I get it now. It took three entire volumes, but I finally understand the appeal of these books. It doesn't make me like them any better, but it does make the phenomenon a little less inexplicable. These books are porn for girls with low self-esteem. And not in the Arrested Development sense of "girls with low self-esteem". These books are meant to serve as living proof that you can be a big soggy sack of nothing and still receive undying, unconditional love from everyone around you. Not only do you not have to put any effort into being kind, or charismatic, or decent in any way, you can actually be actively unpleasant to everyone you know and all people will ever do is lavish constant affirmations of praise on you and indulge your every whim like the spoiled bitch princess you are. That's the real fantasy of this series, not the vampire/werewolf crap.
is not the worst book of this series, but that's not a compliment. For a
while, it seems like Stephenie Meyer is going out of her way not to
repeat the mistakes of the first two books. Dream sequences are kept to a
minimum. We get some backstory that has to be told from the point of
view of characters other than Bella, for a change. Bella even does
something useful for the first time in this series: she deduces that the
vampire(s) who raided her room and stole her clothes earlier in the
book are the same as the groups of vampires who are responsible for a
slew of unsolved murders up in Seattle. The plot of this book is that
the girl vampire who was soulmates with the evil vampire who tried to
kill Bella in the first book has been building up an army of newborn
vampires to stage an attack on Edward's family.
This has potential for excitement
because as soon as you hear about you think "Hey, the good vampires
should team up with the werewolves and fight these guys!" But
unfortunately, that potential is never realized. The Cullens and the
werewolves are all raring to go kick some newb-vampire ass, but Bella,
being a killjoy spoilsport, refuses to let Edward join in the battle,
despite the fact that, you know, him being in the fight gives them a
significant tactical advantage. Once again, she puts her own selfish
needs above everyone else's, putting everyone else's life in danger in
the process, and instead of being called out for it she gets treated
like her requests are perfectly reasonable and is accommodated
accordingly. So instead of being treated to a epic orgy of
vampire-killing action, we as readers merely have to settle for a much
smaller-scale showdown between Edward, the vengeful female vampire, one
of Jacob's friends, and another bad guy vampire, while Edward
experiences the actual big battle telepathically. At the risk of quoting
Jay-Z's "Takeover", that's so LAAAAAAMMME.
What's lamer still is the book's treatment of sexual mores.
OK, so Edward puts the condition of turning Bella into a vampire that
she has to marry him first. That's pretty controlling, but somewhat
understandable. But then Bella tries to get him to sleep with her before
they go through with any of this stuff. Not that you could blame Edward
for blanching at the idea of having sex with such a hateful person, but
he's constantly been telling her how much he loves her and how
"amazing" he thinks she is all this time. And his reasons for not doing
it are flimsy. First he's like, "I'd kill you." Maybe he had been
planning on doing her only after she became a vampire or something, but
she wants to experience this as a human, which she is well within her
rights to want. But I still don't buy that just because he's a vampire,
he'd be unable to control his super-strength during sex. If anything,
being a 117-year-old virgin just means that he wouldn't last long enough
in the sack to put Bella in any danger at all (except the danger of an
underwhelming sexual experience). Then, he claims he wants to preserve
his virginity until marriage because he's committed every other sin in
the book, and he wants to remain "virtuous" in the last remaining area.
So, the guy who betrays no other religious inclination whatsoever in any
of these books suddenly becomes all pious when it comes to chastity. I
understand that Stephenie Meyer wants to impose her values on us, but
there had to have been a more elegant way to do it. Near the end, Edward
finally relents and decides to give her some, but then for no reason at
all she declines and the only explanation we get from her is "I want to
do this right." Well that sure cleared it up!
The love triangle is way overblown. Team Edward vs. Team Jacob is never presented as a legitimate choice.
At the end of the book, Bella arbitrarily comes to the realization that
she actually is in love with Jacob as well, but instead of putting her
in the dilemma of who to spend her life with, all this does is wrack her
with guilt over how to let Jacob down easy. Keep in mind that earlier
in the book, she punched Jacob in the face for kissing her. (not that
Jacob wasn't asking for it; he kind of rape-kissed her) How she went
from punching a guy in the face for kissing her to claiming to be in
love with him is anyone's guess; the text sure doesn't give us any
clues. This is nothing but artificial conflict. Bella never for one moment even entertains the thought of leaving Edward, so how is this even a love triangle? Not wanting to hurt somebody's feelings is not the same thing as being in love with that person.
See, in addition to every other defect it is possible for a fictional character to have, Bella is a walking martyr complex.
Stephenie Meyer even realizes this, to the extent that she inserts a
didactic werewolf/Indian myth about a woman who saves the tribe by
sacrificing herself to the vampires. Bella recognizes herself in the
woman immediately, and longs to off herself just to give her friends
some kind of upper hand in the battle against the bad vampires. Every
event that takes place in the book, she never thinks about any of it in
any terms other than how it directly impacts her and her happiness.
Everybody else falls all over themselves to please her, she never shows
any gratitude toward anyone, she even acknowledges that this world would
be a better place for all concerned without her. What is this all for,
if not to burnish the egos of all the women who identify with someone
But this is Meyer's world. Love will happen to you, regardless of
whether you seek it or want it or merit it in anyway. Have you heard of
this werewolf thing she came up with called "imprinting?" For
some reason, in her mythology every werewolf has a certain someone out
there that they fall in love with on the spot, no matter what age they
are. For the rest of their lives (and they live a long time, even if
they're not immortal like the vampires), they remain bonded to this person no matter what happens. One of Jacob's friends falls in love with a baby
here. To her credit, Bella is properly outraged by this, but then Jacob
explains that when you imprint on a person, you become whatever they
need at that point in time. So you'll be her favorite uncle until she's
old enough to marry you or whatever. That's the ideal for love, in
Stephenie Meyer's world. You see someone once, and it's over. You love
them forever, and those feelings never have to be earned or maintained.
They just happen, for no reason. It's all about as magical and
believable as, well, werewolves and vampires.
Only one book left. Then our nightmare will be over. Unless I decide to start watching the movies.