New Moon provides junk food fix

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer; published by Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2006; 563 pages.

cheetosJunk food.  Even though it’s full of artificial color and flavor, I crave it, and once I start I can’t stop.  I could be a Cheetos junkie, easily finishing a whole bag.  After reading Twilight about a week ago, I found it’s the equivalent of Cheetos for me; fun to read, but just junk food.  Even though my critical brain kept screaming, “This is really pretty bad,” I kept reading until it was all done.  I get the appeal for the mass market: Although these books are not well-written, the stories are told well.  Twilight, and the subsequent installments, should’ve had an editor with a stronger red-pen hand.  OK, enough of my disclaimer.

When I saw New Moon on one of the reading lists for class, I figured I’d been given permission to eat more junk food.  So I “opened another bag” and discovered that Bella and Edward break up.  Edward’s convinced it’s for Bella’s own good—she’ll be safer without him.  But Bella does not cope well.  Even when she pulls herself out of her catatonic withdrawal from life at the urging of her father, she is on a self-destructive path.  She finds a spark of life, a bit of hope, in her rekindled friendship with Jacob Black.  Then she finds out the other half of the secret of Forks, Washington…that Jacob and other members of his Native American tribe are werewolves, bent on protecting mankind by destroying the “bloodsuckers.”  After losing all hope of a reunion, Bella discovers that Edward is on a mission to destroy himself.  With the help of the Cullen family, she rushes to save him from destruction by vampire royalty in Italy.  Bella rescues him, he rescues her.  The outrageously unbelievable plot is fairly interesting, Bella’s family is totally and inconceivably blind to her danger, yet I am left anxious to find out what will happen next for the seemingly doomed couple.  Cheetos?  You betcha.

I decided to read more of the Bella-Edward saga after reading Jellicoe Road since there are distinct similarities and differences between the heroines.  Well, the first third of New Moon had me convinced that this series portrays teen girls as weak, co-dependent creatures—a rather bad message—with Bella nearly catatonic after Edward breaks up with her.  But, she flexes her independence in befriending Jacob and even starts to recognize that there can be life after the loss of first love.  By the end of the book I can see Bella as slightly more independent and self-reliant than I did in Twilight or the first part of this book; as a partner for Edward rather than his helpless damsel in distress.  I think it would be fun to engage teens in a discussion of the similarities and differences between Bella Swan and Taylor Markham (Jellicoe Road).

As far as the readability of this second installment of the Twilight Saga, I was swept into the story.  Meyer certainly knows how to hook the average reader and play the plot with dramatic waxing and waning (and a lot of flotsam that does nothing but pad the book).  Of course this was a hit with teen girls before it was even published.  However, like Twilight, I felt New Moon dragged and would benefit from more aggressive editing.  My preteen daughter’s friends told her that New Moon is boring and only worth reading to get to Eclipse, the third book in the series.  I understand their advice—this installment does not have the heat of the Bella-Edward relationship for the bulk of the plot, and the friendship with Jacob and Bella must be far less interesting to many teens.  To sum up, this was a disappointing sequel to Twilight and would benefit from better editing.  Yet I can see the attraction for teen girls.

5P     2Q     Grades 7-12

new_moonCover Art:  The trademark black, white and red theme returns in the second book of the Twilight Saga: This time, a red-tinged white parrot tulip drips a red petal on the black background.  Fans will instantly recognize the silver, embossed, slightly-chilling font of the title.  Continuing the design theme, or corporate image, is a good marketing tool but the stark, graphic image is also very teen-friendly and will strike a chord with the intended audience.

From Reading List: The Way It Could Be (Fantasy Novels)

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