New Moon (The Twilight Saga, Book 2)
by Stephenie Meyer
Publisher: Little Brown & Co, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A
ISBN # 0316024961
My Grade: B+
Recovered from the vampire attack that hospitalized her in the conclusion of Twilight (Little, Brown, 2005), Bella celebrates her birthday with her boyfriend Edward and his family, a unique clan of vampires that has sworn off human blood. But the celebration abruptly ends when the teen accidentally cuts her arm on broken glass. The sight and smell of her blood trickling away forces the Cullen family to retreat lest they be tempted to make a meal of her. After all is mended, Edward, realizing the danger that he and his family create for Bella, sees no option for her safety but to leave. Mourning his departure, she slips into a downward spiral of depression that penetrates and lingers over her every step. Vampire fans will appreciate the subsequently dour mood that permeates the novel, and it’s not until Bella befriends Jacob, a sophomore from her school with a penchant for motorcycles, that both the pace and her disposition begin to take off. Their adventures are wild, dare-devilish, and teeter on the brink of romance, but memories of Edward pervade Bella’s emotions, and soon their fun quickly morphs into danger, especially when she uncovers the true identities of Jacob and his pack of friends.
Plot / Premise:
I confess. I’m not a big vampire person. In fact, before this series came out, I had no desire to read anything remotely to do with vampires.
Actually, I still don’t.
But I succumbed to peer pressure, and I read Twilight. (You can read my review here). And since I started the series, it would be so irresponsible of me not to finish the series so … here we are. New Moon.
I’ve never read a book where one of the main characters was missing throughout 3/4 of the book. Edward dumps Bella and disappears for much of the book. Only, he’s not really gone because Bella goes berserk, perhaps just a little insane, without him and the reader is subjected to chapter after chapter of her pathetic pining.
But more on Bella, and the rest of the characters, in a moment.
After Edward dumps Bella, for her own good, our heroine sinks into a deep depression. And the only person who is able to distract her enough from her misery is Jacob Black, a good friend from her past with a very dangerous secret.
A portion of the story is devoted to Bella trying to figure out the secret and once she has, to dealing with the secret. And even though Jacob’s secret of morphing into a gigantic werewolf is bizarre, it’s really only one more bizarre thing that Bella is forced to deal with in her life and she takes it all in stride.
Though Bella develops deep feelings for Jacob, her heart still remains loyal and faithful to Edward – who continues to remain MIA in the story up to this point.
It’s not until one of the vampires, Victoria, returns to seek revenge for her dead mate, James, whom the Cullens killed in Twilight, that Laurent soon arrives. Laurent had “run” with Victoria and James in the Twilight story but didn’t care for their primitive and cruel ways and went his own way. But he returns (loneliness? curiosity?) only to encounter Jacob and his “pack” of werewolves – who are the vampires mortal enemies, I might add. Though we never see Victoria, it’s heavily implied that she’s near and seeking revenge, which only makes Jacob and his pals that much more devoted to protecting Bella from both Victoria and Laurent.
Through a series of miscommunications, Edward is led to believe that Bella has committed suicide. This in turn severs his will to “live,” which is ironic considering the man is immortal. He then makes plans to have a powerful vampire clan, Volturi, destroy him. Bella finds out about his plans and rushes to Italy in order to stop him.
She is successful, however the Volturi now give Edward an ultimatum – either Bella is transformed into a vampire, or she must die. She has seen their secrets and there really is no other alternative.
When they return to Forks, the Cullens vote in favor of Bella being transformed into a vampire, to Edward’s dismay. However, Edward gives Bella a choice: either she lets Carlisle change her after her graduation, or, if Bella agrees to marry him, he will change her himself.
I will confess, the characters were compelling. It wasn’t merely their supernatural abilities but I think Meyers did a good job of making them sympathetic and easy to relate to.
Her male characters were very strong, protective, and confident which rendered them sexy, because ultimately, that is what females want in a man. However, they all had an element of weakness that not only provoked an element of compassion, but made them more “human”, if you will. I personally loved her male characters.
Actually, I liked all of her female characters too, except for Bella.
I found myself getting VERY IMPATIENT with Bella’s inability to function after Edward left her. Even though I understand, and can appreciate, that Meyer wanted to make sure her readers understood that Bella was devastated by the loss of her one true love, I thought Bella’s devastation was just a bit over the top and I wanted to throttle her on a number of occasions.
In fact, I found the whole obsessive love slant a bit … stifling and maybe even just a little alarming, truth be known. I believe that every woman, deep down, has an inbred need to be desired, treasured and loved completely. There is something so sexy about being in a relationship where you can be completely yourself and still be loved completely. And the blood-sucking aspect of this story gives it a dark and forbidden element, yet another sexy element and one that I think transforms this type of story into something decadent and delicious – to be pursued and wanted for all time? Is a heady proposition.
And yet, it’s precisely this type of dark and dangerous love story that makes me wary from the very beginning. It’s one thing to jump into that dark, erotic hole to see where it takes you, it’s an entirely different story trying to claw oneself back out again and bask in decent, healthy sunlight once more.
But I suppose that’s the appeal behind stories like this one – the fact that most of us don’t dare jump into that hole but are left wondering, what if? It’s a chance to strap oneself into a safety harness and lower oneself into that hole knowing full well that by simply closing the book, we will be jerked back into a safe reality.
But still. Bella’s inability to normally function without the love her life left me uneasy. It’s precisely this sort of obsessive, all-consuming love that gets people into trouble and though it looks attractive on the surface, it’s often convoluted, dense and sometimes unpleasant under that surface.
I’ve read mixed reviews on Meyer’s writing – some either love the simplistic nature, or others are so turned off by the simplistic nature they can’t get past it and just enjoy the story.
Here’s what I say about that: the story is being told from a 17-year old girl’s point of view. And even given the fact that Bella is pretty intelligent and ends up using words that some didn’t think was appropriate for a 17-year old (for example “absurd”… I can see a teenage girl saying this, especially if she was trying to appear older than she really was) it worked for me.
The writing itself was pretty good, I thought. It flowed. Meyer does a good job keeping the story moving so that I never really got bored or found myself skipping whole sections to get to the good parts. And given this is a young adult novel, I thought her writing style fit the genre – people who complain about the way she writes, at least this specific series of stories – are forgetting the YA classification, I think. I would never expect to open a YA novel and then expect to read Henry James, for example. In fact, I daresay, if the writing were even 1/8 as convoluted as James, many young people wouldn’t get past the first page.
So, I didn’t have a problem with Meyer’s writing style because she was writing for her audience. And I think that is a key element for all writers to keep in mind when they write their stories – keep the audience in mind. People who complain about her writing style are looking for something that is not there – at least, not in this type of novel.
I’d also like to point out that Meyer did an EXCELLENT job of building the sexual tension between Bella and Edward. I found myself tensing up and really wanting them to give in to their desires and do the deed, and yes, I was disappointed when they didn’t, but I ended up admiring Meyer’s writing style even more because she accomplished what she set out to do – establish several levels of tension between Bella and Edward.
Sex wasn’t Meyer’s goal here. She set out to tempt us into the unknown. This story was about passion, about an all-consuming love, about controlling our baser instincts and about dealing with forbidden love.
Tuesdays are all about reading and writing around here. You just read the reading part, now how about a little writing exercise?