Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer

Well, I have just finished up Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer’s third trashy vampire book.  In case you were wondering whether all the trashy continues unabated, the answer is a resounded and unqualified YES.

Basically, in this book, Bella and Edward have lots of anxieties for several reasons, including 1) she misses Jacob and wants to play with him; and 2) he (Edward, not Jacob) wants to get married and she doesn’t; and 3) she wants to have sex and he (still Edward, not Jacob) doesn’t; and 4) a vampire they pissed off a while ago is making a massive army of baby vampires to kill Bella.  The angst is ceaseless.

Also, Jacob still loves Bella.  He’s more twenty-five-y than sixteen-y these days, so everyone can stop worrying about whether Bella’s a pedophile.  Because, yes, that’s been bothering me a little bit as she inched closer to nineteen and he was still only sixteen.  I did the equation and figured out she’s still okay until he’s 16 and a half, but nevertheless it was bugging me a bit.  He is also no longer cooler than Edward, because now he’s threatening suicide in order to make Bella slip him some tongue.  Lame.  If there’s one thing I hate even more than your garden variety emotional manipulation, it’s emotionally manipulative suicide threats.

To return to the point, however: My stars, this book was trashy, and for some reason, not as absorbing as the first two.  I’ve been trying to decide why that is, and I think it may be because we’ve got all the characters now and nothing new is really being developed.  In Twilight, there was Edward, and Bella was working out things with Edward; and then in New Moon, there was Jacob and she was working out things with Jacob.  In this one we’ve already got them both and Bella’s just being wishy-washy and working nothing out at all except that she really, really, really doesn’t want to get married right out of high school, because she’s afraid of being trailer trash or something.  She wasn’t doing anything, and neither was anyone, except getting very protective of her.  There were lots of pissing contests between Edward and Jacob – first the nice normal pissing contests and then the more subtle ones where they were both all trying to love Bella the best.  And it got tiresome.  I quit reading it and went to bed.  If the next one isn’t more interesting, well I’ll just be.  You know.  Cross.

Hmm – do you think I’m becoming jaded and growing to hate all books everywhere?  The last several books I’ve read haven’t impressed me.  Maybe my brain is on new book overload.  But no, because I’m enjoying Night Watch a lot.  But maybe, because if I can’t enjoy a trashy vampire novel, WHAT KIND OF SOUL-DEAD CREATURE AM I?

Confession

I am a bad blogger, both here and on my regular blog.  This is because I am insanely busy with schoolwork (ugh, it never ends), and trying to secure my future in 500-1000 words; and when all that business is over with, I will still be a bad blogger because I have just discovered that in spite of being initially very unimpressed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it is actually a lot like crack cocaine in that I absolutely cannot stop now that I have started.  This is true to such a vast extent that I have had to give all the Buffy DVDs I borrowed from my sister to my mother to hide from me, so that I can’t put off writing my paper by watching Buffy.

Sheesh.

New Moon, Stephenie Meyer

Edward the Sexy Vampire: Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night.  Very dark, but there were stars – points of light and reason.  And then you shot across my sky like a meteor.  Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty.  When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything went black.  Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by the light.  I couldn’t see the stars anymore.  And there was no more reason for anything….There was no distraction from the agony.  My heart hasn’t beat in almost ninety years, but this was different.  It was like my heart was gone – like I was hollow.  Like I’d left everything that was inside me here with you.

Teehee.

Basically my life has been GuiltyPleasuresVille for the past few days.  I’ve been reading The Sweet Far Thing on and off for a few days, and although I have 37 books out from the library that are due in varying degrees of soonness, I had to take a break and read Tamsin which I own and besides – can’t imagine what possessed me – I watched the pilot of Gossip Girl a few days ago, after which of course I had to watch all of Gossip Girl, and then of course there is Guiding Light, my beloved soap opera, which has been getting kind of interesting ever since Jonathan came back, and now Reva has completely messed up everything by – well, I’ll spare you the details.  Point is, I decided that I was going to read New Moon and finish up The Sweet Far Thing and then really, really devote myself to 1) Serious Reading; and 2) schoolwork (not in that order).

(P.S. I would never ever have confessed publicly to watching Gossip Girl if my extremely clever Indie Sister hadn’t told us yesterday that she used to read the books on which the show was based when she took baths.  “I know!” she wailed.  “I should have been reading Kafka!”)

Anyway, New Moon is absurd.  I can’t even review it with a straight face.  Basically, what happens is that Edward freaks out about how he and his family are going to kill Bella, and shortly thereafter he tells her that he doesn’t love her anymore and is leaving; and because Bella has apparently never read a single book with girls-in-jeopardy or seen Moulin Rouge or that episode of Wonderfalls or any of the ten million other things that would have clued her in on this, she buys it immediately and goes into Enormous Crisis Misery mode for several months.  Then she becomes besties with Jacob, this kid in town who turns out (who’s surprised?  I’m not!) to be a werewolf, bless him.  Some stuff happens, and then some more stuff happens, and she jumps off a cliff just for shits and gigs, and then she goes and stops Edward from killing himself because he thinks she’s dead and then he’s all omg I’ll never leave you again and she’s all you totally promised that you would turn me into a vampire so let’s do it after I graduate, kay? and he’s all I hate myself but I have to agree.  And Jacob can’t be friends with her anymore now that Edward’s back because Edward’s a vampire and Jacob’s a werewolf so they automatically hate each other and anyway they’re both madly in love with Bella so they hate each other about that too.

Phew.

I thought Jacob was a big cutie.  Aw, he’s much cuter than Edward.  I know that Bella can’t be without Edward without switching into Enormous Crisis Misery mode, but I would really like it if Edward did something completely unforgivable and Bella decided she hated him forever and then fell in love with Jacob, who’s like a cute little puppy dog.  I vote yes to cute little puppy dogs.  Jacob, incidentally, is also a grave danger to Bella if he gets too emotional, so this scenario would not require a cessation of torture and self-loathing on the part of Bella’s leading man.  Sadly I know that will never happen.

And now I will write my papers.  Or watch The Laramie Project, which is still procrastination, but is also Serious and Improving and therefore feels less like a waste of time.

Sunshine, by Robin McKinley

It was full dark….I knew he could see in the dark; I knew vampires can smell live blood….No, I thought.  That hardly matters.  He isn’t going to forget about me any more than I am going to forget about him, even if I can’t see or hear him – even if I’ve got so used to the vampire smell I’m not noticing it any more.  Which just made it worse.  I thought I would have to see him cross the gray rectangle between him and me – I was pretty sure his chain wasn’t long enough to let him go round – I knew I wouldn’t hear him.  But…I hadn’t seen him drink either.  I bit down on my lips.  I wasn’t going to cry, and I wasn’t going to scream…

And speaking of non-trashy vampire books, I give you Sunshine, by Robin McKinley.  The eponymous Sunshine, baker at a local coffeehouse, gets abducted by vampires for nefarious purposes I won’t go into here, and what with one thing and another, she gets sort of sucked in (ho, ho, ho) to some goings-on in the vampire world, and it’s tricky for her because in fact she would sort of prefer to be a coffeehouse baker.  Rather than Defeating Evil.  And there are some desserts and a vampire of much greater elegance and better mastery of language than Edward of Twilight.

As I say, a non-trashy vampire book, though reading the trashy one and watching Dark Shadows (best show ever, by the way, with Lt. Nathan Forbes (Joe in the present day) as the absolute best character on there, though we like Carolyn quite a lot too) did have a lot to do with the timing of me rereading this one.  I’ve not read it in ages, actually – the first time was on one of our “camping trips”, where we basically make a ton of food and eat it over the weekend while the more adventurous of us go hiking or boating and the lazier of us (this always includes me) sit home and read things.  Sunshine was an excellent find, definitely better in quality than this past year’s major book undertaking, which was Forever Amber (and also Purple Hibiscus and Cordelia Underwood, but those took up much less of my time and emotional involvement).

What I would say about this book is that it leaves you still wondering about a lot of things.  A lot of things.  And some of them are good things to wonder about, like, Why is Constantine such a cool name, and why is the world so constructed that it would be unacceptable for me to name my kid Constantine?, but some of them are things you don’t want to be wondering about at the end of a book, like, What’s the damn difference between Con and Bo anyway (apart from the obvious nice/mean distinction)?

However, I find upon rereading that these are less frantically crucial issues than I thought they were last time I read the book.  Last time I finished it and I was like, Well for Christ’s sake thanks for nothing! and I was particularly cross, may I just say, about not finding out anything interesting about the goddess of pain.   Actually I’m still a little cross about that.  But this latest rereading, which as I say is a good long while on from when I read it last, has made me feel better about the general construction of the book and advancement of the plot.

There is definitely that thing that Robin McKinley is prone to, where she has to describe the way people are feeling and the entire background story to a remark someone’s about to make/just finished making, in unreal amounts of detail.  She sometimes sacrifices the plot for this (see: Dragon Haven (but not really, I read it before I started this website)), but not in the case of Sunshine.  It is occasionally too much but mostly quite interesting because hey! vampires!

So I vote yes to this book.  Indeed I would say her best since Beauty.  Though Deerskin was also quite good.

Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

God knows I quote:

“Isabella.”  He pronounced my full name carefully, then playfully ruffled my hair with his free hand [when I think vampires, I think of playful hair-ruffling…you?].  A shock ran through my body at his casual touch.  [Of course it did.]  “Bella, I couldn’t live with myself if I ever hurt you.  You don’t know how it’s tortured me.”  He looked down, ashamed again.  “The thought of you, still, white, cold…to never see you blush scarlet again, to never see that flash of intuition in your eyes when you see through my pretenses [I love that he’s so full of shit that after hanging out with her for maybe three weeks tops he’s already fallen in love with the way she looks when she figures out he’s full of shit]…it would be unendurable.”  He lifted his glorious, agonized eyes to mine.  “You are the most important thing to me now.  The most important thing to me ever.”

But don’t worry.  He talks like that because he’s from the Olden Days.  That’s how they talked back then.

I’ve heard about this book from so many different places I can’t even remember them anymore. I knew it was going to be trashy when I checked it out. I could tell. Vampire books are not necessarily trashy, but they often are, and if fangs weren’t so sexy and if vampires weren’t so elegant, the whole vampire books thing would have ended ages ago because they are mostly so extremely trashy.

(Robin McKinley’s Sunshine being an exception. I loved Sunshine. Her best since Beauty, also not trashy.)

Well, anyway, it is very easy to see why Twilight is so popular. Youngish teenage girls love vampires. Fangs are sexy. Vampire dudes are elegant and dangerous. Stephenie Meyer is tapping into this in a big way. Edward Cullen, the vampire dude, is constantly being all “I love you more than my luggage, Bella dearest darling, but if you slip me any tongue while we’re kissing I will have to kill you and suck your blood”. And, you know, who wouldn’t want that?

(Vampires aren’t a very subtle metaphor for sex = death, are they?)

I’m kind of embarrassed by reading this book. When the sequels come in at the library, I’m going to have to check out several other quite-intellectual-looking books to keep the librarians from judging me, especially this one guy who always makes snide comments about everything I’m checking out but he can’t say anything if I have Twilight and then, like, War and Peace and And the Band Played On (not really, I own it) and What Fresh Hell Is This: A Biography of Dorothy Parker and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and…er, some other stuff that clever people might read.

It’s not awfully well-written, or awfully original. It’s just that people cannot resist that whole Will he kiss her or kill her thing. At all. Ever. Even if the guy is sort of creepy. And girls can’t resist vampires. Sexy. Dangerous. Elegant. (Especially elegant, in my case.) Even when they know as I do that these vampire books are silly and trashy, and Bella is ridiculous for being all, “Oh I love you so much and I’m so sure about it that I want to commit to you for all eternity even though I’m only seventeen and I’ve never had a boyfriend before”, and Edward is ridiculous for being all “If I truly loved you I would leave but I can’t because I’m so violently attracted to you and I’m so sexy that I make you faint merely by kissing you”, even then, people – and by people I mean me – cannot resist checking out both sequels as soon as possible.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a good book.

My mum always says this kind of thing – I felt vaguely the same about The Da Vinci Code, which is gripping but not that good a book – begs the question of what a “good book” is. Like, how is it a bad book if it intrigues you so much that you can’t put it down even though you know you want to go to bed early because tomorrow is your only day of the week to sleep late and your roommate is absolutely without question going to wake you up in the morning singing songs and talking on her cell phone? (says my mother) But I don’t think this is right because one only carries on reading out of curiosity about what will happen to the characters, which is the same reason people including her and me get hooked on soap operas, and if there is one thing we can say for sure it is that soap operas are rubbish and not quality television even though they are sometimes addictive.

So.

Edit to add: I just want to be clear here.  I can’t stand these damn books.  When I originally read Twilight, I had no idea of the mad culty Edward-is-perfect business going on across our great nation. The books are enjoyable (for how silly they are!) only insofar as nobody ever takes them seriously or thinks that Edward and Bella have anything approaching a functional relationship.  When people think that Edward and Bella have the perfect relationship, or thinking that Edward is perfect, then I have a problem.  A specific, angry problem with Stephenie Meyer writing a story about an emotionally abusive relationship and portraying it as romantic.  Like girls aren’t receiving that message enough.  He’s not romantic.  He’s a stalker.