremely relatable for how social interactions work today. People will always be cruel. 

But people will always be kind too. I really liked Mr. Kinross, the headmaster, as a character. He is introduced when he asks to speak with Milla after her interaction with Gabriel in the lunchyard. He tries to soften the blow of her peers’ words and comes across as such a genuinely kind person. He reminded me a lot of the teachers I’ve had throughout my school years. They care. Plus, I completely agreed with his line, “Something ugly is happening in our world… If God gave us minds, should we not embrace the fruits of those minds? Surely it is a mercy and a beautiful calling, to minister to the injured and the ill? … And yet, I see families with an entirely different view. They have taken it upon themselves to decide what God allows – which is surely exactly what they accuse doctors of doing.” It is a powerful statement and I can only imagine that his words would stick to Milla as she grows up. She’ll remember this small kindness and these impactful words Mr. Kinross spoke to her will resonate with her as she grows older. During her worst moments, she might even remember that her life is a miracle and not a curse. Even with the cold-heartedness others will show her, it is a miracle that she is still alive. 

It’s just a really wonderful scene. 

However, I feel like I could have done without the ending of this section. I kind of wanted this part of the overall connection to stay true to how people feel about those who have undergone the procedure. When Milla pushes Gabriel in front of a bus and he has to undergo a similar procedure himself, he apologizes to Milla and admits the reason why he told everyone about their sex and her mesh line. He didn’t want his grandmother to find out and he felt like she would know immediately. If he played it off like he was coerced into it instead, maybe it would lessen the blow of her disapproval. Maybe others wouldn’t ridicule him for it. 

But I didn’t need this addition. I didn’t need the hypocrisy of people’s beliefs to be beaten into me here. I understand that most people will take the chance to live or to save the lives of their families when given it. I really would have liked it if the author remained true to the core of this story: the hate and prejudices survivors will face. That felt more honest to me for this part of the overall story. Hypocrisy could be saved for other sections. 

However, I didn’t hate it. I just wish it was a little bit different overall. It was still excellent writing and I still understood the point of this storyline. It was definitely worth the read. 

Now, after I’ve already read this entire section of the story, I do find myself thinking about the fact that so much of the religious importance of virginity was ignored in exchange for the religious beliefs surrounding the procedure Milla faced. Not once did any of the students really ridicule her sexuality or call attention to that sin. They might have been shocked that she had sex with Gabriel after one date, but it didn’t feel like the normal amount of vicirol towards young women who have sex face. I wonder if the importance of virginity has decreased in comparison to the existence of such a technologically advanced procedure. Do they not care about the sin of premarital sex anymore? Does the religious community only care about this medical procedure? Even Gabriel, who was so embarrassed and ashamed to have sex with someone with a mesh line, didn’t seem to be embarrassed by his grandmother knowing he’s had sex. Are they weighing sins in their favor? I’m just curious and I wonder if future chapters will address the changing priorities of the religious community.