Eclipse, by Stephenie Meyer

>> Monday, March 15, 2010

TITLE: Eclipse
AUTHOR: Stephenie Meyer

PAGES: 559

SETTING: Contemporary Washington state, USA
TYPE: Young Adult / Vampire
SERIES: Third in the Twilight series.

REASON FOR READING: I read Twilight a few years back and wasn't particularly impressed. I was entertained by it and didn't hate it, but I had absolutely no desire to continue. But a friend dragged me to see New Moon recently, and that got me curious to find out how things would turn out.

As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob -knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?
Eclipse picks up pretty much where New Moon left off (and apologies, but I'm not summarising the basic setup of this series. If you haven't read Twilight and New Moon, you shouldn't be reading Eclipse, anyway). Edward and Bella are back in Forks after their European adventure. Graduation is fast approaching and with it, the date of Bella going through her change and become a vampire, just like Edward.

At the same time, Bella is still struggling to keep up her friendship with Jacob, in spite of the natural enmity between werewolves and vampires. It's not just that Edward is very reluctant to have her close to a creature he sees as unpredictable and dangerous; Jacob doesn't know if he even wants to continue being Bella's friend, given that she's planning to willingly become a creature he finds intolerable.

External threats are also still an issue. Victoria is still after Bella, and it's quite clear she won't give up. The Volturi, as well, are always there in the background of their minds, with the threat they pose to Bella if she doesn't become a vampires soon.

And as if that wasn't enough, a serial killer is stalking nearby Seattle, taking people seemingly at random and from the most unlikely places. It's clear to the vampires that it's not a human killer, but one of theirs, and thus we get introduced to the concept of the newborn vampires, something that at last succeeds in making Bella at least a little bit scared of the consequences of the massive transformation she's decided to go through.

So, a lot going on, but the real meat of the book is the romantic triangle. Edward or Jacob, Jacob or Edward, which will Bella choose? We get into their minds quite a bit this time (including in a scene in a tent which is a fan-ficcer wet dream), and even as I was mentally groaning, I was lapping it up.

Was I happy with the conclusion? Well, it's not that it wasn't quite obvious who Bella was going to end up with, but I felt especially disappointed after getting a bit more from Jacob's POV. Yes, he's a bit young and immature, but I still found him a much better match for Bella than Edward.

I think the main problem I have is that I find Bella and Edward's relationship incredibly creepy. I recently read a blog where someone went through one of those "Are you a victim of domestic violence" checklists and making quite a convincing case that Bella would have to answer yes to pretty much all the questions. Having read that, I can't help but see their relationship in that light. Yes, in this installment Edward succeeds in becoming a bit better about trusting Bella's judgment about what's dangerous, and thus less controlling, but there's still a huge difference in maturity and outlook that squicks me out completely, especially because Bella is such a typical teenager herself.

All in all, and even with my doubts about the romance, this was an enjoyable book. It's been a while since I read Twilight, but I have the impression the writing was better, and the action scenes significantly so. Almost despite my better judgment, I'm going to have to read Breaking Dawn and see how things turn out.



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