Warning: Contains Spoilers!
I think it is a fairly safe assumption to make that most writers later works are better than their first writings. Even if a particular story is not better – stylistically we all improve the more we write. I can say with certainty that is the case with some of my favorite writers: J.K. Rowling and Stephen King. I know it has certainly been the case for me. And I think it has also been the case for Stephenie Meyer. I am currently reading the third book of her Twilight series: Eclipse. But in this post I want to talk about the second book – New Moon.
In this second book of the series we are still following the progressing relationship of the two main characters – Bella and Edward. Things seem to be progressing naturally enough for a teenage relationship despite the fact that Edward is a vampire. Things are going well, that is, until Bella’s birthday when she gets an innocent cut opening a present and is nearly killed by one of the other vampires in Edward’s coven. It is thereafter that he makes a decision that sends Bella’s life info a tailspin – he leaves.
To say Bella is upset by this would be an underestimation to the greatest degree. We hear nothing of her life for four months and when we do get her story again she’s merely existing, not living. After some threats and demands by her father she does agree to go out with a friend. There she almost does something completely stupid by taking a risk with her life – and she hears Edward’s voice telling her not to do it. This starts a cycle that runs through a good portion of the book. She does dangerous things so she can hear his voice again.
During her daredevil spree she befriends Jacob Black – a local boy from a reservation not to far from her small town of Forks, Washington. When Jacob, too, starts to avoid her she is naturally devastated but she comes to learn that the reason for this has to do with the fact that he’s becoming a werewolf along with several other teenagers from his reservation.
A sudden appearance of a vampire in Forks after the Cullens have left is an odd thing and is the catalyst for Bella to learn of the mutual dislike shared by werewolves and vampires.
Quite suddenly Alice Cullen returns to Forks and in short order there is a misunderstanding and Edward is given the incorrect news that Bella has died. He, therefore, heads off to a group of vampires in Italy – the Volturi – to ask to be killed himself. They refuse, instead thinking his ability to read minds might be a useful asset to their coven. In the mean time Edward, thinking that Bella is dead, decides that if they won’t honor his request to kill him that he would provoke them into doing it by exposing the fact that there were vampires in the world.
Everything turns out right, with two exceptions. The vampire Victoria – mate of James from book one – is now stalking Bella, and the Volturi are likely to come looking for her to make sure that she has actually been turned into a vampire as promised before Edward, Bella and Alice left Italy.
With this in mind Bella wants to hasten her transformation from a human into a vampire but Edward refuses as does the rest of his family at least until her high school graduation. After this is discussed at a family meeting Bella confesses that she wants Edward to be the one to turn her into a vampire and he says that he will but she has to marry him first.
Yes, I think that this story was better plotted than the last but there are several things that still bug me. I groaned out loud with the whole “Marry me” thing. Please! That is just nothing but pure sap. Yes, I know it is a romance novel, however twisted but . . .
Again, I think it’s the genre rather than anything in Meyer’s writing style specifically, but I am still annoyed by the fact that – putting it bluntly – every guy wants to get a crack at Bella. And her refusal to see it! Ugh. Again we can’t have that poignant of an impact, I suppose, if no one else wants to be with her.
I also, and this extends to Eclipse as well, get rather annoyed at the exposition in these books. It is necessary – or at least intriguing to think of the backstory to the werewolves (oops, that’s Eclipse) or to the Volturi – but these long drawn out conversations do tend to wear a little.
Another carry over from the first book that I didn’t like was the “don’t leave me” repetition. Thankfully there was a far greater amount of the book in which we didn’t have to worry about that.
All right, things I liked about the book:
Well, as I already said, I think that it was better plotted. It was a longer book but at least things were set in motion a little earlier than they were in the first book. Edward leaves within the first ten chapters for sure. And that brings me directly to my favorite part of the book – he actually left.
I think it was cynicism and logic that made me skim over his leaving – knowing that he would be back. Hindsight might be twenty-twenty, but in this case I can say with Alice’s level of premonitive certainty, that I knew he was just faking it. Of course he still loved Bella and would be back before the end of the book. I hope that Meyer wrote that scene to be obvious. If she did it was brilliant – if she intended us to be fooled, well then she failed miserably. Then again, I have to remember these are books written with a teenage girl audience in mind.
I did so enjoy the description of Bella as empty. Perhaps that’s because I find her annoying as a character – well sometimes anyway. I guess I can now see how some people find Harry Potter annoying as a character – I don’t get that . . . but. Then again I could also chalk it up to the fact that Meyer doesn’t have the writing brilliance that J.K. Rowling does. I think I might be prejudiced there.
I suppose that a lot of the reason that I got the Edward and Bella thing – aside from the fact that it was obvious – was all the allusions to Romeo & Juliet. That play, of course, ends with the two lead characters killing themselves over a misunderstanding. I would say, knowing Romeo & Juliet as I do – that the ending was painfully obvious.
As these books go on – I’m 123 pages from the end of Eclipse as of this writing and still have Breaking Dawn to read (an irony considering that’s exactly what’s happening right now) – I find I’m becoming more and more disturbed by Bella’s insistence on becoming a vampire. I understand, at least clinically, why she wants to do it. But there is just something deeply, deeply disturbing about wanting to bind herself for all eternity to the life of the living dead no matter how good looking he is. I’m sorry, all I can think about is rotting corpses.
Here’s me being perplexed – off to get some sleep and then to finish Eclipse.