Tuesday, April 15, 2008
This is a warning to anyone who doesn't even want to look at a review of Eclipse until they've read it. Repeat, this is a warning. If you want to know nothing about the novel, look away (Chloe...I gave you fair warning!)
Here are my feelings about the third book in the Vampire series by Stephenie Meyers. Bella bugs. She really, really bugs and everyone lets her get away with it which ticks me off. I can hardly stand to be in her head when she narrates. And yet....
I loved it. Why? I have been asking myself that for over a day now, because most of these characters annoy me to no end, the writing isn't really that great, the dialogue downright cheesy and the story didn't progress enough for a book that was over 500 pages. I think the answer is that this story, this dangerous love story between Bella and Edward, evokes an actual physical response from me when I read about them. I guess I enjoy the tightening in my chest and the flipping of my stomach. I also love the conflict, the setting and the fantasy.
I don't know what to say about Bella. She is, by far, the best developed character in the series. We get to know her thoughts, her motivation, her reasoning and even though I think the author wants us to, I still really don't like her. She is suppose to be so mature for her age (would never let her mother jump out of airplane, because she is the parent figure in that relationship) but has some completely irrational and irritating need to suck the joy out of anyone who tries to do something nice for her, like give her a gift. That doesn't fit in with the personality of an old-soul. She's moody and unreasonable and I can't figure out why everyone wants to be around her because she seems like a downer to me.
Edward has been my favorite character throughout the last two books (even though he was disappointingly absent for much of New Moon and then when he was in it he could have been mistaken for Eeyore), but I don't think she progresses his character at all in the way she originally developed him. Edward was kind of the rebel/bad boy of the vampires in Twilight. There, he was independent and reckless, willing to take a huge risk by giving in to his attraction to Bella. Even though he was attracted to her, he still managed to show some personality. He was kind of sarcastic, enjoyed watching her squirm, a bit with his non-human abilities, and WAY more lighthearted than the uberprotective boyfriend he has turned into. I think he could still play a little more hard to get and independent. I think he needs a responsibility besides protecting Bella so that he has some of his own conflict. He at least needs to get mad at Bella when she deserves it.
The other characters are equally flawed, but not in the way that makes them believable. Jacob should be more jealous. Physically, he may have aged to 25 through his mutation, but emotionally, he is sixteen. Sixteen year olds don't always see the big picture and I think I would feel their connection more believable if there was more than their past friendship that left Edward out. Bella and Jacob have much more in common than Bella and Edward do, and their commonality should be the connection between them, not Bella's compassion or concern for Jacob's pain at becoming a werewolf or gratitude for his friendship when Edward left. I think the author tried to show their like-mindedness at times, like riding motorcycles (the ONE time Edward feels left out - but of course he handled it like a champ) but she didn't go far enough. It would make much more sense in the end when Bella realized she was in love with Jacob too. I think the author forced a realization that wasn't really there.
I liked the love triangle but never felt that Bella would, could or should choose Jacob. Edward was always the better choice and as we knew Bella's mind, we knew that he always would be. I can see what Meyer tried to build up for the next book, but unless Edward does something drastically to change, like gets a big ol' hard pot belly, Bella would never choose not to be with him. There is no competition. With all three books, that point has been hammered home.
Outside of the story, I have to mention my slight annoyance at Meyer's indifferent attitude towards her responsibility to her LDS teenage fans. She has to be aware of the craze that she has started. I had heard about it, but it really is a phenomenon here in Utah. I think her success is independent of her LDS background, but I do think when people, parents particularly, have that knowledge, they feel a little more safe allowing their children to enjoy these books. She actually reminds me a bit of Benji, from So You Think You Can Dance. I think it would be a horrible thing to become famous and be LDS. Automatic ambassadorship without being asked. As Benji horribly disappoints in that un-appointed ambassadorship, so does Meyer with this book. Teenage girls who read this will be exposed to another teenage girl who repeatedly thinks, says, feels that if you believe you're going to be with someone for forever, marriage is unnecessary and old-fashioned solution to progress a sexual relationship. It is only Edwards old-fashioned virtue, maturity and control that keeps Bella chaste. And her chastity annoys her. What a great message for girls who might be struggling with a similar situation. Chances are good, however, that most of the seventeen year old boys they want to be with don't have Edward's point-of-view. It's irresponsible to let the brakes be in someone else's power. But, like I said, Meyer certainly doesn't wear a Mormon badge and I don't think I'd judge another author harshly for doing the same thing. With my own awareness, though, I think she disappoints in this regard.
Eclipse is better than New Moon but Twilight is still my favorite book of the three. Regardless of ranking, Eclipse does its job and kept me entertained for hours.