Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Moon

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

New Moon, the second book in Stephenie Meyer's controversial Twilight series, explores how Bella handles life without Edward. While Bella breathes a sigh of relief after her traumatic experiences last spring, Edward still believes his nature as a vampire poses a huge danger to Bella's survival. His feelings are confirmed when Bella accidentally cuts herself in the presence of his vampire family. The scent of Bella's blood is too much for Edward's foster brother, Jasper, to handle, and when he turns on Bella, it sets a whole chain of events in motion. Edward decides to leave Forks, WA and Bella, in an effort to give her a chance at life as a "normal" teenager. He doesn't realize the depth of her love for him will make a return to normal life impossible.

Bella spends months severely depressed, but comes out of her shell a bit when she befriends Jacob, a friend of the family. Not even Jacob's steady friendship can fill the hole in her heart, but it helps her heal, until Jacob abandons her in favor of his new werewolf friends.

Bella has found by engaging in dangerous behaviors she can "hear" Edward's voice, so she decides to go cliff jumping, hoping to hear him. She never imagines he will think she has committed suicide and try to do likewise. After a desperate race to save him from death at the hands of the sinister Volturi (the vampire's ruling entity), she realizes Edward still loves her, and he promises never to leave her again.

Issue: Early in the book, we witness a conversation between Bella and Carlisle, Edward's adoptive father (who is also a vampire) about eternity, heaven, and the state of their souls.

Pro: The way Carlisle describes his predicament as a vampire mirrors the predicament we all face as humans born with a sinful nature.

Con: Carlisle sees good works as his only hope of redemption. The books aren't Christian, so obviously they don't mention the redeeming power of Christ.

Issue: When Edward leaves, Bella succumbs to severe depression.

Pro: Meyer shows us a clear picture of acute depression. Readers will be better able to recognize signs and symptoms of depression in others and themselves.

Con: Bella does not have good coping skills and her dad doesn't know what to do with her either. Very few interventions are attempted.

Issue: Meyer uses allusions to Romeo and Juliet throughout the book.

Pro: This is a good way to interest readers in Shakespeare. You could easily read Romeo and Juliet as a companion piece.

Con: Edward and Bella both seriously consider suicide an alternative to living without each other. Fortunately, Bella refuses to hurt her dad in this way, and Edward is prevented from causing his own death by Bella and his sister at the last moment.

Issue: Bella develops a meaningful friendship with Jacob.

Pro: Jacob shows Bella true, unconditional friendship without demands.

Con: Bella realizes Jacob's feelings for her are romantic. While she values his friendship, she is still in love with Edward. Although she thinks it would be healthier for Jacob not to see her so much, she chooses to meet her needs, even at the risk of hurting Jacob. Also, Bella has no close friendships with girls (except for Edward's sister, Alice, who has also left town.)

Issue: Edward is absent for most of the book.

Pro: There is not nearly as much sexual tension/sensuality in this book as in books one and three.

Con: Readers may read a bit obsessively hoping for Edward to reappear in Bella's life.

Issue: After Bella, Edward and Alice are released from the Volturi, a group of unsuspecting tourists is ushered into their cavern to be killed for dinner.

Pro: The evil Volturi provide a marked contrast to Edward's family and their commitment to respect human life.

Con: Vampires kill unsuspecting tourists.

Issue: Bella has a great, if unconventional, relationship with her dad, Charlie.

Pro: Charlie is a safe, loving and constant father. He responds appropriately to Edward's return and Bella's unannounced, three-day absence to Italy. (Grounding, 9:30 curfew, supervised time with Edward. . .)

Con: Edward still sneaks into Bella's room at night to visit, cuddle and watch her sleep. (There is no sex, however.)

Issue: Edward refuses to change Bella into a vampire.

Pro: Edward loves Bella just the way she is and does not want her to change for him. He also doesn't want her to risk losing her soul to eternal damnation.

Con: Bella will keep pushing him to change her throughout the series. She wants to be with him forever and doesn't want to grow continually older as Edward stays perpetually 17.

Age Appeal: Publisher lists young adult (14-21)--I would say 16 and up, due to suicide theme.

Publisher Info: Little, Brown and Company, 2006, ISBN: 978-0-316-16019-3, Hardcover, $19.99

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Annette W. said...

Thank you for this. I haven't read desire to...but know others love it.

Erin said...

Your welcome, Annette. I hope you will have new ideas to talk about when others who love the series bring it up. Thanks for reading reviews at CCBR!