July 1st, 2008

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

New Moon (Second book in Twilight series)
by Stephenie Meyer

    In this follow-up to Twilight Bella Swan and Edward Cullen are perfect together, blissfully floating through the world on rose petals and rainbows.  Unfortunately, a small accident at Bella’s eighteenth birthday disastrously alters the relationship, as Edward realizes once more how much danger his family puts Bella in.  He breaks up with her and vanishes along with the rest of the Cullens.  Overwhelmed with grief, Bella shuts down and exists in a zombie-like mockery of life until her friend Jacob Black rescues her.  His happy personality brings her out of her funk, and she blossoms in the warmth of her “personal sun.”   Soon they are spending all their time together.  Yet Jacob has a secret, a dangerous one that will blow the enmity between the Indians and the Cullens to epic proportions and test Bella’s loyalties once and for all.

    If my co-workers weren’t so gung-ho for Stephanie Meyer’s series, I would walk away with no hesitation.  In fact, I’m quite sure I would not have finished New Moon, and this for a simple reason: I can’t stand either of the main characters.   Bella’s absolute detachment from her life is mind-boggling, frankly psychopathic.  Comments like “I wondered if I should feel afraid” (p. 74) and “Part of me knew this should upset me” (p. 76) makes it seem as if she is watching her life outside of time, like on a television set.  In fact, I almost hope that she is. That would be a killer twist and really screw with Edward’s legions of fans.  Bella still lacks that tiny essential component – a personality – because beyond thinking about Edward and once and a while, thinking about Jacob, she doesn’t seem to have any other passions.  I mean, I know teenagers struggle for identity and life is SO HARD but if you take the boys out of Bella’s life there is nothing there. (Lucky for her, boys eat her up like candy so there’s always one around.)

    Edward, on the other hand, is so so so perfect and god-like save for his obsession with Bella.  He has a great aversion to taking her virginity making her into a vampire because he thinks it will cause her to lose her soul.  Moot point, m’boy.  Bella clearly hasn’t got one of those to lose.  You can’t lose or destroy something that never existed in the first place, so go ahead and make her a bloodsucker already.

    Many, many references are made to the tragic romance of Romeo & Juliet.  Clearly, we are meant to identify the cast of New Moon with the star-struck lovers.  There is a constant barrage of reminders, so Meyer clearly thought this was important.  So let me clarify things for you, just in case you missed it, because Meyer really wants you to know:
        Bella = Juliet
        Edward = Romeo
        Paris = Jacob, or Mike Newton if you’re desperate

Right, got it.  Moving on!
     That’s not to say the book is all bad.  Alice has a much higher page count than the previous novel, and she proves to be a resourceful, clever little vampire.  The cover was very cool.  Bella does have a very human moment early in the book when she has a nightmare that she will grow old and wrinkled and ugly and she will STILL be with Edward, he perpetually seventeen.  It was one of the few times she was thinking beyond the moment, and one of the only flashes of humor in the novel.

    Finally, the introduction of werewolves and Meyer’s alteration of their mythology worked quite well, and her alterations to the 'established' rules actually made the sense.  (WTF sparkly vampires???)  Although the vampire universe is greatly expanded as well, the werewolf pack show a greater respect for their past brethren and history, ironic since they aren’t immortal like their arch enemies.  Without the werewolves there would be little plot and no direction for the book, and we are now set up for an epic battle between the two groups.  Eclipse, the next book in the series, has many of the ingredients to improve the series and bring it to life.  It all depends on how Stephanie Meyer stirs the pot.


Note: I'm probably never going to get around tor reviewing the first book of this series, so if you're curious here are two excellent reviews that summarize my thoughts on the first book and why it may not be safe for teenage consumption:

A Nausea that Borders on Violence: Why Twilight is a Cancerous Sore on the Face of Literature
Twilight Reviewed on Active Voice

Buy the book on Amazon.com, or add it to your wishlist.