Book review: New Moon (and Twilight)

I had heard a lot about Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga, and so while browsing around at the bookstore some months ago, I picked up the entire series. It’s a compulsive thing — if I have one book that is part of a series, I need to have them all!

The first book — Twilight — didn’t impress me much. The writing seemed labored and the style and grammar (I’m an editor, what did you expect?!) left much to be desired. But somewhere along the way, I started to enjoy the story — a bit. I like witches and wizards (think Harry Potter) and vampires (think The Historian and Bram Stroker’s Dracula), and Myer’s take on the latter was interesting. They sparkle in the sun instead of burn, have strong piercing teeth not fangs, can drink both animal as well as human blood, and are indestructible and lightning fast. And one of them falls in love with one of us! Interesting!

But since the style of writing left a lot to desire, the rest of the books were languishing on my bookshelf. That is, until I finished reading Ben Okri’s Starbook (very interesting, but rather heavy!) and wanted some light reading next. While going over my stash of unread books, I came across New Moon, the second novel in the Twilight series, and thought, why not?

This one hooked me from page 1, and I finished reading it in two days flat. This doesn’t mean that New Moon was much better than Twilight; it just means that I’ve read some pretty heavy fiction these last two months (see my Reading list) and needed a really, really light read!

The plot (spoiler alert!), with its twists and turns and the introduction of warewolves, had me hooked to the book, as I raced to find out what would happen next.

On Bella’s 18th birthday, Edward and his family throw her a birthday party, where, clumsy as she is, she gets a paper cut. This drives Edward’s brother Jasper out of control, but Edward saves her. To protect her, Edward ends their relationship and the Cullens move away from Forks. This leaves Bella heart-broken, though she goes through the motions in a “zombie-like” state for the sake of her father. That is, until she realizes that thrill-seeking activities allow her to “hear” Edward’s voice in her head. That’s when she purchases two old motorcycles and renews her friendship with Jacob Black, whose sunny disposition eases her pain over losing Edward.

But things aren’t that straightforward, as Jacob is in love with her, and Bella isn’t sure if it will be fair on her part to reciprocate those feelings. She also learns that Jacob and some of the other Quileute tribe members are warewolves, arch enemies of vampires. They protect her from Laurent and also Victoria, who is seeking revenge for her mate James, whom the Cullens killed in Twilight.

There’s still another twist in the plot — through a series of miscommunications, Edward believes that Bella has killed herself. Distraught, he goes to Volterra, Italy, to provoke the Volturi, vampire royalty, who are capable of killing him if he exposes himself as a vampire in their city. Alice (Edward’s sister, who can see the future) and Bella race to Italy to try to save Edward; of course, they arrive just in time to stop him from stepping out into the sun, where his skin would shimmer like a thousand diamonds. The Volturi don’t let them off easily, though. They think that Bella, a human, knows too much about vampires and must be killed or transformed into one herself. Using her gift of foresight, Alice convinces the Volturi that Bella will turn into one of them, and the trio returns to Forks, where Edward and Bella resume their relationship, but not before Bella convinces the Cullens to turn her into one of them after she graduates. And of course, with the return of Edward, Jacob exits Bella’s life, though she’s determined to “win her best friend back.”

The book did drag a bit in the middle, but it was pretty fast paced nonetheless. I also found the writing style much better than the first novel, plus I liked the fact that Myer didn’t dwell overtly on Bella’s clumsiness and Edward’s awesomeness. That was a real pain in Twilight, which was very Mills n Boon-ish. The introduction of warewolves kept the novel interesting, and now I’m intrigued to find out if Myers developed the dynamics between vampires and warewolves in the other two novels.

I’m not sure I would recommend the series to my friends; plus this really isn’t the kind of fiction I generally enjoy. I guess if you’re a teen or pre-teen you’ll like the book. If you want a light read, you just might enjoy New Moon.

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  1. In my honest opinion New Moon is the high-point, twilight comes in second, eclipse third and the book just falls down the ground in Breaking Dawn. Wouldn’t go further if I were you.

  2. Pingback: Book review: Bartimaeus: Ring of Solomon – Jonathan Stroud | Modern Gypsy

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