Along with The First Betrayal, I took two other book group reads on holiday with me. They were The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Eifelheim by Michael Flynn, both for [Beyond_Reality]. But when it came right down to it, I found I simply didn't feel like reading either. In line with the summer holiday, don't-exercise-the-brain-too-much mood, I decided to read Stephenie Meyer's New Moon instead.
While I enjoyed Twilight, I wouldn't class myself as a Meyer fangirl. New Moon didn't change my opinion, but I still enjoyed it and I'm still planning to read the other two in the series.
The main confilict between Bella and Edward remains the same; she wants him to turn her into a vampire while he, born at the beginning of the 20th century, belives that to do so would destroy her soul. This sets up the potential for a fascinating book about the nature of the soul and our beliefs about it. But...
This isn't that book.
In fact, that phrase - this isn't that book - could describe a lot of things about New Moon. There are a lot of thematic missed opportunities here. There could have been a contemplation on the differences between vampires and werewolves, or on the nature of loss, or love, or even the nature of youth and how being seventeen for a hundred years could affect the psyche. Meyer does none of those things.
Instead, we get the story of an angsty teenager so caught up in her own Romeo and Juliet drama (with ample references to the play in case we missed it) to really notice what is going on around her or to take the time to consider any deeper issues than her own pain. Her reaction to Edward leaving her (and no, that's not really a spoiler as it happens early on) is melodramatic and way, way over-the-top. I found myself rolling my eyes over it all rather than buying into the fantasy. This is how, as teenagers, we imagine love and loss should be (at least when it is happening to us). Love is forever, the pain of its loss is forever and something from which we will never recover.
It isn't like that in real life; instead we tend to survive our teenages loves and losses, we grow and we become better and stronger people for it. But if you're looking for that kind of treatment of the teenage years in your YA fiction, well, this isn't that book. Still, if you go into it, aware of that and without any great expectations, you can have fun going along for the ride.
When Bella finally starts taking some kind of action instead of going on and on about the hole in her middle, the story picks up in interest. Jacob is a great character and the final action with the vampires is pretty well done. The conflict between Bella and Edward still isn't resolved at the end, there is new conflict introduced between the werewolves and the Cullens and so long as you don't expect any great contemplation of what that means (remember, this isn't that book), then you can enjoy yourself.
Twilight Saga, Book 2