Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Review - Eclipse

Eclipse – Stephanie Meyer


I found the first two books in the twilight sage excruciating slow to begin with and poorly written to the point where on both books I considered abandoning them. Thankfully, they both got better and strangely compelling to the point where I can honestly and unashamedly admit that I actually enjoyed them.

There are some books that just have a wintry/Christmassy feel to them. The Harry Potter books and the Twilight books fall into this category. With the temperature outside definitely plummeting I got the urge to revisit La Push. I was expecting much the same as the previous two incarnations.

The Blurb:

As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob--knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?
Eclipse is without a doubt the strongest of the Twilight books by quite some margin. Unlike the first two books in the saga, Eclipse starts off strongly and doesn’t really falter.

Bella is transformed from the hopelessly in love girl, gushing over every movement Edward makes, to a girl with a backbone. Yes, she still has moments where she pauses to think how adorable Edward is but these are described in a more mature way and do not detract from the story.  She is also not afraid to push back when she disagrees with something Edward says and does and the relationship feels far more equal than before. For instance Bella realises that Edward is not just being protective in his behaviour towards her but overbearing and possessive.  This is well portrayed and Stephanie Meyer is keen to play on this dynamic by having Jacob feed off this conflict.

It would be easy for Stephanie Meyer to have Jacob as the guy waiting in the wings as an alternate if Edward were to slip up, but she makes sure Jacob has more to him by making him rough around the edges. Jacob is far from perfect. He is dangerous, arrogant but also playful with it. Jacob and indeed all the werewolves are given more strength in this novel. They are now portrayed as equal with the vampires in regards to the threat they pose and more than a match for them if the two were to break the treaty they share.

Edward develops in this novel too. In the past, I can honestly say I hated him as a character finding him annoyingly bland and perfect. In Eclipse I did not mind him so much. Rather than try to control Bella he slowly learns to trust her judgement and acknowledge that she has other friends and he has to accept that.

The difference with Eclipse as opposed to the other novels in the series is that the plot is interesting for the outset. The threat to Bella is kept to the background to begin with but you are always aware of it. It keeps the story focussed and moves it away from Bella’s agonising over Edward.

One particular strength of the novel is that the history and back-story of the characters is explored. We get to discover the origin stories of Jasper for example, which is well written and actually pretty darn good. The best part of the novel though belongs to the history of the Werewolves. This is told by Sam and stands out as a superior bit of writing. I wouldn’t mind seeing Stephanie Meyer explore this area further in a future book.

Having said all that, the book is not perfect. There is an inevitability about the direction of the story that took a little too long to surface for my liking. I found it hard to believe that none of the characters had considered a certain plot element way before they did when it was so bleeding obvious.

I also wished Stephanie Meyer had been braver with some of the choices she made in the story. She did not make any bad decisions but again there was a certain amount of inevitability over how things turned out.

The climatic battle was excellent however. Stephanie Meyer uses a fantastic technique of describing part of the battle through someone recounting events as they see it through the eyes of those actually engaged in the battle. This is highly effective and really ratchets up the tension.

Overall, I can honestly say that for the first time with this series I began to see what the fuss is about. Don’t get me wrong, it is not up there with the top fantasy books in the genre but it is a really good read.

 My rating: 8.9

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