Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
Bella must choose between her friendship with Jacob, a werewolf, and her relationship with Edward, a vampire, but when Seattle is ravaged by a mysterious string of killings, the three of them need to decide whether their personal lives are more important than the well-being of an entire city (courtesy of Goodreads).
(Spoilers: I'm assuming you've already read the book)
The first (and second) time I read through the Twilight Saga, Eclipse was my favorite book. So I've been extra excited for this re-read and to see the movie. As the book began this time, though, I was doubting its first place status. Edward is displaying the worst side of himself - the reason so many people justify hating Twilight. He's possessive, over-protective, and patronizing. Bella is forbidden to see Jacob because he's a werewolf or do anything Edward deems dangerous. Granted, Edward understands werewolf nature much better than Bella, but a boyfriend should never forbid a girl to see someone. That's behavior I can't condone. He also treats Bella like a little kid - filling out college applications, not telling her about Victoria's visit to Forks. He certainly has his reasons: he has a lot more life experience, he is thinking about Bella's future, and he is trying to protect Bella from getting hurt. But a girl dates her friend, not her father; patronizing behavior does not help a relationship.
I was pleased to see Bella fight back more than I recalled. She still forgave Edward and Jacob too often for fairly unforgivable things (such as Jacob forcing himself on her). But Bella recognized that she should decide who she spends time with. So when Edward kept her from seeing Jacob, she snuck out to meet him. When Jacob tried to push their relationship too far, she made her intentions and feelings clear (well...until she didn't). In between the selfless focus on other's happiness, Bella portrays more spunk and personality in Eclipse than in other books.
But enough of Bella's good side...at a lot of points, especially toward the end, I wanted to slap her. I hated that she made Edward stay behind. So selfish - although she at least had the insight to recognize her own selfishness. Even though Edward's presence ended up being necessary to protect Bella from Victoria and Riley, it was horrible to force him to abandon his family.
Thankfully, after 150 painful pages or so, I remembered why this is my favorite book. The Cullens. I loved reading Rosalie's story. In other books we just see Rosalie as vain and mean. Now we understand her antagonism toward Bella. She's mature and reflective of her own faults when telling Bella about why she became a vampire (except for giggling over seven cold-blooded murders). She's a much more three-dimensional person in Eclipse. Jasper's back-story was even more fascinating. Stephenie's creation of the Mexican vampire wars adds to the already rich vampire mythology she creates. We understand better just how dangerous vampires can be. And we also understand that Jasper is more than just following Alice; he has his own reasons for embracing the Cullen lifestyle.
The fight training and fight scenes are fabulous. Those are the parts that I randomly read. I love seeing the Cullens actually be vampires. I cannot wait to see this portrayed on screen. As descriptively as Stephenie writes these scenes, it's still hard to visualize. And the tent scene! We really see a contrast between Edward's calm, mature personality and Jacob's more volatile, young personality. I felt like I got to know Edward better through this scene; it was like having a mini Midnight Sun. The scenes with the wolfpack were also interesting. Not as interesting to me, since I'm extremely biased toward the Cullens, but it adds another layer to the story. The Quileute legends help explain the werewolves' creation and with the Third Wife story and gives Bella her own misguided idea of how she can help fight. I also understood the love triangle better than in previous reads. I don't think I ever really realized that Bella was actually in love with both Jacob and Edward. It's pretty hard to miss, but somehow I did. By the end of the book, I could clearly see how Bella loved Jacob and how hard but necessary it was to break his heart. I like that Bella got a glimpse of what her life could have been like with Jacob - children running around, parents present, not quite as many burdens and secrets. Luckily it all works out for the best, but at the time, those were things Bella really needed to understand she was giving up.
Eclipse remains my favorite book of the series. It has the most content, the most action, the most page time with the Cullen family. It clearly lays out each characters' flaws, creating three-dimensional people. But most importantly, when I read Eclipse, the world disappears around me. My entire world becomes defined by the vampires, werewolves, and humans in Forks, Washington. And that, to me, is the measure of a great book.
Rating: 5 / 5