*Originally posted on my LiveJournal back in January of 2010*
I finished it last night with a big ol' roll of the eyes and decided that I won't attempt to read New Moon until--moreso "if"--Dana manages to muddle through this first one. I personally think she's going to find it boring, all this depressing, obsessive naval-gazing that constitutes 80% of the book, but then I might be surprised by her tenacity. After all, she did manage to read all the way through Goblet of Fire (but I'd also read it to her previously so she knew what to expect, and expectation of payoff can keep you reading even when things are tedious).
So, impressions: quality writing is not necessary to get published, it seems, for there was none of that to be found in here. I mentioned before that Meyer's writing style was rather pedestrian but surprisingly readable, but I found the further in I got, the worse it seemed to get. My pet peeve: the overuse of "could", as in "I could see..." "I could feel". It makes sentences cumbersome and creates distance between the narrator and the action, and it goes without saying that when the narrator is 1st person that they are the one seeing and feeling the events (unless they're telepathic or empathic, but that's not the case with Bella). Meyer must have used this at least every other page, to the point that I just wanted to chuck the book across the room, call up her editor and demand an explanation of why he/she let such sloppiness slide by. I thought perhaps my dislike of the writing was merely the stodgy writer in me, but then last night while at Gaaron's basketball practice, Jeff picked up the book and started reading the first chapter, and within two pages he told me, "I don't know how you can read this. The way she arranges her sentences makes no sense; it's like how Yoda would write." But then I've always known that good story will trump mediocre writing, so the story must be really good, right?
I'm baffled here too. The plot is trite teenage wank, which I suppose explains why teenagers like it. It pokes a stick in the eye of reality-based consequences for the choices they make and says "you can live happily ever after with your dangerous boyfriend!" There's nothing all that original about this story, and nothing new is brought to the whole vampire mythos with it, except perhaps the whole "sparkly" thing, but since that's not explained at all, I have to dismiss this new twist as merely a plot device to make it possible for Bella and Edward to meet in high school. You know, Buffy covered the whole vampire-high school bit, and she did it much better and far more interestingly than this (in fact I would say that Buffy was at its best when they were still in high school.). I could hardly stand 3 years of high school, so I can't fathom how Edward has put up with 50 years of it. And really, is he so young-looking that he would constantly be brought in by the police for truancy if he didn't go to school? The fact that he can easily ditch on sunny days suggests not. The whole reason for him being there at all is contrived and unbelievable. And that's a quality that defines quite a lot of this book, from the Bella-Mary Sueism to the almost universal acceptance of Bella by Edward's vampire family (I'm still puzzled as to why Rosalie doesn't like her, though I could assume that it's any of the same reasons I dislike Bella, like that she's insane and scary-pathetic!). And baseball?!? Vampires playing baseball out in the middle of the wilderness?!? That really tested my willful suspension of disbelieve and seems only there so that they could attract the attention of the less-noble vampires and deliver Bella into a heap of trouble. Not to mention why on earth would anyone go outside and play baseball with a metal bat during a thunderstorm? Edward tells Bella that there aren't many ways to kill a vampire, but I'm sure that getting fried while playing outdoors with a lightning rod during a storm would be one of them. And while the plot picks up a tad bit near the end and things turn truly dire, our brave author coped out on us at the climax. All this time I've been waiting to see Edward vamp and kick this hunter's ass, but all we get is him crying over Bella's bitten hand while his "brothers" deal with the hunter off-stage. But then I shouldn't have been surprised, because Meyer castrated poor Edward.
I mentioned before that I disliked Edward, and I still stand by that, but for completely different reasons now that he's suffered his character arc. I disliked him before because he was a dick, but I soon discovered that I really kind of liked that about him because it had become obvious that Bella was a loon. But then he exposed his sparkliness to Bella and turned from interesting asshole into a pathetic, ball-less loser. He spends the next 150 pages constantly reminding Bella that he loves her, but also warning her that he's too dangerous to be around. Oh, so he's concerned? Well, that's good, except that he's incapable of manning-up and doing the right thing, which is getting the hell away from Bella, especially when she starts pestering him to turn her into a vampire. No, instead he takes her to prom, growls about Jacob Black copping a dance with her, then takes her outside where they have a discussion again about him turning her into a vampire, which is really just a thinly-disguised metaphor for sex, because you know that dying and having sex are exactly the same thing.
And Bella...well, I wish Edward would have jumped her after school that first day and eaten her. It would have been better for everyone involved. Edward would still have his balls and Bella wouldn't have had the chance to tell girls nation-wide that changing yourself into something monstrous in order to live happily ever after with your boyfriend is the greatest thing ever. Or that pestering him to change you into a vampire/have sex with you over and over again will eventually make him crumble and do what you want. Isn't that exactly the kind of behavior we're supposed to be warning our girls against committing and succumbing to? There's lots of talk about love in this book, but is this really what Meyer thinks people who truly love each other do?!?
I could go on and on about the problems and irritations in this book, because there are many, but I'm going to stop there. And hopefully I won't have to pick up New Moon anytime soon.