Stephenie Meyer
2007, Young Adult
Little, Brown & Company, $15.99, 629 pages, Amazon ASIN 1603960228
Part of a series

Grade: B+
Sensuality: Kisses

No doubt most of you have heard of the immensely popular Twilight series, of which Eclipse is the third installment. My mother-in-law insisted that I read her copies and then pass them along to another of her daughters-in-law. As I started talking to more and more people about this series, it seemed that almost all of them had similar experiences Ė someone they knew said they had to read it. I think itís highly praiseworthy that this series has garnered so many heartfelt recommendations. Despite that, I resisted the phenomenon for as long as possible, even with in-laws breathing down my neck (it was the same with the Harry Potter series Ė Iím weird that way). But Iím now quite glad that Iím right in the middle of the bandwagon, anxiously awaiting the release of the final book of the series, Breaking Dawn. I almost want to be mad that everyone was right, but who could possibly be upset about a great series?

Bella Swan lives a little differently than everyone else. After falling desperately in love with a vampire and fraternizing with werewolves, she knows that myths can be based on reality. As this book opens, Bella celebrates her boyfriend Edwardís return (he left town for a while in the second book). However, there is a dark spot in all the joy. She hasnít been able to speak to her best friend, Jacob, in a while. As a werewolf, Jacob is Edwardís natural enemy and he doesnít know if he can continue being friends with Bella while sheís with her vampire. On the other side, Edward believes that itís very dangerous for her to visit her friend, since young werewolves are unpredictable. So, Bella is torn between the love of her existence and her very best friend, who was there for her when she needed him the most.

This is only part of Bellaís problems. A vampire named Victoria has been stalking her for several months, because Edward killed her mate while protecting Bella. Victoria thinks it only fair to take out the person that Edward loves. And then thereís the Volturi, a very scary and powerful coven in Italy who has declared a mandate regarding Bellaís knowledge of their culture. She must either be made one of them or die. Because she has wanted to be a vampire since meeting Edward, she doesnít have a problem with the first option, but timing is becoming an issue.

This book focuses quite a bit on the triangle between Edward, Bella, and Jacob. There is a quote of a poem by Robert Frost entitled Fire and Ice at the front of the book, as well as a chapter with that name. This theme highlights the differences between the boys. Jacob is a fiery, passionate teenager, while Edward is very controlled and rational, having spent decades practicing. There is also the literal interpretation, since the werewolf runs a high 108 temperature and the vampire is constantly referred to as ice-cold marble. The two represent the different paths Bellaís life could follow Ė remaining human and experiencing all that would entail (normal life, children, etc.) or becoming a bloodthirsty vampire herself to spend eternity with her love.

I really enjoyed the different dynamics between these three main characters as they dealt with each other, and Meyerís writing impressed me. From the first book, I didnít feel like this was an authorís debut and the style has only gotten stronger. There are plenty of cute, humorous moments as the characters deal with high school and various teenage issues, and also very serious situations when heavy, life-altering decisions must be made. It has a little something for a wide range of people: teenagers, adults, paranormal fans, romance lovers. The action is exciting and I was happy to finally see Edward in action. Some of the best qualities of this book are that itís fun and very easy to read, another nod to the writing style.

This might be my favorite book of the series, though Iíll have to re-read Twilight now that Iím more hooked, just to make sure. However, there are some aspects of the story that bother me. Edward proposed to Bella before this book began and she is rather revolted by the idea of marriage. Although she has a reason, this doesn't make much sense to me; sheís willing to give up humanity and spend eternity with him, but not to say ďI do.Ē I just chalked it up to immaturity, with definitely peeks through now and then, as Bella pulls some really irresponsible stunts. Bella believes that Edward is a better person than she is, which doesn't explain why she's quite selfish at times; I expected her to go a little more out of her way to please the person she feels is completely out of her league. Now, Bella is still in her teens, so I can give her more room for mistakes, but sometimes her personality just got on my nerves. I also missed some of the passion and emotion between her and Edward that was stronger in the earlier books. He controls himself better now and is always the one pushing her away from too much physical intimacy. I wanted him to be a little more fire and a little less ice.

I have some general concerns regarding the series and this book in particular, but that hasnít kept me from truly enjoying these books. Actually, I appreciated that some of my issues were finally addressed in this installment, even if they werenít fully resolved. With a strong beginning and phenomenal ending, Eclipse will pull you in to Bellaís world, where vampires and werewolves are not monsters; theyíre the people she loves. If you havenít yet received a recommendation for this series, allow me. Read it. And soon, because the finaleís almost here!

-- Andi Davis

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