Spooky Reads

Twilight left a mostly a positive impression upon me. I found room for general praise in my review of that book, for taking classic gothic elements and fusing them into modern fiction in a manner appealing to many, and not just to Stephenie Meyer’s agent. Enter then its sequel.

New Moon opens with Bella dreaming. She dreams of doomed love with her boyfriend Edward Cullen; but is there any other type betwixt vampire and mortal human woman, in popular fiction anyhow, anywhere in the known universe? The obvious questions regarding such a tie-up that are lingering on readers’ minds clearly aren’t exclusive to them alone.

An imminent eighteenth birthday has raised the concerns in Bella of how she’ll age normally, and of how her immortal Edward won’t.  There’s the worry too that he seems no closer to making her a vampire. But the biggest issue cropping up for Bella, and one that occurs fairly soon in the  text, is that of Edward’s disappearance from Forks. It’s not just that he’s leaving, but he doesn’t care to see her anymore. Ouch. Plus there’s a rather pointed comment in there too about how she’ll get over it, she’s human. Ouch plus one.

There are ‘waves of pain’ lapping at various shores of emotional discomfort. It’s harsh stuff. Ahem. Luckily we’re spared the worst of it: with single pages denoting calendar months of what would not doubt be strained dialogue between Bella and the reader.

To say Bella gets depressed would be doing the word a disservice. Her social life is put on hold, demolished even, and only school and work factor into consideration in her life. Something’s got to give and so her Dad implores her to spend some time with her friends, lest he send her back to her mother.  Thus, via way of a pair of motorbikes (long story), she hangs out with Jacob Black.

So it is that the werewolf aspects which were skirted around in the first book are brought more fully into the picture in this book, as Bella’s friendship with Jacob unravels, more is revealed of the Quileute tribe’s background. Weird things are going on too in Forks, and it becomes apparent that Bella really may not be safe, but that she also could be being her own worst enemy in that regard. A camper goes missing, dangerous animals are being sighted in the woods, and soon she’s bumping into figures from the past in the woods that she really doesn’t want to be seeing.

Horror-crafter supreme Stephen King caused a fair amount of furore amongst Twilight fans when he criticised its author. Comparing Meyer, unfavourably, to J.K. Rowling, King told an interviewer that: “Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.” To be honest, I really didn’t find a problem with her writing in the first book. That wasn’t the case with New Moon however.

I personally think King went way overboard in his comments there, and I’m a big fan of his opinions in the area of writing. There is a little validity though, for I felt this book could have been a fair bit punchier, and wander less into vagaries at times.

So, overall, how does the second book in this phenomenally successful vampire literature series stack up? Fairly well? So-so? I must admit it’s a bit of both. No doubt some cynics out there will label me a populist or such, such is the strong following of this series of books, but I’d hope my general passion for horror literature evidenced on this site would permit them acknowledge my honest and open minded attitude. So when I say that this book is not without faults that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth reading, and enjoying.

And New Moon is an enjoyable book. It has thrills and spills, decent development, and it does pick up somewhat in its latter half. But it does feel clunky at times too, and less precise than its prequel. In this case the more epic threads of the yarn being woven by Meyer in the overall series save it from getting too stale, but it’s a close call at times.

6/10

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Outpost by Adam Baker
The Magic Cottage by James Herbert

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