Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book Review: Eclipse, by Stephenie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer
Trade Paperback, 629 pages
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
August 4, 2009
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, YA

The romance intensifies, becoming very poignant and bittersweet, in this third installment of The Twilight Saga, which I have read for the third time, because I simply can't get enough of it!  In fact, I have embarked upon a third re-reading of the entire Saga.

Edward has returned to Bella's life, so Jacob informs her that he can no longer be her friend...

Initially, Edward forbids Bella from trying to go to La Push to visit Jacob so as to heal their friendship.  He even 'bribes' Alice to 'kidnap' her, which ultimately doesn't work.  Edward finally decides that trying to prevent Bella from seeing her friend will only make her suffer, as she cares deeply for Jacob.  Just how deeply, however, she herself is not aware of....until very dramatic events ensue toward the last third of the book, and Bella has to admit, at last, that she's in love with Jacob, as well, although she does love Edward more.

Conflict is slowly brewing in this novel, and not just because of the love triangle.  It seems that someone is rapidly creating a small army of newborn vampires that have begun to ravage Seattle.  The Cullens decide they must intervene, fearing that the Volturi will step in.  They don't do so right away, however, as other, more ordinary human events, prevent them from leaving Forks unnoticed.

This novel gives the reader more background on the two groups that have become open antagonists -- the Cullens and the Quileutes.  I was fascinated by the stories of Rosalie's and Jasper's transformations into vampires, although the acts of violence in their individual stories did make me quite uncomfortable.  These were, thankfully, glossed over in the movie version of the novel.  The stories did serve to flesh out these two characters, though.  (Besides, they finally came across the Cullens, and embraced a non-violent lifestyle, refraining from killing humans.)  I wonder why Meyer didn't include a background history for the other members of the Cullen family, but then, perhaps the book would have become too cumbersome.

Equally fascinating were the Quileute legends, told by a roaring campfire, with Bella in attendance.  Billy started the storytelling, which was then taken over by old Quil Ateara, grandfather of the younger Quil, one of the werewolves.  The stories dealt with the origin of the Quileute tribe, of how they had spirit warriors that later on became werewolves.  These warriors were always protectors of the tribe, and their mission continued when they became able to shapeshift into wolves.

I was especially interested in, as well as saddened by, the story of "the third wife", which, ironically enough, would have later repercussions in the novel.

The dialogues between Edward and Bella, as well as those between Jacob and Bella, are the most poignant I've yet come across in this series.  Edward loves Bella so much that he refrains from hurting Jacob, so as not to hurt her.  Although it's painful for him to realize just how much the werewolf means to his girlfriend, he endures the pain, even going as far as asking Bella if she is truly happy with choosing him over Jacob.  

Bella realizes, for the first time, that Jacob would have been perfect for her, had Edward not been in the picture.  Meyer gives her readers a fleeting glimpse of what could have been.  That brief scene is a very touching one, too.

As the danger from the vampires in Seattle escalates, an unusual and uneasy alliance is formed between the two groups that had until then been total enemies.   They trust each other rather grudgingly, but still, it's very gratifying to see them working together.  As Bella herself states, at several points in the story, there's no need for the Cullens and the Quileutes to be at war with each other.  And so it is that Meyer begins to cleverly set things up for the events of the last novel in the Saga -- Breaking Dawn.  I love that she did this!  It's beautiful to see this alliance unfolding, as well.  And it's Bella who is the catalyst in this developing state of affairs.

Although the pacing in this book was a bit slower than that of the two previous ones -- at least for the first third of it -- I enjoyed it immensely!  It's just that Meyer is tremendously skilled at creating very real, very believable characters that the reader can come to love.  This reader certainly did!  The conflicts and entanglements these fictional people are involved in became my conflicts and entanglements, as well.  I know that, as I read, I felt their feelings, thought their thoughts, and was swept right along with them in the plot's intensely romantic angst....

The unfolding story of Edward, Bella, and Jacob -- The Twilight Saga -- is the romantic masterpiece of our time.  It is also a dramatic tale involving complex existential themes that engage the intellect just as much as they enthrall the heart and mesmerize the soul. 

There will definitely be a fourth re-reading in my future!  Stephenie Meyer has woven a permanent spell for me, one I have no desire to break....


Stephenie Meyer

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