It’s hard to say what I think about this book. I read it over the past two days, when I’ve been sick, and when you’re in a medicine daze and have a low-grade fever, it’s not always the best time for reading. Overall, I can say I was pleasantly surprised that this was written far better than I expected. The mechanics – always an issue for me – were good. Her prose got me caught up in the plot, gently, the way I like. It was fun.
On the other hand, there were things that irritated or confused me. For example, there’s a big plot inconsistency surrounding Bella’s reaction to blood. There’s a scene where she gets faint because they do blood-typing in biology. A boy across the room bleeds a couple drops, and she has to go to the nurse. She claims it is the smell of blood that makes her sick. And yet, not long earlier, she was in the hospital after an accident and another kid involved is wheeled in right next to her bed. He’s covered in bloody rags and has a ton of slices in his forehead. She talks to him without a problem, and I’m sure she could smell his blood more than she could those drops across the room. Throughout the book, and even into the first chapter of New Moon that was at the back of this copy, there are multiple incidents where Bella comes in contact with blood without any of that fainting reaction. The inconsistency bugs me.
Another thing. Bella’s personality changes about a third of the way through the book. She starts out as the sort of person I might have hung out with in high school, but then suddenly becomes the sort of giggly moony-eyed girl I would have avoided like the plague. The change was jarring. Once I got used to the new personality, and forgot about the old one, I was okay, but the change bugged me. And her new personality just wasn’t that great. She was far too ordinary for me to believe Edward’s proclamations about her being unusual and fascinating. And frankly, when people threaten you with phrases like, “You need a healthy dose of fear,” and you stick around them, it really makes you seem like a weak, vapid sort of creature, and I’m afraid that’s exactly what Bella did. It’s unfortunate, because she didn’t start out as a weak, vapid airhead. That’s certainly how she ended. Thankfully, there were other characters I cared about, because by the end, I didn’t like Bella much at all.
I don’t know yet if I’ll continue reading this series. The problem with a series is that unless there’s an overarching plotline, started at the beginning of book 1 and ending at the end of the last book, each sequel will often feel like a copy of the first. Twilight is a fairly closed book. At the end, the romance is as concluded as it’s going to be (at least until book 4 I’m told), the bad guys are defeated, and everything goes back to normal. There’s a certain amount of how-will-Bella-and-Edward-work-out-their-unusual-relationship, but frankly I couldn’t deal with four books of these two characters making eyes at each other without further plot development. And I don’t want to read four books that vacillate between fitful romance and Bella-gets-saved-from-the-bad-guys. I suppose I also know enough spoilers from the other three books to not make me itch to read the next book. Plus, everyone says the books get worse over time, and that this one is the best. I liked this one – it was fun – but I’m not sure I liked it enough to keep going if they all just keep getting worse.
I don’t see the overarching theme. Harry Potter, for instance, has a plot started at the beginning and you know it won’t end until the final showdown between him and Voldemort. The first two books are nearly identical – Harry goes to Hogwarts, strange things happen, Harry meets-and-defeats bad guy – and if the books had continued in that vein with no variation, I wouldn’t have stuck through all 7 of them. Already, I think I like the second book less than I would have ordinarily because it felt too similar to the first. But the overall plot, laid out at the beginning of book 1, advances through each of the 7 books until the final showdown at the end of 7. I need this sort of forward progression in a series to feel satisfied, and I’m not yet sure if the Twilight books have that.
I do wish I’d read the book before knowing what the movie characters looked like. I hate having my imagination ruined by actors and actresses.
And please, oh please, let me never hear the word “smolder” again. It was clever the first time…only the first time.