New Moon

~by Stephenie Meyer

I read the first installment of the Twilight Saga before the series became such a phenomenon. It was still very popular a the time, but it had yet to develop the extraordinarily obsessive fan base or the as nearly fanatical group of opponents as it has now. The whole state of affairs make me rather uncomfortable and somewhat reluctant to read any further. But, I do think it's important to be aware and at least a little knowledgeable of current reading trends, so I did finally pick up the second book New Moon. At least I can carry on an informed conversation now.

The book begins with Bella's birthday. It is her senior year of high school and she is turning eighteen, in some ways making her older than the love of her life--Edward Cullen and his family are vampires, and he has been seventeen since 1918. Bella is not happy that she is growing older in age or that Edward still refuses to allow her to be changed into a vampire. When the Cullen's leave Forks without much explanation, Bella finds herself abandoned and heartbroken. Eventually, she finds interest in life again and renews her friendship with Jacob Black who lives on a nearby reservation. Soon, Bella will learn that vampires aren't the only danger lurking in Forks.

I didn't notice it so much in the first book, but Edward is kind of an over-controlling jerk in addition to being gorgeous and charming. I like Jacob much more as a character (and no, I'm not going to declare any allegiance to one camp or another). Some nice things happen in New Moon--Edward clarifies some of his reasons behind wanting Bella to retain her mortality; more back-story is given to both the werewolves and vampires, including some unique twists hiding amongst the more generic conventions. However, some things were not so good. The majority of the first part of the book for one thing. Really, Bella, I got that you were devastated when Edward left, you didn't need to keep going on and on and on about it. (Granted, her friends felt pretty much the same.) Which brings me to the writing--it's either an extraordinarily authentic portrayal of a high school girl's voice, or just sub-par execution. Either way, the book could have seriously used another edit and an expanded vocabulary. (In at least one instance, within two pages of each other, a sentence was repeated with only a change in the word order.) And the almost continuous references and comparisons to Romeo and Juliet (et al.) were way overdone.

I'm really not sure how these books became so outrageously popular, and I don't think they live up to the hype, but I will admit that they are oddly addicting. The first half or so of New Moon really had to be slogged through (I did like getting to know Jacob better, though) while the second part was much better and moved along quite nicely (and gave a more in-depth view of Meyer's vampires). The books are decent enough, but I had more issues with New Moon than I did with Twilight. I'm sure I'll get around to reading the third book, Eclipse, eventually, but I'm not in any sort of hurry. My favorite part of the series so far? Probably the covers.

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