Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

New Moon: A Review December 13, 2009

I read New Moon a little over a year ago, and my review of the book was not very kind. I ranted about how self-centered and whiny Bella was, how sappy and lovesick Edward was, and how uneventful the book was as a whole. Strange, then, that I thoroughly enjoyed the movie when I saw it in the theater last week. While Twilight’s film adaptation played out like an unintentional comedy, New Moon translated well onto the screen, and had a satisfying blend of drama, suspense, romance, and humor.

Jacob and Edward are both in love with Bella. If I were her, I know which one of them I'd choose.

In case anyone is reading this who isn’t familiar with the story, New Moon is the second book in the Twilight series, and it focuses on Bella’s separation from Edward and subsequent deepening friendship with Jacob. Near the beginning, a freak accident during Bella’s birthday party leads to the Cullens leaving town. Edward convinces Bella that he doesn’t love her and that he’s trying to make a clean break. Edward’s sudden departure sends Bella into a deep depression, and the only time she feels alive is when she gets an adrenaline rush, because at those times she has visions of Edward telling her to stop what she’s doing. Her need to live on the edge is what initially brings her and Jacob together, since she asks him to fix up an old motorbike for her. Over the course of the school year, they become closer, but meanwhile Jacob goes through a life-altering transition of his own. Eventually, Bella’s recklessness sets off a series of events that lead her and Alice to Edward’s rescue in Italy. When the movie ends, Bella is anxious to be turned into a vampire, but finds herself  caught between two guys – Jacob, who wants her to live a “normal” life with him, and Edward, who wants her to marry him.

What I Liked

  • Jacob – I’ve never been a big enough fan of the series to choose a side, but after seeing this movie, I am definitely Team Jacob! He was so easy to like and cheer for, not to mention easy to look at! I wasn’t crazy about the long hair, but once he got it cut, I was a fan. Liking Jacob so much only made me dislike Bella more. This was true in the book, too. I still think that she was way too self-absorbed and selfish, taking advantage of Jacob’s feelings for her. Taylor Lautner did a nice job with this role.
  • Bella’s character development – I may not like Bella, but at least the writers translated her character well enough that we understood why she was acting the way she was. Whether we were seeing her staring blankly out her bedroom window as the months passed by, listening to her terrified screams when she would wake up from nightmares, or watching her cling to Jacob for attention and affirmation of her worth, she was clearly a deeply damaged and troubled young woman.
  • Charlie – In the first movie, Bella’s dad may as well have been Barney Fife. He was a bumbling, goofy deputy. However, in this movie he was portrayed more as a caring father who was only trying to protect his daughter and help her through a hard time. It was nice to see a strong parental presence.
  • Jane – Who knew that Dakota Fanning would be such a convincing, well cast Jane? She was great as the old in years but childlike in appearance vampire who can torture people with her mind. Fanning played the character as quiet but strong, a force to be reckoned with. She was the most interesting of the Volturi. The vampires who sat in their thrones during the proceedings were creepy, but a little too campy to fit the tone of the movie.
  • Bella’s high school friends – In Twilight, Bella’s human friends were mostly just annoying, but this time around I was thoroughly entertained, especially by Mike and Jessica. They provided some needed comic relief during the mostly gloomy proceedings of the movie.
  • The Music – I don’t remember much about the music in Twilight, but the New Moon Sountrack is full of great songs. It features artists like Muse, The Killers, and Death Cab for Cutie. The music helped set the appropriate tone at different moments of the movie. If the Twilight series is an experience, then it makes sense that music would play an important role in helping viewers experience the theatrical version.

What I Didn’t Like

  • Edward – Yep, you read that right. I did not like Edward. To be more specific, I didn’t like Robert Pattinson’s portrayal of Edward. It was hard to imagine Bella still choosing Edward over Jacob when the two guys had their confrontation toward the end of the movie. On one side, there was buff, healthy, glowing, passionate Jacob. On the other, there was pale, skin and bones, sour-faced, and solemn Edward. Throughout the movie, sweet Jacob had either a winning smile or an understandable scowl on his face, but in either case it was easy to root for him. When we saw Edward, he mostly just looked constipated. Perhaps that was just bad acting on Robert Pattinson’s part, but it didn’t do anything to make me happy about the Edward and Bella reunion.
  • The Cullens – In their defense, they didn’t have much screen time, or much to do or say when they did appear, but I just wasn’t interested in them at all. In particular, Jasper just looked crazy, with his huge eyes and bird’s nest of hair.
  • Quileute Pack – Just because I liked Jacob doesn’t mean I liked his “brothers.” They didn’t have much screen time, but when they did the acting wasn’t great. Just about the only moment in the movie that got a bad reaction from the crowd was when one of the Quileute guys said “Well, I guess the wolf’s out of the bag.” (Someone in the audience reacted by shouting out an annoyed, “Give me a break…”)

So there you have it. There was more to like than to dislike, and it was a vast improvement over the first movie. As for me being Team Jacob, I know that may change eventually. As one of my friends pointed out, things get weird later on, with Jacob imprinting on Renesmee and such. But for now, I’ll wish for that which will never come to pass – a Bella/Jacob romance. Now it’s up to the writer/director of Eclipse, along with Robert Pattinson, to make me change over to Team Edward.

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Eclipse: A Love Triangle with Bite October 26, 2008

Well, a month has passed since I reviewed New Moon, the second book in the Twilight series. Once again, it took me far longer than most people to read the third installment, Eclipse. I am happy to report that I thoroughly enjoyed it! I will frame this review in terms of how this book was a vast improvement over the previous one.

Bella

  • In both Twilight and New Moon, Bella was self centered and extremely annoying. She still had her moments in Eclipse, but mostly she started to grow up and act more mature.
  • Most importantly, she finally developed a conscience. Despite having strong feelings for Jacob, she realized that she would always choose Edward over him, and so most of her actions were based on that truth.

Bella and Edward

  • There was very little interaction between these two in New Moon, since Edward was off running around in the woods of North America trying to forget Bella while she was stoically going through the motions of high school while secretly pining away for him and being miserable.
  • There were more than enough Bella/Edward scenes in Eclipse. We had nostalgic conversations about Edward’s past, serious discussions about things like marriage and becoming a vampire, and plenty of cuddling and kissing. It was nice to see them as a relatively normal couple, going through disagreements, standing by each other during tough times, and often finding that their thoughts and feelings mirrored one another’s.
  • Thank goodness that Stephenie Meyer finally spared us the excessive praise that Bella as narrator previously lavished upon Edward. (I couldn’t believe how perfect he was, etc.)

Bella and Jacob

  • At times, Jacob’s aggressive tactics for wooing (is that a word anyone uses anymore – probably not, but you know what I mean) Bella were annoying and overbearing, but I guess that was the point. Jacob is the young, fiery werewolf to Edward’s experienced, play-it-cool vampire.
  • Jacob has come a long way from the annoying kid in Book 1. I count him as one of my favorite characters in the series. You can’t help but feel bad for the guy: unrequited love, a life of servitude to his tribe, the need to tie a change of clothes to his ankle (for the inevitable next time that he changes forms and shreds his other clothes to pieces), etc.

The Cullens

  • We still don’t know a whole lot about them, but I do like that each of their “how I became a vampire” stories is being revealed over time. Each one is interesting, unique, and sad, making me more sympathetic to them (as opposed to seeing them simply as a one-dimensional character).

The Pack

  • It was a small but surprising twist to learn that the pack had grown, when more wolves than expected showed up at the meeting with the Cullens.
  • I like the way the pack can hear each others’ thoughts, and how they use that ability as a tool during hunts and battles.

The Cullens and the Pack

  • The joining of these two rival sides and sworn enemies made for an exciting climax to the book!
  • It was intriguing and somewhat horrifying to finally witness what the wolves and the vampires were capable of, in terms of violence, strength, and speed.
  • I wonder if we will hear anymore about the consequences of Bella witnessing Edward’s brutal slaying of his opponents. It’s not every day you see your boyfriend decapitate someone by “lightly brushing his lips against their neck.” It seems like that would require more than a simple “I’m fine” as a response.

The Big Reveal

  • I must admit, I was kept guessing about who was behind the planned attack on Bella. I wasn’t sure who was training the newborns, and how that was connected to confrontations the gang had had in the past. I was happy with who the big bad enemy was, and with how it was revealed. There was plenty of tension and excitement to be had, which is much more than can be said about New Moon, which garnered no more than a “huh” from me.

What’s Next

  • I foresee some eye rolling on my part during the wedding festivities in Breaking Dawn, but I am highly curious to learn if and when Bella will be changed, and even more so, how it will change her.
  • What will become of Jacob? I will be very sad if we never learn more about him than what we were given in the epilogue of Eclipse.
  • I am still troubled by the idea of Bella having to leave everything she has ever known behind (namely Charlie and Renee), when she gives up her human life. But, I suppose she loves Edward more than either of them, so the choice to be with him forever at the expense of her parent-child relationships must be a fair trade-off for her.

Bottom Line: Eclipse has been my favorite book of the series so far. I have very few complaints. My main complaint is actually unrelated to the plot. Did anyone else notice the ridiculous number of typos in the book? The book must have been rushed through editing to get it published sooner – either that or they need to hire some new proofreaders. I found this very annoying. I can’t remember ever reading a book with so many glaring simple errors (“that” instead of “than,” “the” instead of “they,” etc.).

But anyway, I’d give the book an A. Good romance. Good adventure. Good suspense. Good twists. I am glad that I pressed on through the murk and mire of New Moon so that I could enjoy Eclipse.

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New Moon is a Half Thrill September 26, 2008

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.

The Characters

  • 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.

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