Sunday, June 24, 2007

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

New Moon is book #2 in a series about a teenage girl who is in love with a vampire. In Twilight (book #1), we're introduced to Bella when she moves to cloudy Forks, Washington to live with her father. She very quickly falls in love with Edward, one of a family of "good" vampires who do not drink human blood. He reluctantly falls in love with her and through trials and danger, their relationship develops.

In New Moon, Edward decides he is a danger to Bella, breaks her heart and leaves. After months of depression, Bella develops a friendship with Jacob Black, a young man who lives on the reservation in a nearby town. His friendship is the only thing that eases her heartache. I don't want to spoil the story for anyone planning to read it, but it includes killer vampires, werewolves, and a trip to Italy where Bella races to save Edward's life.

I have ambivalent feelings about this book. I like fantasy so I'm predisposed to like this book. I also am a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, which means I like vampire stories (if they're not too scary). Meyer has an interesting take on the vampire and werewolf legends that I found unique and fresh. New Moon is more cohesive than her first book. It flows more smoothly, the characters are better developed, the dialogue more natural. It also diverges from the traditional romance devices which I appreciated. (I am not a big fan of romance novels.)

However, I still have issues with it. First, Bella is an idiot. I know she's a teenager, and by definition, is not going to think things through, but still. It was outside the realm of believability at times. (I don't want to be specific, but you'll know what I mean if you read the book.)

Second, I really, really have an issue with some of the subliminal messages: it's okay for girls to give up everything, who they are, their identity for love; if the girl loves the "bad boy" enough, he will change for her; if you're sad and depressed, an appropriate cure is to do something reckless and life threatening. As an adult, I can look past this and still enjoy the story. But this series is marketed as YA. In the first book, Bella is 16, turning 17. That means the target audience is 14 year old girls. Most girls this age see the world through highly romanticized eyes in the first place. They do not have the ability to discern and reject these messages, and therefore, may internalize them and go looking for a bad boy of their own. If you allow your daughter to read it, I'd very much suggest you read it as well and talk to her about these issues, pointing out the fallacies in Bella's thinking and the foolhardiness of some of her behaviors.

Having said that, I have to admit that I did like this book—not as much as a dyed-in-the-wool romance reader would, but I still enjoyed it. And contrary to 99% of the Twilight fan club, I want Bella to end up with Jacob because, in my opinion, he's the better guy. I know it will never happen, and I'm not sure that I really want him to end up with her, she is an idiot, after all. Will I read books three and four? Probably, because even with the typos, grammatical mistakes and a few plot holes, it's still an interesting story.

Megan also read New Moon and posted her review here. We discussed the book and why she would never, ever, ever make some of the choices that Bella makes. I was so pleased that she picked out some of the same idiot behaviors and labeled them as such, as I did. (We did this for the Read Together challenge.)


megan said...

Ah, Bella. Such a silly, silly idiot. (:

McKenna Gordon said...

How did I miss this review? Does it have any spoilers in it? This is on my SRT list too, so I can wait to read this post if need be.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I am going to interject my thoughts here -- I didn't feel that Bella modeled reckless behaviors for young girls because her situation was so entirely different from anything we'd ever experience, and that difference is very obvious. The book is such a fantasy and the situations are so far removed from our everyday lives that it was easy (at least for me) to differentiate. Bella didn't just lose her boyfriend -- his leaving had a literal wounding effect on her, partially killing her and she didn't recover from that until she was back with him, and that's much different than just moping around because some guy left. I agree that young girls are susceptible to suggestions and that they can read things that will lead them down wrong paths, but they tend to do that more when they have identified with the characater in the book. They can't identify that closely with Bella because she's going through things that are impossible to understand.

And now I'm rambling, but it's late. :)

alisonwonderland said...

i just finished reviewing New Moon for Read Together with my 16yo and 11yo daughters. i really liked the book and, like Tristi, don't see Bella as a bad role model for teen girls. i like that she's not "perfect" - and i found her depression to be quite accurately depicted. maybe i'm just a romantic at heart, but i'm also a feminist and a mother, and i still love Bella and Edward and this series. all three of us are eagerly anticipating the release of Eclipse.

btw, like you, my daughters are both "wolf girls" (leaving Edward for me)! :o)

Teressa said...

I don't feel Bella is idiotic at all. People seem to forget that she isn't just losing her boyfriend, she's losing a family; an entire future that she was prepared for. Edward was a part of her and as she said, her insides were changed beyond recognition. Love is irrational.