Eclipsed by its predecessor…and Shiver

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer; published by Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2007; 629 pages.

Bella and Edward are back together.  This installment of the Twilight franchise finds Bella fixated on graduating (high school and humanity).  She spends much of her time trying to reconcile with her friend, Jacob Black.  She also is coping with the fear of predators closing in on her from two fronts.  Former mate of the vampire James, killed by Edward at the close of book two, Victoria is stalking Bella to exact revenge on Edward (by killing his love as he killed hers).  Not to be eclipsed, the Volturi, or ruling vampires, are also after Bella after she foiled their attempt to recruit Edward into their coven.  But the worst fear Bella faces is the ultimatum from Edward; she will not become a vampire at his hands until she marries him.  She does have her concerns about the process of losing her humanity as well–but only as it will affect Edward’s attraction to her.  At the end of this installment, only one of Bella’s fears is vanquished–Victoria is destroyed.

I have no expectations of great literature when I read Meyer’s saga.  She weaves a fairly good tale, when she’s on her game, as in the first novel of the series.  I was a bit disappointed in the second book (see my review) but not as disappointed as I was in this book.  Meyer relied far too heavily on back stories.  An awkward, forced and boring tale of the werewolf legend was the first and most yawn-inspiring.  It probably should have been told in New Moon, but I believe the dreadfully long legend was intended to set up a moment during the duels between Seth-Riley and Edward-Victoria.  In addition, Jasper’s and Rosalie’s back stories were too verbose, relying on telling what happened rather than making the reader feel what happened.  I found myself thinking, that’s terrible, rather than feeling revulsion at the horrors inflicted by humans.  Again, this is not great literature, but I do expect to be entertained, and to be entertained, I need to feel the story not just be told what to feel.

In fact, much of this book felt forced.  Charlie’s sudden parental instincts, Edward’s awkwardly self-described chastity, and the frequent references to Bella’s unhealthy catatonia/self-destructive behavior after Edward’s disappearance all seemed contrived to placate the dissenting public.  Shakespeare’s famous “methinks thou dost protest too much” comes to mind.  All of the focus on these issues made the characters flat and uninteresting.  Even the mesmerizing chemistry between Bella and Edward was gone.  The gist of the story could have been told in half the volume had the author ignored these distractions.

Will I read Breaking Dawn?  Uh, yeah.  I have to see how it ends, not unlike watching a car wreck then checking the news sources to find out about casualties.  I’m hoping the story telling that kept me turning the pages of Twilight will return in the “Swan song.”  After all, not all novels are literature, nor do they have to be.  They do, however, have to entertain; this one fell far short of that order.

Will teen girls love it?  Probably.  Will the boys?  Doubtful.  I encourage them all to read Shiver (by Maggie Stiefvater, read my review here) to see how a fantasy-romance should be written.

5P     1Q     Grade Level: 8-12

eclipseCover Art: The franchise identity was continued in this cover.  For that reason alone, it will appeal to teen girls in particular.  The book is so thick, the entire image from the cover virtually fits on the spine without much reduction.  It will be found on the shelves if only by color combination and the imprinting of “THE TWILIGHT SAGA” on the spine.

From Reading List: The Way It Could Be (Science Fiction or Fantasy)

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