Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Eclipse

This is the third in a series of posts Christian Children's Book Review is offering, examining the wildly popular and controversial Twilight series of books.

In Eclipse, the third book in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, Bella must choose between Jacob and Edward, as a three-way battle between Edward's peaceful family, a pack of revenge-seeking vampires and werewolves becomes increasingly likely. Only the love Jacob and Edward share for Bella makes it possible for them to set aside their differences and work together to defeat the army of evil "newborn" vampires who are ravaging Seattle and ultimately hunting Bella.

As graduation and her 19th birthday loom closer, Bella spends her time trying to convince Edward to change her into a vampire. Edward, on the other hand, keeps sending in college applications for Bella, knowing college won't be an option for her once she is a vampire. ("Newborn" vampires' thirst for blood is so strong, Bella would have to isolate herself from humans upon becoming a vampire.) To make things more complicated, Jacob becomes increasingly desperate and manipulative, hoping to wrest Bella's affections away from Edward before he changes her. In the end, Bella acknowledges her love for Jacob but decides she loves Edward more. She honors Edward's wishes by agreeing to marry him before they consummate their relationship and before she changes into a vampire.


Issue: As Edward and Bella become closer, their physical relationship progresses.

Pro: Edward is insistent upon remaining a virgin until he is married, and has several candid conversations with Bella about limiting their sexuality. In the one instance at the end of the book where he wavers, Bella steps up and becomes the responsible one, because she knows how important a pure marriage is to Edward.

Con: The sexual undercurrent of the previous books has given way to more overt sexuality. There is a bedroom scene where Meyer describes Edward pulling Bella's hip towards him and rolling her on top of him, as they kiss. Although he repeatedly stops Bella from going as far as she would like, several scenes are described in enough detail to create vivid visual images in readers' minds.


Issue: Edward initially forbids Bella to see Jacob. He follows her, checks up on her, and employs his sister to "babysit" her when he suspects she might attempt to see Jacob.

Pro: Edward realizes he is acting more out of jealousy than out of true concern for Bella's safety, and decides to trust Bella and allow her to see Jacob.

Con: At first, Edward goes to extreme lengths and models unhealthy, controlling behavior.


Issue: Meyer alludes to and quotes Wuthering Heights throughout the book.

Pro: Readers are more likely to be interested in reading classics when they have something to connect them to. Wuthering Heights would be an obvious companion piece to Eclipse.

Con: Edward states, and some of us at Christian Children's Book Review agree, Heathcliff and Catherine (the main characters in Wuthering Heights) have no redeeming qualities, so why read an entire novel about them?


Issue: We finally learn the reason for Edward's sister, Rosalie's, ambivalence towards Bella.

Pro: Rosalie does not want Bella to become a vampire, because she still grieves over the opportunities she missed as a human, especially the chance to have children. Her realistic view of vampire life stands in contrast to Bella's idealized vision of living "happily ever after."

Con: Rosalie's story is quite graphic. She was raped by her fiance and several of his friends shortly before her wedding, and left for dead in an alley. After Carlisle changed her to a vampire, she sought revenge by hunting down and killing her attackers, even wearing a wedding dress as she killed her former fiance.


Issue: Bella learns werewolves sometimes "imprint" upon someone, meaning they meet someone and are compelled to be their mate for life. Imprinting can happen with someone of any age, and a werewolf will act as an older brother or cousin until the person is of marriageable age.

Pro: Werewolves exhibit devotion and unconditional love to the person they have imprinted on.

Con: The concept of imprinting directly opposes the idea love is a choice to be made daily. Also, the idea of a teen meeting a two-year-old and being committed to them until they are old enough to marry is a bit creepy.


Issue: Emily, Sam's girlfriend, becomes horribly scarred when he became angry and changed into a werewolf too close to her. He is still extremely remorseful, and they are engaged to be married.

Pro: Emily shows unconditional love by remaining in the relationship.

Con: This incident excuses physical violence and again resembles an abusive relationship, as mentioned in previous reviews.


Issue: On one occasion, Jacob forces Bella to kiss him, and on another, he leads her to believe he will sacrifice his life in battle unless she allows him to kiss her.

Pro: Bella punches Jacob after he makes her kiss him despite her protests. She models how to stand up for yourself, and her dad supports her actions. Jacob's actions give readers a clear picture of manipulative behavior.

Con: Jacob rationalizes poor decisions and acts contrary to his kind, caring nature. Also, Bella's true affection for Jacob causes her to lead him on and make poor decisions as well (such as offering to kiss him in order to convince him to return from battle).


Issue: Edward and Jacob are able to set aside their differences and convince their families to work together to defeat an outside enemy.

Pro: Working together helps both vampires and werewolves see each others' good qualities and begins to break down generations of enmity. There is an obvious parallel to racial reconciliation.

Con: Both vampires and werewolves seem to take pleasure in destroying the evil vampires. (However, Carlisle does attempt to offer asylum to one of the "newborn" vampires, but is thwarted by the evil Volturi.)


Age Appeal:
Publisher lists young adult (14-21), but I would say 16 at the youngest, due to sensual images. It would probably be better to have teens wait until they are even older, but I would rather read the books together than have my teens read them without telling me.

Publisher Info: Little, Brown and Company, 2007; ISBN: 978-0-316-16020-9 ; Hardcover, $19.99



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4 comments:

Annette W. said...

Great insight. I know my sister focused on how Edward insists on being a virgin when married...but I didn't know about all the sexuality. (My older sister by the way.)

Once again, thanks for the review!

Robin said...

The reviews are fabulous! What a great way to help parents see what they can expect from the series. There are so many conversation starters on so many issues in the novels. Thanks!

Erin said...

Thanks for your support, ladies. It means a lot to us at CCBR.

Rejoicing said...

Thanks so much for such a thorough, balanced review. As a Christian school teacher, I have neither the time nor resources to personally review every book that is marketed to my students. While I knew this book was not one I would suggest as appropriate, I had no references to cite. Now, I do. Thanks so much.