Friday, March 18, 2011

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

New Moon (Twilight, #2)New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I admit I put off reading this second book in the Twilight series, for a few reasons. Maybe my love for Twilight would turn out to be a fluke. I had watched the movie recently, so it would feel like a rerun. I wasn’t ready to dive back into the series. Well, I finally manned up and read New Moon this week. I can honestly say this is one of my favorite books of all time.

Many bad things have been said about Ms. Meyer’s writing. I don’t agree with any of it. Ms. Meyer has proven to me that she can write books that I can admire and enjoy, and that I can appreciate from an artistic and literary standpoint. She brings the story to vivid life, and pulls me right into the action. She knows how to make me feel. For me, it’s not a good sign when I read a book and I feel detached, bored, withdrawn. I want to be involved in a story that I read for pleasure, which is 95% of the time I spend reading. When I read Twilight, I couldn’t get over the awe and joy I felt as I discovered the world of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. The beauty of their love story. I didn’t think this book could top that feeling. Surprisingly, it did. Ms. Meyer took the story that much deeper for me with New Moon.

I have actually read few writers that have such a gift for illustrating and bringing emotions to live. Showing the complexity of relationships, how they all come to matter and play a part of our emotional landscape. The pain that Bella feels when Edward leaves….I felt it acutely. I felt like my heart was breaking along with Bella’s. I felt angry at Edward. I was so mad I wanted to slap him. But, I also felt that same love for Edward I felt when I read Twilight. I could understand why he left, not possibly knowing that his leaving could never be the best thing for Bella. With this couple, as with my favorites in literature, you can see how mutual, how all-consuming their love for each other is. Some might call it self-destructive. But emotions don’t follow the rules. Even when people try to control them, they still manifest in other ways. Especially those that are so powerful, like the love these two people shared.

When it came to Bella’s recovery (at least partial), I thought it was so well-written as Ms. Meyer showed Bella picking herself up from the abyss that Edward and the Cullens’ departure had thrown her into. The way that Ms. Meyer showed the first four months was so beautifully evocative and yet so basic, it was that much more effective. Just each month written on a individual page. Nothing else. That’s how it was for Bella. She couldn’t stop living, not knowing what that would do to her parents. So she existed. Nothing more. After that, there was her developing relationship with Jacob Black.
Again, there was so much skill in describing how Bella becomes friends with Jake. I love how Jake is described as Bella’s sun. Her love for him that is more than just a friend, like a brother, but deeper. I know that if there was no Edward Cullen, then maybe Jake could have been Bella’s true love. But in the world where Edward existed, there was no substitute. I thought that the book would be boring without Edward, but it was far from that. I found that I loved this book even though he wasn’t technically there, except for his voice in Bella’s head. That voice that came around to warn Bella when she was in trouble. Yet at the same time, Jake had the power to hold the pain from Edward’s leaving at bay. When he would smile his sweet smile, and shine his light on Bella. Even though Jake was like a crutch that held a crippled Bella on her feet, I didn’t feel like she used Jake and gave nothing in return. Her friendship also helped him. She stood up for him and cared about him, bringing something to his life as well.

I love Bella as a character. She’s a good person, very caring, but also stubborn as a mule. I like how she is shown to be imperfect, but more than willing to examine her actions and her motives to see if she is doing what she feels is right. Yes, Bella did some immature things, but what do humans do when they are hurting? I think that considering the circumstances she went through, I don’t find fault with Bella. I think Bella might come off wrong on first glance to the casual observer. Like she is in her own little world, selfish and self-absorbed. The way I read her is what I’ve seen in people in real life like Bella. She’s one of those people whose capacity for love is all consuming. She has to hold herself at a distance or lose herself. Because some people don’t understand how deep she commits herself to others. It totally makes sense why she falls apart when Edward leaves, and then when Jake pushes her away because of what is going on with him. The fact that I respected Bella so much is why I loved this book passionately, even though my favorite character is hardly even in the book. It also testifies to Ms. Meyer’s skill at writing. Her characters keep me invested, the way they interact with each other, creating the fabric of this book, a beautifully-woven creation that sucked me in too deep to let go until I was done. I love my dad, but Charlie would be a great dad for any girl. He makes this book series special to me, just for his small parts in the books. He’s adorable!

Silly me. I didn’t expect to enjoy Jake’s story and the wolves as much as I did. I’m silly because I love werewolf stories. I’m silly because I was completely wrong. The wolf pack aspect was very interesting. I felt so much for Jake, how he was confused and at sea; how he truly believed that the wolf that had awakened in him made him bad. I was glad that he had Bella to help him see that the wolf was a beautiful thing, part of who he was. Part of why she loved him, and like she loved Edward even with his being a vampire, she would continue to love him, even as a wolf. I have to say that although Edward is still my favorite, I adore Jake tremendously. I could see what a special, sweet guy he was, how hard he tried to do what was right, and the control that he mustered when it was clear how much his ‘gift’ made control very difficult for him. I just love how he is described. He is like sunshine to Edward’s moon. So yes, I am a Jacob fan now, and well as loving his pack brothers and Emily.

Even though there is not a lot of action in this book, it still kept me riveted. I appreciated how the menace of the Volturi came off so clearly, even with very little onscreen violence. The contrast between the Cullens and the Volturi was beautifully, clearly rendered. How the Cullens had chosen the connection between them, the capacity to love over the bloodlust, even if it was terribly hard at times. This helped me to see that Edward’s motives were truly good, even if they seemed foolhardy. Once that was clear, and seeing his pain, how leaving Bella had destroyed him, I couldn’t stay mad at him. I love Edward way too much. I also adore the Cullens, especially Alice and Carlisle.

I honestly feel that this series shows a deep kind of love that I haven’t seen in all my twenty-plus years of romance reading. It’s not just boy-girl romance, either. It shows a deep, powerful romantic love, but also the love of friendship, the bonds of family (not merely by blood, but by choice), and how they all come together, serving as our greatest weaknesses, but also our greatest strengths. That’s the duality of human nature. Funny how I can learn this lesson from a book about vampires and werewolves, and a human girl caught between them. I can hardly describe how much I love this book! I’m done trying..for now!

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1 comment:

CC said...

Okay, so I was a hater of Myers, just from the (in the voice of an old lady) really burn my britches! Also, Stephen Kind didn't like her writing and I love his writing ergo her writing must suck. But I decided to give the gal a chance, so I read The Host. 600 pages of a waste of time. I felt no emotion, no fear for the characters (although there was all sorts of potential for it, it just wasn't presented right). So maybe, her skill is limited to the Twilight books because you aren't the first person, obviously, who have praised her. Just don't read The Host...