Review Posted October 11, 2008.
Megan Tingley Books (Little, Brown), 2007. 629 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2008: #6 Fantasy Teen Fiction
This was my favorite book of the Twilight quartet, which is phenomenally popular now with teenage girls. I read it at the same time as a co-worker, just in time to read the fourth book of the series, and we had a lot of fun discussing it.
If you haven't read any books of the series, you definitely need to start with Twilight. Once you've read that one, you will know if you want to keep reading or not.
Yes, they are vampire novels. But these are not typical vampire books at all. These books are for lovers of romance who don't mind a little over-the-top plot situations.
Edward is not the typical vampire, dark and evil. He and his "family" do not drink human blood, instead hunting large game animals. (Having read Barbara Kingsolver, I think that they would run out of wildlife on the top of the food chain in a very short time. But let's not bring quibbles about reality into the story....) These vampires stay out of sunshine not because it would harm them but because they are too dazzlingly beautiful for sunlight. They are also super strong and super fast. With this group not drinking human blood, where's the drawback?
Eclipse explores more of the backstory of the vampires. We learn more about their history and motivations. Bella and Edward actually share some thoughts instead of just restrained passion. We learn why Bella doesn't want to be a teen bride and why Edward is reluctant to let Bella become a vampire.
They also explore more of Bella's relationship with Jacob, her friend the werewolf. I like the way the way the werewolves and the vampires end up needing to work together.
Here's another fast-moving plot with plenty of tension, romantic and otherwise. This story was more unified than the other books. Instead of a crisis tacked on at the end, this one has a unified theme. Some young vampires are terrorizing Seattle, and it appears that, as usual, Bella is in danger. The entire book builds up to dealing with that danger, in a satisfying way.
I still believe that a lot of the intense romance of these books is built into the restraint. Bella and Edward's relationship is chaste, since to consummate it might kill her, but loaded with tension. I hope teen girls don't read this and think there are boys out there who'd be able to sleep with them every night and have Edward's self-control. But what a romantic dream -- a strong, incredibly handsome, self-controlled, powerful protector whose love is for Bella alone. Throw in vampires and werewolves, and you've got a tremendous hit!