Jealousy Unyielding As The Grave

Bella and Edward

Bella and Edward

As I wrote earlier this month, I read Twilight really just to find out what the fuss was all about, what it was about the story and the writing that people found so compelling. My plan was to read it, and be done.

But … a friend of mine insisted that I read New Moon as well; in part for the sake of experiencing one of the stories first in written form, since I’d seen the movie of Twilight before I read the book, and thus my mental picture was firmly rooted in the film version. (This made little difference, in my opinion, since I carried those pictures of most of the characters over into reading New Moon.) I think I was also supposed to read New Moon for the sake of the dichotomy between the first two books, and particularly between Jacob and Edward.

Before going any further, I have to share the caveat that my reading of New Moon was probably colored by my life this year, and, particularly, the fact that it struck me while reading the book that, you know, I can’t rule out the possibility that Edward Cullen contributed to the end of my engagement. Jerk.

To be honest, one thing that struck me about the book was how much dichotomy there wasn’t. Being aware of the whole Team Edward versus Team Jacob debate, and having heard commentary from friends who had read it, I was expecting, well, more difference. But, really, I could write a decent plot summary that would cover either of the first two books equally well. (For those who are trying to avoid spoilers, I shan’t.)

Beyond that, along the lines of the appeal of the books, it strikes me that Meyer has done a pretty decent job of creating a group of characters with whom readers can easily identify. After reading Twilight, I’d had a conversation with a friend about which character reminded each of us most of ourselves. (And, according to a Facebook quiz, I’m most like Jasper, for what it’s worth.) Reading New Moon, however, I found that at different points, I identified in different ways with different characters. I mean, obviously I identify with Edward for his raw magnetic charisma, which is just so me. (Actually, there’s a more direct — and realistic — point of identification there, which I won’t get in to here.) I could certainly identify with Jacob in the first half of New Moon; there’s been more than one point in my life where I’ve contented myself to play the role of the best friend in hopes that it would become something more. And, yeah, I’ve played the role of Bella, enjoying time with Jacob while still hoping for Edward to come back. Not proud, but there you go. But … my amazing and dynamic life aside, I would imagine that’s probably not unusual; I would imagine that a lot of people have various experiences that let them relate with Edward here and Bella there and Jacob somewhere else and someone else somewhere else.

And to that extent, Stephenie Meyer is practically the George Lucas of relationships. Just as Lucas drew on Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey to root Star Wars in the archetypes of myth so that it would resonate with audiences, Meyer effectively draws on the archetypes of relationships and sprinkles them liberally through the Twilight series so that it resonates widely and frequently with readers.

OK, having just confessed to identifying with characters, and positing that said identification is probably not uncommon, I hate to have to note that the other thing that struck me is the extent to which the books are thus far a giant melting pot of relationship issues. I would love to see a counselor deconstruct how much of what the books want to portray as “romantic” is actually what might be better termed “unhealthy.” I was a bit bugged in Twilight by the fact that romantic hero Edward is a stalker; I was possibly even more annoyed in this one by the depth of his control issues. I mean, seriously, dude …

Having finished New Moon, I’m currently reading something that’s not Twilight, and my plan is that I’ll watch the movies, but probably not read the next two books. However, I have to admit, there’s at least a possibility I may change my mind …