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Sunday, April 18, 2010


So my Twilight-obsessed friend, Meredith, gave me New Moon, which is the 2nd book, and I read the beginning and then skipped the middle so I could get back to Edward. Yes, I'm embarrassed, but I'm Team Edward all the way.

Then, I was at the library, and Eclipse was just sitting there, so I thought, what the heck. So now I'm halfway through the 3rd book and still need to go back and finish the 2nd book. What is my problem?

Stephenie's a fun writer, though. I can see the appeal. Her characters are involving - you want to know what they're going to do next. And she has a flair that I enjoy. For example, I was captivated by a short passage where the main character, Bella, tries to force 2 magnets together ("why can't you just get along?") Yes, the analogy is almost painfully obvious, but I still got a big kick out of that description. It just seemed so real - something I would have done (and thought!) at that age.

I've read a lot of criticism of Bella's character - that she's not a role model, that she has no interests, that she doesn't do anything but pine over Edwards. I find that odd. It's not that I'm just automatically accepting, not at all - if something didn't ring true to me, I'd comment on it. And it's not that I totally relate to Bella either. But I grew up in a small town, like the one where Bella lives. And what was I doing my senior year of high school besides waiting for my "real" life to start when I went to college? Working a crappy job after school, hanging out with my friends, going to football games and school dances. I don't think I was especially lacking in ambition or depth, but I also don't remember having any particular "interests" or being engaged in any especially meaningful activities. Bella has a job and cooks dinner for her dad and does laundry and emails her mom and hangs out with friends. Seems pretty normal and typical to me (if you ignore the whole vampire and werewolf thing, which, if you get right down to it, is the raison d'etre of the books). Though maybe by today's over-programmed standards, she isn't appropriately active - no community service, no sports teams, no Junior Achievement. (I also think about the characters in other books that I've read - what are they doing that's so different? Usually just getting through life, working, trying to have some fun, usually making poor romantic choices or sorting through various family difficulties. That's what life is.)

And Bella is also criticized for being whiny and lacking personality. But I don't see that at all. I wonder if grown women who write comments like these remember what they were like at that age. I've had many years to develop my sense of self and decide who I want to be in the world. But I was very insecure and self conscious at that age, trying to figure out who I was. So I find Bella quite typical and relatable. In fact, she seems to me to be generally assertive - saying things like "I won't be left behind" or "I want to play a role/do my share." She stands up to her parents when she feels strongly and Jacob, and she even stands up to Edward many times. So I don't find her a bad role model at all. She's not an idealized role model, but I'm not convinced that young women need that or can relate to that in any event.

Anyway, back to this particular book. The author has claimed that each of the four books is supposed to evoke a famous novel - Twilight is Pride and Prejudice, New Moon is Romeo and Juliet, and Eclipse is Wuthering Heights. I have to admit, the references in this third book are a bit heavy handed. They were quite explicit in New Moon as well, but they seemed to fit and I didn't feel so much like I was being bashed over the head with it: see? see?

Maybe it's just because I don't like Wuthering Heights as much as Romeo and Juliet. I found the foreshadowing a bit off-putting - early in the book, Bella explains the appeal of Wuthering Heights to Edward: Cathy and Heathcliff behave very badly (especially Cathy), but the purity of their love is their redeeming quality. Is there any doubt about what will follow? This is where the young adult-ness of the book seems very apparent to me. Which is not really a bad thing - that is the intended audience after all, but it takes me out of the story and makes me feel like I'm in English class. That can't be what she was going for.

Though I loved the poem she put at the beginning of the book - Fire and Ice by Robert Frost. Yes, it's incredibly obvious, but it's also a great poem, one of my favorites - "But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate, To say that for destruction ice, Is also great, And would suffice."

I'm not crazy for love triangles, which is a big part of this book - all that howling and sobbing and suffering is dramatic, but it's also kind of depressing. I suspect the drama is a big part of the appeal of this book, and I think I'm quite in the minority in my preferences. What I especially enjoy was the various back stories that she incorporated - Rosalie and Jasper, and how the wolves came to be. All those are very interesting and fun reading. And though the romantic tension between Bella and Edward is basically resolved, the sexual tension makes for good reading.

I read somewhere that this book really established the series. Probably because of the love triangle and it can't hurt that it's a bit steamier than the previous 2 - lots of making out and, though there's no sex, there's quite a bit of talking about it. I think the 1st book is my favorite, though there are a couple sections in New Moon that I especially loved (basically, the beginning and the end), so maybe it's a toss up.

I also read somewhere that, like J.K. Rowling did with Harry Potter, Stephenie has created a world that you really want to inhabit, or maybe even, that you feel you are inhabiting. To my great surprise, I have found that to be true for me. I find myself thinking quite a bit about the characters and conversations. That's why I keep buying the books and movies (see separate entry) - because I want to come back to passages that I especially liked. I never thought that would happen to me - I was so smug about the series. Like Battlestar Galactica - I thought I was above it, but got completely caught up. Funny. Humbling too.

I know Meredith wants me to go to opening weekend of Eclipse (June 30!), but I'm not much for fighting crowds. Maybe they'd be willing to go again a few weeks later . . . Here's the action-oriented, vampire war trailer. Here's the romancey one (yum!)

I heard that the much of the buzz about the movie is over the tent scene (the chapter is called "Fire and Ice"), but of course I'm much more interested in how they show the chapter "Compromise" - it was terrifically written, I thought, and, sadly, it's likely to get only a minute or 2 of screen time. Much of what makes it compelling, as with so much of these books, is what's going on Bella's head, and that can't really be portrayed on screen. Still, it should be a very good movie.



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