So, if you haven't completely disowned me, and are curious to hear further reports from enemy territory, I have collected my thoughts on Stephenie Meyer's second novel in the Twilight series, New Moon.
As the intensely intense love story of Edward and Bella continues, certain patterns start to emerge that on the surface seem innocuous, but the more I think about them, the more I'm sort of disturbed by how this coupling is portrayed.
At the beginning of the book, the Cullens throw a birthday bash for 18 year old Bella, who has suddenly become obsessed with aging the way I did when I turned 25 and realized a quarter of my life had gone by without me noticing. However, in my experience, most 18 year olds aren't so aware of their aging since they've only just gotten their license, the right to vote, and can buy cigarettes, but not alcohol, and they have all that lovely disposable income from not paying bills or mortgages or buying their own food. But Bella is super cranky about turning 18 because perfect Edward is forever 17, and God help us should she age a few years and look slightly older than Ed for the rest of their love story. Because women aren't obsessed with aging as it is, and now we have a weird fantasy metaphor reiterating how men aging is more accepted and lauded than women ('cause we all get saggy and crusty with liver spots all over everything, WE ARE REALLY JUST ALL HIDEOUS CRONES-IN-TRAINING). So Bella's neurotic anxiety attacks about aging is more than a little irritating.
ANYWHOO, so she's grumpy about getting old, and is one of those people who hates people celebrating their birthday (and those people piss me off, chill out, it's just a great excuse to get our party on, DON'T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM US, PARTY POOPER), but she begrudgingly allows the Cullens to throw a little get-together, and she cuts herself on the wrapping paper of a gift (Seriously? The wrapping paper?) and the scent of the blood sends the younger vampires into a tizzy, and perfect Edward's solution to get Bella out of harm's way is to throw her into a mirror on the other side of the room, sending a shower of broken glass and splintered furniture all over her fragile person. CONGRATS ED, YOU JUST WON THE BRILLIANT STRATEGY AWARD OF THE DAY. At any rate, the party is ruined and Ed uses this little mishap as an excuse to run from this relationship. Just like a guy to think up any excuse to avoid commitment.
At this point, I had a few questions. Granted, vampires have a super keen sense of smell as predators, and Meyer established the feeding frenzy mentality when they get their chompers into you, but how does one "blend in with society" if a PAPERCUT causes them to go berserk and launch themselves towards the potential food source, fangs bared and eyes rolled back in their heads like great white sharks? Walking around a high school, or just through this mountain town (which is probably a logger mecha), how does one avoid every person with a scratch or cut? You can't. This plot device is dumb.
Furthermore, as a matured female that produces eggs and goes through the life cycle, how does our darling Bella handle being without Eddie for five days while she rides the crimson wave? I don't care what kind of contraptions you use during that time of the month, if you aren't supposed to be near a lion while menstruating, you sure as hell shouldn't be within fifty miles of a vampire.
Speaking of being without Eddie, you may or may not know that this is the novel where Edward wrenches himself from Bella's cloying grasp, taking his whole family with him, Bella's only other support system. According to him, it's to "protect" Bella, to keep her safe from any more incidents like her birthday party, because she is just a fragile, breakable human, and he refuses to turn her into a vampire for his own internally righteous reasons.
"Sorry babe, gotta go, you've got a few too many crow's feet for my liking."
It's titled New Moon to describe the darkest period of Bella's life, life without Edward. Prior to his well-timed departure, Bella insists that Edward spend every evening next to her while she sleeps. One could read a lot into this, and I'm more than a little uncomfortable with her physical dependency on him, not dissimilar to a drug habit, and the way he cradles her like a child ALL THE TIME. This point is really driven home in a scene (though I can't remember which book this takes places in) where she's mad at him for all of fifteen seconds, then backs down and leaves the window open, inviting him into her bed. I hate that she had every reason to be pissed at him, but there is nothing she can do to punish him for being stupid like you do with normal dudes, both because she doesn't have much to threaten him with and because she can't hold her ground against him for any significant length of time. Who taught her how to be a woman? When your dude is being a pain in the ass, you stay mad at him for a few days, not telling him why you're pissed, until he figures it out for himself and apologizes proper-like. She is full of fail. It really illustrates one of the more disturbing aspects of their relationship, the one where it trips down the very fine line between THE MOST INTENSE LOVE EVER and AN UNHEALTHY DRUG ADDICTION.
So you can imagine the kind of withdrawal she goes through when Edward takes off.
Now, if you see the movie, you will probably hate Bella with all your soul for being so psycho about Ed leaving. The revolving shot with Bella staring out the window as the seasons change is especially ridiculous. The book is a bit more subtle, and though she goes through catatonic depression for two weeks, Bella makes an effort to maintain the illusion of normalcy so Charlie doesn't worry too much about her. She doesn't do it very well, but give her a sticker for trying. However, the screaming nightmares (and I'm talking about the kinds that shake the windows) are pulled directly out of the book. I maintain that sympathies should lie with Charlie, not Bella, especially since the nightmare isn't particularly scary, AT ALL. The whole situation is overdone, yet nauseatingly familiar, since I once was a teenage girl. I suppose Meyer's point is that Bella doesn't get over Edward's absence like any normal girl because he is her one true love (gag). Personally, I don't believe in one true love; which is why I suppose I find the whole thing a tad ridiculous. Especially since Meyer brings Jacob Black into the mix, the poor, puppy-love ridden hot Indian, someone with whom Bella finds comfort and distraction from her broken heart.
Who's the saddest not-a-werewolf?
When you get dumped and you are naturally super sad about it, and outside of enough time to forget how bad it hurt, the best remedy is a new love interest. And precocious, adorably shirtless Jacob fits the bill to a "T." But you know what Bella does? She breaks out the old, "I love you, but I'm not IN love with you." Because she's still hung up on Edward, Mr. I Know What's Best For You, Always. GAHHHHHH. The second Edward is back in the picture, she breaks that hot Indian's heart after using him like a sexy elixir to make herself feel better. She even tells Jacob that given the choice, she will ALWAYS choose Edward over him.
So, Edward abandons Bella for her own safety, which in fact puts her directly in danger, from both herself, getting into dangerous situations so she can have all those indignant arguments with phantom Edward that she'd never have with the real thing, and vengeful psycho vampire Victoria, who has decided to hit Edward where it hurts for killing her mate James in the first book by torturing and murdering HIS mate, i.e. Bella. Again, Edward, first place trophy for you. Thankfully, the hot and totally ripped not-a-werewolf Indians are on top of things during the Cullens' absence.
Energetic after-school program or sexy not-a-werewolf cult?
Now, we come to an interesting crossroads. Edward and Jacob are polar opposites, cold and hot, calmly composed and heatedly passionate, icy white and warm mocha brown. Edward is, allegedly, completely selfless, putting Bella's safety and well-being above his own happiness. Jacob, though sweet and loyal, has no compunction about throwing a hissy fit and laying down the guilt trip, even lying to manipulate Bella into getting his way. But realistically, Jacob offers the better choice: One doesn't have to abandon their entire family to protect their now-undead life status or watch friends and loved ones die as they live forever. You would be free to live life in near normalcy, compared to the lengths vampires have to take to keep themselves hidden.
BUT. Both are overprotective of Bella and are convinced that they know what's best for her. Both tread through the dangerous territory of romanticized domestic abusers:
Edward is a little more controlling than your average insecure dude. He makes major decisions without asking for Bella's input, he keeps tabs on her movements and who she spends her time with, he tries to tell her who she can and can't hang out with, he thinks he knows what's best for her, and to be with him she has to give up contact with her family.
Jacob is an emotional manipulator, he could lose his temper and maul someone at any time, he will lie to get what he wants, and he doesn't feel bad about hurting people he doesn't like.
Meyer tries to justify their behavior through their supernatural status and the fact that Bella is pretty much under constant threat of death and dismemberment, but because she sets up both males as the ideal for masculinity, these aspects of their personalities are a bit disturbing. This may be something you need to read for yourself and see what you think.
So at the end of New Moon, Bella saves Edward's life and she immediately forgives him for all the bullshit he's put her through because he's so wracked with guilt and despair without her that he was going to commit suicide. HOW SWEET. And yes, the Romeo and Juliet allusions are there, and guess what? Romeo and Juliet were morons. They made SEVERAL bad decisions. Guess who else keeps making bad decisions?
On the positive, this book isn't all that bad, and we get to see some intense Indians do some damage. But the ride ain't over. And neither is the crazy drama. Not only is Victoria still out there, circling her prey, but now the vampire police (Volturi) are on the Cullens' asses about having a human gal pal. Whoo! Who's got some conflict all up ins?