Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Some Day My Vampire Will Come

Today I went to taekwondo and the library, and then spent the rest of the day reading. Oh, sure, I did a load of wash. But I didn't fold it. And I totally forgot to make dinner.

I hate myself.

Instead of working, I finished reading New Moon by Stephenie Meyer. The book wasn't great. Just very readable.

I was a fan of Meyer's first book, Twilight, because of the intense sexual frustration between the two main characters. I didn't hold out much hope for the sequel because I didn't think that frustration could be maintained. Plus, the author was confronted with a dilemma--her hero and heroine could only consumate their relationship if the heroine died and became a vampire. Consumated relationships usually become boring reading, anyway, and if your main character has just been offed--well.

New Moon starts out with our heroine, Bella, pushing her sweetie, Edward, to kill her and make her a vampire. That means she's suicidal...and that's just plain disturbing. I thought that was going to get old fast. Evidently, Meyer thought so, too, because she got rid of Edward for a long portion of the book. This took care of the obsession with suicide but it also eliminated the hot vampire so now no sexual tension/frustration.

Bella and Edward are definitely star-crossed lovers, and there are lots and lots of analogies to Romeo and Juliet in New Moon. Some readers may have found that a little obvious and heavy-handed, but I think it works because New Moon and Romeo and Juliet share the intense teenage over-the-top belief in cliched romantic love. And I don't mean that in a bad way. Young people often do think that heart-break cannot be survived, that death is better than the loss of love.

When I was a teenager and went to see Romeo and Juliet with my English class, the girls were crying on the bus on the way back to school, and I, myself, ran out and bought the soundtrack. (Which I still have.) I just thought it was incredible. I got to be in my twenties, though, and I thought, "Boy, those two were really stupid."

I guess as you get older, you develop a sense of self-preservation. Eighteen-year-old Bella in New Moon definitely doesn't have one. Neither, it turns out, does her main squeeze, Edward. And he's been around for over a hundred years so you'd think he'd have developed one. But I guess if your body is arrested at seventeen, you can't expect to move along too far emotionally.

A great deal of New Moon is taken up with Bella's suffering when Edward leaves town. Hey, man, this is real love! I was able to tolerate all that because of the development of a secondary character from Twilight. Jacob Black, a young Native American from a neighboring town turns into this wonderful dynamo, a definite contender for Bella's heart.

Yes, at the end of New Moon Bella has her choice of two guys--the good-looking, sweet-natured Jacob, who can fix things or the good-looking, smoldering Edward, who can play the piano. The adult Gail finds the two contenders for the heroine's heart scenario a terrible romantic cliche. But the teenaged Gail loved that kind of thing. Two guys for every girl. Yes!

New Moon reminds me of The King of Attolia. They are both parts of series that started out strong but became too focused on their characters' love lifes. But I keep reading because I'm committed to those characters who first appeared in earlier, better books.

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