New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (2006)

Book review: The Twilight Saga: New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown, 2006)

newmoonI stuck my finger under the edge of the paper and jerked it under the tape. ‘Shoot,’ I muttered when the paper sliced my finger. A single drop of blood oozed from the tiny cut. It all happened very quickly then. ‘No!’ Edward roared …Dazed and disorientated, I looked up from the bright red blood pulsing out of my arm – and into the fevered eyes of the six suddenly ravenous vampires.

For Bella Swan, there is one thing more important than life itself: Edward Cullen. But being in love with a vampire is more dangerous than Bella ever could have imagined. Edward has already rescued Bella from the clutches of an evil vampire but now, as their daring relationship threatens all that is near and dear to them, they realise their troubles may just be beginning …

The second book in the infamous Twilight saga. What’s it about? Uh. Like when I reviewed the film, I’m a bit stumped. Bella and Sparkles are in wuv, Sparkles is brooding and angsty and “I’m so bad for you”, and so on. The Cullens decide to eff off from Forks, leaving Bella in a coma for a few months. Okay, not a coma per se, but a depression making her nothing much short of a zombie. Some months later, she wakes up one day and decides to stop moping and put herself in danger, because that makes her hear the voice of Sparkles.

From this, she decides to get a motorbike, because it’s dangerous and her father would really disapprove, and she comes over a couple of non-working ones that she can take to Jacob who is good with mechanics. So she starts hanging out with Jacob just so that he can fix the bikes (she’s using the college fund she “won’t need” to get all the spare parts required) and then he turns out to have become a werewolf, Alice Cullen re-appears because she had a vision of Bella falling off a cliff, and Sparkles ends up suicidal because of it. So Bella and Alice fly off to Italy. Like you do. And then they all come back so that Bella can continue ignoring Jacob again.

Seriously, my biggest finding with this book, aside from wonderfully strange (read: bad) phrasings like “His sandy hair only came up to my shoulder” (eh?!), is that Bella is a total bitch. She still doesn’t have much of a personality and is still stupid, but what resemblance of a personality she does have just shouts “bitch” a mile off. Seriously. She starts hanging out with Jacob so she can use him. When he goes off-comms for a few weeks, she’s not concerned for him, oh no, she’s only concerned for her own sake because when he’s not there, she misses Sparkles too much.

Jacob was better, but not well enough to call me. He was out with friends. I was sitting home, missing him more every hour. I was lonely, worried, bored … perforated – and now also desolate as I realized that the week apart had not had the same effect on him.

1. Perforated?! 2. Moan, moan, moan, complain. And she also can’t recognise the fact that those warm, fuzzy feelings she has is love and friendship. A healthy kind of love. One that doesn’t exclude you from the rest of reality as if you’d joined a bloody cult. It’s wonderful to be in love, but another person should never be everything, not the sole purpose for your being. That’s not a healthy relationship.

Okay, while I like Jacob more than Sparkles just because he’s less manipulative and Heathcliffy, he also has a few warning bells going off around him. At least Jacob’s sweet, warm and cuddly and can turn into a bigass wolf whenever he so chooses. (The whole full moon thing with werewolves – yeah, so easy to blame Hollywood rather than going with the established tradition, isn’t it?)

What’s with Bella and her need to be submissive anyway? I’ve read people complaining about Bella and her cooking for her dad, but for the most part, I’ve been okay with it. It starts off being explained as Charlie can’t cook, so she cooks as she’s the one who knows how. That makes sense. In a similar vein, when I wasn’t working, I was the one who made dinner and cleaned at home. Not because I was a woman, but because I wasn’t busy being at work all day, which my husband was – earning money so that we could both eat. It’s a fair trade-off in my opinion. But then you read things like this:

I got home later than I’d planned and found Charlie had ordered pizza rather than wait for me. He wouldn’t let me apologize.

Come again? Rather than waiting for his daughter to come home and cook him dinner, he’s sorted out dinner himself. Right. Okay, fair enough, he’s not just sitting there shouting “where’s my dinner?!” down the phone to her. But then she feels the need to apologise? “I’m sorry you had to order pizza and feed yourself because I wasn’t home”? What’s up with that? Surely the man’s a) a bloody adult, not a child, and b) more than capable of finding food for himself before she moved in?

Another thing that made me raise an eyebrow was a very simple little line: “Jacob hadn’t told me how to turn.” She’s on a motorbike and she has a crash because Jacob hasn’t told her how to turn. Has Bella never seen a bicycle before? How can you not know how to turn? It has handlebars, just like a normal bike, it has two wheels just like a normal bike, you turn it just like a normal bike!

More of Bella being cold-hearted:

I raised one eyebrow. “Some people are hard to discourage.”
“Then again,” Jacob said thoughtfully, “sometimes persistence pays off.”
“Most of the time it’s just annoying, though.”

Technically, Bella is talking about Mike, but Jacob isn’t … so her response is seriously bitchy. Although not quite as much as this stinker:

I smiled and nodded as if I cared what my other friends thought.

Yeah, because it’s all about you Bella. No wonder your vampire boyfriend left you, if you’re going to be like that! And while I’m going through the bits I highlighted when reading, here are some more:

Laurent’s words repeated in my head. If you knew what she had planned for you … I pressed my fist against my mouth to keep from screaming.

Why was this highlighted? (Disclaimer: No, I’m not marking the actual pages of the book, it’s against my principles to do such a thing. I’m reading this “saga” on the Kindle – thus highlighting is fine and proper and downright encouraged.) Because it’s funny. Her boyfriend’s a vampire, that’s fine. His whole family are vampires, that’s fine too. Her best friend turns out to be a werewolf, just peachy. She’s being chased by vampires who want her dead, not a problem. She’s nearly killed by vampires on several occasions, must be Thursday. She recalls the words of a now dead vampire saying another vampire wants to kill her and make her suffer – she freaks out and has to stop herself from screaming. Does that make sense to you? No, I didn’t think so. Me neither.

I slid across the seat and put the truck back in drive.

She put it in drive? I thought she had a really old, crappy pick-up van that has a top speed of 55 mph? And now you’re telling me it’s an automatic? Did they automatics even exist back in the 1960s when the truck was actually built? (I’m sure it says somewhere in the first book that we’re looking at that sort of age for the truck.) The more obvious choice would be to put the car in first gear, surely.

“I’ve never seen anyone so prone to life-threatening idiocy.”

You and me both, whoever it was who said it. “Idiot” sums up Bella very well.

Jacob’s Rabbit idled by the curb.

That line actually made me LOL. The curb is nowhere to keep your sex toys, Jake! And if you leave it there, won’t the batteries run flat?

(If you didn’t get that, see this and then this …)

I just nodded in time with my bouncing.

She’s bouncing up and down in the seat on an intercontinental plane. While nodding. Just picture what that would actually look like if done in real life. (Tigger. That’s what.)

The best one in the whole book has to be this one: “Bite me!” Of course, Bella meant in a vampire way, so she can turn into one of them “cold ones” of which the local Tribe speak, but yeah, “Bite me!” is pretty much what I’d like to say to her as a character. It’s either that or throttling her, basically.

The book is similar to the first one. High school life, excessive brooding, Bella being a bitch, Bella swooning over vampires, Bella hearing voices (oh yes, she’s having full on aural hallucinations), Bella feeling sorry for herself, and so on. And shirtless, hunky werewolf boys – although they turn out better on screen, admittedly.

Told you!

Basically, New Moon is chewing gum for the eyes. And the brain. There were many references to Romeo and Juliet and they were blatantly obvious, even for me who has a fuzzy idea of the story but has never actually read or seen it, unless having seen Shakespeare in Love counts. (Feuding families, balcony, both commit suicide because their loved one has died. That’s my general grasp of the plot.) Just a shame they don’t end the same way.

New Moon certainly wasn’t brilliant, but like the first book, it was sort of entertaining and oddly enticing. I can imagine things going downhill, though. I’ve seen the third film and I already know about the downright creeptastic stuff that happens in the fourth book. It’ll be an interesting read, but umm … I’m pretty sure Shakespeare’s original is better.

New Moon, and the Twilight saga in general, is just over-hyped navel fluff for tweens. The love stories do not grab me, because the secondary relationship is always second best and always plays second fiddle, and the primary one is too dysfunctional and abusive. It’s simply not cute. And I really do enjoy romance novels. I enjoy them a whole lot and have a bunch of Mills & Boon/Harlequin books in the shelf, and another bunch on my Kindle.

For the love aspect, and for the paranormal aspect too, I’m right in the target audience, even if I’m nearly 29 and not 13. But it doesn’t work for me. Perhaps because I’m so close to the target audience, I am enjoying it more than I initially thought I would, but at the same time, I can never quite relate to Bella, can’t put myself in her shoes, even if she’s a blank canvas. She’s just not a likeable person, and she’s not a good role-model for young readers – and her taste in men boys is seriously poor. Not to mention trying to rip stereos out of the car until your fingers bleed, being catatonic for three months when your boyfriend breaks up with you and you keep hearing voices makes me think Bertha Mason should make some space up in that attic and expect a room mate, if you know what I mean.

I’m probably going to give this one a 2 out of 5 like the first book, because it wasn’t better, but I can’t say that it was worse either, really. And I’m saving up the ones for books three and four, just in case.

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