New Moon: In Which Bad Becomes Worse, And It’s All Downhill From Here.

In my review of Twilight, I commented that it was a bad book, but not exactly the imminent death of literature or worthy of the seething hatred many bear for it. I dismissed the work as a black mark on the Vampire Mythos that will soon fade into obscurity.

That was before I moved on to the steadily worse sequels. Twilight, a bad piece of literature, turns out to be the absolute pinnacle of the series, with each successive book being even worse. Today we shall take a morbid slog through the first sequel, New Moon, hailed by VOYA as “A near-genius balance of breathtaking romance and action.”

This is a hateful lie and VOYA should be very ashamed of itself. To illustrate my point, let us waste no more time and dive right in to New Moon.

As with Twilight, New Moon sees fit to inflict the eternally mopey Bella Swan upon us as our narrator. Bella opens up the story whining as usual, this time about how she’s just turned eighteen. While this is normally one of the birthdays any normal person would be looking forward to, Bella is upset that she is now physically older than her boyfriend Edward Cullen, frozen at age seventeen. The fact that Edward is in fact over a century old and interested in a girl 90 years his intellectual junior never bothers her, for some reason. We then combine Bella whining about being a year older than her vampire boyfriend looks with further whining that the Cullens are insisting on throwing her a nice birthday party and Edward’s “stubborn” refusal to turn Bella into a vampire.

As you might recall if you were unfortunate enough to read Twilight, Bella has decided she’s completely ready to give up her human life and be with her knight in whining armor for all eternity, but Edward doesn’t want to turn Bella. The subject of if, when, and how Bella will become a vampire is of more importance in the sequels, and by more important, I mean it is one of the only things Bella and Edward ever talk about besides how much they love each other. For the next three books.

On the subject of the few other things Bella and Edward ever talk about, we get the inevitable trite comparison of their romance to Romeo and Juliet’s when the pair watch the movie for class, both of them apparently completely missing the point of the play as a tragedy brought on by passion overcoming sense. While Romeo and Juliet’s shallow, lust-based and foolhardy love affair is a surprisingly apt comparison to Edward and Bella’s, I think that’s not exactly what Stephanie Meyer was going for. The only point this scene serves is for astonishingly unsubtle foreshadowing of how Edward would go about committing suicide if something happened to Bella.

Finally, we get around to Bella’s birthday party, allowing Bella to whine some more as the Cullens shower her with gifts and attention. Bella, whose ability to get herself in trouble is played up to a supernatural extent at times, nearly sets off a life-ending vampire attack from Jasper when she gets a tiny paper cut opening one of her gifts, something Edward does not help at all by promptly gut-checking her across a table and into the china while the family restrains Jasper and tries to ignore the fact that Bella’s bleeding a lot more now than she was before Edward “helped.” The fact that the Cullens have been going to school for decades on end makes this scene rather unbelievable; if one paper cut can set them off, are we expected to believe the Cullens have NEVER had to deal with a classmate cutting themselves or getting a bloody nose in class? It seems rather hard to believe that Jasper is allowed outside if a single drop of blood can set him off like that.

Regardless, Carlisle stays calm and fixes Bella’s now considerably worse injuries and Edward escorts her home. To Bella’s surprise, Edward is actually aware that dating a squishy, stupid human is probably a bad idea for both of them, even when Bella displays her melodramatic contempt for her ordinary “friends” by proclaiming she’d rather die than be with Mike Newton or anyone but Edward. Edward seems to buy this for the time being, and Bella returns home, passing off her various broken-glass related injuries to her concerned father as “I tripped”, perhaps because she already used the “fell down the stairs” excuse last time Edward brought her home nearly dead. Charlie, not as sharp as usual, accepts this, and Edward gives Bella a mix CD he made for her as an “I’m-sorry-my-brother-tried-to-kill-you-on-your-birthday” present.

In the next chapter, however, Edward takes back his CD and breaks up with Bella, informing her that he and the Cullens are leaving forever and he doesn’t want to be with her anymore.

And so begins the hilariously pathetic mental annihilation of Bella Swan over a man she has known for approximately three months.

After Edward leaves her alone in the forest after breaking up with her, Bella stumbles around aimlessly searching for him, apparently never thinking to get out a phone and CALL the Cullens or go to their house in hopes they’re not packed yet. Being a complete idiot with the survival instincts of a lemming, Bella gets lost and nearly dies of exposure within walking distance from her house.

Meyer then proceeds to demonstrate exactly how empty and pathetic Bella’s life is without her condescending stalker boyfriend by wasting four perfectly good pages with a month to demonstrate Bella practically comatose without Edward. What is probably meant to be dramatic and heartrending had me chortling quietly into the pages or rolling my eyes that she is completely out of her mind with grief over this breakup for longer than her relationship with Edward lasted in the first place. But once she surfaces from the bleak, unending nightmare that is her life without a smug, emotionally distant pretty boy breaking into her room every night, the truly pathetic nature of post-Edward Bella is elaborated upon.

When Charlie finally gets fed up with the melodramatic coma Bella has put herself in for the last four months, Bella attempts to counter his completely correct accusations that she has completely given up on life without her boyfriend by pretending to like the friendly humans she takes for granted again, even though she’s been blowing them off ever since she got to hang with the Cullens. Jessica, again proving she is much more kind than a sullen bitch like Bella deserves in a gal pal, forgives Bella instantly and takes her out to the movies, Bella not even trying to pay any attention to Jessica’s attempts to be nice to her. It is after the movie with Jessica that Bella makes an important discovery; when she does something atrociously stupid and dangerous, she hallucinates hearing Edward’s voice telling her to knock it off. Being appallingly stupid and more than a little suicidal, Bella decides that she will now dedicate her life to pointlessly dangerous thrill-seeking to hear these hallucinations more often, a dim-witted decision that brings former bit character Jacob Black back into the story.

In Twilight, Jacob was simply the gullible kid that Bella flirted with to get information on the Cullens. Now a tad older, attention is called to Jacob’s attractiveness to let us know our incredibly shallow heroine is much more eager to be “friends” with him than with Jessica or Mike, and that he’s probably going to be more important this book than he was last time. Despite this, Jacob remains a nice, amiable guy who’s willing to let Bella play him for a sucker, and Bella finds this endearing enough to actually try to be friends with him instead of taking him for granted like every other human she knows.

Jacob’s cheerful nature makes for a decent counterpoint to Bella’s endless whiny, woe-is-me attitude, but Stephanie Meyer appears to realize that readers aren’t that interested in Bella wallowing in self-pity and almost grudgingly offers up something that looks like a plot if you squint hard enough; Jacob is concerned about a cult-like group growing on the reservation. This isn’t as major as you might think, as things quickly swing back to Bella getting along better with Jacob than she ever did with Edward while still plotting to endanger her life to hear Edward’s voice some more. After an annoying amount of meandering around, things get moving again when Jacob gets sick and disappears, and Laurent, one of the evil vampire James’s companions from the first book, accosts Bella in the woods. Laurent reveals that James’s mate Victoria is still out to get her and has roped him into it, trying to kill her before a pack of freakishly huge wolves run him off.

Bella continues to investigate the “cult” she believes has claimed Jacob, discovering that Jacob is now an angry jerk. Things meander around some more before Bella finally puts two and two together and deduces that just as the vampire stories of Jacob’s tribe were true, so were the werewolf stories, and Jacob is now a werewolf.

This brings the major revelations to “no shit, Sherlock” moments in this series up to a solid 1:1 ratio.

Oddly enough, instead of finding out the attractive boy she hangs out with being a possibly murderous monster sexy like she did with the Cullens, Bella is alarmed and disgusted and goes to confront Jacob. Jacob echoes my thoughts when he calls her out on being afraid of him for being a monster that kills people when she was all over Edward Cullen, who admitted flat out to killing people in his younger days. After a bit of arguing, Jacob eases Bella’s fears by explaining he’s not a killer and that Werewolves are the good guys, their “cult” actually a league of shapeshifting Native American badasses that exist to kill vampires and protect people. Oddly enough, despite hearing that the pack easily slaughtered Laurent to save her life, Bella is distressed by the idea of five or so vampire-killing wolves against the single remaining vampire out for her blood, giving her something else to mope about. My initial hope Bella might actually be around the next time Vampire ass is kicked was sadly shattered when the pack fruitlessly hunts Victoria and keeps her at bay for the rest of the book entirely offscreen.

Just when it seems Jacob overcoming his initial angry jerkiness is guiding Bella towards something resembling a healthy relationship, Bella remembers how much fun she has nearly killing herself to imagine Edward scolding her about it, and decides to go cliff-diving by herself one night while Jacob is away. Sadly, Natural Selection does not triumph today, and instead of being killed by her own stupidity, Bella is rescued by Jacob. Bella makes some more pretentious comparisons of her relationship with Edward to Romeo and Juliet, and in an attempt to be insightful, tries to add Jacob to the metaphor as Paris in a way that really doesn’t work very well. Jacob takes Bella home, and as with Twilight, at page 383 out of 563, the real plot and conflict of the book finally arrives, this time lacking even the good grace to feel ashamed of itself.

Alice has broken into Bella’s house, and after a few scenes that show that Alice is still awesome and Bella is still in the closet about her true feelings for her, Alice discovers that Edward has heard about Bella’s cliff-diving shenanigans and made the reasonable assumption that she’s died. Fulfilling the anvil-subtle hints that he’d commit suicide if Bella died, Edward speeds off to Italy to go piss off the Volturi, the secret uber-vampires that seem to simultaneously be the vampires’ military junta, nobility, and mafia, so that they will kill him. Bella immediately whips out her cell phone and calls the Cullens, who get a grip on Edward and put a stop to this foolishness…

…Oh wait, Bella and Edward are both terminally stupid and no instant communication exists in this book, so Alice needs to fly Bella out to Italy. Edward attempts suicide by stepping out into sunlight during a parade to expose the vampire race by glittering in public (nevermind that it’s not common knowledge that vampires sparkle instead of die horribly in the sun, Edward’s being an idiot) but, surprise surprise, Bella stops him and both are taken before the Volturi. Meyer seems to be attempting to evoke a sort of Anne Rice feel here; Aro, the leader of the Volturi, comes across somewhat like Lestat’s foppish roommate that he hung out with for a few years but now pretends not to know at social events. The Volturi are mentioned by Bella to be less attractive than normal vampires, so it’s a pretty safe guess that they’re evil, but Aro seems pretty reasonable about the possible security leak Bella presents and tells Edward he needs to change her into a vampire or her life is forfeit, something Bella’s been saying since James attacked her in Twilight. Edward’s still reluctant, but Alice assures Aro it’ll happen, so they get to leave scot-free, another scene of action and conflict to break up the banal love story skillfully avoided.

In the end, Bella and the Cullens return home, Bella instantly forgives Edward for ruining her life, Jacob switches back to angry jerk mode when he finds out he’s been friend-zoned in favor of Edward, and Edward agrees to turn Bella into a vampire, but only if she marries him first.

I said in my last review that Edward and Bella are easily the worst things about these books and a big part of their sucking is focusing so heavily on those two and their boring, shallow relationship. Sadly, even taking Edward out of the picture for nearly the entire book failed to make New Moon better; if anything, Bella’s increased whining from not having Edward around made it worse. This certainly isn’t helped by the other much cooler Cullens being away for 75% of the book, leaving Jacob as one of the only likable characters until he switches to angry jerk mode. While the Volturi have some promise of being slightly more interesting than the standard fare, they don’t really do much besides be really polite to Edward and Alice (the fiends!) and as such aren’t very good antagonists. As such, I can’t give New Moon any points character-wise like I did with Twilight.

New Moon also establishes a pattern all four books fall into; Bella spends the first two thirds of the book moping and admiring Edward’s alleged perfection in nauseating detail (the section in which nothing interesting happens), the plot gets there when the book’s mostly over (the section in which something interesting might happen but will usually be very unsatisfying) and Edward and Bella go off to cuddle some more (the section where I feel ill). The end.

There, I saved you reading four books of this crap.

Twilight was a bad book. New Moon was even worse. And as I said in the opening of this review, it’s all downhill from here.

One Response to “New Moon: In Which Bad Becomes Worse, And It’s All Downhill From Here.”

  1. tt says:

    This is hysterical.

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