Eclipse is the third book in the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. Unless you've been living under a rock, you'd know this is the story of Bella, a "normal" high school girl who falls in love with a vampire. Complications ensue because she's human and should be her boyfriend's dinner, and she has a werewolf for a best friend.
Some minor spoilers for this book and previous ones are in this review.
My review of New Moon is here. If you read that, you'll know that I found New Moon very angsty and it made me feel rather ranty about Bella and her depression. I also thought that Edward was rather controlling by deciding what was best for her and not letting her make her own choices. Despite really liking Twilight, I'm not sure I would have continued this series after New Moon. But that this series is so popular that my cousin gave me the whole series as a present so I own it now. Also my best friend has been nagging me to read it so she can rant to me about it. So I read it.
Where to begin. Well I thought that Eclipse was better than New Moon. I think that that is greatly due to my aversion to reading about a main character who is moping around and angsty, which is what you see a lot of in New Moon. I'm just not a fan of depression in my escapism. On the other hand, while in New Moon I found Bella and Edward somewhat annoying, in Eclipse I started also getting mad at other secondary characters like Charlie, who is Bella's father, and Jacob, Bella's best friend! Why is everyone annoying? Let me tell you:
Edward is trying to back off on his control issues here but he still slips with the excuse that he will do anything to keep Bella safe. He manipulates her to get what he wants. At least he was so overshadowed by other people who were driving me crazy in this book, he didn't bother me as much as he did in the past. His "patience and understanding" were laid on a bit thick though. I still don't quite understand what he sees in Bella. He just shakes his head and says Oh Bella, you don't know how wonderful you are.
Jacob: In earlier books, Jacob is this sort of happy-go-lucky guy that Bella just hangs out with, and he pulls her through her depression, letting her use him as a crutch through her bad time even though she knows he has feelings for her and she doesn't feel the same way. You know that Jacob doesn't like vampires, so he's constantly making nasty, petty remarks about them and about Edward. In Eclipse, this pettiness seemed to rise to extreme levels. I found Jacob's smugness and casual put-downs about people Bella cares about very immature. To top it off Jacob has Bella's number because he realizes she's easily manipulated through guilt. So he uses this several times to get what he wants. Also *spoiler here so look away if you care about that type of thing* Jacob forces a kiss on her. Bella hits him for that, but because he's a werewolf, all that does is break her hand. And then he *laughs* about it and is never really sorry! What a great guy. I was pretty pissed off to reading this part.
Charlie: He doesn't like Edward so of course every chance that he can he pushes Bella towards Jacob. When Jacob admits that he kissed Bella, instead of feeling concern for why his daughter is so mad, all he can do is be happy and praise Jacob for it! His comment regarding Bella's hand is something like I must not have taught you how to punch properly. He's a cop, but he's really uncaring about his daughter being sexually harassed. This is of course coupled with the same complaint I had in the last book – Bella is Charlie's servant; doing the cooking and cleaning while his excuse is that he is just a man so can't do housework. He can't heat up sauce in the microwave (puts metal in there), and he can't do his own laundry. Let's not even go into his parenting and his not having a clue as to what his daughter feels or what she's up to.
Bella: I kept noticing what felt like excuses for Bella's past behavior. Behavior that continues in Eclipse. It felt like the author was trying to address complaints from readers. The servitude is explained away as OCD. I lived with someone with OCD, and Bella does not have OCD. Even if she had *mild* OCD, her dad should still know how to microwave some damn sauce if he's lived alone before and he's an adult! Secondly, Bella spends a lot of time thinking she's a horrible person and has hurt Jacob so much, but feeling bad and still doing it doesn't really absolve you. I really dislike when people don't want to hurt someone, but instead they just give them hope by not trying hard enough to tell them the truth, so in the end it feels even worse. These people moan to everyone how they feel bad, but what they really want is for others to say that they aren't bad so they can continue what they were doing. Which I feel Bella does with Jacob. Not that Jacob is an innocent here, but Bella has already gone through this in New Moon, why are we repeating it again in Eclipse? Finally, Bella acts like a doormat. She gets manipulated by everyone. Edward tricks her into doing what he wants, so does Jacob, so does her dad. I found it really aggravating that the main character is a woman, surrounded by men who want to control her, and she let's them! She's submissive! Any fight she makes just feels like token resistance, because she gives in later. I actually wrote down a couple of times – Bella is mad, I bet she'll forgive him soon, and Bella says she doesn't want to, I bet she will later. And surprise, surprise - she did forgive, she did give in. Jacob underlines this for me because he actually says that he knew she was going to forgive him so he did what he wanted.
All this points to something which feels glaringly obvious; this book has very old fashioned values and views. Bella's role as housekeeper for her dad is a good example. Then we have the sex. Stephen King infamously commented on Meyer's writing recently, and said: "A lot of the physical side of it is conveyed in things like the vampire will touch her forearm or run a hand over skin, and she just flushes all hot and cold. And for girls, that's a shorthand for all the feelings that they're not ready to deal with yet." I was hardly surprised that Edward was unwilling to have sex with Bella before marriage. Already he's discussed his belief that as a vampire he has no soul and probably will go to hell when he dies, so it was no stretch to see him want Bella to marry him first. This is safe moral ground. It's a bit too pat but I have no real problem with this little bit of preaching in this story. What bothers me more is Bella being easily controlled – forgiving easily the asshat-ery of her male controllers. It disturbs me to see her accept what the men do, when I see it side by side with her domestic duties. It disturbs me to see Meyer's picture of men vs. women, Bella vs. Edward/Jacob/her father.
I admit, Meyer has to be doing something right. These books aren't on bestseller lists for nothing. I'd say it's the world building and the way she writes her dialog. It feels very natural and real and it's very readable. From what I remember of Twilight, the pacing there was quite fast. The pacing in Eclipse however felt a lot slower, with much of the action happening only in the last 100 or so pages. So despite my liking the way Meyer writes dialog, I felt like there was too much – it takes up a lot of room so pages and pages later you realize – nothing has happened. At 600+ pages, this book could have used some merciless editing.
Overall: An average to slightly above average read. Natural dialog, fascinating world building, great action when there is any (there was little), but I had some major issues with the characters and with Bella's subjugation by her male counterparts.
I now leave you with Southpark's Twilight parody "The Ungroundable", which aired recently and is online in its entirety for now (go watch, it's awesome).