Stephenie Meyer – Eclipse
Length: 640 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Urban fantasy
Started: 21 October 2007
Finished: 22 October 2007
Summary: Now that Edward and Bella are back together in the small town of Forks, there’s a tense stalemate between the vampiric Cullen family and the werewolves of the Quileute tribe – and more particularly, between Edward Cullen and Jacob Black, both of whom love Bella and will stop at nothing to win her. To add to the tension, there has been a spate of murders in nearby Seattle, and there is reason to believe the danger is centered on Bella – but can everyone put their melodrama away for long enough to keep themselves and the ones they love safe?
Review: First, the positives. Number one: DAMN these books are addictive. I had to force myself to put this down to go to sleep late last night, and I came home this afternoon, picked it up, and didn’t move (except to turn pages) until I’d finished it. This book also does a much better job than the previous two of balancing the angsty teenage melodrama with the action – instead being five hundred pages of whining followed by fifty of action, this book spread out the action and interspersed it with the angsty whining, which made it more tolerable, and probably accounts for most of this book’s improved rating compared to the other two.
Next, to the negatives. Far and away, the main thing that bugs me about these books (not this one in particular more than the others, but the whole series) is what a messed up model for love, relationships, sex, and romance they are providing for the legions of teenaged girls who are the target audience. Edward’s treated like this perfect, wonderful, self-sacrificing guy, when in reality he’s arrogant, selfish, stubborn, arrogant, manipulative, arrogant, emotionally stunted, and immature. The book holds up this idea of “literally can’t live without you here” as being an ideal, instead of a frightening level of codependecy and self-effacement, and, at least in the first half of the book, Edward and Bella’s relationship doesn’t just hover near the boundary of creepy, it actually leaps over the line into legitimately over-controlling and emotionally abusive. The “hostage” scene was played as maddening but maddeningly-charming, when in reality, isolating a partner from “non-approved” friends is a classic sign of abuse, and Bella writes it off as “just jealousy” and instantly forgives him as soon as she sees him – because he’s so dreamy. Is that really what we want teenaged girls to be absorbing as okay behavior? And let’s not even get me started on the issues these books have surrounding sex and sexual morality.
I don’t have nearly so many issues with Jacob – admittedly, he’s also immature and selfish, but at least he’s also honest about it… and I do, ultimately, agree with him that he’d be better for Bella in the long run. Actually, this book does a pretty good job of dealing with the reality of obsessive teenage relationships, it’s just that it so desperately wants us to believe that Bella’s choice is the right one, that it’s true love, when from the distance of a little maturity it just looks like hormones and overwrought teenage drama. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: I have so many issues with these books, but I can’t stop reading them, and if you’ve got through the first two, you can’t either. Better than the first two, and the compelling story makes it easier to overlook all of the melodramatic angst.