It’s been over a month since I finished reading Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, and you may be surprised to learn that it has taken me that long to make my way through the second book in the series, New Moon. (Most people devour these books in a matter of days, not weeks.) I was rather enthusiastic about the first book, but I can’t say the same for the second. Was it entertaining? Yes, mostly. Was it as intriguing as the first? Not really. As thrilling? Not even close.
- Bella – Oh, Bella, how we love to hate you and your self-centered ways. Seriously, does anyone like her? She simply isn’t a likable person. She doesn’t appreciate all the people in her life who care about her (Charlie, Renee, Angela, Mike, Jacob). She only has room in her heart to love one person – Edward. So far, she sounds like many other teenage girls, but Bella’s self-absorbed mentality is driven into the ground in this book. I almost decided to quit reading the series, when I was about 100 pages into New Moon. I didn’t know if I could handle any more of Bella’s whining, miserable moping, and shameless self pity. I also grew weary of the repetitive plot of the first half of the book: Bella pretends to be normal, but she has a hole in her heart, so she hangs out with Jacob all the time to numb the pain. And hang out she did. Everyday the same thing. Things didn’t get interesting until we learned Jacob’s secret. Two other characteristics of Bella really bother me: her extreme clumsiness (which always conveniently instigates lots of drama) and her complete cluelessness (she can’t grasp that Edward really loves her, despite all the obvious signs). I think the author needs to do more to make Bella likable, because I’m not seeing a lot of reasons that Edward, the most perfect guy in the world, would fall so hard for her.
- Jacob – Jacob was slightly annoying in the first book; he was a scrawny teenager with a hopeless crush on Bella. My opinion of him remained unchanged in New Moon until around the time that he “got sick,” went into exile (from Bella) for a couple of weeks, and emerged an older-looking, huskier guy. Putting some meat on his bones and some hair on his chest (well, on his entire body in this case) seemed to have the effect of giving him a backbone. I much preferred this new and improved Jacob, even though he made Bella miserable. Actually, I felt bad for Jacob, having to deal with his transformation and adjust his life accordingly, but these developments made his character so much more interesting, and that’s all that kept me reading through the middle part of the book. Random note: for some reason I pictured Jacob looking like Jared Padalecki (from Supernatural and Gilmore Girls). I don’t know why. Maybe because their names sound similar, or because Padalecki was scrawny in Gilmore Girls and is much bulkier now on Supernatural.
- Alice – Alice was really the only one of the Cullen family that had much face time in New Moon, until Edward’s reappearance. The other members of this vampire clan had little more than cameos. How will they handle that in the movie version? Anyway, back to Alice. She was certainly a breath of fresh air when she arrived! She brought some life back into Bella, and she was the catalyst that jump started the plot into its final climactic segment.
- Edward – I lament the huge absence in this book of our favorite vampire as much as anyone. But it was sad to see him on the edge of despair when he did appear. At least we didn’t have to see his side of the misery during his and Bella’s separation. But, by the end of the novel we had our wry, beautiful boy back, albeit with an extra dose of lovesick sappiness. Really? He wants to marry Bella?
- The Adults – In this book more than the first, the grown ups acted like grown ups, looking out for the best interests of their kids. Billy tried to shield Jacob from the pain and awkwardness of being around Bella after his life changing transformation. Charlie tried to protect Bella from Edward after watching how his departure affected her. On the other hand, the author hasn’t painted Bella’s mom, Renee, as a very responsible person. She barely spoke to Bella during the course of this book. It makes her seem like an immature person, that while her daughter was going through traumatic boyfriend troubles, she was busy gallivanting around with her baseball-playing husband. Hmmm, I wonder where Bella gets her one track mind.
- Everyone Else – I was glad that we didn’t see much of the school crowd this time around. They are all pretty one dimensional, so Bella’s one night out with Jessica, and her night at the movies with Mike and Jacob, were plenty of the high school social scene for me. The one extended scene involving Sam, his fiance, and the other guys in “the pack” was interesting enough to make me hope for more about them in the next book.
The Plot, a.k.a. “Not Much to See Here” – When I rehashed the plot in my mind, I realized that not much happened in this book. It boils down to this (WARNING – BLATANT SPOILERS AHEAD):
- Edward and the Cullens leave Forks because Bella gets a paper cut.
- Bella is devastated and shuts down for months (I did like the technique of the months passing as the reader turned the pages – October. November. December. January. – that spared us more of Bella’s lamenting)
- She finally resurfaces and attaches herself to Jacob as a coping technique, shamelessly abusing his romantic interest in her to fill her time and feel wanted.
- Jacob suddenly distances himself from her, and it soon becomes evident that he is a werewolf.
- The pack of werewolves, and Bella, learn that red-haired vampire Victoria is trying to sneak into Forks to kill Bella as revenge for Edward killing her mate, James. (if I had to hear one more reference to Victoria’s flame red hair in the distance…)
- Bella’s response to knowing a vampire is after her again is to go out to the beach alone, and to jump off of a cliff.
- Alice has a vision of Bella’s cliff dive, mistakes it for a suicide attempt, and after a series of unfortunate events, Edward hears the (untrue) news that Bella is dead.
- Alice and Bella race to Italy to save Edward from the Volteri by proving to him that Bella is still alive before he steps out into the sunlight and blows the cover of the 1,000 year old vampires.
- Alice and Bella get to Edward just in time, and after a brief conference with the Volteri, they all fly home to worry about turning Bella into a vampire another day.
- After much conversation and cuddling, Edward finally convinces Bella that he will love her forever and will never leave her again.
- Jacob brings Bella’s red motorcycle to Charlie’s house in an attempt to get Bella grounded (she already was) so she can’t see Edward, but his plan fails, and after some tense moments in the forest behind Charlie’s house, he runs off, leaving Bella with Edward, and believing that he can never be friends with her as long as she is hanging out with bloodsuckers, much less if she becomes one of them.
- The End
So, that was the plot in a nutshell. There were several different things that happened, but none of them were particularly exciting, and were a far cry from the exciting cross country hunt of Twilight, which saw Bella in imminent danger and the Cullens playing various roles in coming to her rescue. The first book was also more interesting in that we were introduced to Meyer’s new spin on vampire lore. She tried to do the same in New Moon with werewolves, and while it was interesting, it wasn’t as fascinating as the vampire mythology she created.
What’s Next? – There were several loose ends left at the end of New Moon:
- The Cullens have to decide if they will turn Bella into a vampire, as they promised the Volteri, or if they will risk the consequences of failing to do so.
- Bella will have to come to terms with losing Jacob’s friendship over her vampire love, or she’ll have to get really clever to figure out a way to rekindle their relationship.
- The werewolves and the Cullens will both have to keep an eye out for Victoria, who no doubt will resurface from that water where her flame red hair was bobbing up and down while Bella was nearly drowning cliff side.
- Bella will have to decide what her next steps will be, now that she’s on the cusp of adulthood. Will she go to college? Will she marry Edward? Or will she just become a vampire and worry about the rest for eternity?
Despite all my complaining, I do still enjoy the books, so I look forward to the final two installments. My two ongoing issues with the books are 1) Bella, and 2) The way that Stephenie Meyer write’s Bella’s narration, decisions, and motivations. There is still time for the tide to turn, though, so we’ll see.