Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Review: Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

[WARNING: This is a horribly written review because it was written over a period of three days and I've had other things on my mind. My apologies.]

Title: Eclipse

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Year: 2007

Rating: Undecided

Plot: 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 werwolf. With her graduation approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

Review: *****A Few Spoilers Included*****

Bella's back and in trouble ... yet again. Not that she shouldn't be expecting it. I mean, she has chosen to spend her free time with vampires and werewolves. You'd think she would have guessed that it wouldn't all be smooth sailing.

Because I didn't review the first two books, I'll sum up what I thought of them here so you can get a general idea of how I feel about the series.

I bought the first three books in a 3 for 2 offer at Borders around the time the film was coming out. The plot sounded interesting and 'Twilight' mania hadn't quite hit Britain yet so I was still curious.

Needless to say, I was greatly disappointed in Twilight. I didn't enjoy the way it was written: I found it very fanfiction-ish. It reminded me of being a teenager and writing fanfiction about the latest dreamhunks that were on the covers of Sugar and Big! magazine. All those kind of fanfiction are pretty much the same: you write about a girl who is a very thinly disguised version of yourself; She becomes the object of [insert hunk's name]'s affections.

That's how I found Twilight was written. Don't get me wrong, I know this is written for YA. But, considering the series has such a large following, I was expecting characters with a little more depth. And, the fact of the matter is, I don't find it to be the best written story in the world either.

Saying that, I have no doubt in my mind that if I was ten years younger, I'd probably think it was the best book in the world. Oh yeah. This shit was written for 12-year-old me. The me who'd spend hours in her room lusting over boybands and learning dance routines.

New Moon was a book I couldn't put down. I didn't know whether I'd just gotten used to Meyer's style of writing or it was the lack of sparkley vampires that intrigued me. I find Jacob Black to be a much more endearing character than Edward Cullen, and the Quileute tribe's stories were fascinating.

Eclipse is somewhere in the middle. While I didn't find it as intolerable as Twilight, I enjoyed it less than New Moon and I've narrowed it down to a number of factors.

First of all, the relationship between Edward and Bella puzzles me. I don't understand why Bella is in love with a man who is paranoid about where she goes, who she talks to, what she thinks about every second of the day. The man has some major trust issues and a bit of a one track mind. Is this really the kind of man young teens and 'tweens are hoping to end up with? Someone who'll pay his sister to kidnap you while he's away for a few days just in case you decide to go and visit your other friends (who are feeling pretty crappy)?

Also, I've never trusted Bella's infatuation with Edward. If memory serves, he gives a grand speech in the first book about how he's designed to suck you in to his presence; Everything about him is designed to be the most appealing thing in the world so that he can, y'know, kill you. Given the fact that Bella goes on and on and on about how beautiful and gorgeous and breathtaking Edward is, I do wonder whether it's real love or the fact that he's designed to make you feel that way.

Does she really love him? Or is it his vampirey design?

Yeah, so the whole Edward/Bella relationship bothers me.

The Bella/Jacob relationship is an interesting one. I'm intrigued by it because these characters seem to have had a more drawn-out romance that has resulted in real love. Towards the end of the novel, Bella realises that Jacob is her soulmate in the 'real world' and Edward is her soulmate in the supernatural world. This confirms my idea about the fact that Bella's love for Edward seems to come from the vampire design rather than a drawn-out romantic friendship (like she has with Jacob).

I think these relationships are probably what bothers me the most about this series. Of course it's not supposed to be realistic but I don't want to think about what kind of message this sends across to youngsters who've yet to experience their first romance.

Moving on from that, one of the most enjoyable things about Eclipse was more of the ancient tales of the Quileute tribe. I loved hearing about the tribe's history and how they came to be werewolves through spirits and souls and mystical creatures. Brilliant! It's everything the Cullen family are lacking - a history. We got a tasters of Carlisle's background in Twilight. Then Alice's in New Moon. In Eclipse we heard about Rosalie and Jasper. But what's missing is that Meyer touches on these backgrounds and then abrubtly drops them. The Quileute's history is ever present in the characters and affects who they are and what they say. The Cullens' history is written more as a series of flashbacks to a bad soap opera, and never really follows through with the characters except for a short series of whining.

I want to like the Cullens. I really do. But I don't.

As a character, I find Bella to be a little pathetic sometimes. She wants to have sex with Edward ... take their relationship to the next level. He wants to get married first. She doesn't want to get married - she's 18!! - but somehow gets peer pressured into an engagement. I want to shake this girl and tell her to get a hold on her life. Perhaps she's too weak to make real decisions and her mission in life was to be controlled by others?

I don't understand it. I understand that there are probably young girls out there who'd like that kind of stuff and find it endearing, but it's not for me. It's not the kind of relationship I'd want to get myself mixed up in, and that's probably why I've had a hard trouble with these books.

I've left it unrated because I gave Twilight a 2/5, and New Moon a 4.5/5. I go back and forth about giving Eclipse a 2.5/5 or a 3/5. Like I said, it was much more tolerable than the first book but the controlling aspect of the Cullens (which, I guess, is very vampirey) bothered and distracted me too much to really *like* the characters and empathise with Bella.  


Amanda said...

I haven't read this one, but what I don't understand is why Bella is objecting to getting married. She's already decided she wants to be a vampire and spend the rest of her life with him, so what is this about not wanting marriage? Bullshit, is what it is. Total unrealistic plot device. And stupid.

I thought Twilight was okay, and I hated New Moon. Bella was just so stupid and pitiful. I only liked Jacob until he underwent his transformation. I can't imagine I'm going to finish this series and if I do, it's only going to be because i can't leave things unfinished.

serendipity_viv said...

Answering the question from Amanda above, Bella mainly does not want to marry because of the disasterous marriage of her parents.

Out of all the four books, the last one is definitely my favourite.

Lauren said...

Interesting review! I really liked Eclipse when I read it, but I've avoided a reread for some reason. I do agree about the marriage thing though, that never quite sat right with me.

Anonymous said...

It's always such a relief to find other people that are bothered by how creepy the Edward/Bella relationship is. It's creepy, right? Completely squiffs me out.

Eva said...

I read Twilight, but I had so many issues with all of the characters that I never bothered to read the rest. :) It was interesting to read your review-it sounds like I wouldn't like this at all!

Violet said...

Lots of analysis here. I found a lot of issues with the Twilight series too but you know what? I enjoyed the books a LOT. I couldn't put them down. I finished the first 3 books in one or two sittings. Same goes for Uglies by Scott W. So I'm okay with it and I'm okay with the faults too :)

Ceri said...

Amanda - Yeah, I think the original thing to do would be to *not* finish the series haha. As Vivienne said, she doesn't want to get married because of her parents, and she also doesn't like the idea of the town gossiping about how young she is to get married behind her back.

Vivienne - That's cool. I much preferred it to the first book. :)

Lauren - Yeah, the marriage subject seems to be a puzzling one. :P

Jenny - Yes! I am so relieved others feel this way. It seemed as though the whole world thought the romance was so 'beautiful' and ergh.

Eva - You'd probably be doing yourself a favour if you didn't bother to read the rest ;-) hehe

Violet - That's really cool. :-D Usually I hate over-analysing fiction but it's the fact that this series has such a huge following that really made me look at it differently.