Monday, December 15, 2008

Eclipse (book) by Stephenie Meyer

I'll start this off with the usual spoiler warning - it takes too much energy to watch everything I'm writing, so don't read this if you want to avoid all spoilers for this book.

Edward and Bella are back together again, although, of course, that doesn't mean things are easy and danger-free. There seems to be an awful lot of killings going on in Seattle. Bella is a bit worried about that, since one of her high school friends will be going there after graduation, but she soon discovers that she has even more personal reasons to be worrying about the violence in Seattle. It turns out that the killings are caused by vampires, who may or may not be connected to the Volturi (who warned the Cullens, in the previous book, that they would be after them if Bella wasn't turned into a vampire) and who may or may not be after the Cullens.

Bella and the others later realize that the vampires are not, in fact, connected to the Volturi, although the Volturi will most certainly become involved if the killings go on much longer. These rampaging vampires are actually an army of newborn vamps created by Victoria, who still hasn't given up on her quest to kill Bella. Bella, as usual, is relieved that the baddie mainly wants to kill her, and not the Cullens. Silly Bella.

The sheer number of vampires, plus Bella's connections to both the werewolves and vampires of Forks, prompts an unprecedented alliance between the Cullens and the Quileute werewolves. Victoria is finally, finally dealt with - unless she rises from the ashes, she won't be showing up in the next book.

Besides the threat of death, Bella's also got lots of romantic and personal problems.

First, there's her volatile love triangle. Both Jacob and Edward love her, and Bella finally realizes that she loves them both (although she's always quick to say she loves Edward more). Sometimes Jacob and Edward are willing to share, and sometimes they're not. Edward had a few snarling jealous boyfriend moments, but he was mostly willing to share, as long as Bella was happy. Jacob was less happy with sharing, especially once he decided he had a chance at stealing Bella away from Edward.

Second, Bella wants to become a vampire. Maybe. She wants to be with Edward forever, staying eternally young with him, but she's worried about what she'll be like as a new vampire. She worries about possibly killing humans, and she worries that her thirst for blood will overpower her love for Edward, making her not herself for a while. She's also sad that she'll have to give up her family. Aside from all of that, there's also Jacob, who, in a fit of rage, tells her he'd rather she was dead than a vampire. What to do when one of the loves in your life says that?

Third, she wants Edward to be the one to turn her into a vampire, but he has conditions she must first satisfy. The main one is that he wants her to marry him. For some reason, the thought of everyone's whispers and stares when she announces she's engaged at such a young age upsets her more than just about anything else. Bella, as usual, seems to have her priorities out of whack. Bella's other difficulty is that, before the thirst for blood becomes her driving physical need, she wants to have sex with Edward. Edward is understandably freaked out by this idea - even if there weren't the possibility that he'd rip her throat out in the heat of the moment, he's incredibly strong and could accidentally hurt her.

I'd have to say that Edward is the most patient and understanding boyfriend in the world. He's practically textbook perfect. One minute, he's snarlingly jealous, willing to fight to keep Bella. The next minute, he's willing to either let her go or share her with Jacob, if only she'll be happy. Emotionally, he reacts in whatever way he believes is best for Bella. That's both sweet and incredibly...fake. When Jacob and Bella finally kiss (fairly passionately, too), does Edward get upset? Of course not. Perfect boyfriends don't get angry at their girlfriends for kissing other guys, oh no.

Well, all's fair in love and war, or at least Jacob seems to think so. He's no longer Mr. Nice Guy. He's willing to lie and steal kisses if that's what it takes to win Bella away from Edward. I missed Nice Guy Jacob - this new Jacob kind of pissed me off occasionally. I'm definitely on Team Edward here. However, the tension between Bella, Jacob, and Edward provided much of the conflict in this book, and it was usually pretty interesting conflict, so I guess I can't complain. I'm really surprised that Bella actually chooses between the two of them by the end of the book. Although I'm sure it's not over, it's still shocking that Bella manages to get over her own feelings about what she needs and finally cuts Jacob loose (not that he goes easy on himself after that).

Another interesting aspect of this book was the fleshing out Meyer did of vampire and werewolf cultures and history. Bella got to hear the story of the first Quileute werewolves (and then she went and identified with the self-destructive aspect of the story - what is with that girl?). The imprinting thing was also interesting (sort of a soulmate thing, although maybe more intense, since it seems to have the ability to alter the werewolf's previous emotions), although not something I could see any werewolf actually wishing for. I keep hoping that Jacob will imprint on somebody, not Bella. Besides the werewolf stuff, Bella also got to hear Rosalie's story (beautiful girl, killed by her beautiful monster of a new husband) and Jasper's story (soldier, turned newbie-vampire-cannon fodder). I hadn't really realized that Rosalie didn't like being a vampire and longed for a baby of her own, but, other than that, her story was only a bit interesting. Jasper turned out to be a more kick-butt than I expected.

I'm so very glad that Victoria is now dead. I never found her all that scary to begin with. Bella spends a lot of time terrified of her, but Victoria doesn't actually do much that's worth all of that terror. I'm not saying Bella shouldn't have been afraid of her (I'm actually kind of impressed that she managed to work up some fear for something she actually should be afraid of), but Victoria wasn't really all that frightening from a reader's point of view.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, although I really wish Bella could cut out all that melodrama and Edward could grow a spine. Despite my ever-present gripes about these things, I managed to read the book in about 5 days - I wonder how long the last one will take me?

Many of the read-alikes I listed for the previous books would work for this book. Since this particular read-alikes list is heavy on books intended for adults, that's important to keep in mind.

  • Moon Called (book) by Patricia Briggs - This is the first book in a series. Mercy is a mechanic and a skinwalker, someone who can turn into a coyote at will. Mercy is smart and tough, but she's definitely no Mary Sue - she may be able to shapeshift or not whenever she wants, and she may be fast and have a good sense of smell, but she's also weaker and more human than most of the beings she's around. In this book, Mercy and others investigate attacks on local werewolves - although fairies have revealed their existence to humankind, werewolves haven't yet, and random killings could unveil werewolves before they're ready. Those who found the whole werewolf imprinting thing interesting might enjoy this book/series - the werewolves in Briggs's books don't have quite the same thing, but they do have mates. Also, Mercy has something of a love triangle going on between her and a couple werewolves. This series is intended for adults, so there's sex scenes and graphic violence that may not be appropriate for younger readers.
  • Tempting Danger (book) by Eileen Wilks - This is also the first book in a series. Lily Yu is a cop who's trying to figure out who's going around killing people in gruesome ways. It looks like werewolves might be involved, and maybe even the prince of the Nokolai clan, Rule Turner. This is especially unfortunate, because Lily and Rule have suddenly discovered that they are mates - the result is a compulsion to be near each other, and it'll look really bad if someone finds out Lily's having sex with the prime suspect. Those who'd like more werewolf soulmate stuff might enjoy this book/series. This series is intended for adults, so there's sex scenes and graphic violence that may not be appropriate for younger readers.
  • The Strange Power (book) by L. J. Smith - This is the first book is Smith's Dark Visions series. Kaitlyn Fairchild is a psychic whose drawings predict the future. The only problem is, her drawings usually don't make sense until after whatever they predict has happened. When she finds out about the Zeetes Institute, a place where she can learn to control her abilities, she decides to go, but the institute may have have more sinister intentions than Kaitlyn realizes. Those who'd like another fantasy story with action and romance (Kaitlin has to choose between a bad boy and a nice guy) might like this book/series. Another series by Smith with a romantic storyline involving a girl who has to choose between two guys is The Forbidden Game, which begins with The Hunter - I didn't add it to this list because, unfortunately, it doesn't seem as though this title is one of the ones by Smith that has been recently re-released, which makes it harder to find.
  • Guilty Pleasures (book) by Laurell K. Hamilton - This is the first book in Hamilton's Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series, set in an alternate history where vampires, werewolves and more are now a (sometimes uncomfortable) part of society. Anita Blake is a vampire executioner, an animator (she can raise the dead), and a consultant to the police on all things supernatural. In this first book, someone's killing innocent vampires, and, although Anita's killed her share of vampires, she does her best to find the killer. Those who'd like a story that, eventually, has a vampire-human-werewolf love triangle might like this series. Also, like Jacob, the werewolf in this love triangle starts off as a nice guy and gets bitter as the relationship stuff gets tenser. A warning, however - there is some very explicit sex in this series, especially in later volumes.

No comments:

Post a Comment