Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

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Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Lesley Mason
Reviewed by Lesley Mason
Summary: Bella Swan, Edward Cullen and Jacob Black return in the third of the Twilight series. The treaty between the Werewolves and the Cullen Vampires comes under threat as a personal vendetta escalates towards outright war. Family and friendship, love and betrayal, remain the main themes in the latest of Meyer's gothic romance novels. More action-packed than the last, it is still the personal relationships that grab the reader most strongly.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 672 Date: July 2008
Publisher: ATOM
ISBN: 978-1904233916

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High School graduation is approaching and Bella has problems.

Being 18 and having a 17-year-old boyfriend is bad enough. Yes it's only a year, but that's a lot at that age, and if you KNOW he's going to stay 17 forever, and you're clearly not going to stay 18 for more than the statutory twelve months... you need options.

Add to that the fact that said boyfriend is a Vampire (hence the age-freeze).

Then there is the small matter of your best friend, a member of the Quileute tribe, who helped you through when the Vampire boyfriend abandoned you for a time and your world fell apart, having grown up (and out) very quickly into the most beautiful, long-haired, powerful and swift Werewolf in the neighbourhood.

They don't call Bella a danger-magnet for nothing.

To those that are coming in at this point, not having read the two previous episodes (Twilight, and New Moon), I'd say - quit this review, go back and read them first.

Not because Eclipse won't make sense without them, it will - but you're going to want to read them, so do it in the right order and don't spoil your own fun!

For those still reading, and doing so in ignorance of the story so far... the basics will become evident as the tale progresses. Meyer cleverly avoids the need to re-tell past history, by sliding in snippets along the way so that you get the general idea.

The general idea being:-

Bella has one very upset Vamp on her trail: Victoria, a very nasty piece of work, whose lover was killed in response to an attack on Bella.

Then a slight misunderstanding between Bella and Edward Cullen (the boyfriend) about whether or not leaping off a cliff constituted suicide... led to a few complications with the Volturi (effectively the Vampire presidium or high command), who might also have a score to settle.

Oh yes, and Vampires and Werewolves are eons-old-enemies of the first order.

Meanwhile, just down the road in Seattle there seems to be a serial killer on the loose.

To think most girls only need fret about who is going to take them to the Senior Prom!

Forget Gothic Horror - this is Gothic Romance. On some levels it is superbly silly - and on others it is masterfully crafted. The result is a believable world, only a sidestep away from our own, with a consistent mythology lurking beyond the knowledge of most people, and a bunch of main characters who live real lives (or in some cases undeaths) with the usual gamut of emotions, strops, sulks, vindictiveness and joy, love, humour and frivolity.

As with the previous version Meyer has built her tale partly around the theme of a Classic story. With Edward & Bella both having matured from the Romeo and Juliet phase... we move on to Wuthering Heights, which is a far more appropriate casting, though I'd be hard pressed to determine whether Edward or Jake (the Werewolf) really takes the Heathcliffe role. Neither fit Edgar Linton's cowardly character - but equally they each only have some Heathcliffian characteristics.

The main plot-line continues to be the relationship between the purely mortal Bella Swan and the Vampire Edward Cullen... complicated by Jacob Black's declaration of love to Bella, and his resultant "all's fair... " struggle with Edward.

This purely personal battle must be put aside however when it becomes clear that forces are at work which threaten not only Bella, but all of the Vampires and the Werewolves - and the strange local treaty that exists between them.

In interviews Meyer is quite forthcoming about her Christian (Mormon) beliefs. Whether these are relevant or not, it is true that there is more lightness in these stories than darkness. They are quite moral. Don't be off-put by that - they're not remotely moralistic or dictatorial - but they do sparkle with humour and you know that how ever much damage is done en route - and they're real enough not to suggest that no-one is going to get hurt: people do, people die - but there is that comforting, 'the good guys will win' feel to them. The morality comes in by virtue of the fact that on the occasions that the good guys do win, it's not by virtue of greater numbers, extraordinary powers, or even greater virtue: it's because the bad guys lose... and they lose because of the fundamental flaws that make them bad guys in the first place.

If only the world really were so just in its outcomes.

There are other morality-checks. For instance Bella's attempts to finally get her Vampire into bed... what is the guy's problem?! There are a few references to the possibility of him killing her if he loses control, which are hints not fully explored, but much of it is bound up in Edward's 'native' timeslot. He comes from another century, and that was when his values were formed. The two world views are interestingly contrasted - but fortunately Meyer stops short of pontificating on one side or the other.

Then again, on the conflict between family and personal ambition. Bella is quite clear where her path leads... but there are friendships and family who will suffer if she follows it... how do we choose?

Questions of compromise and politics and the nature of war lurk in the background.

Again, I must give Meyer credit for raising the questions and declining to answer them. Leaving the reader to decide.

It is very easy from an adult perspective to seek deeper meanings from a novel. Indeed it is hard to try not to do so and take it at face value. Having missed the first, but read the latter two of the Twilight series (which looks like extending beyond the current trilogy) I am confident in saying that they work on both levels.

If you want to ponder how myths arise and what they mean. If you wish to ruminate on the possibility of truth in the stories of supernatural beings. There is food for thought.

On the other hand, if you just want an action-packed, fun-filled teenage romp with some sharp gothic edges - switch off the intellect, engage the emotions and enjoy the ride.

I'm sure I'm too old to be reading these books, but if I tell you I stayed up till 3 a.m. to finish this one, when I had to be up at 6.30, you might just get the idea that (on one level or the other) I'm hooked.

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