Eclipse

Eclipse

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier novels in the series. You can read my reviews of these books [here] and [here].

Eclipse is the third novel in Stephenie Meyer’s massively popular Twilight Saga. It was first published in 2007 and continues to document the love life of Bella Swan, a human who is forced to choose between an eternity with her vampire lover and her attraction to a handsome werewolf. The novel follows on directly from Twilight (2005) and New Moon (2006) and is followed by Breaking Dawn (2008). There has also been two further stories released since: a novella which focuses on a minor character from Eclipse titled The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (2010) and a gender flipped version of the first book titled Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (2015) which was released for the 10th Anniversary.

Following on from their meeting with the Volturi, Bella and Edward have returned to Forks and resumed their lives as a couple. However, things have changed between them. Edward is now more protective than ever, refusing to let Bella do anything that he deems dangerous. He also still withholds immortality from her, something that annoys her no end, saying that he won’t make her into a vampire before she marries him.

The return of Edward also puts a strain on Bella’s relationship with Jacob. The two of them had been growing closer in the vampire’s absence but his return has driven a wedge between them. The distance pushes Jacob to confess his love, swearing that he can tell that Bella feels the same way. Bella is less sure. She knows that she wants to be with Edward yet Jacob can offer her so many things that the vampire can’t…

While Bella is forced to choose between her two suitors, she finds herself in danger once again. News of serial murders in Seattle lead the Cullens to believe that someone has created an army of newborn vampires and they have reason to believe that they will soon be heading to Forks. Edward fears that it’s the Volturi’s attempt to thin out their clan but Bella fears that it may be Victoria, finally coming for her revenge. One thing is certain, the vampires cannot handle the threat alone. In order to survive and protect the town, they will need to form a truce with the werewolves…

Before I start this review, I just want to be honest with you. The Twilight series is massively popular to this very day but I simply do not understand the appeal. While people told me that the series improves over time, every novel seems to just get a little worse. I am starting to wonder if I just don’t understand this series at all but this blog is all about my feelings towards novels and so I’m going to review from the heart. Personally, I thought that this was the worst instalment of the series so far, and coming after New Moon that’s really saying something.

However, that said, I will start by saying one thing positive about Eclipse. I was really glad to see that it pulled itself up out of the depressive mire of New Moon. As I said in my previous review, New Moon really did not portray Bella in the best light. When Edward left her, she grew increasingly self-destructive as though she measured her entire worth on Edward loving her. This didn’t sit well with me at all as it just smacked of victim blaming. While Eclipse is still riddled with angst, it is at least nowhere near as pretentiously melodramatic as New Moon.

However, the novel has many other problems. It is very slow burning and twice the length it needed to be. In terms of plot, there simply wasn’t enough to fill a 629 page book. The actual core story – the threat of the newborns – was frequently pushed to the background in favour of Bella’s personal problems. Even when the novel reached its climatic battle of vampires and werewolves versus more powerful vampires, the series once again hobbles itself with its first person narrative as Bella is not present for any of the fight. The entire book built up to a war that was not shown on page.

I could see that the true focus of the story was supposed to be the interactions between the characters. Over the course of the story, Bella meets with a handful of characters and seems to have the same conversations with them over and over. Themes this time focus on Bella’s difficulty in choosing a lover and whether or not immortality is the best thing for her. While the previous novel made heavy reference to Romeo and Juliet, this time the series tries to draw parallels with Wuthering Heights, which both Bella and Edward seem to mistakenly feel is a romantic story. The first warning note about their relationship should be that they relate to Cathy and Heathcliff respectively.

To say that Eclipse is character driven is not really true. The only primary character who really gets any development is Edward. When the story begins, he is unbearable. He even goes as far as to kidnap Bella to prevent her from visiting La Push, his reasoning being that the werewolves are too dangerous for her to be friends with. Interesting argument, especially as when he abandoned her in New Moon she spent a lot of time hanging around with werewolves and managed not to get eaten. Over the first two hundred pages of Eclipse, Edward slowly learns that he is being too protective and it’s just making Bella unhappy. He finally settles on the fact that he’s got to trust her to live her own life, even if he might not agree with all of her choices, as being caged by him will never make her happy.

While this may seem like a no-brainer to most readers, at least the story does get slightly more bearable once Edward comes to this conclusion. However, the love triangle did still make all three of the protagonists behave like children. The story this time revolved around petty one-upmanship, with Edward and Jacob taking pot shots at each other while Bella stands between them, wailing about how their behaviour weighs on her. This scenario does not make any of the characters likable. Both Jacob and Edward just come across as being manipulative, playing off each other to gain Bella’s favour. Jacob is particularly bad in this regard as he even goes as far as to force himself on Bella on more than one occasion, doing such charming things as threatening to kill himself if Bella refuses to declare her love for him.

Meanwhile, Bella is just completely self-absorbed. While her suicidal tendencies are now gone, she is still an indecisive doormat. She always does whatever Edward and Jacob tell her to do without fail, even if she is internally bemoaning about how unhappy it makes her. Her one moment of glory was the scene in which she punched Jacob in the face, yet the effect of this was lost when Jacob forces his way back into her life with smiles and gifts and she immediately forgives him for everything he’s done. As horrible as the male leads were, it was Bella that I hated most of all. She could have said no to both of them a thousand times over but she chooses to just whine to the reader instead of growing a spine.

I can’t really talk much about the secondary cast in this story as at this stage, they’ve faded to the point where they are no longer really relevant anymore. New characters like Leah (who could have been interesting as the only female werewolf) don’t get any chance to interact with Bella and so all we learn about them is second hand. Bella only meets with the school friends on a couple of occasions and doesn’t seem to be cut up about the fact that when she becomes a vampire, she’ll never see them again. In fact, she doesn’t even seem too upset that she’ll have to leave her family behind either but that could be because Charlie has developed into a horrible jerk in this story. He used to be one of my favourite characters and, in a way, I can understand his animosity towards Edward given his previous treatment of Bella but Charlie still just comes across as plain nasty. At one point, after Bella tells him that Jacob forced himself upon her, he actually congratulates Jake for being so forward. Seriously Charlie, what the Hell? Your daughter has made quite clear that she does not want to be with Jacob. Stop trying to force her into a relationship that she has no interest in!

I could go on but this review is starting to turn into a rant. As you can see, I didn’t like Eclipse. While it didn’t make me as angry as New Moon, it was still just far too long and filled with characters that I couldn’t force myself to like. At this stage, I’m going to have to read on just to find out how the series ends but I’m really not looking forward to it at all.

Eclipse can be purchased as a Paperback, eBook and Audio Book on Amazon.co.uk

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Soldier | Arkham Reviews
  2. Trackback: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner | Arkham Reviews

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