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Friday, November 13, 2009

New Moon

I've been reading a lot lately so sharing more reviews with you. I know I'm going to get blasted for my opinion of New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, but I just have to be honest.

When I first heard of Stephanie Meyers' Twilightt series, I wasn't much interested. Teen vampire love story. Uh huh. But everyone talked about it so much that when a copy of Twilight turned up on a shelf at my local thrift store, I thought, "Why not?" What was I losing for $0.45? Interview With A Vampire by Anne Rice spoiled me. What a rich re-visioning of the vampire myth! So well told, beautifully written. And Louis! Ah who can forget Louis? Even Rice's later vampire novels could not compete with the place Interview has in my affections, although I found LeStat entertaining enough. How would Twilight compare?

Teen girl, something of misfit, falls in love with mysterious boy who just happens to be a vampire. As I read, I kept wondering why so many people were raving about the character, Bella. I didn't find her at all appealing. In part that could be due to her low self-confidence and habit of always putting herself down. But for me, the bigger issue was that she didn't seem to be about anything. I couldn't have told you what her values were or what she wanted out of life except for her obvious desire to be liked by the mysterious Edward whose handsome appearance is always foremost in her mind and her descriptions of him. The characters had the potential to be interesting but just weren't developed well enough for me to care about them. And Twilight was less a vampire story than a twist on Romeo and Juliet. As far as action and plot development, let's just say it was like watching a film in slow motion.

Now why, since I obviously wasn't impressed with Twilight, would I pick up the second installment, New Moon? I had no plans of buying it. Then I had a doctor's appointment scheduled and went searching for something to take along to read. Turned out I'd actually managed to get to the bottom of all the various waiting-to-be-read stacks around the house. I found one book I hadn't read but it was non-fiction of the sort requiring concentration; definitely not brain candy and I find brain candy is best for waiting rooms. Since I had to stop at the pharmacy on my way to the doctor, I checked the books on the their shelves. Nothing appealed to me and I was going to walk out but the thought of sitting in that waiting room for what might be a long while caused me to take a last look. I saw New Moon and snatched it up with a sigh. At least it wasn't heavy reading.

I don't know whether I was simply used to Bella or whether she was actually less annoying the second time around but I disliked her less. Except - and this is a big one for me - the girl was beyond hopelessly in love with Edward. Bella had lost all sense of herself as a person without Edward's presence. I hate that the young girls for whom this series is a favorite are reading this love story and perhaps learning how to obliterate themselves, how to vanish into the shadow of some male they choose as all important. Over and over again Bella and, yes, Edward, too was ready to give up everything if s/he couldn't be with the other. Is this really what we want our daughters to be learning? I think of friends who entered relationships that faltered and fell apart. What happens afterward? Those with a healthy sense of self pull their lives back together and go on, often to better things. Those who negated much of their self to mollify their partner usually fall apart when the one they thought of as "everything" no longer has use for them. The one left behind often is in a position of having, in essence, to establish a new self image.

Aside from the unhealthy lesson I see there, what else can I say about New Moon? Although the characters don't develop much more I did feel there was some improvement. There was more of a sense of the Cullens being a family with believable family loyalties based on interest in and concern for one another rather than just a connection as vampires. I liked the way Meyers wove in the legend of the werewolves. However, I found myslef laughing out loud as I envisioned the "exploding" that took place as the Indians lads transformed to werewolves. This made me picture the old Incredible Hulk cartoons. The Volturi were an interesting touch - the veneer of civility over the horror one expects in a vampire story; now there was a vampire story to be told there. And there was, relatively speaking, more action than in Twilight.

All in all, perhaps satisfying brain candy for the pre-teen, teen set. However, my nieces won't be receiving copies from me.

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